Why Say “Grown Organically” if Not Certified “Organic”?

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Where to buy delta 9 in NC - our hemp farm!Hi, quick reintroduction, I’m Sam, co-owner and operator of Rocky River Hemp.

We started growing hemp in 2018, and those who advised us at the time wanted us to use ‘conventional’ mineral salt plant nutrients (non organic).  We grew hemp for 2 years using this ‘conventional’, modern method, using non organic fertilizer.  The plants had no idea of the difference, and they grew great using these fertilizers.  Any localized, row-to-row soil quality issues were negated by the fertilizer we were feeding via our drip irrigation.  The yield was excellent, and the flowers tested high in CBD.  I even got a bunch of free fertilizer because I took pretty pictures and put them on Instagram.

I knew that these fertilizers did a great job growing hemp, and because of the market, there really was no reason to switch, outside of a moral imperative to be better.  I banned the use of plastic ground cover on the farm because I hate the plastic trash.  Most hemp, organic or not, is grown using plastic row covers that create an immense amount of plastic trash that ends up as microplastics in all of our bodies.

It is cheaper in every way to use ‘conventional’ fertilizer, instead of these OMRI approved, organic inputs.

However, instead of increasing soil fertility every year, you reduce it by killing off microbiology with salt based conventional fertilizer.  I believe strongly in the functioning of the soil food web, and also find the mycorrhizal relationships that occur in natural, organic systems fascinating.

To get ‘Certified Organic’ is many thousands of dollars as well, on top of paying more for all the locally sourced, OMRI listed nutrition and pest control products. Yes, hemp and cannabis do have bug pests and they can be a tremendous issue.

I pushed hard to switch to completely organic growing methods – not because we could charge more for organic hemp products (I thought the current prices across the market were already too high for normal people to be able to afford it).

I switched the farm to organic hemp because I believe it leaves a healthier soil for my child to inherit.

The water that flows off our fields, down the hill to our creek which runs into the Rocky River, and from then on to the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean should be clean and not full of fertilizers and microplastics.

Do we want to get our organic hemp certified?

Of course!  But running a farm business is not a great way to get rich, and we are not swimming in cash.  Especially when trying to expand our facilities and reach, and introduce new products.  The local NC government is also planning to tax us $5000 more every year just to keep growing, organic hemp or not.  We still do not really pay ourselves, and it’s only because we all have/had previous careers and other jobs that we can even put food on the table.

So to get back to the initial question, why would we say we grow organically, when we are not certified organic hemp?

Partly because I want to spread the word that letting the soil work organically can grow great plants and increase local biological health, while making a great product that has more subtle depth than one grown with conventional fertilizers that wipe out local microbiology.

Partly because I want our customers and potential customers to know that I believe in organic farming.  We list all ingredients on our product pages, and at every possible place we use organic inputs in our products as well as in our grow.

Should we just grow organically and not talk about it?  Not help to spread the word that growing organically can be viable for a business, and is better for the environment?  I don’t know.

This topic is fresh because of a recent customer interaction in which they felt fooled by me saying we grow organically, but not being certified, and I wanted to address it and maybe start a conversation.  So, because we aren’t certified, should I just hit the easy button and use the cheaper, conventional fertilizer?  No, I don’t think so, because my belief in what we are doing has not changed.

Should I wipe all mention of organic methods off the website?  I think everyone has a right to know what is in what they buy, so that doesn’t work great.  And folks should know if they want to support organic, which one to buy.

Should I go and get certified RIGHT NOW?  Well I can’t, because we are in the middle of two cash intensive projects, and we just do not have the money for it.  I do not want to raise prices to even keep up with inflation, much less because I have to pay for someone who does not grow our plants to say we’re growing them right.

I don’t have an answer to this.  All I know is that I will keep growing organic cannabis, certified or not, since I believe in the basic purpose of growing organically, and that’s not to increase profit.  I will be transparent in all things, and I guess hope for the best, and that the quality will shine through.

Any opinions on this, please let me know. And, as always, you can buy our organic hemp organically grown hemp products here on the website.

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