Farm Made: A Guide to On-Farm Processing for Organic Producers

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Organic management can bring many benefits to the farm. One of these is better net income. A major contributing factor to an improved bottom line is the premium that organic commands in most markets. However, as production increases and organic products go mainstream, premiums are likely to decline, and organic farmers are likely to face the same economic pressures as their conventional neighbors. One way to avert this is by adding value to organic crops through on-farm organic processing.

The examples are really endless. Some of the more obvious include converting:

  • organic wheat to organic flour
  • organic peppers and tomatoes to organic salsa
  • organic apples to organic apple cider
  • organic okra to organic okra pickles

No doubt, adding a processing enterprise to any farm is a serious undertaking, one that requires sound research and planning. Organic farmers need to jump through the same hoops any other business person would in starting a food business, and at least one more—organic certification.

Farm-Made is intended for the organic farmer, or prospective organic farmer, who is considering adding a processing enterprise and needs to know the additional challenges and requirements that organic certification presents, as well as some of the unique opportunities.

Here we provide an overview of the general requirements for organic certification and for food processing facilities. We follow that with a discussion of four different onfarm enterprises—sorghum syrup, packaged fresh salad greens, table eggs, and canned fruit products (jams, jellies, and preserves). With each, we outline the basic production and processing requirements, and follow with details unique to organic management. A list of resources is provided in each chapter.

George Kuepper
Holly Born
Anne Fanatico
Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture