Maintaining organic certification requires keeping complete, extensive and detailed records about all aspects of farm work, and requires keeping copies of receipts for all purchases of seeds, fertilizers, etc. Even market gardeners that do not seek organic certification must maintain extensive records to be compliant with food safety laws as codified in the FSMA. As I am an intrinsically disorganized person, I have created a relational database to facilitate keeping and maintaining the required records. The beauty of the database is that it runs in the cloud on Airtable, which allows access by smartphone from the field, as well as via web browser from a laptop or desktop computer.
When High and Dry Farm recently received its initial inspection for organic certification, the inspector was blown away by the power of this system. A standard part of such inspections is for the inspector to point to a recent sale of a farm product, and demand that the farmer show records demonstrating that the product in question was indeed grown on the farm and was grown using organic methods. The inspector pointed to a sale of 10 lbs of fennel. Using the data base, within 60 seconds, I was able to show that the fennel in question was planted in the greenhouse, on a specific date, using seeds purchased on a specific date from Johnny’s Seeds, and the database provided an image of the seed package and of the purchase receipt. I showed records indicating that the plants were transplanted into Bed D of plot #2 on a specific date and harvested on a specific date, and I showed records indicating that the bed in question had been amended on a specific date with organic fertilizers, showing images of the receipts for the fertilizer purchases.
We am now making this database system, Organic Farmer 2.0, available to farmers completely without charge. Sign up for a free Airtable account here. Once you have signed up, download a copy of the Organic Farmer 2.0 database to your Airtable account here. Detailed instructions for use of Organic Farmer 2.0 can be found here.