CCOF has long recognized the importance of natural resources on a certified organic operation. We have developed this page as a resource for clients to learn about how to maintain and improve these important natural resources. The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) defines “Natural Resources” as the physical, hydrological, and biological features of an operation, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands and wildlife.
Our Organic System Plan (OSP) section G4.2 Natural Resources was designed to highlight an organic operation’s current and ongoing efforts to maintain or improve their natural resources. Primary conservation principals such as water management, preservation and development of wildlife habitat, control of invasive species, and natural resources planning/monitoring are featured in the OSP form.
Organic agriculture can provide natural habitats that support pollination, maximize pest control, protect water quality, and meet the needs of multiple native animals and plants. On most farms, farming practices exist to accommodate the needs of native species. Ultimately, increasing biological diversity brings stability and resilience to the farm.
In addition to the resources below, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), with nearly 3,000 county-level Soil and Water Conservation Districts, provides conservation programs and services to private landowners. Their main objective is to implement voluntary best- management practices through the use of programs such as conservation planning and technical assistance, conservation implementation, natural resource inventory and assessment, natural resource technology transfer, and financial assistance. CCOF offers a listing by chapter for members to easily take advantage of their services.
The Wild Farm Alliance (WFA), in collaboration with Community Alliance with Family Farmers, have created this brochure for a quick understanding of what you can do to benefit from and support natural resource conservation/biodiversity.
The Wild Farm Alliance (WFA) produced these biodiversity guides for farmers and certifiers which lay out a range of farm management possibilities for maintaining and enhancing biodiversity. Included methods contribute to biodiversity conservation outside of farm borders at the regional or watershed level. Contact WFA to receive a hard copy of one or both of the guides.
This WFA Briefing Papers series on Wild Pollinators explores the historic role of native pollinators in food production, includes specific information on where they live, and details which crops benefit from native bees. In addition, the paper outlines what other growers have done to attract these beneficial creatures to their farm.
The Xerces Society has several publications related to pollinators . This publication explores the critical requirements of native bees, explains why they are such effective pollinators, and suggests practical ways to improve their habitat on your land.
A lengthier booklet from Xerces Society, this guide examines the importance of conserving native bees, methods for creating foraging and nesting habitat, and features case studies of farmers successfully accommodating native bees on their farms.
This quick-read brochure goes over the benefits and functions of hedgerows in the farmscape, lists important considerations for successful plant establishment, explains how to avoid potential problems, and gives examples of typical hedgerow plants. It was prepared by the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County and CAFF.
More detailed hedgerow information is found in this manual. It helps farmers choose and care for regionally appropriate plants that attract beneficial insects and prevent erosion. Also, a listing of native plant nurseries and consultants/contractors specializing in hedgerow and other restoration projects is included.
The Resource Conservation District of Monterey County published this guide to serve as a first step in exploring resource conservation management options. The handbook contains photos and descriptions of various engineered and non-engineered practices including, but not limited to, vegetated waterways, filter strips, tailwater recovery systems, irrigation water management, and road seeding.
CCOF recognizes the importance of natural resources in organic farming and has always sought to implement organic standards in order to enhance biodiversity and natural resources conservation. In late 2005, CCOF supplied all of our clients with biodiversity guides and a letter of support for the Wild Farm Alliance’s (WFA) efforts. The Wild Farm Alliance is working to make biodiversity educational materials available to help farmers address the requirements in the organic standards. Read the 2005 letter provided by CCOF and WFA to CCOF certified farmers introducing new farm biodiversity conservation guides.
In 2008, CCOF began an initiative that ensured inspection process addressed the issue of biodiversity. This initiative greatly aided i the development of our current Natural Resource Management OSP form.
In January 2010, CCOF sent our Natural Resource Management OSP form to all certified organic growers, along with a letter requesting they consider areas on their farm where they are actively maintaining or improving natural resources. To aid growers in their efforts to describe on farm conservation efforts, CCOF included a Biodiversity brochure, developed by the Wild Farm Alliance (WFA) in partnership with the Community Alliance for Family Farms (CAFF). The brochure, which can be found above, highlights practical strategies for increasing biodiversity on farms.
CCOF inspectors are currently asking certified operations a number of questions aimed at identifying and describing riparian areas and other sensitive natural resources, ecosystems, or wildlife habitats that constitute part of our certified clients operations, and about any efforts being taken by clients to maintain or improve these and other natural resources. We hope these and other efforts will help CCOF and our clients lead the way in organic farming as we have done for decades.