How to Become a Certified Organic Operator in Ontario

1) Get to know the 2015 Canadian Organic Standards:

The Organic Production Systems General Principles and Management Standards document outlines the processing and agricultural processes and guidelines that must be followed to be eligible for organic certification. The Permitted Substances List defines the inputs, cleaners, ingredients and aids that can and cannot be used in organic agriculture or processing.

2) Select a Certification Body:

Certification Bodies provide certification services, information, and support during transition. Contacting CBs will give you more of an idea of what you need to do in order to become certified. A complete list of approved certification bodies in Ontario is available here.

Once you have contacted a certification body, you will be required to fill out an Organic Production Plan, a field history sheet and provide a field map. The paper work will differ depending on the type of business you run (ie. farm, processing plant, etc.). After an inspector visits your facilities and the required paper work is filled out, a report will be completed and reviewed by the certification body’s head office. Once reviewed, further steps will be provided for what you must do to meet standard requirements.

2) Source organic inputs:

You may need to change suppliers for certain items to ensure the products you are using contain only the ingredients on the Permitted Substances List. Call around and talk to peers who have successfully transitioned to find what you need. Certification bodies may also be able to provide support in sourcing inputs.

4) Join OCO

OCO is the trade association for Organic growers, producers, processors and retailers in Ontario. Become a member to ensure that your views on issues facing Ontario’s Organic Sector are heard.

 

Additional Resources

Canadian Organic Growers- Transitioning to Certified Organic Farming

OMAFRA- Transition to Organic Crop Farming

Ecological Farmers of Ontario