Organic farming booms as community 'digs in'

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) – This is not your grandmother's summer garden.

This is Scott Follett's "organically-grown" garden...grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.

In fact, when he isn't teaching engineering at Black River Technical College, he is flexing his green thumb on his own organic gardening class.

I don't go to the supermarket and buy organic. I grow my own stuff. I take a little bit of pressure, pleasure out of saying "this is what I've grown."

If you've tried to eat organic, you might notice that those foods cost more than regular fruits and vegetables--but that's because the production cost is higher.

And while there are companies that focus on distribution, organic farming is meant to sustain individual families.

"If you look at the way our food is grown now, the production is based on how much volume we can get out of it."

We pay less for plain-Jane veggies because there's more to go around--supply and demand.

However, Follett says mass-production of fruits and vegetables leads to mineral dilution, or the loss of nutrients in food.

"There's 66% less calcium in broccoli now."

Follet says the overuse of chemicals, such as the MSMA herbicide and 2-4-D, can be dangerous once it finds its way into our bodies.

"People are becoming more and more aware, and science is becoming more and more clear on what's causing our diseases. Arsenic will actually get into the pancreas and cause endocrine disruption."

Organic gardening may be a more labor-intensive approach to growing your own food, but it is ecologically friendly.

His six-week class ends next Tuesday, but Follet expects more classes to be started, since the response is positive--particularly among the younger crowd.

"Word is getting out just from my students talking to other folks."

For more information on classes at Black River Technical College, click here.

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