Helping Farmers Transition to Organics

Welcome to HowToGoOrganic™.com
Here you’ll find an online collection of existing resources for anyone exploring how to transition to organic. The Organic Trade Association is proud to offer this premier resource to help cultivate the growth of organic farming.

bonterraThis site has been organized in to five sections.

  1. The Pathway for Producers, where the steps toward making the transition to organic are made clear and informative;
  2. The Pathway for Processors, where new or existing processors can learn what it takes to become certified organic;
  3. The North American Directory, where organic farming resources can be search by category or keywords;
  4. The Regional Guide, where organic farming resources are organized by state and region, and
  5. The Key Resources section, where the most relevant and useful resources have been identified by sector

Not finding what you need? Tell us what you think. And, good luck with going organic!


Organic Transition Course

The Rodale Institute’s Organic TransitionCourse is a 15-hour online program designed to help you understand the National OrganicStandards and use them as
Some experts recommend transitioning a farm to organic gradually instead of all at once to avoid economic risks. What do you think of this approach?

From a financial point of view it makes sense to ease into organics and not risk financial disaster. The problem is you can’t change your approach or mindset to organic if you’re still farming conventionally. You wouldn’t be open to organic solutions to pest control if you’re still spraying pesticides. You can’t think both ways. Organic is an art form, while the whole process of conventional farming has been put into an oversimplified approach where decisions are often made by fertilizer salesmen and chemical company reps. Organic is totally different. There are hundreds or thousands of ways to farm organically. You must learn, observe, and experiment to find the style of organic that works best for you.

Doesn’t organic farming also involve some marketing skills?

Marketing organic crops is very different than marketing conventional. Most conventional farmers just sell their grain at a grain elevator. Organic farmers have to find buyers. There is a lot of organic product that is not selling because the connections haven’t been made. The farmer doesn’t find a buyer and dumps the grain as conventional. A lot of farmers don’t like to market. One farmer may get on the phone and search the internet making connections, and another may sit at home and wait for the phone to ring. In organic, you have to develop networking skills. I think organic marketing avenues will increase as the industry grows.

What do farmers need to do to successfully transition to organic?

They need to study the standards or talk to someone who understands them. They need to understand what organic is. They need to develop a transition plan and identify things in their farm that must change and plan how those changes will affect their farm. To start, I recommend using more organic methods to build the health of the soil before switching to only organic management methods. If the land is dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides and you suddenly remove them, there will be withdrawal with low yields and weed pressure. You may need two years of preparation to get the soil into more organic condition before applying for organic certification, which will start your three-year transition. This will help smooth the transition and minimize financial losses due to low yields. Network with other organic farmers and learn everything you can from them. It’s likely they’ve already learned all the things you’re facing. A very good resource for farmers thinking about transitioning to organic is the book “Gaining Ground” published by Canadian Organic Growers. It’s available at

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