Myles and his son Angus farm 810 hectares near the locale of Weengallon, east of the Nindigully Pub and not too far from the NSW border. While it still appears on the map, Weengallon itself no longer even has the store that earned it’s status on the map!
Moving to their current property around 10 years ago, Myles initially decided to convert to organic because of the demand for organic beef cattle. Having come from a background of cropping (he grew up on a farm near Moonie) he thought it would be worthwhile to have a go at farming the land as well as raising livestock.
Their farm has been ‘In Conversion’ to organic since early 2015. Consequently we received our first Grade A, fully certified organic wheat from Myles and Angus at the end of 2017. If you are using our small retail packets of Kialla flour it will be fully certified organic.
Now Myles and Angus are converting more of their pasture to organic, so they continue to supply us with their In Conversion wheat. This In Conversion wheat is only available as bulk product for bakers and food manufacturers.
After any recently converted pasture has a third audit by Australian Certified Organic, it will be considered A Grade or fully certified organic.
In order to comply with Australia’s organic standards each area converted to organic goes through a three year process where the farmers grow their grains using strict organic management practices before they can be certified as fully organic.
For primary producers there are 3 stages to achieving organic status.
At the beginning of the first year, the ‘pre-cert’ stage, they have the initial audit and an Organic Management Plan is put in place. The audit reviewed accounts and production history, verifying inputs (eg: any thing added to soils, crop or livestock) and providing Myles with alternatives where needed. At each audit the certifying body takes soil samples and tests for contamination chemicals, heavy metals and GMO (where applicable).
Fortunately for Myles & Angus they are farming virgin soils so they had no problem meeting the requirements for this pre-cert stage. If a farm’s soil has been contaminated it may take up to 5 years to clear the area for organic certification.
This intensive pre-cert process involves a fair bit of paperwork, often not a farmer’s favourite part about converting to organic. We help them where we can with the paperwork, and our then grain buyer Rob Wilson discussed organic farming practices with them. Kialla also helps farmers by supplying or sourcing organic seeds as well as introducing them to members of the wider organic farming community.
Pre-certification products can’t carry an organic logo or make the claim of being ‘in conversion to organic’ for that first 12 months. So they were unable to sell any product as organic for that first year.
Then, after at least 12 months in pre-cert, another full-scale audit determines whether they achieve ‘in-conversion’ status. This allows them to start selling their product as organic but because they don’t yet have full ‘A Grade’ status, we use the terminology ‘In Conversion to Organic’.
After another 12 months the next annual audit presents them with A Grade Certified Organic status, providing they continue to meet all the necessary requirements such as using natural inputs, organic seeds etc. Thus from 2017 onwards we’ve begun selling some of their wheat crop as Certified Organic since this pasture has met all the required criteria for A Grade status.
In Conversion flour products are marked with a stippled Australian Certified Organic logo. When you purchase in-conversion products you are supporting the farmers through this 3 year process, and you are recognising the additional work and costs involved in the conversion process. This kind of support encourages more farmers to go through the demanding certification process.
While the In Conversion grain has been grown and processed under strict organic standards, it is less expensive than A Grade grain, which has been in short supply due not only to a shortage of organic grain farmers, but also to recent rain and hail damage for our long-term suppliers.