What do we mean by Organic?


Pollybell farmland with broccoli seedlings being weeded

Organic production methods encompass many different values but the standards that define organic, unlike other accreditation systems, are set down in UK and European law. This means that when you buy organic produce it is guaranteed to be organic.

There are many additional criteria and values that describe ‘organic’ farming methods but no universally accepted definitions. We have brought together two of the most straightforward below which directly affect how we farm at Pollybell every day.

The Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on its website quotes the Compendium of UK Organic Standards’ definition of organic production as follows:

‘Organic production systems are designed to produce optimum quantities of food of high nutritional quality by using management practices which aim to avoid the use of agri-chemical inputs and which minimise damage to the environment and wildlife.

The principles include:

Working with natural systems rather than seeking to dominate them 

The encouragement of biological cycles involving micro-organisms, soil flora and fauna, plants and animals 

The maintenance of valuable existing landscape features and adequate habitats for the production of wildlife, with particular regard to endangered species 

Careful attention to animal welfare considerations 

The avoidance of pollution 

Consideration for the wider social and ecological impact of the farming system.’

The second definition is taken from Lady Eve Balfour, founder of the Soil Association, in a speech she gave in 1977, aged 80, to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). 

“The criteria for a sustainable agriculture can be summed up in one word - Permanence - which means adopting techniques that maintain soil fertility indefinitely; that utilise, as far as possible, only renewable resources; that do not grossly pollute the environment; and that foster life energy (or if preferred biological activity) within the soil and throughout the cycles of all the involved food-chains.”