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What does the word organic mean to you? Have you ever eaten organic food? Does your school have an organic school garden?

Read on to find out all about organic food and how you can grow your own organic garden!

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What does organic mean?

Organic food

If something is organic, it has been grown without chemicals, synthetic fertilisers or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic farmers use natural farming practises to nurture their produce, and in the process help protect the environment.

Animals that are organic are raised free range, and fed healthy organic food and clean water. Organic farmers do not just focus on producing the final product, but try to be aware of everything involved in creating that product. They care about the soil, plants, animals, food, and the health of people and the environment. By choosing organic food you reduce your exposure to poisonous chemicals and food additives.

If you want to buy food that is organic, it is really simple! All you have to do is look for food products with the Australian Certified Organic Bud logo. You can be assured that all items marked with this logo are organic.

Next time you are at the supermarket look out for the Bud logo, and see how many organic items you can find on the supermarket shelves.

Can I grow my own organic food?

Grow your own organic food

Growing organic food is not just something that farmers can do. You can create your own organic garden at home or at school.

Organic gardening involves:

  1. learning how to create healthy soil for your plants to grow in
  2. planning your garden so that it can be easily cared for
  3. understanding how to plant and why you need to mulch your garden
  4. learning how to care for your garden so you can grow lots of healthy fruits and vegetables

Gardeners need specific equipment to help them in the garden:

  • Protective clothes: Gardeners wear protective clothes (including gloves and a hat) and sturdy shoes.
  • Compost containers and a worm farm: Just like you, plants need nutrients. Plants get their nutrients from compost (which is made from organic material such as food or garden scraps). You can also use a worm farm to produce a liquid called worm ‘tea’ which can be used as an organic fertiliser.
  • Soil pH test kit: Healthy plants can only grow in healthy soil. With the help of an adult, you can test your soil’s health with a soil pH test kit.
  • Gardening tools: Pots and potting mix, seeds, plant ties and watering implements (such as a garden hose or a watering can).
  • Liquid fertiliser: Don’t worry! Organic gardeners can use fertilisers if they are organic. You will only need this if you do not have enough compost or worm ‘tea’.
  • Scarecrow: Scarecrows are not just characters from a funny movie or story book. Scarecrows are very useful in the garden to help scare birds away and stop them from eating your plants, fruit and vegetables; and lots of fun to make too!

What should I avoid in my organic garden?

We already know that organic gardeners do not use chemicals, synthetic fertilisers or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). We need to learn how to avoid using these in our garden also, as they do not always come in a brightly labelled bottle. Sometimes they can be hidden and hard to identify.

For example, you might want to protect your soil by mulching your garden with store-bought straw. But, what if when that straw was growing in a paddock it was sprayed with a chemical-filled weed killer? Using it could harm your lovely organic garden! That is why we have to be careful of contaminants.

To be safe, you should avoid using things like treated or preserved timber, carpet, old car tyres, manures, herbicides, specific plastics and mulch sprayed with weedkiller. If you avoid these things, you will be off to a great start on the road to becoming an organic gardener.