Growing Organic Beans, Counting Organic Beans

Karen Adler's picture

This is part 2 of the 3-part series "From the Ground Up: What Does It Mean to be Certified Organic?"

Many people don’t know that part of the organic certification process is keeping good records of farming activities. I’ve spoken with farmers who resist this, saying things like, I’m a farmer, not a bookkeeper. Some even see it as a stumbling block to pursuing certification. 

However, in the words of Tony Kleese, long-time organic farmer, advocate, and educator, “The things that you need to do for the National Organic Program recordkeeping requirements are actually essential to being a good farmer and a good businessperson.”

Here are the key items that organic farmers are required to track:

  • Records of seeds, annual seedlings and perennial planting stock: invoices; organic certificates; verification of attempts to find organic sources
  • Application records for all farm input; invoices and shipment documents for material inputs purchased
  • Production records: planting; cultivation; weeding; farm equipment cleaning; farm consultant recommendations; soil analysis result
  • Harvest records: production yields; shipping documents; delivery tickets
  • Sales records: daily market records; CSA sales receipts; bank deposits; warehouse sales summaries; invoices for buyers; purchase orders from buyers

That does sound like important information. What farmer doesn’t need to know what they planted, where they planted it, how much they planted, what they harvested, what they sold, and what were the costs?

These are the basic tools a grower uses to review and analyze which inputs and practices are yielding desired results, and to make effective plans for the future. These are the tools that ensure the health and sustainability of the organic farm, the environment, our food, and our precious natural resources.

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