“There are plenty of times when I long for a jug of Roundup,” Vollmer laughs. “We are limited to using naturally occurring pesticides that are OMRI approved. Just because they are listed by OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) that doesn’t mean they work, he adds. I would have to say that most conventional pesticides work better than OMRI approved products.”

Vollmer has made just about everything work on his organic farm, but he notes he’s been in conversion from conventional to organic for more than 15 years. There is a purpose to the conversion, and one the North Carolina farmer contends should be valuable to any farmer, regardless of what crops he or she grows or how they grow their crops.

“Every farm, in order to have some succession, has to have a profitable enterprise that will support the next generation. Without a sustainable enterprise, it’s like a noose around the farmer’s neck. So, there is little wonder that new heirs to a farm quickly sell the land for other purposes, Vollmer says.

Vollmer, who is a third generation farmer, has provided the impetus for his children and grandchildren to make a living as the fourth and fifth generation of Vollmers on the family farm.

In recognition of his years of work with organic crops and for his pioneering production and marketing practices, Vollmer and his wife Betty were named Farmers of the Year for 2011 by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

Betty has always played a key role in the farm operation doing all financial  and accounting work along with being a great mother to four children .

For anyone contemplating getting into organic production, Vollmer says count on spending a lot more time both in production of organic versus conventional crops, but more so expect to spend much, much more time keeping pristine records to validate organic status.

rroberson@farmpress.com