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White Violet Center earns ‘Real Organic Project’ designation

If you see our refrigerated truck at the Terre Haute Farmers Market or out and about in the community, you might notice a new sticker on the back door. That’s because the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC) farm has received a new certification from the Real Organic Project – a true “farmer-led movement.”

According to their website, the Real Organic Project was created by farmers to distinguish soil-grown and pasture-raised products under USDA organic. In response to the lack of enforcement of some vital USDA Organic standards to protect soil health and animal welfare, organic farmers rallied together to fight to protect the integrity of the organic label.

This is what originally motivated WVC Farm Manager John-Michael Elmore to apply for this certification.

“We (WVC) are already certified organic, so this became an extension of that. USDA organic certification is getting manipulated by large agri-businesses, and doesn’t fully represent the original intent of the organic movement,” John-Michael said. “While it’s still an important regulatory standard, it’s no longer enough. We saw other small farms across the nation starting to join the Real Organic movement, and looked into joining.”

John-Michael continued by saying, “the Real Organic Project has its own inspection process and certifiers. They came and looked at our farm and how we grow food and treat animals, and gave us their stamp of approval. It shows that in addition to meeting all the criteria for organic farming, we are also building soils, treating our animals ethically and working to make the land better through our agricultural practices, rather than depleting it.”

At this time, more than 17,000 farms in the United States are certified organic, with just slightly more than 1,000 of those farms having the Real Organic Project designation.

Being a part of the Real Organic Project helps WVC and the greater sustainable and small farming movement.  According to John-Michael, “it sends a message to consumers that we care, and we have a way of keeping farms accountable for their practices. It also sends a message to the USDA that we don’t think they are doing enough to ensure that the organic label is trusted and still represents a better way of farming.”

Being a part of this project also helps our community. “We (WVC) set the standard for small/sustainable growing in our area. This benefits consumers by giving them another easy to recognize seal that they can use when making purchasing decisions. It also benefits other local growers as they look to us for advice and trust when it comes to growing methods,” he said.

White Violet Center for Eco-Justice produce can found in our Farm Store at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Monday through Saturday from 12-5 p.m. You can also find us at the Terre Haute Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. in the Meadows parking lot off of Poplar Street beginning May 18.

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Mary Riley

Mary Riley

Mary Riley is director of operations for White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Prior to her current role, she served as the marketing manager for some ministries of the Sisters of Providence including White Violet Center for Eco-Justice and the Volunteer Services.

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  1. Avatar Deb Griffey on May 18, 2024 at 6:53 am

    Congratulations! Well done. Well deserved.

  2. Avatar Sabrina S Falls on May 18, 2024 at 10:12 am

    Thank you for all that you are doing at WVC and for letting us know about the “Real Organic Project.” I have wondered about the increasing number of “certified organic” products available now in major chain grocery stores such as Kroger and Meijer and whether they can be trusted. I will look into the Real Organic Project to guide my own purchasing choices. It was WVC (and hermitages) that first drew me to the Woods. You are doing a vital ministry! Thank you!

  3. Avatar Mary Montgomery on May 18, 2024 at 11:31 am

    Alleluia! I’m rejoicing for this wonderful leadership designation of “Real Organic Project” for White Violet gardens plus animal and soil care! Thanks for all you do for the care of 🌎 including the education for all ages on tours, etc.

    I’m especially looking forward to your/our fresh tomatoes!! 😋💖🙏

  4. Avatar Susan Paweski, SP on May 18, 2024 at 9:24 pm

    Congratulations!! This is an important designation. Thanks to John-Michael, Mary and all the WVC staff for your great work.

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