Zero waste farming or agriculture is an approach to farming that is commonplace in much of the world. Sustainability is something we are passionate about on the Eminence Certified Organic Farm, and we know that our partners and supporters are too. To learn more about this process, we went straight to an expert, Naty King of Hazelmere Organic Farm in British Columbia, Canada to hear her thoughts on zero waste practices. Read on for our breakdown of zero waste farming and our interview with Naty.
What Is Agricultural Waste and Pollution?
To understand zero waste agriculture, it is important to first understand what is meant by agricultural waste and pollution. As defined by the South Coast Air Quality Management District: “agricultural waste is unwanted or unsalable materials produced wholly from agricultural operations directly related to the growing of crops or raising of animals.” This includes fruit, vegetables, branches, leaves and weeds. Poor or inconsiderate disposal of agricultural waste creates agricultural pollution.
Natural Energy Hub defines agricultural pollution as “contamination of the environment and related surroundings as a result of using the natural and chemical products for farming.” The causes and effects of agricultural pollution are serious – they include soil erosion due to inefficient farming, health related issues from toxic fertilizers and pesticides, and water contamination from the disposal of waste in local bodies of water.
What Is Zero Waste Agriculture?
Zero waste agriculture applies the principles of organic farming to minimize agricultural pollution as much as possible and maximize the use of available resources by creating a closed loop method for farming where nothing is wasted or contaminated. In fact, zero waste farming was really the way that farming was practiced for many generations prior to “conventional” modern farming practices. By practicing zero waste agriculture, the output of one process is the input of another via practices such as composting with worms or treatment of wastewater.
Interview With Naty King: Hazelmere Organic Farm
To learn more about zero waste farming practices, we interviewed Naty King of Hazelmere Organic Farm. The owner of a thriving certified organic farm, Naty delivers organic produce every week to the Eminence Kids Foundation partner location in Vancouver, Canada. Here are her thoughts on zero waste agriculture.
Tell us a little about your farm.
I started farming in 1986 with my late husband, Gary King. Hazelmere Organic Farm grows certified organic fruits and vegetables
How would you describe zero waste farming?
It’s not really a new concept. Zero waste farming is what farmers, especially in developing countries, have been doing for centuries! Because many of these farmers do not have the ability to buy fancy equipment and are sometimes working with marginal land, they resort to what we term now as “zero waste” farming.
Essentially, zero waste farming is just using creativity and common sense to accomplish something with limited resources. Farmers have to use their land to its full potential or their income will diminish. They have to reduce waste, especially water waste, as there is a limited supply. They use local herbs to protect their plants from pests, and they compost and return plant waste back to the land because they cannot afford fertilizers.
What is the most common misconception about zero waste farming?
That it is a new concept!
Are there any easy ways the public can practice techniques in their own garden? Or can support larger farms?
The public can support the concept by practicing zero waste consumption. Then the zero waste circle can be complete.
Zero Waste Lifestyle
As Naty states, to fully close the loop on zero waste, we all need to reduce what we send to the landfill. Some easy ways to reduce your output? Think beyond “reduce, reuse and recycle” and instead consider the five R’s: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot. Bring your own bags grocery shopping and refuse plastic produce bags altogether. Purchase bulk items instead of commercially packaged products to reduce the amount of packaging you have to recycle. Wash and reuse glass and plastic containers to store food and personal items, reducing your need for single use containers. In your garden, compost weeds, food scraps and yard trimmings instead of throwing them away. All of this contributes to a full circle, zero waste experience.
What do you do to minimize waste in your own life? Do you live a “zero waste” lifestyle? We’d love to hear about it! Let us know in the comments or join the conversation on: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest |LinkedIn | YouTube | G+