First Crop Of Bartlett's Farm Certified Organic Sweet Corn Hits Market

JohnCarl McGrady •

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Bartlett’s Farm has harvested its first crop of organic sweet corn, a significant milestone in the local farm’s lengthy transition to all-organic farming. That movement began in 2009, and farmer Dave Bartlett hopes to complete it by 2025.

“We feel that it’s important because it’s right for you, it’s right for us, and it’s right for the environment,” Bartlett said, focusing on both the environmental impacts of organic farming and the hypothesized impacts on human health.

Transitioning to an all-organic farm is a tall order. “It’s a pretty daunting task to turn a vegetable farm into certified organic,” Bartlett said. “There’s less tools in your toolbox to combat pests and disease.”

While Bartlett believes the farm is managing these challenges well, it has taken a lot of work and nothing is guaranteed.

“Even growing conventionally, you’ll have your ups and downs,” he said. Farming is heavily dependent on weather, insect populations and the prevalence of diseases in the crop. Going organic can make it harder to combat these problems when they arise.

Bartlett’s farm is already mostly organic, and the biggest remaining hurdle is the sweet corn, which is why the trial crop of organic sweet corn is so important.

“Corn always presents a particular challenge because corn is a heavier feeder than most crops,” Bartlett said. “And it’s a challenge to make sure there’s no worms...I’m using five or six different chemicals so to speak that will target different aspects of the life cycle of those pests.”

Bartlett Farm’s corn is also some of its most popular produce, meaning the pressure to make sure that crop yields don’t drop and the product meets costumer’s expectations are higher than for many other vegetables. Bartlett acknowledged that this has been an additional obstacle to switching the farm’s 40 acres of sweet corn from conventional farming methods to organic ones, but this year’s test crop did well and he is optimistic about future transition efforts.

While 2025 has always been Bartlett’s target for completing the farm’s transition to being fully organic, he said that he can’t guarantee the transition will be finished by then. There is too much variability and too many factors outside of his control.

“You just have to see how it goes and try to work out some of the kinks,” he said. “You’ve got to do it step by might be ‘26, it might be ‘27, but we’re gonna shoot for [2025] anyways.”

Bartlett’s Farm currently has two varieties of organic sweet corn for sale at the market; Allure Organic and Natural Sweet. Because the corn came from a trial crop, Bartlett’s has a limited supply of both varieties, and they are expected to sell out quickly. The farm will continue to sell its usual sweet corn as well, however, even after the organic varieties have sold out.

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