Natural Resource Conservation

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.

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.

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.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

The Natural Resources Conservation Service is the federal agency that works in partnership with the American people to conserve and sustain natural resources. The NRCS is a conservation leader for all natural resources, ensuring private lands are conserved, restored, and more resilient to environmental challenges, like climate change. NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems. In-field NRCS offices are located in nearly every county in the nation. Find your local NRCS office.

National Association of Conservation Districts

Use the National Association of Conservation Districts' "Locate Your Local District" interactive map page and click on your state to find your local district and their contact information.

Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs)

Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) are locally governed agencies with their own locally appointed, independent boards of directors to assist with dissemination of resource conservation information, expertise and assistance. RCDs offer assistance to private landowners and farmers wishing to conserve soil and water, and manage their resources on a sustainable basis. RCDs accomplish practical, hands-on conservation projects through grants and private contributions, including habitat improvement, water conservation, fire prevention, community education, hedgerow plantings, and more. California RCDs also have a trade association, the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, with which CCOF frequently interacts on education and policy issues. Find your California Resource Conservation District.


Biodiversity: What it is and How to Increase it on Your Farm

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.


Biodiversity Conservation: Guides for Organic Farmers and Certifiers

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.

Complete Farmer's Guide to Biodiversity

Complete Certifier's Guide to Biodiversity


Wild Pollinators

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.

Farming for Pollinators

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.



Farming for Bees: Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farms

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.




Hedgerows: Benefits to Farmers, Benefits to Wildlife

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.


Hedgerows for California Agriculture

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.


Water Quality: Handbook of Agricultural Conservation Practices

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.

History of CCOF and Natural Resources Conservation

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.