David Bell, a certified organic farmer from Salt Lake City gave a talk at the University of Utah annex building last Tuesday on the process, as well as the challenges and benefits of organic gardening.
Bell Organic Farm, run by Bell and his family is located inside the Salt Lake City limits. Along with growing many of the typical vegetables that can be found in a grocery store, David grows 35 variations of carrot, tomato, pepper, beats and peppers.
“I cut one open, and I feel like I’m holding a sunrise in one hand and a sunset in the other,” Bell said, referring to one of eight types of heirloom tomatoes he grows on his farm.
Bell grows everything naturally. That means no pesticides or chemical treatments like nitrogen and growth hormone. The food is all harvested by hand, and the land, which they lease is maintained to certified organic standards.
To be certified organic requires 50 to 80 hours of paperwork, constant essay writing on the planting, cultivating and harvesting process and personal inspection as mandated by Food and Drug Administration. The fees required also take up about two percent of Bell’s annual revenue.
“I’m proud to be certified organic,” Bell said, grinning over his folded hands.
The organic process does require more labor, and Bell manages to get all he needs by letting people come out and work, paying them with portions of the food they help to grow.
“It’s amazing how many highly educated people we get who are either tired of being in an office, or don’t want to fill out another unanswered job application who come out and work under the sun, for food,” Bell said.
David sells most of his produce through his website http://bellorganic.com and a system called a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Basically a customer pays an annual fee, a little over four hundred dollars and during the summer and fall months customers go to a local delivery point and pick up fresh produce.
“We pick in the morning and deliver in the afternoon. I don’t see it getting any fresher than that,” Bell said.
Most of the attendees of the lecture were members of the university’s student organization SPEAK (Students Promoting Eating disorder Awareness Knowledge). SPEAK is an organization dedicated to a healthier more environmentally friendly way of life and works to spread awareness about things like local farming and organic living.
“It’s amazing that such fresh produce is available at such reasonable prices,” said Allison Steward after the lecture, a grad student in health science and a member of SPEAK. “With a lot of stuff at the store you can’t know what you’re eating but here you do. And if you have any doubts you can go there and grow it yourself.”
“I think it’s a cool way to get healthy food and a good sense of community,” said Megan Madsen, a social work major at the university and also a member of SPEAK.
“Farming is hard, but its worth it when you look at a piece of food and say, ‘I made that.’ It makes me feel like I contribute,” Bell said.
Bell Organic delivers from late March, early April all of the way into November. They have pick up locations in Salt Lake City, Park City and many more between there and South Jordan. For more information on the farm and its process, or to sign up for the CSA go to http://bellorganic.com.