OrganicFarmNZ is a small growers certification scheme which enables New Zealand consumers to identify organic produce grown in their own region and which also has the certification clout of internationally recognised certifications like Bio-Gro.
Small-scale organic growers have historically found the cost of certification through the bigger labels, which are designed for exporting businesses, a burden if not prohibitive. OrganicFarmNZ, which was set up through the Soil and Health Association, provides a much less expensive way to get certified.
Certification costs minimised
Costs to producers have been minimised by using peer review to ensure standards are met. The standards are largely based on Bio-Gro production rules and Bio-Gro provides an external audit to ensure OrganicFarmNZ goods are of a high standard.
OrganicFarmNZ also has a regional focus, allowing consumers to consciously buy local organic produce, and thereby return money to their local community. This often means the food they buy is fresher, and in addition, less fossil fuel is used in transporting the produce to market.
The 12 regions each have a management body which caters to either individual producers or producer groups known as pods. Seven elected representatives from these areas meet on a national co-ordinating committee which ensures certification is being carried out consistently across the country.
OFNZ captures flavour of the regions
Canterbury's area representative, Matt Morris said OrganicFarmNZ has been successful in capturing the flavour of the regions and allows for the different growing conditions and personalities, and access to local resources.
While in the Far North, there are many individual properties registered, the Golden Bay body is made up of one large pod of growers. In Canterbury, there are three pods.
The various regions face different issues, such as or phosphate deficiency in the Far North or DDT residue in Canterbury soil - all this region's producers are now required to conduct a DDT residue test upfront. Such issues are able to be settled regionally.
For area representative contact details look under OrganicFarmNZ in the Organic Directory NZ.