(Natural News) Herbicide drift continues to plague millions of acres of American crops, and the experience of one Missouri organic family-run farm shows just how devastating this problem can be.
Vesterbrook Farm has been in Carol Brabo's family for almost a century. Fed up with the prices of organic foods at stores like Whole Foods, she and her husband, Mike, decided to start working the farm in 2008 after he survived thyroid cancer.
Thankfully, it was easy to convert the farm to organic because nothing had been growing on it for the previous 15 years. The farm, which is situated an hour north of St. Louis in Clarksville, quickly began to thrive. On the 24 acres at their disposal, the Brabos planted more than 60 vegetables, including asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, kale, squash, broccoli, spinach, lettuce and beets. They also planted an orchard that boasts fruits like cherries, plums, peaches and apples.
The Brabos sell their crops to their 150-member-strong community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. They say that people in the area find it difficult to obtain organic food due to a general lack of organic farms in the area, which could explain why their sales were rising steadily by around 10 percent per year. Quite interestingly, some of the members of the CSA buying these organic fruits and vegetables work for Monsanto.
Last year, however, things took an ugly turn when wind blew herbicides that a conventional farmer on a neighboring property had sprayed on his soybean field. A devastated Mike reports that the damage caused by the herbicide drift was widespread, encompassing a 500-yard swath of property and hurting crops like potatoes, basil, fruit trees, and peppers – even ornamental trees. This was despite the Brabos posting signs that say "Organic Farm, No Spray" and registering with a communication tool called DriftWatch which uses mapping programs to help farmers and pesticide applicators avoid damaging specialty crops.
Three years and $1.6 million needed to repair damage
Tests showed that the herbicides that caused the damage were metolachlor, clethodim, and glufosinate. The issue saw their Certified Naturally Grown certification suspended, and it will take three years and $1.6 million to fix the damage and regain their certification. They'll be planting cover crops and replenishing their soil with mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial bacteria as part of their efforts to become organic once again.