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US (NJ): Organic certification class offered for farmers

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA-NJ), a nonprofit that supports organic food and farming in New Jersey, is offering farmers a sneak peek into the organic certification process through a three-session course called Road to Certification.

This course will be held at Pinelands Preservation Alliance, in Southampton, on Wednesdays – Oct. 15, 22, and 29 – from 6-9 p.m. Another offering of the course will be held in North Jersey at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, in Morristown, on Mondays - Nov. 24, Dec. 1, and 8 - from 6-9 p.m. Featuring presentations by organic farmers, an organic inspector and an accredited certifying agent, attendees will have the opportunity to explore organic certification with professionals in the industry.

“We have been getting numerous requests for this course, so we are excited to finally be able to offer it,” said Camille Miller, NOFA-NJ’s executive director. “There are so many questions about what it means to be certified, how to do it and whether it’s worth it. This class brings all of the players into the room and gives farmers a chance to really learn about the process."

Attendees will receive an introduction to organic certification, including an overview of the regulations; an in-depth look at the Organic Systems Plan; and an overview of the process in stages, from transitioning to inspection to certification and beyond. It’s designed to help farmers organize their path to certification and prepare them for each step. Organic certification can offer distinct advantages to farms – such as price premiums in the market and a popular consumer guarantee – but the increased management time and record-keeping that it requires may be a deterrent for some.

“It’s our hope that this class will help interested farmers start off on the right foot, which can save them time and money,” said Justine Cook, NOFA-NJ’s director of Farm Operations.

The course registration fee is $200 for NOFA-NJ members $250 for non-members. Additional details and registration information is available at www.nofanj.org. This course is sponsored in part by the Speciality Crop Block Grant Program of the Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, Project No. 1243 and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant No. 2011-49400-30739.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA-NJ) is dedicated to supporting organic and sustainable food, farming, and gardening in New Jersey through education, technical assistance, and policy action. NOFA-NJ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

For more information, visit www.nofanj.org.


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