by Mark Musick, Tilth Producers
Washington’s 735 certified organic farms are an economic powerhouse, generating $210.7 million in farmgate sales in 2009. Our state’s organic farmers grow a bountiful array of crops, leading the nation in the production of organic apples, pears, cherries, green peas, snap beans, onions, and sweet corn. Certified organic acreage in Washington more than doubled in the past 15 years, from 45,000 acres in 1995 to just over 100,000 acres in 2010.
See detailed Washington Organic Agriculture Statistics provided by WSU.
From apples to zucchini, Washington is second only to California in the number of different crops that thrive in our diverse growing regions. Tilth Producers of Washington is our state-wide organic farming organization and the Tilth Producers Directory includes listings for sources of organically-grown tree fruits, berries, wine and table grapes, nuts, flowers, herbs, honey, garlic, potatoes, onions, squash, grains, legumes, mushrooms, dairy products, poultry and eggs, livestock and livestock feed, and a wide range of value added products.
Eastern Washington accounts for most of our state’s organic production, with 64% of the certified farms and 75% of the land area. Western Washington is home to 36% of our state’s certified organic farms and 25% of the land area.
Grant County, located in the heart of the Columbia Basin, leads the state in organic production, with 2009 farmgate sales of $52.9. West of the Cascades, Skagit County leads with $12 million in sales.
Washington Farming Regions
Tilth Producers divides our state into five major growing regions. Click on the links below for detailed information on the soils, climate, and major crops in each region, plus farmer profiles:
- Northwest Washington
- Southwest Washington
- North Central Washington
- South Central Washington
- Eastern Washington
What is organic?
The National Organic Standards Board adopted this definition in April 1995: “Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.”
How do I know if it really is organic?
Any food labeled organic must meet USDA’s national organic standards and be verified through inspection by independent state or private organizations. Products labeled “100% Organic” and carrying an organic seal from USDA, Washington State Department of Agriculture or Oregon Tilth are just that–they contain all organically produced ingredients. Fruits and vegetables with this label are always 100% organic. Processed products that are made from at least 95% organic ingredients may also carry the organic seal, as long as the remaining ingredients are approved for use in organic products. Products that contain at least 70% organic ingredients may label those ingredients individually as organic in the ingredient list, but will not carry an organic seal.