Organic Producer Video
Would you like to introduce your operation?
Hello, I'm Mike Brownback and this is Spiral Path Farm. Together with my wife Tara, and our two sons, Lucas and Will, we own and operate Spiral Path Farm. We are located in Central Pennsylvania, in Perry County. We farm 250 acres, of that 250 acres, about 72 acres are certified organic vegetables.
What are the benefits to your operation of producing organically?
We have been certified organic for close to 25 years now. We have seen a lot of benefits since we became organic. We have gone from a conventional farrow-to-finish hog operation to a diverse certified organic vegetable operation. A lot of the benefits have been that we are in control of our own marketing. We used to be price takers and now we are price askers.
That is a big deal. Our soil has improved dramatically with organic techniques as is our relationship with our customers.
What are the challenges of producing organically?
There are a number of challenges of producing organically. I would say the first challenge that we came upon when we decided to become organic from being conventional farmers was just to change the mindset and to get over what we thought was this terrible fear that if we went organic we would not be able to make it financially. Well, we were very wrong about that and a lot of the problems that farmers have, the challenges are pretty similar to what conventional growers have. With organics, the weeds are number one, that might not be so with the conventional grower. Weeds are number one, I would say that insects are number two, after that it is probably having enough labor, finding good help, and the list goes on from there.
What is your marketing plan for your products?
Here at Spiral Path Farm, we have diverse marketing outlook. We start with our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Our CSA we have had for over twenty years, we started with 28 members. Today it is over 2,000 members. We have also, in that same time period, maintained wholesale outlets, we have wholesale customers, we are retailers, and we also sell through farmer's markets in the District of Columbia (D.C.) area.
What other marketing options are available for organic products?
There are a number of options for organic growers. There are processing markets that are growing, wholesale markets, and retail markets. The organic field is wide open right now.
Is there anything else you would like to add concerning organics?
As an organic grower, my thoughts are directed towards my customers. I really care about the nutrition and health and well-being of our customers. We look upon ourselves not as commodity producers but actually producers that try to help the health of the nation.