10 January 2012

2 PFM Farms Recognized for Excellence

The Agricultural Justice Project and Organically Grown Company proudly announce the domestic fair trade certification of two LADYBUG brand farms, Gathering Together Farm in Philomath and Spring Hill Farm in Albany.  By recognizing their workers’ rights, treating them with respect and making the commitment to paying living wages, these farms have earned the Food Justice Certified label, the first time any Pacific Northwest farm has become certified.  This certification guarantees that buyers pay fair prices that cover a farms’ full costs of production, allowing them to enhance the quality of life for everyone involved in the farm.

Food Justice Certification is domestic fair trade with integrity.  It is a third party certification system based on standards created by stakeholders, farmers, farm workers and social justice advocates who all contribute equally to the process.  The rigorous verification includes interviews of the workers by trained representatives of a farm worker organization who speak their language.

Gathering Together Farm is a 50-acre, certified organic, family operation located in Philomath, Oregon growing over 100 varieties of 50 different vegetables for fresh sales and seed. Owners Sally Brewer and John Eveland work with their crew of more than 100 employees to supply produce to their wholesale and retail customers, 300 community supported agriculture (CSA) members and an on-site restaurant. “Our employees are the heart and soul of GTF, “says Eveland on why they applied for Food Justice Certification. “We are very proud of our team and want to be a great employer. Being Food Justice Certified allows us to communicate this commitment to the world.”

Spring Hill Farm is a 45-acre, certified organic, family operation located in Albany, Oregon with 45 employees that grows over 60 crops, specializing in leafy greens. Being able to provide a good place to work is important for owners Jamie Kitzrow and Lisa Schwartz. Jamie says they wanted to create a place “where people want to continue working for us year after year”.

In announcing the official launch of the Agricultural Justice Project domestic, fair trade program, Michael Sligh, of RAFI-USA, a member of the AJP Management Committee, declared, “Just as the certified organic label took years and input from thousands of individuals to become the gold standard for how to grow and produce our food, the creation of Food Justice Certified has involved a broad base of committed individuals and groups from all sectors of the food system.  The process has been transparent and rigorous and aims to set a high bar for integrity and fair relations among the people who grow, process and sell our food. A truly digestible food product is one in which farmers, farm workers and those who sell the fruits of this labor all work collaboratively.”

The Food Justice label is available both to farms and other food businesses, from seed to table. It can be used as an additional claim along with certified organic or as a stand-alone label for advanced, integrated pest management farms.

The Food Justice Certified label rewards honest and open relationships throughout the food chain.  Its third party verified seal certifies that the highest standards of equity and fairness have been met on farms, in food manufacturing and in stores. The standards cover:

* Farmers and all food system workers’ rights to freedom of association

* Fair wages and benefits for workers

* Fair and equitable contracts for farmers and buyers

* Fair pricing for farmers

* Clear conflict resolution policies for farmers, workers and buyers

* The rights of indigenous peoples

* Workplace health and safety and decent farmworker housing

* High quality training for farm interns and apprentices

* The rights and protection of children on farms

* High quality training for farm interns and apprentices

* The rights and protection of children on farms

* The elimination of the use of toxic materials

To read the full standards, go to www.agriculturaljusticeproject.org.

About Organically Grown Company

Founded in 1978, employee and grower-owned Organically Grown Company (OGC) is the largest organic produce distributor in the Pacific Northwest. From its warehouses in Portland and Eugene, Oregon, and Kent, Washington, OGC serves over 200 natural and fine foods stores and restaurants. More than 90 percent of OGC’s product line comes directly from over 400 growers and over 30 % of products sold come from Northwest farms. OGC has been recognized as a leader in sustainable business practices including sourcing 100% renewable energy in facilities, support for fair trade and charitable giving. www.organicgrown.com