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1000 Cooper St
Memphis, TN, 38104

Welcome to the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market! We're small but we're like family. You can find us in the parking lot of First Congo every Saturday morning 8am-1pm. Come browse our market for a locally-sourced selection of fresh produce, grass-fed meat, homegrown herbs, warm baked goods, all-natural soaps, fresh-cut flowers, hot coffee and live acoustic music. We are family, kid, and dog-friendly. Visit us this weekend!

How a Farm Gets Organic Certification

News You Can Use

How a Farm Gets Organic Certification

Sandy Watson

Beginning in the 1990s, the USDA sought to standardize what constituted as “organic farming practices”.  Up until then, each state and even individual growers had their own ideas as to what was an organic practice and what wasn’t.  By 2002, clear guidelines were established in order to make uniform all the different standards and growing practices.  In order to meet the minimum qualifications to be considered a certified organic farm, producers must:

  • Preserve natural resources and biodiversity

  • Support animal health and welfare

  • Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors

  • Only use approved materials

  • Do not use genetically modified ingredients

  • Receive annual onsite inspections

  • Separate organic food from non-organic food

These standards were established by Congress in the Organic Foods Production Act and cover every aspect of growing and production, from seed to table.  Having these clear guidelines protects consumers by making sure the integrity of the organic farm products going to market stays intact.  If a producer wants to use the “organic” label on his or her product, they must adhere strictly to the guidelines and submit to farm inspections which include observations of their growing, storage and processing procedures, as well as soil and water sampling.  The Organic Foods Production Act also provides the USDA the ability to investigate consumer complaints and bring judgment on producers and processors who break the law. Even small farms and processors (who sell at least $5000 in organic product) who want to use an organic label on their products must be inspected and certified. 

Why is the “organic” label such a big deal?  The term organic means that producers are held to a different standard of practice that does not rely on certain chemicals, like pesticides and fertilizers, that have been linked to environmental damage, or on genetically-altered substances whose long-term health effects are unknown.  Organic practices rely instead on natural deterrents to pests such as companion planting, natural soil fertilizers such as compost, and overall practices that are more eco-friendly and sustainable.  Certified organic farms also have to keep records of which substances have been used on the soil for the past three years, so that inorganic chemicals won’t have leaked into production by accident.