We knew from the beginning that in developing our magical forest we needed to be remain free of synthetic inputs, and as close to a wild, untouched, naturally functioning ecosystem as we could attain. We were determined that organic was our destiny, but had no idea how to approach becoming certified. Initially we joined the PEI Wild Blueberry Association. Then we went to see Karen Murchison at Prince Edward Island Certified Organic Producers Co-operative (PEI COPC) to ask her advice on how to proceed with our official certification. Karen was very pleasant and helpful and gave us a list of organizations who could provide us with this certification. Off we went to Google, Google and Google some more. After some consideration we settled on Ecocert Canada as our certifying body. Ecocert, with its subsidiaries around the world, is responsible for inspecting over 30% of the world’s organic food industry. So we contacted Ecocert Canada and were quickly sent an email that contained a large (LARGE) number of supporting documents. Honestly, there was so much information that we quickly closed the laptop and decided to go hiking. After hiking, with trepidation, we opened our email browser to see if the attachment had magically lessened in size. Sadly, it was still the same. So we rolled up our sleeves and dove in with determination. Much of the documentation was simply regulations and standards that we were required to read. After filling out the sections that applied to our magical little forest, we hit SEND.
About a month later we received an e-mail from Jessica Fogerty, who was to become our organic pre-certification inspector. We were required to have a long list of records, logs and agreements ready for her inspection. As we were new to this process, and our land had never before been farmed, we were quite confused about how to proceed with this paperwork. Our pristine little patch of land had never had sales, contractors or inputs! As we toured around the forest in Tractor, Jessica quickly understood that our land had never been farmed and was still a few years away from a harvest. She complimented us on our biomimicry and really enjoyed her tour of Fox Hill, which is a naturally preserved area where foxes have made their homes for generations. Jessica has since left Ecocert to pursue her dream of independent business ownership. Fog Tree Forest is the name of her business and she specializes in producing body care and other natural products using indigenous and naturalized plants. Rumor has it that she blends an AMAZING blueberry leaf tea!
After a huge sigh of relief we realized that we had passed our inspection. But wait! Not so fast! We still had one more inspection.
Early in 2017 we received an email from Whitney from Ecocert saying that she needed to inspect our forest. Can a smile and some charm work again? No, Whitney was very professional and all business. She informed us that even though we had not had any inputs or harvests we needed supporting documents to prove that. Once again, after touring our forest, she understood the situation more thoroughly, and suggested we start documenting all inputs onto the land.
We have taken this recommendation to heart and now every time we mow our plants or spray compost tea it is recorded in our “Book of the Forest”.
Whitney submitted her report and a few months later our Organic Certificate arrived via email. Hooray!! We will proudly display our annual certificate each year on this website for all to see.
Thank you Karen, Jessica, Whitney and Ecocert for your assistance on this amazing journey. We began this process confused and overwhelmed and have come out on the other side informed and enlightened. We hope to pass any information we have onto others who wish to follow the same path to organic production and maybe, just maybe, we can all work towards more natural food production.