The Organic Land Care Committee developed written standards in 2001 to present our vision of how organic agricultural principles can be applied to the landscaping profession. Through an education and accreditation program based on these Standards, we hope to make available to the public organic landscaping services that will meet or exceed these standards. We also hope to educate the public about the importance of using standards-based organic landscaping services, because – unlike agriculture – in landscaping there is currently no regulation on using the word “organic.” The Committee reviews and updates these Standards approximately every three years. NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care
The cornerstone of our educational program is our 4-day NOFA OLC Accreditation Course, a 30-hour, comprehensive course based on our written standards. It is also the gateway to becoming a NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional. This course covers all aspects of organic land care from soil health, site analysis and planting/plant care to composting, lawn alternatives and running a business. It offers 20 speakers over five days, interactive case studies, and a client relations panel featuring professionals working in the field. The accreditation exam is given on the last day of the course. Those who pass are eligible to become NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals (AOLCPs) and pledge to practice according to the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care for those clients who ask for organic landscaping. This course is now offered in CT and PA and has trained nearly 800 students since its inception in 2002.
We operate an Accreditation Program for organic land care professionals. The accreditation exam is given on the last day of the 5-day Accreditation Course. Those who pass are eligible to become NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals (AOLCPs) and pledge to practice according to the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care for those clients who ask for organic. This program provides continuing education courses, referrals, networking, newsletters, publicity, media interviews, and business listing on our website and in our annual homeowner publication, the NOFA Guide to Organic Land Care. We now have over 500 AOLCPs in 20 states overseen by a part-time accreditation manager.
NOFA OLC developed a 1 day Organic Lawn Care Certificate Course with funding from Long Island Sound Futures Fund in 2012 and 2013. This course is now hosted by Three Rivers Community College and is available online with an open enrollment.
This annual series of 1-day workshops seeks to give landscapers in-depth, hands-on experience with specific organic landscaping techniques taught by experts in the field. Past examples include pruning with Michael Nadeau at the Beardlsey Zoo in CT, invasive removal with Don Bishop in Marlborough, MA, and compost tea making with Peter Schmidt at Stone Barns in NY.
This 1-day course offers AOLCPs a way to keep current on new organic methods and trends, as well as earn all their continuing education credits for the year. This course draws more than half our AOLCPs every year and offers great opportunties for networking. The topics for this course vary from year to year and highlight the changes that are occuring in organic land care.
We are now branching out from professional trainings and ramping up a Homeowner’s Campaign to give the do-it-yourselfers the ability to transition their own properties to organic management. This new project involves workshops, seasonal press, e-mail support and a website overhaul. We have lots of ideas about how to help this constituency and are starting to implement some of them.