SandowFarm-Gleaner

Local orchard one of two certified organic in N.B.

Local orchard one of two certified organic in NB by Tara Chislett of the Daily Gleaner

A Keswick Ridge apple orchard has become one of only two certified organic apple orchards in the province.  Sandow Farm recently received its international certification through the Organic Crop Improvement Association.  Carleton County’s HutLo Acres is the only other certified organic orchard in New Brunswick.

Marieka Chaplin, who purchased the orchard with her husband Philip in 2011, said her family is excited to have its new status for the 2013 season.  “Typically for a farm to become organic, they would need three years of applying to be organic and doing all the paperwork and of course not using any synthetic herbicides or pesticides or insecticides or fertilizers,” she said.

“But in our case, we bought this farm from a family that had owned it 19 years pesticide-free so we had just an 18-month transition period allowing us to be certified this year.”

Chaplin said the process of being certified organic is rigorous with a lot of requirements such as not using chemical fertilizers and only using sprays that are approved for organic crops, something that can be a challenge for orchardists.

“They’re quite a heavily sprayed crop,” she said.  “Most people don’t realize that because apples have such a healthy persona, if that’s the right word.”  In many cases, Chaplin said orchardists spray for scab, a disease of apple trees caused by a fungus that produces dark blotches or lesions on the leaves and fruit.

Because the primary crop as Sandow Farm – the Sandow apple, an older variety of apple known for storing well over the winter – is scab-resistant, Chaplin said her family doesn’t have to use any sprays, even the approved ones for organic farms.

Although there are a lot of requirements to maintaining organic status, including an annual recertification process, Chaplin said there are a lot of benefits for the small orchard.  As a result of its certification, it is now listed with the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network and if in future years they want to add crops to the farm, they can also receive organic certification.

Chaplin said with interest in buying local increasing, her family is excited to be able to provide another opportunity for organic options to those who want them.

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