Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. I have just purchased or hope to purchase a
farm. I would like to farm it organically. Can you give me some
information on crops that I can grow and what I need to do to
A1. There are many things that will help
you determine which crops can be grown on a farm, such as farm
location, climate, and soil types. Your farming experience/knowledge
and your time availability will also be factors in determining
which crops are most suited to you.
For more information on local crop suitability for
your soils and climate you should contact the Agricultural Information
Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A first step to determining what you should grow is to determine
what markets are available in your area and what you need to do
to supply the quality and quantity that your customer or selling
agency will require. Organic crops have some special needs and
will require more effort to market them. Grains are generally
easier to plant, harvest and market than fruits or vegetables.
General information on organic farming is in the OMAFRA factsheet
to Organic Farming. The ministry also produces
other publications on starting a farm. Also see the factsheets
Starting an Organic
Farm and Transition
to Organic Crop Production.
Q2. I want to begin farming organically. How will
this be different from the more conventional farming practices
that I already use?
A2. Organic production of crops is very similar
to regular production for planting, harvesting. Varieties are
usually the same. Fertility, weeds and other pests need to be
managed in a more intensive way. Crop rotation and timing of mechanical
cultivation are critical to success. The integration of livestock,
to help supply manure/compost nutrients will also be a benefit.
Consider joining several of the organic farming associations such
as Canadian Organic Growers (COG)
or Ecological Farmers of Ontario
(EFO) to increase your network of organic farming contacts especially
among other organic farmers in your area. The OMAFRA factsheet
to Organic Farming lists organizations and their addresses.
For more information there is also a Directory of Organics available
from COG, and the Guelph
Organic Agriculture Conference that is held each January at
the University of Guelph.
Q3. Are there regulations or standards for organic
A3. The Canadian government implemented regulations for
organic products on June 30, 2009. The regulations require mandatory
certification to the revised Canadian Organic Standards (Canadian
Organic Production Systems Standards: General Principles and Management
Standards, and the Permitted Substances List) for agricultural products
represented as organic in import, export and inter-provincial trade,
or that bear the federal organic agricultural product legend or
logo. There are several certification bodies serving Ontario farms
and processors. Contact these organizations to get a information
on how to be certified. The cost of certification is about $500-$1500+/yr
per operation depending on your farm size and the complexity of
For more information on certification and addresses and links to
details of the organic regulations and standards see the infosheet
and Farming Certification.
Q4. Is organic farming expanding?
A4. In 2009 there were 716 certified organic farms in Ontario
with approximately 115,000 acres of certified cropland. This represents
a 50% growth in farm numbers since 1998 and farm acreage growth
of 90% over that period. Growth of organic food sales in North America
is reported to be 15-20% per year for the past 10 years and has
grown from $5 Billion to over $27 billion during that period for
North America. During this decade we have also see a growth in the
availability and diversity of organic food products and market opportunities
for producers. For more statistics see Organic Agriculture, Links
to Stats and Facts.