Farming in harmony with nature
Photo: A busy bee pollinating raspberry blossoms, David MacTavish, Hutchinson Farm raspberry patch, Burlington, ON, June 17, 2013
Honeybees love our farm!

Are you organic? Do you use pesticides?
These are important questions. The only way you can know how your food was grown is to ask the farmer who grew it, so here's how we do it on our farm...

We do our best to grow healthy, safe, and environmentally sustainable fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
We live on the farm, and eat more of its bounty than anyone else, so we have a vested interest in growing healthy and safe food. We want our farm to produce not only great crops, but also act as a sanctuary for the wildlife that lives on our farm.

If we can grow our crops without pesticides, we will do it!
We have never had to apply pesticides to our rhubarb, asparagus, onions, beets, beans, currants, gooseberries, garlic, cover crops,any of our herbs, and the vast majority of our flowers.

A lot of people think organic means that it is pesticide free.
It's not. Pesticide free organic produce is a convenient fiction that is misleadingly promoted by organic growers and sellers. However the use of "natural" pesticides is an integral part of organic farming, and all pesticides, both "natural" and synthetic, are toxic. Some crops, both organic and conventional, can be grown without pesticides; other crops, both organic and conventional, cannot reliably be grown without pesticides. Regardless of how it is labeled, the only way to know how your food was grown is to ask the grower.

An organic pesticide may not be the best choice.
If the successful harvest of one of our crops is threatened by a pest, and there is no other way to treat it, we will use pesticides. We always use the least toxic pesticide we can. If an organic pesticide is more toxic, we'll use a synthetic one. That makes sense, right? Ironically, by choosing the least toxic option, we are not organic. That's okay, because we know we grow our crops in the safest, healthiest, most sustainable way possible, and we don't need to hide behind an "organic" label to do it.

What about neonicotinoids?
In recent years the use of the neonic class of insecticides has been the pesticide topic de jour. Even the briefest web search will find too many words being bandied about from stakeholders with views that range from neonics being perfectly safe for bees, to the use of neonics causing the collapse of civilization. Of course neither is true. On our farm we have happy honey bees, and yes, when it is appropriate, we do use neonicotinoids.

Hope this helps, remember to eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and as our slogan says, "Know who grows your food!"

More stuff:
Scientific American: Farming Myths
A good video on What is organic farming?