No, we are not Certified Organic by the USDA. However, this title would not change the way we farm. We decided in the beginning we did not want to add pesticides, herbicides or other non-organic amendments to our soil, plants or farm at all. It has not been easy! Our biggest threat has been weeds, weeds and more weeds. Compared to weeds, lavender grows at a snail's pace. Thank goodness, very few pests pose a threat to lavender. Deer don't like it too much either.
The first year we planted our lavender, we severely underestimated the growth of a weed. We lost 90% of our 600 plants to weed overgrowth. Two years later, we planted another crop after laying down high grade weed fabric and mulching each plant with limestone rock. This was a life-saver for us, but we still have to weed. The key is keeping it under control.
The hard work is worth it. We want to use, sell and offer plants that have not been exposed to chemicals or toxins which could cause harm to the user or the plants themselves. We use lavender in our own baths, food, and drink and don't feel it's worth the risk of toxin exposure just to get rid of a few weeds. If we can't do it this way, we just won't do it.
We know a lot of you feel this way too. However, the time and tens of thousands of dollars our colleagues have spent to obtain this certification is out of our reach. Thankfully, there is Certified Naturally Grown! This is a US-based farm assurance program which offers a "grassroots alternative" to Certified Organic. These farms are not corporate conglomerates, but local produce, livestock and apiary farms who sell locally and directly to consumers. Each farm pledges to be organic and agrees to inspect and be inspected yearly by a regional peer who pledges the same. We keep each other in check, so to speak!
We applied, passed inspection and were issued the status of Certified Naturally Grown in 2019. We have met some wonderful, like-minded Kentucky farmers who love what they do and are committed to natural growing practices. With this certification, we can show our customers we do care about keeping our plants and products safe. Check us out at certified.naturallygrown.org.