- Jun. 17, 2008 -
Ergonomically positioned over his cedar potting bench making a set of free standing cubes of compressed potting soil, which he calls "potting blocks", also known as soil blocks, this small farmer talks about the world's first free food certification process. Jason Beam, of Alpine Oregon, runs a small nursery and egg business, and says he's not getting certified organic. "I don't buy plastic for our farm, I make my own compost, fertilizer, and use mostly hand tools. I've even created wildlife gardens so they leave my food crops alone.", he comments. "I mean, I'm way beyond organic, and I don't need capital hill's permission to be certified organic." Commercial farming since 1999, Beam seeks out individual customers for his eggs and produce. "They actual seek me out.", he reveals. "But, people like to belong to something, Americans love a good label, they want to feel like their part of something, a sense of belonging, something great for the planet." To that extent, he created a label for his produce, but it turned out to be much more than a name. He created a movement. He's now Certified Authentic Beyond Organic, or CABO for short. The world's first free food certification process whereby the grower or processor is certified by their own customers. "You really can't have a better guarantee than a happy customer.", he notes. Customers are free to come over to his farm, at any time, to inspect conditions. He needs three customers per year to fill out a checklist and pass his operation for certification. "It's a pass or fail system.", Beam says. The CABO standards or rules are outlined on his website, which also educates gardeners on the European style of seed starting and transplanting known as soil block making. View the complete set of standards with FAQ's at http://www.pottingblocks.com/CABO.html
. You can get printouts of the Customer Certifying Checklist and a Certificate of Authenticity. CABO means "local", and the main guidlines are about selling to local communities;
50 miles for fresh produce and 300 miles for grains and other products. All animals are rasied on grass pastures and have to consume local products, as well. There's even a standard for creating a wildlife habit, which is one of twelve standards to be upheld. "My vision is to see more local farms providing variety and quality for their communities."
, Beam says. "Ironically, I know they can be profitable again because
of the rising cost of living. Staying local and attracting customers to come to you for quality and nutrition at a fair price will keep you out of the red." He should know, he has more demand than supply, and encourages all small farms to tools up for the explosion of local food production. "This is actually a time of great oppurtunity for land owners to serve their communities and make a living at home. Simple economics make local food production a reality again.", He smiles. He believes that a free food certification process can stimulate farmers, who are already beyond organic to stay focused on what they're doing, to expand to meet the demand. "Certification is just one step to profitability."
, Beam notes. "The others are what I like to call "passion sales", or creating markets with love for what you do and getting other consumers to relate that message to their peers. There is a strong demand for quality and nutrition, people need "nutrition intervention"
now more than ever." He believes in the old world style of "daily shopping for tonight's dinner", and has plotted a course for communities to return to "the land of milk and honey" with their "cottage industries". His quotes may seen old fashioned, but he's certainly filled with optimism and excitement for the future. "I've given the world the only gift I have," Beam says softly. "The power of the pen with love and attention." He seems to have finished his thought as he quickly cranks out another twenty soil blocks in less than one minute and plants them with corn and beans in ten seconds. He looks up and says, "These little potting blocks will be the key component to a productive vegetable farm. Just you watch." To see more of his potting blocks click http://www.pottingblocks.com
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PottingBlocks.com was created to educate the world on the benefits of soil block gardening. Jason Beam, the creator, is the authorized representative of CABO, and a market gardener, tool inventor, writer, and manages Alpine Gardens and Easter Egg Farm in Alpine, Oregon.Photo: