MUDBURY - Organic farmer Tam McNure has suffered and overcome many challenges in his forty-some years raising vegetables in Mudbury, but the latest seems insurmountable.
'Due to organic vegetable prices, I have been able to raise a family, and purchase a modest yacht, by cultivating only three-fourths of a hectare', McNure said. 'With this latest news, I would have to sell my current crop at standard rates, which would put me out of farming entirely.'
The problem: McNure used recently-touted 'pee bales' as fertiliser and mulch on his soil, which are used as winter cover in his cropping system. Come spring, the soil is warmer earlier on, allowing earlier planting, and an early harvest. This fell afoul of regulations promulgated by the Filth Association, Britain's world-famous organic certification agency.
How the problem began
In mid-November, it was reported that gardeners at a Notional Thrust property in Penury were encouraging people to 'relieve themselves outdoors to help gardens grow greener.' What is more, they encouraged this relief to be directed upon a designated straw bale.
'The pee bale is excellent matter to add to our compost heap to stimulate the composting process', said head gardener Tully O'Dure, 'and with over 400 acres of gardens and parkland to utilise compost, we need all the help we can get.'
The results of O'Dure's research inspired McNure to adopt a 'pee bale' system, and to purchase additional 'pee bales' from the Notional Thrust. Little did he know that this would compromise his standing as an organic farmer.
The Filth Association perspective
'The FA (Filth Association) has clear directives about the use of antibiotics, hormones, and other substances in organic farming', said Euan Desdaine, spokesman for the FA.
'We also have clear and unavoidable regulations on labelling and traceability. In this instance, the use of pee bales likely incorporated urine from any number of individuals who have been consuming any number of artificial substances, such as those associated with erectile dysfunction or antibiotics related to treatment for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).
The Notional Thrust perspective
This decision by the FA was not welcomed by the gardeners of the Notional Thrust (NT).
'By the end of the year, it was calculated that the 10 men from the 70-strong garden and estates team will make more 1,000 individual trips to the pee bale, contributing towards the compost for the estate', according to O'Dure.
The estate said it will have saved up to 30% of its daily water use by not having to flush the loo so many times.
'They (the FA) said using pee bales on my farm was the same as using sewer effluent as fertiliser', McNure complained.
'That is wrong-headed', he added. 'I put sewerage from farm animals on my vegetables all the time.'
'Next thing you know', said McNure, 'the Filth Association will begin selling certificates about whether people themselves are organic or not. Given my experience with them, they'll certify anything if the money is right.'
Given the costs involved in 'transitioning' back into organic farming, and McNure's ownership of a mere three-fourths of a hectare, he is embarking on new plans.
'I will be offering organic cruises on my modest yacht', he says. 'It's actually quite modest, and they don't call the poop rail 'the poop rail' for nothing. The cruises will be quite economical, but there will be a rather significant surcharge for carbon emissions.'
'You may rest assured that the carbon surcharge will be invested in organic farming', McNure concluded.