The most common question we get is, “Why organic farming?”

Let’s answer that question of why organic farming practices are used on our farm.  We made the choice to convert to organic farm practices for a number of reasons.  Initially our transition to organic was more of a fiscal decision.  We thought if we stepped into a niche market, we might be able to better sustain ourselves financially.  Our family watched in the 1980s when so many farmers struggled and in some cases, they even lost their farms trying to get bigger.  We also thought it was healthier for us and our consumers. We had the manpower to make it work. We looked for ways to bring in more income with what we already had and that’s why organic farming conversion made for a sensible risk to take.

Ray Mikkonen driving the tractor

Ray Mikkonen driving the tractor.

It was tempting to go back

Is it still a financial decision that sustains our decision to farm organically?  To be honest, we’d be lying if we said we haven’t thought about going back to conventional at least a few different times over these many years. 

  • When we look at fields of really nice looking crops slowly being choked by weeds impeding the continued growth and development of our crops, yes it’s tempting.
  • When we see conventional farmers plant their crops then spray their fields to eliminate weeds freeing themselves to get other work done or have time for summer family vacations while we sit in the tractor cultivating the weeds covering the fields multiple times, yes it’s tempting. 
  • When grain prices were close to matching the organic prices and their yield was almost twice what ours was, yes, it was tempting. 
  • When we spend hours and hours testing, researching, and reading to find ways to increase soil fertility and control weeds naturally because what we tried last time didn’t work as we hoped, yes, it’s tempting.

If organic farming were easy, everyone would be doing it.  It isn’t easy, but it is rewarding and therefore we don’t see changing from our organic practices any time soon. Over the years we’ve learned more and more reasons why organic farming fits us.

Is organic better? 

Well, we think organic crops are better for us and our operation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that conventional crops are bad, they just aren’t the market we are going after and it’s not what fits our family farm operation.  We firmly believe in value of progress, science and technology, but we choose to limit how much of the synthetic science is put into our ground and on our crops.  We want to provide for our customers the most natural crops possible. 

While we admittedly started mostly for fiscal reasons, that’s not why organic farming practices continue.  We sustain our organic principles because it feels right, fits our family and makes us feel good about how we nurture the land God entrusted to us.

If you’re interested, there’s a lot of information available online to learn more about the definition of organic.  There are also many stories of others and why organic farming practices are used in their operations.