organic farming, the practice of growing plants—especially for fruits and vegetables, but for ornamentals as well—without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, or of raising animals without the use of growth regulators, synthetic pesticides, feed that is produced using synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, and the like. Organic farmers and gardeners use short-lived, biodegradable pest-killers, biological pest control, rotation of crops, and manure and compost to control pests and provide plant nutrients. In the United States, as elsewhere, awareness of the environmental damage and threats to health (see pollution; environmentalism) caused by DDT, dieldrin, and other insecticides and by the excessive use of chemical fertilizers fostered interest in organic gardening, particularly among home gardeners. Organic farming on a large scale is both more difficult and more costly than standard commercial farming, but an increasing market for organically grown, or “natural,” foods supports a growing commercial organic farming sector in the United States. See also Integrated Pest Management; organic food.
See J. I. Rodale et al., ed., The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening (1959, repr. 1971); C. O. Foster, The Organic Gardener (1972).
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