UPSTATE, SC: Vintage Falls Farm and Forage grows clean food, using sustainable practices with non-GMO seeds and no chemical pesticides. Yet, like many sustainable farms around the nation, they have chosen to forgo branding their products Certified Organic.
Instead, owners Kimberly and Jason Kelly have opted for a new, innovative program designed to fill the gap between “good practice” farmers and the high costs and regulations associated with Certified Organic.
Developed by local Upstate growers Steve and Jennifer Lorch, Good Faith Grown is a self-regulating association of growers and producers who choose to be open and honest with their customers about what goes into their food and other products.
They believe the program can help growers and producers in the Upstate, Western North Carolina and one day grow nationwide.
“It was born out of necessity,” said Lorch, who also owns and operates Table Rock Tea Company with his wife in Pickins, SC. “There was a void that was not being filled, a big gaping hole for farmers and consumers between being nothing and being Certified Organic.”
The key to Good Faith Grown, Lorch said, is simplicity.
Participating vendors promise to produce and grow as naturally as possible, and map out their practices in a searchable online database, allowing customers to easily view their procedures and make an informed decision about their purchases.
“Growing clean food should not be expensive, paperwork intensive or intimidating,” Kimberly said. “We are excited to join a group of like-minded people who are open about their growing and raising practices and want to encourage others to join in growing their own.”
The online program allows farmers and local producers to explain practices that may not fall under certified organic, but that the consumer would very easily understand and likely find acceptable.
“For the producer, that is huge because it takes that whole tormented conversation about why they are not certified organic and turns it into something positive,” Lorch said. “Labeling our products Good Faith Grown means that we are putting our reputation on the line as a producer to be honest with our consumers about what goes into our product. What we found is that the public just wants an honest company. And that exactly what Good Faith Grown is.”
The program not only allows for open and honest conversation between the grower and the consumer, it also has the potential to lower costs for naturally grown products, Lorch said.
“We run into a lot of people that would qualify as Certified Organic, but they still don’t go through the program because those costs would have to be figured into their prices,” Lorch said.
The cost associated with labeling a product Certified Organic can sometimes be a farmer’s yearly income at the market.
“Vendors are asked all the time if they are Certified Organic and you can see the pained look,” Lorch said. “You go down any aisle at the grocery store and see all of those labels – but do we really know what those labels mean – they have become something that is irrelevant, Good Faith Grown brings relevance back.”
For the farmers of Good Faith Grown, this program is much more than a label.
“This is our “handshake” if you would,” Kimberly said. “It educates the public much better than any current stamp because each farmer has taken the time to describe their unique practices which might not fit in a cookie cutter stamp.”
For more information on Good Faith Grown and how you can become a vendor, visit www.goodfaithgrown.com.
ABOUT STEVE AND JENNIFER LORCH
Originally from Pennsylvania and Iowa, Steve and Jennifer Lorch, worked for the non-profit Hydromissions International for over a decade supporting clean water initiatives around the globe. Their work benefited over 35 countries worldwide and continues to grow thanks to efforts by the next generation of engineers. In 2014, eager to make an impact on sustainable farming and foods, the couple opened Table Rock Tea Company, a farming and processing homestead in the foothills of Upstate, SC. They were recently honored as a finalist for Best Tea Brand in the World Tea Awards.