Confused by all these labels? I get it—navigating the world of produce marketing can be overwhelming. But don't worry! As an expert in the field, I'll break down these terms and explain what they really mean for your food.
What is Bio-Intensive Agriculture?
Let's start with "bio-intensive," the primary term I use to describe VRDNT. It means our farming system relies on biological processes rather than chemical inputs. We focus on cultivating a healthy ecosystem to prevent pests and diseases, aiming for an ecologically balanced and highly productive system!
We exclusively use OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) approved inputs. You might think, "Oh, so you're organic, right?" Although we use organic-approved inputs, we haven't been formally audited, so we can't call ourselves Organic (doing so risks USDA fines up to $11,000). But that's just a teaser for our next section on Organic.
The key difference between bio-intensive and other methods is our focus on the ecosystem supporting healthy plant growth. Many "Organic" farms can still use natural inputs destructively while complying with certification standards.
At VRDNT, we prioritize biodiversity as the foundation of a balanced ecosystem. Our spray regime is preventative, not curative. We apply a mix of neem, garlic, and rosemary oil weekly to deter insects and inject compost tea frequently to promote healthy soil biology, leading to well-nourished plants. Having worked in the Organic industry for 10+ years before starting a farm, I can confidently say our inputs are less toxic than any other commercial operation I've worked on. And if you're still skeptical or just love insect photos like me, here are some pictures I've taken on the farm showcasing our lively ecosystem in action! Here's a brief explanation of the action below:
Assassin Bug killing Giant Horn Worm
A Spider eating a cucumber beetle (personal favorite)
Praying Mantis on patrol
Robber Fly eating a grasshopper
Lady Bugs getting it on
Native Green Sweat Bees in action
Leaf Footed Bug getting taken down by a spider
Next up, let's demystify the "Organic" label. As agriculture became industrialized, groups of like-minded individuals sought to produce food more sustainably and cleanly. Rachel Carson's 1962 book "Silent Spring" raised mainstream awareness of the environmental and health risks associated with chemical agriculture. By 1990, the US Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (