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Hello! My name is
Adam and I’m a CCOF Certified
Organic Farmer. I’d like to welcome
you out to the farm to teach you all
about Organic food and farming.
If you don’t know about Organics, don’t
worry! I’ll explain everything as we go
To start with…
Organic Farmers believe in the use of “renewable resources”. They protect the soil and
water so we can keep our environment healthy. Since 1973, CCOF has been supporting
organic farmers and ensuring the quality of organic foods. CCOF has produced this
activity book to teach you about where organic food comes from. To learn more visit
Organic Farming is a way to produce healthy and delicious foods by using natural farming
methods. Organic foods are grown and produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic
pesticides, chemical fertilizers, sewer sludge or bioengineering. Today, many farmers are
making the switch to organic (maybe even in your own city)!!
Organic food is good for the environment, local businesses, farms, and
especially YOU! Organic food supports healthy people and a healthy planet.
Come find out just how we do it!
Healthy and fertile soil is the cornerstone
of organic farming. Soil does more than
just provide a material for plants to grow
in. It has other amazing qualities that affect
plant growth too. Here are just a few of the
physical qualities of soil:
Besides physical properties, some of
soil’s most important characteristics are its
chemical properties. Different soils have different amounts of available mineral
nutrients in them. These nutrients are taken up through the roots and are essential
for a plant’s growth and health. Think of them like the important vitamins that we
humans need to stay healthy. Some common nutrients found in the soil are:
Nutrients like Nitrogen and Phosphorous help plants grow bigger and faster.
Potassium can protect plants from diseases, Calcium strengthens cell walls,
and Magnesium is needed for growth. Organic farmers use natural methods
to control the levels of nutrients in their soils. No artiﬁcial fertilizers are used.
Instead, we have millions of “little helpers” that keep the soil healthy and fertile.
You will meet them on the next page!
1. Soil water holding capacity
determines how much
water can be held and is
available to plants.
2. Soil provides a physical
shield against various
toxins that can harm plants.
3. Soil texture and structure
aide in plant “respiration”
Question: Non-organic farmers rely on artiﬁcial fertilizers to put more Nitrogen and
Phosphorous into the soil. Why is artiﬁcial fertilizer use a problem? Circle the correct answer.
It runs off into oceans, rivers and streams It releases gases into the air.
• The nutrients (N&P) make algae grow.
• The algae uses up lots of the oxygen that ﬁsh need to live.
• The algae blocks sunlight from reaching underwater plants
and can be toxic to some ﬁsh.
• These gases are known as greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, NOx).
• These gases are known to cause “global warming”.
• Some of the gases cause smog and air pollution.
T h e c o r r e c t a n s w e r i s A a n d B ! A r t i ﬁ c i a l f e r t i l i z e r s c a n d o a l l o f t h e a b o v e .
Conservation, a Bird’s Eye View
Organic farmers understand that biodiversity is key to their success. This does not just mean variety in food crops. Organic
farmers are very active in increasing the diversity of wild plant and animal species on the farm. They know than an organic farm
is not just a place to grow food, but also a habitat for many other living creatures. All of these creatures create the healthy
environment that a farmer needs to grow food.
Organic farmers plant and maintain wild areas that
contain diverse wildﬂowers, grasses, trees and shrubs.
These areas are perfect homes for
many species of insects,
birds and mammals.
• Organic farms are great places for
birds to live because there are no
toxic pesticides to harm them.
• Large birds, like owls and hawks,
are important signs of a healthy
• Organic farmers help these special
birds by creating bird boxes for them.
• Bird boxes provide nesting sites and
homes for birds like the Barn Owl.
• The Barn Owl helps the farmer
by eating rodents- like mice and
gophers- who damage crops.
1. 2. 3.
Draw an abdomen Draw a thorax Draw the head
4. 5. 6.
Give your bee some stripes Draw 2 wings, 2 atennae Finish the wings
+ 6 legs Add an eye GREAT JOB!
Pollination is the transfer of pollen between male and female ﬂowers. The act of pollination is very important for plants to
produce seeds and fruits. But who does all this hard work? BEES, of course!! Bees travel from ﬂower to ﬂower to search for
nectar and carry pollen with them as they go. Some of your favorite foods, like watermelons and cherry tomatoes, need bees
to pollinate them. Honeybees and bumble bees are the most commonly known pollinators. Thanks to them, we enjoy delicious
fruits, nuts, vegetables and honey!!
Sadly, many bee populations in North America are decreasing. Native bees -those who originally live in a given area- are
especially in danger. Habitat loss, toxic pesticides and herbicides are surely to blame. Many bees are poisoned by toxic
pesticides while visiting ﬂowers on farms. Some pesticides kill bees in the crops while others contaminate the pollen and nectar
that bees bring back to their hives. Herbicide use and habitat loss leave bees with less food to eat and fewer places to nest.
Organic farms are often close to native bees’ wild habitats, and bees often visit organic farms in search of ﬂowers. On
organic farms, farmers value our hard-working friends. That is why we don’t use toxic pesticides or herbicides that can harm
them. Organic farms are a place where all types of bees can grow and live happily and healthfully.
Activity: Draw your own pollinator! Follow the steps below to make a very cool bee. (You might
want to grab an extra piece of paper for your drawing).
Did you know?
1. Nearly ¾ of our crops are pollinated by bees
2. A bee beats its wings 11,000 cycles per minute. Try moving
your arms that fast!
3. Worker bees do a special dance when they return to the hive.
The dance instructs other bees where they can ﬁnd food.
Where can I buy organic food?
Organic food is becoming more available all over the United States. Organic food could usually only be found at health-
food stores and specialty stores. Now organic food can be found at your corner grocery store and supermarket.
A GREAT place to ﬁnd a variety of fresh, delicious organic food is directly from a farmer at a farmers market. Farmers
markets have been around for centuries and are starting to become more common in the United States once again. Farmers
markets are local gatherings at public places, like parks, where farmers sell their produce and goods directly to the public.
Some towns have farmers markets as often as once or twice a week. To ﬁnd a farmers market near you, visit www.localharvest.
org and www.ccof.org.
Activity: This organic farmer has a lot of great produce to sell. Can you help him ﬁnd his way to
the farmers market in town? Guide him through the tricky streets—but be sure not to run into
any roadblocks or stop signs, you won’t be able to pass.
Why are farmers markets so great?
• Food is FRESH! Most conventional produce travels 1500 miles before it reaches stores. Food
from other countries has to travel even further and can take many days to reach stores.
• Shopping at farmers markets saves valuable fuel! All the traveling that the foods in supermar-
kets do wastes a lot of oil and gasoline, precious natural resources that are becoming scarce.
• There is great VARIETY! You can ﬁnd unusual produce at farmers markets that you can’t at
• They support small farmers and strengthen local community and economy.
Activity: Can you dig up the dirt on Organic Farming? Look for the words in the box on your
right. All of these words have to do with things we learned about soil. You will ﬁnd the words up,
down, left, right, or even diagonally. Good luck!
O R G A W I E R U T X E T F
M R O W H T R A E J K S U L
I E G V A G B A G I O N N Q
O D K A A P Q K A P G J N M
R O J A N N T G M U V G I U
G T T D A I E O S D I R T I
A A I R E T C A B I E I R C
N M S O L A L S H B U P O L
I E Y O O D K H L P G V G A
S N U T R I E N T S Y U E C
M N M S Z P J K L Y G H N F
COMPOST is simply a pile of decomposing organic matter. It has a very special purpose for organic
farmers. For all the great food we take out of the soil, we have to put something back in to
replenish it. Composting is the natural process by which we return nutrients and fine organic material
back to the earth. Using Compost improves soil’s “water holding capacity”, structure, texture and
fertility. Basically, we are recycling our own waste. The compost heap is made of things that
bacteria, fungi, insects and worms like to eat: old fruit, old vegetables, and leaf litter! We
occasionally turn the pile to keep the air flowing. The final product of composting is a rich, earthy,
fertile material called HUMUS. Plants love it!
Activity: unscramble the words below to discover good things to put in compost.
1. IRAH ______________ 4. PALEP EROC ______________
2. KAO VELEAS ______________ 5. ANNABA LEPE ______________
3. GGE LHSESL ______________ 6. OTPAOT ISSNK ______________
Activity: For your ﬁnal activity you will need to think hard to remember everything you have
learned about organic farming. All the words you need can be found in the box on the right.
2. Farmers ________ their crops to reduce pest and disease-outbreaks and to balance
nutrients in the soil.
3. Organic farmers do not use these toxic
chemicals to kill pests.
6. Organic farmers do not use chemical________
to add nutrients to the soil.
7. Soil ________ are creatures that maintain
the health of the soil.
9. ______ insects can help farmers control
12. Composting is a great way for farmers to
13. These special birds make their homes on
organic farms and hunt rodents.
14. Bees are very important because they
_________ ﬂowers to make fruits and seeds.
1. These important soil organisms
improve soil structure and make soil
4. Food found at farmers markets
conserves this because it does not travel
5. Organic farmers build these to provide
habitats for wild birds.
6. This machine kills weeds with ﬁre.
8. Healthy ______ is the fountain of
9. ______, or “the variety of living things”, is key to keeping a healthy environment.
10. _______ is used to feed the soil organisms that make nutrients available to plants.
11. Organic farmers can ________ weeds to avoid disrupting the soil, damaging the crop and
Now that you are ﬁnished, write down the letters that appear in the bubbles
from the puzzle above. You will need them on the next page.
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Planting the Seeds…
Organic farmers have discovered a lot of great methods of growing food and managing land. These methods actually
improve the quality and health of our environment. Organic farming conserves soil and other precious natural resources,
improves wildlife, and keeps our land, water and air free of toxic chemicals. Everywhere, organic farmers are planting the
seeds for a brighter tomorrow. But organic farmers can’t do it alone, they need the support of their communities to make
a positive change. You can help them in their goal to make a healthy planet by spreading the word about organic farming.
Together, we can make sure that our world is healthy and fruitful for generations to come.
Spread the good news about organic agriculture. Fill in the blanks with the letters from the
previous page in order to complete the secret message!
SA_E _HE _L_NET
Don’t fret if you don’t recognize some of the words I say. Many of the boldface words are probably unfamiliar.
Here is a list to help you understand what they mean. Words are listed alphabetically under the title of the page
they appear on. Some common words are listed before the pages.
Biodiversity The total variety of all living things. The most common way biodiversity is measured is by the
number of species in a given area.
Herbicides Chemicals that are designed to kill unwanted plants, like weeds.
Organic matter/material Dead residue that is left from once-living plants and animals. This is a very
important part of the soil.
Pesticides Chemicals that are designed to kill unwanted insects. (Toxic chemical pesticides do not break down
in the environment easily; they can last for many years and spread off of farm sites).
Super Soi l
Mineral nutrients Elements found in the soil that are needed to maintain plant growth and health. These
elements are absorbed through the plant’s roots.
Structure Determines how soil particles are grouped or clumped together and how much space is found
between the groupings.
Texture The distribution of soil particle size.
Toxins Any chemical substance that is harmful or poisonous to a living thing.
Water holding capacity Determines the soil’s ability to hold water.
Soi l Safari
Decomposition The process by which dead organic material (residue from plants and animals) is broken down
by bacteria and fungus.
Photosynthesis The process by which plants make sugars (food) out of sunlight.
Soil organisms Small or microscopic organisms that play important roles in the creation and maintenance of
soil and soil health.
Humus The ﬁnal product of composting. Dark material that is decomposed plant and animal matter. This
material contains mineral nutrients and improves the ability of soil to hold water.
I mportant I nsects
Larvae The early stage of many insects before they reach adulthood. Larvae often look like worms.
Abdomen The lower part of an insect’s (bee’s) body that contains the reproductive and digestive organs.
Thorax The middle part of an insect’s (bee’s) body. This is where the wings are attached.
On the Farm
Cover Crops Crops grown to improve the soil and improve conditions for other crops.
Topsoil The upper part of the soil that is ideal for growing plants.
Conservati on, a Bi rd’s-Eye Vi ew
Habitat The area where a particular organism or creature lives or can be found.