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5 Gardening Tasks That Build Healthier Soil

September 8, 2023

Living Well

5 Gardening Tasks That Build Healthier Soil

Can you feel fall in the air?

As sunsets get earlier and cool weather approaches, it can sometimes feel like the year’s gardening fun is coming to a close. As the growing season ends, it’s soil-building season. 

Even if you live in a year-round temperate climate, early fall is the ideal time to support your garden’s soil. Admittedly, some of the best fall garden chores can be the dirtiest — or should we say the “soil-iest”? — but seasoned gardeners know that getting some organic matter under your fingernails is one of autumn’s greatest joys.

By doing these tasks in your garden now, you’ll rebuild soil’s organic content, prevent erosion, and support soil structure for a happy spring garden.

1. Clean up debris and spent plants to protect against disease.

Removing the season’s annuals not only clears space for the rest of your fall chores, it also helps ward off pests (both insects and scavenging birds/mammals) and disease-causing pathogens that can thrive on dying plants in moist weather.

Rake up and remove fallen leaves, weeds, sticks, twine, and rocks, too. If you have a functioning compost operation, toss your plant-based “waste” in there — but be sure not to put any diseased plants or major pest infestations into the compost! If you don’t have a home compost system, put plant items in your curbside green bin. 

Pro tip: Try your best to keep organic matter out of landfills, where its natural potential to transform our planet’s soil is stopped short. 

2. Test your soil to pin-point what it needs. 

Want to get down to the nitty-gritty details of what exactly your soil needs to thrive? Soil testing is your key. 

When you know what nutrients your soil is lacking, you can add the perfect supplements and amendments to adjust pH, structure, and nutrient makeup. You can even plan your over-winter cover crops and spring garden around your soil test results! 

So how does soil testing work? Read all about soil testing and how to interpret results in our interview with Margaret McCoy, PhD, our resident soil ambassador.

3. Add organic nutrients to support soil microbes and healthy spring soil.

Adding organic plant food to your soil in the fall is one of the best ways to improve its health and ensure a robust, happy garden next year.

Throughout spring and summer, your growing plants use the organic matter and nutrients in soil that microbes have broken down (thanks, microbes!). Over time, those nutrients are depleted. But the natural seasonal cycle gives soil a built-in renewal period: fall and winter!

Help soil out by adding an organic supplement to your top soil. You may choose what specific foods your soils might need based on your soil test (for example, if your soil pH is too high, you may want to add Prilled Sulfur to make it more acidic). Or, if you’re looking for a general soil boosters to infuse slow-release nutrients into your garden, you might try Seabird Guano.

Apply according to directions, gently mixing fertilizer into the top 8 to ten inches of soil. Water moderately and the living world inside soil will do the rest!

What about tilling? Historically, tilling was touted as a top fall chore because it’s a fast way to “open” soil structure and stimulate soil microbial activity. But aggressive, frequent tilling in seasonally-used areas can be more harmful than it is productive. It can further degrade organic matter and cause erosion. Save heavy tilling for when you want to turn untouched earth into garden beds. It’s not needed for soil that’s been well-tended seasonally.

4. Plant a cover crop (and other cool weather crops) to protect and replenish soil.

Yep, early fall is a great time for planting certain crops! Plant cover crops and other cool weather crops with enough time before the first frost for the plants to get strong and sturdy.

Cover crops are plants that cover soil almost like a carpet. They are grown specifically to help improve soil health and are one of the best things you can do for your soil — and yet one of the most under-utilized in home gardens.

By planting cover crops in your garden in the fall and leaving them to grow through the winter, you’ll naturally help:

  • Prevent soil erosion
  • Encourage soil aeration
  • Add organic matter to the soil and fix essential nutrients into soil
  • Keep soil microbes happy and active 

Some popular cover crops include clover, rye, vetch, wheat, some types of peas, and many types of legume.

Now’s the time to plant cool weather veggies, too. Depending on your climate zone, you may have a lot to choose from! Winter veggies, just like cover crops, support soil health in a multitude of ways…and they sure are tasty in winter stews and roasts.

5. Mulch open beds and annuals to protect them throughout fall and winter.

Mulching your garden beds is an awesome way to protect against soil erosion and keep soil warm and moist as weather turns chilly. 

Mulching also suppresses weeds, supports soil drainage, and promotes soil health by encouraging the microbial life within soil to do its slow, essential work of breaking down organic matter into nutrients plants need.

By dedicating some time and effort to these essential tasks, you’re not just nurturing your garden; you’re participating in a timeless cycle of renewal that ensures the health and productivity of your soil for years to come. So, embrace the crisp air of autumn, get your hands a little dirty, and rest assured that nature’s slow and steady processes will reward your efforts with a bountiful and flourishing garden when spring arrives once again. Happy gardening!

gardening tasks for healthier soil

- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

The Love of Gardening with Instagram Creator & DIY Garden Educator Cassandra Smith

August 28, 2023

Living Well

The Love of Gardening with Instagram Creator & DIY Garden Educator Cassandra Smithcass smith

Have you ever wondered what it’s really like to be an Instagram gardening influencer? We sat down with Garden Educator Cassandra “Cass” Smith aka @gardentotablewithcass to find out — and it turns out it’s more about the love of gardening than anything else! 

Cass is a talented content creator, DIY garden education coach, and was one of our first Instagram friends! 🥰 And she’d been a steadfast supporter of True Organic since she first spotted the lineup of colorful bags at her local garden store.

Cass doesn’t only run one of the most fun, inspirational, and informational gardening Instagram accounts around, she also co-founded San Diego Seed Swap and continues actively expanding community gardening in San Diego and beyond. She shares her story with us…

True: How did you get started with your garden? Were you always a plant lover?geodesic dome

Cass: If we go way back to the very beginning, it started when my daughter got one of those cute “seed bombs” as a gift, full of tomato seeds. It was so strange to me. I thought to myself, ‘Who would give somebody seeds as a birthday gift?!’ 

I left it sitting for quite some time. When we finally planted it, I didn’t know what to do with them! I didn’t really do much at all to care for them. I’d tried a garden in 2012 and it failed; I actually had everything removed that needed heavy water and work. I didn’t have an affinity for plants.

But this time, with the tomato seeds, I did one thing differently: I planted them in quality soil. And that’s only because I happened to see the “nicer” bag of soil at the store and thought, “Well, it’s just one pot, it’s no big deal.”

To my surprise, the tomatoes grew! They weren’t huge or gorgeous (like I’m able to do now); they were scraggly, but we got a good sized bowl of tomatoes. And they tasted amazing! I had never ever ever had any homegrown produce. 

I thought to myself, “WOW. If this is what a cherry tomato tastes like, I wonder what else we can do?”

We started growing an eight-by-eight area of containers and some in-ground trees. My mom helped, the kids weren’t interested in it yet…it was just kind of a thing we had in the backyard and took care of it if we had time. It wasn’t a focus for me.

When I look back, I’m kind of shocked because I feel like a different person. Now I’m that person who is gifting people seeds!

True: When did all that change? How did gardening become a focus for you?

Cass: In 2020, I started working from home. I’d been an event professional working at a museum job that I loved for 20 years, but that year, I started to wonder how long it would last. As we started spending more time outside — everybody did! — it became our refuge.

I had a huge backyard, a tiny area of plants, and all this time on my hands. Being outside really gave me a sense of calm and connection to nature that I’d never felt before. I just started to increase the garden. And in 24 months, I went from 10 containers and a few trees to having  100 grow bags, 8 raised beds, and tons of makeshift containers. I had vintage trunks sitting in storage and I said, “Hey, this is a raised bed!”

After the first year of lockdown, I started growing an edible garden at the museum and using the food to cook in the museum café. It all just started to blossom and grow!

True: And how did you start sharing and teaching on Instagram?

Cass: I was looking to connect with people in San Diego and I wanted to learn along with people I could talk to naturally. Someone invited me to a Facebook group for gardeners, but it was people from all over — not just local.

Back then, I thought Instagram was just for famous people and we were all there to watch! All I saw were ads and celebrities. People had amazingly curated feeds, and I had no idea how any of that worked. But somewhere in there, I saw a plant page, clicked on it, and started to realize there were so many niches and areas of interest on Instagram. 

So I thought, “Why don’t I just start a plant page on Instagram?” And suddenly my page went from 100 followers to 1000 followers in a month. (Now she’s got over 21,000!)

True: Wow! What do you think drew people in?

Cass: I was never focused on “growing my following,” I was interested in sharing what I was doing and finding people to learn alongside. And finding people in San Diego!

People who knew nothing about gardening thought it was kind of like, “I grew this…but I’m not sure how!” People connected with that.

A few months after I started my account, Reels came into the world, and that was huge. I never took videos or pictures of myself or wanted to show my face (I wouldn’t even pick up a FaceTime call!) — I’ve always wanted to be behind the scenes.

But once I got in front of the camera, I realized people just genuinely wanted to know more about who I was and I knew that being like everyone else wasn’t the way to do it. 

What I was doing was authentic and Reels brought in a new level of authenticity. My goal was just to have fun. But once I got “viral,” I learned more about how to spark people’s attention, inspire them, and stay true to myself. 

True: What’s going well in the garden right now? Any surprise successes?

Cass: The corn is going great! I thought it was going to be a miss, because I thought I’d accidentally double-fed it. They shot up to seven feet tall but weren’t growing any ears — just foliage and long silks. I’ve never seen silks so long. I could brush them! 

Then suddenly, they started growing these huge ears! They’re bigger than store-bought. It taught me something: when I double-fed at the point between transplant and when the plant was really thriving, that “over-feeding” was actually good for growing bigger ears.

I was hoping to get the Guiness World Record but I saw that the record is about 16 inches. Mine’s about 14. 😉

True: What’s not going so good in your garden this year?

Cass: My grapes. Last year we had tons of grapes but they’re just not thriving right now. 

Everything was going good: we got rain, fruit started to form…but then they just stopped thriving. Once the rains ended, the leaves started getting a disease. I looked into it and it looks like Anaheim disease (also known as Pierce’s disease) — something that happens to a lot of grapes in Anaheim. Although I’m further South, it can spread. So I’m not sure if it was something I could’ve prevented given our climate or if it was something I did. Given that I have a lot of plants, I do occasionally miss somebody when it comes to watering and feeding. 

I just take notes, do the best I can, and use what I learned for next year. And, of course, use quality organic ingredients to nourish the plants and soil.

True: What are the hardest parts about growing a garden as large as yours? 

Cass: Keeping up with organic pest management — since we don’t spray (any pesticides), we really try to do what we can with the spritz of a hose or picking off pests by hand. (Key principles of integrated pest management!) But all of that starts with curating our soil, so we take a lot of time and effort to make sure we take care of all the plants’ needs. Hand watering and feeding are two of our biggest chores, but we know that taking care of our soil and plants will provide us with all of that yummy garden goodness. 

True: So you were using social media to find local gardeners to learn with…and now you’re teaching people all over the world, running your local seed swap, and more! How does that feel?

Cass: I am absolutely floored! I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to create content…but mostly that I get to connect with folks who also have a hope and vision to create a brighter future. That makes me feel like I have a purpose to help others — and this is the way I’m going to do that.

True: What does your future have in store?

Cass: Going forward, I want to make bigger connections so we’re able to reach young people in San Diego and show them that all of us can do something small in order to make a greater impact. San Diego Seed Swap is going to be the conduit to connect the community to the resources to achieve their goals.

My vision for my own future is bigger than just expanding the garden. I’d like to build a family compound and start from scratch: build a sustainable home from shipping containers and building dwellings for my children so they can continue to build and live on the land. That’s my ultimate goal for my garden and for my family. 

The goal for my Instagram work is to keep serving my community by sharing what I learn in the garden. I want to keep inspiring everyone who wants to learn how to do things for themselves, from making your own homemade syrups to growing your own sponges.

True: What are some of your favorite things about having a garden? 

Cass: We love to make a meal with our barbeque or smoker from items we grew in our garden and enjoy it at sunset. And we obviously love harvesting! The kids love harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers and especially watermelons — and really any fruit.

What makes me happiest is seeing something go from a tiny seed into a full plant that’s providing nourishing food for my family. That’s so important right now because — well, quality isn’t always easily accessible. 

We asked Cass’s kids what they love about the garden too! Here’s what they said:

“I just like waking up and looking at it while I’m eating breakfast — it’s beautiful!”

“Whenever we need some vegetable or fruit, we can just go outside and pick it. We don’t even have to go to the store.”

“Something that makes me happy is being educated on what we can grow here in our area — what fertilizers we need, what can we use as compost, all of that!”

“I like giant flowers! All kinds of flowers.”

“I love that it provides a lot of food for our family.’

“I love when I walk outside I can see a whole world of plants.”

cass smith

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month: How Gardening Supports Your Wellness

May 1, 2023

Living Well

Mental Health Awareness Month: How Gardening Supports Your Wellness

Why does gardening feel so good?

There are so many ways gardening supports our health: from elevating our mood to supporting immunity — not to mention the many benefits of eating fresh, organic food right from the earth.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we’re excited to share the impact that gardening has on our mental and emotional health. Let’s look at the different ways gardening is scientifically proven to support health and wellness.

Overall wellness

As doctors and research scientists learn more about how our physical and mental health are linked, we can really start to connect the dots between how gardening (and being outside, in general) supports the healthy function of our bodies and minds — and how those two realms of wellness are connected.

There is growing, clear scientific research explaining how and why a connection with nature is so influential on our health. 

For starters, spending time in nature can:

  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Soothe your nervous system
  • Strengthen immune function
  • Increase your self-esteem
  • Help you build emotional resilience

Since all of these aspects of our health are related, let’s look at the most direct impacts on mental and physical wellness.

Less anxiety, better mood

There are, thankfully, swaths of studies finally proving that spending time in nature can help you feel more calm and help lift your mood, and even ease symptoms of chronic mental health challenges like depression. 

Specific research on people experiencing depression shows that, over time, using “therapeutic horticulture” can noticeably reduce the severity of depression after just 12 weeks (and results keep increasing after three months).

Decrease in stress hormones and stress responses

More research suggests that spending time outdoors even reduces cortisol levels, heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension — which are all physiologically related to stress, chronic illness, and our general wellbeing, both mental and physical. 

Don’t you feel calmer already just thinking about being in the garden? 😌 

Beneficial bacteria 

Here’s some really cool new research on the positive impact of organic gardening and soil health in particular. 

Along with helping to manage the psychological chemicals in our body that are related to our nervous system’s stress response (like cortisol), gardening can actually increase the chemicals that make us feel good! Here’s how:

Since at least 2017, studies have shown that Mycobacterium vaccae, a common soil bacterium (especially present in soil that’s farmed organically), is linked to reduced symptoms of depression and increased serotonin production in our brain — the neurotransmitter that gives us feelings of happiness and modulates anxiety. Along with the emotional benefits, Mycobacterium vaccae has been shown to ease asthma and psoriasis. 

Thanks, soil bacteria!

Physical wellness

Just being in natural light (and getting needed Vitamin D for our bodies) and breathing fresh air can improve our immune system. And a healthy body supports our mental health, too.

Gardening also provides time to get light to moderate exercise: pushing wheelbarrows, shoveling, digging, and lifting. Getting moderate exercise and healthy movement not only helps us feel confident, but it also reduces anxiety and depression.

Improving concentration and memory

Gardening is related to better brain function and to improved concentration and memory. 

Research like this 15-year study study in Australia of older adults have found that daily gardening is also a huge factor in reducing the risks and development of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

While the causes and characteristics of Alzheimer’s are still being studied, it’s thought that gardening stoked our brain functions like learning, dexterity, and problem solving.

Wellness for kids

kids gardeningKids benefit in big ways from gardening, too. Along with all the physical health benefits, kids with classroom or at-home gardens  can learn important social-emotional skills like self-soothing, sharing, and care for other living creatures — plus essential life skills such as choosing nourishing foods, forming healthy habits, and taking responsibility.

[Check out our blog featuring Christina Abuelo, the volunteer founder and full-time manager of Barrio Botany, a garden-based education initiative that builds classroom gardens and works with kids in urban schools in San Diego.]

For at-risk kids (those living in poverty, in foster care, or other challenging life experiences) getting into the garden can be life-changing. Numerous studies show resilience building-opportunities like classroom gardening can actually reverse future negative impact on adult health and increase rates of early mortality

Social connection and a sense of belonging 

Gardening and being in nature can also reduce feelings of isolation, which we can all agree is a majorly important aspect of emotional wellness. 

University of Florida researchers who have studied the impact of gardening on mood and anxiety believe that one of the reasons working in the garden feels so good is related to how plants and humans have evolved together, and humans’ role of cultivating plants and caring for nature.

social gardening“As a species, we may be innately attracted to plants because we depend on them for food, shelter and other means of our survival,” researchers noted.

While gardening can be a calming, solitary activity (and provide cherished alone time for people who need a quiet moment in nature), we can also get much-needed social connection through gardening. Community gardening, events, classes, seed swaps, and family gardening time all offer social and community connections that help us feel a sense of belonging and joy.

So get out there and garden!

There’s plenty more to read when it comes to how gardening, being outside, growing your own food, and tending to nature improves our wellbeing and health…but we think it’s about time to dig into some soil.

While you’re out there, take a moment to reflect on all the good you’re doing for the planet, your family, and your body — because doing mindful, intentional reflection (even for a minute or two) is proven to reduce stress and make you healthier, too.  

Wishing you a happy Mental Health Awareness Month. 💚

benefits of gardening

- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

Growing Organic Futures With The CCOF Foundation

December 21, 2022

Living Well

Growing Organic Futures With The CCOF Foundation

You’ve probably heard of CCOF: a nonprofit organization that advances organic agriculture for a healthy world through organic certification, education, advocacy, and promotion. CCOF’s mission is to help build a world where organic is the norm. CCOF’s educational and grant-making enterprise is the CCOF Foundation, which empowers organic farmers to grow organic agriculture, which in turn creates a more prosperous, resilient world. It’s easy to see how True Organic and CCOF’s missions align. We’re honored to be an ongoing supporter of the CCOF Foundation, particularly as a donor to their Future Organic Farmer program.


Photo credit: The Curated Feast for CCOF Foundation

About CCOF & The CCOF Foundation

In 1973, CCOF was founded by 13 farmers who made a commitment to support organic farming and each other. Their commitment evolved into an organic certification business (how you’ve probably heard of CCOF — or at least seen the certification label!) and the CCOF Foundation.

The CCOF Foundation focuses on the founders’ spirit of community support, while CCOF’s organic certification enterprise continues to ensure organic standards across the country.

CCOF is committed to exploring the growing edge of organic, and that’s why they’re invested in new organic farmers’ education, resources for farmers in transition to organic, and in supporting seasoned organic professionals’ success through ongoing learning and training. And so are we!

The Future Organic Farmers grant is just one program offered by the CCOF Foundation. Read more about their other grant programs and their Organic Training Institute on their website.


CCOF’s Future Organic Farmer Program

This awesome grant program gives $5,000 in scholarships to college and vocational students training for careers in organic. These grants are offered to students pursuing vocational training/certificate programs, junior college/two-year degree programs, bachelor’s/four-year and undergraduate degrees.

CCOF writes: Future Organic Farmer grants are an investment in our future food system. The more beginning farmers who pursue organic, the more we increase organic acreage and feed our communities organic food. We hear from our Future Organic Farmer grantees that this scholarship helped them pursue organic and gave them the confidence to succeed.

We couldn’t agree more.


Above: Rhyne Cureton (who also goes by the apt nickname “Pork” Rhyne”), a swine specialist and international advocate for small-scale agriculture, with rural pig farmers in East Africa (where he travels to train farmers on proper livestock husbandry and health, and farm profitability.)

Above: Future Organic Farmer Grant recipients Lehia Apana and Brad Bayless at Polipoli Farms, their farm on Maui, where they grow endemic and native species with traditional Hawaiian methods. Photo courtesy of CCOF. Read more about Lehia and Brad and their organic farm.














Aligned Missions for Planetary Health

“What if you could combat climate change, strengthen local economies, and improve health in our communities, all through one strategic initiative?”

We bet you can guess where this question from the CCOF website is leading: organic agriculture. We rely on agriculture to survive, and yet it’s also one of the biggest contributors to our current planetary health crisis. Good news: organic and regenerative agriculture methods are one of the most impactful ways we can reverse climate change!

True Organic founder, Jake Evans, started this company because he was devastated at how synthetic,
petroleum-derived chemicals were pervasive in our soil — and had depleted the soil of its natural ability to sequester carbon and retain water.





Learn more about the magic of carbon sequestration and how healthy soil (replenished by organic techniques) and save the planet. We are committed not only to serving agricultural organic produce growers with the safest, highest-quality organic fertilizer possible but also to helping preserve the planet. The more acres of farmland and gardens that are being tended with organic methods, the more we all benefit — the planet and our communities.




ccof foundation    ccof foundation

root vegetable recipes - True Organic

5 Easy, Delicious Root Vegetable Recipes for Winter

November 28, 2022

Living Well

5  Easy, Delicious Root Veggie Recipes for Winter

‘Tis the season for all root veggies! While Winter can sometimes feel like an ebb in the abundance of garden harvests, root vegetables are having their moment in the sun. Beets, carrots, and potatoes are celebrated superstars of the Fall and Winter table: they store well for a long time, they’re dense with nutrients that your body needs, and cooking them in the oven makes a warm, cozy atmosphere for those blustery days.

Here are 5 fun recipes for the root veggies you dug up this year!


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Crispy Roasted Carrots with Parmesan and Garlic

Bored of roasted carrots? We don’t blame you. Here’s a wonderful way to make them zesty, crunchy, and fun enough that the whole family will want seconds. This delectable recipe from Cafe Delites is truly mouthwatering and so simple to make. It’s a perfect side dish for any dinner or for a holiday celebration.


  • 2 pounds carrots, washed well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tablespoon minced garlic)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper as desired
  • Fresh chopped parsley, thyme, or rosemary, optional

Make It!

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Lightly grease or spray a baking sheet with cooking oil spray.
  • Halve carrots, length-wise (no need to peel, just give them a good scrub).
  • Spread carrots on baking sheet. Add rosemary or thyme, if using.
  • Add olive oil, garlic, parmesan, and breadcrumbs. Add salt and pepper as desired. Toss all ingredients together to completely coat the carrots.
  • Spread carrots out on the baking sheet so there is some space in between them, and they aren’t overlapping.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Toss with a spatula half way through.
  • Remove from oven and serve hot. Top with fresh parsley, as desired.

Everyday Beet Dip

Bright pink, creamy, zesty beet dip is a holiday gathering go-to. Impress your friends with this beautiful, flavorful side dish that can be used on wraps, sandwiches, salads, or, of course, with crudité or crackers.

The best part about beet dip is that it’s super adaptable; you can add your own favorite add spices or swap creamy thickeners (like yogurt, in the recipe below) with chickpeas to make a beet hummus. Try this recipe as a starting point and get creative!


  • 4 medium beets, washed and trimmed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup whole Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp chili chipotle powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Make It!

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place beets in a baking pan with ¼ cups of water. Cover with tin foil and bake for 60 minutes, or until tender.
  • Allow the beets to cool, then peel and cut in half.
  • Add beets, garlic, yogurt, olive oil and chili powder to food processor or blender and blend on pulse until smooth.
  • Garnish with feta cheese, parsley, and whatever else excites you!

Garnish ideas

  • Fresh herbs
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Fresh cheese
  • Shallots
  • Roasted garlic

Hungry for more beet recipes? Check out Food & Wine’s 27 amazing beet dishes!

- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com
root vegetable recipes - True Organic

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Potatoes

These gooey treats take baked potatoes to a whole new level. If you want to get really wild, add a cheese of your choice.


  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

Make It!

  • Preheat to 500°F.
  • Toss potatoes, butter, oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  • Arrange potatoes in a single layer in a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan.
  • Roast potatoes for about 30 minutes or until browned, flipping once.
  • Remove from oven to add broth and half of the garlic. Return to oven and roast for about 15 minutes, until most of the broth is absorbed and potatoes are tender.
  • Top with cheese and garlic, if desired. Allow to cool for a few minutes; serve hot!



Winter Vegetable Salad

Salad in the Winter? Yep! Get creative with crispy greens, winter fruit, and thinly sliced root veggies for that extra crunch (and nutrition). Here is a simple winter salad base and some suggestions for additions!

Make It!

Use a base of lettuce leaves like red oak and Little Gem and add:

  • Radicchio, chopped or torn
  • Fennel, shaved or very thinly sliced
  • Golden or red beets, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • White turnips, trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Orange slices
  • Walnut, chopped, raw or roasted
  • Fresh Autumnal herbs like parsley or tarragon

Top with simple oil and vinegar or a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Yum!



- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com
- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

Sweet Potato Hash

Turn your average potato brunch dish into a Fall favorite with sweet potatoes. This Food Network Recipe adds bacon, cinnamon, and cilantro for a savory-and-sweet flavor combination that will warm you up and make your tastebuds dance.


  • Extra-virgin olive oil to cook
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 12 ounces thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, optional
  • Ground cinnamon to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Malt vinegar, for topping

Make It!

  • Remove jalapeño stem, seeds and ribs, cut into thin rings.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a sheet pan.
  • Lay the cubed sweet potatoes in an even layer on the sheet pan. Roast until just tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, add the bacon to a cast-iron pan on medium heat. Cook until the bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered about 7 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  • Add the jalapeño rings to the bacon fat and fry until blistered and lightly browned. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate with the bacon.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the cubed sweet potatoes in an even layer and season with cinnamon and some salt and pepper. Fry until crispy and golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. Add the bacon and jalapeños to the pan and fold to combine. Add a few shakes of malt vinegar. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro.

- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

3 Unique Apple Recipes You’ve Never Tried

November 11, 2022

Living Well

3 Unique Apple Recipes You’ve Never Tried


If you’ve been leaving apples for dessert and breakfast, think again. Sweet and savory is the ultimate flavor combo and apples provide just the right amount of sweet-tartness to make savory dishes unexpectedly awesome.

Besides being epically tasty and delightfully versatile, apples are packed with nutrients your body needs, like fiber, vitamin C (one apple contains around 10% of your recommended daily intake), and vitamins E, B1, and B6.

Apples also contain polyphenols: antioxidants that can protect against chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer.


Leave the skin on apples when you can — it’s the part of the fruit most dense with fiber and polyphenols! With so many varieties of apples grown in the U.S. (about 2,500, in fact!) you’re about to embark on a flavor journey to delight your taste buds.

Apples On Horseback

By Grace Paris for Food & Wine

Here’s a super-simple yet elegant appetizer for gameday, holidays, and cocktail parties.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Serves 8


  • 16 thin slices of pancetta
  • 1 Pink Lady apple—peeled and cut into 16 wedges
  • 3 ounces Manchego cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 2-by-1/2-inch sticks
  • Rosemary sprigs or toothpicks for skewers

Make it!

  • Preheat a grill pan.
  • Lay out pancetta slices. Place an apple wedge and a cheese stick in the center of each slice.
  • Wrap the pancetta around the filling and secure with a rosemary sprig or toothpick.
  • Grill the skewers until the pancetta is golden and crispy and the cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Serve hot


Butternut-Apple Soup

By Erin Clarke of Well Plated

This recipe, inspired by simple-and-rich French bistro food, uses tart apples, creamy squash, and fresh nutmeg to offer stunning Fall flavors and color.

The ingredients are plentiful, inexpensive, and easy to find in the organic section! Plus, you can freeze and reheat this one for quick cold-season meals anytime.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves 8




  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions chopped (about 3 cups total)
  • 2 large butternut squash about 5 pounds total, peeled and diced into chunks
  • 4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (use a mix of sweet apples, like McIntosh, and tart, like Granny Smith)
  • 3-4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Make it!

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large, deep stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over low. Add the onions and cook until very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the onions cook, cut and peel the squash and apples.
  • Add them to the pot, then add 2 cups of the stock. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to low, then cover, and cook until the squash and apples are very soft, about 20 to 30 minutes depending upon how larger you cut your squash and apple pieces (smaller pieces will cook more quickly).
  • Once the apples and squash in the soup pot are tender, puree the soup with an immersion blender or carefully transfer it to a food processor fitted with a steel blade to puree in batches.
  • Return soup to the pot.
  • Add 1 cup of the remaining chicken stock, then stir, adding a bit more stock as needed to reach your desired consistency — thick and rick is best
  • Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne. Add more salt and pepper as desired.


Apple & Cheddar Quesadillas

We saved the best for last! This amazingly unexpected ingredient combination is a crowd-pleaser for potlucks and parties. The best part about this recipe is how creative you can get with addition! Bacon, chicken, or some leafy greens — bonus points if those greens are organically grown in your own garden!

Try a sweet, crisp apple variety like Fuji or Honeycrisp for this one.


  • 2 medium apples, thinly sliced
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • Sliced cheddar cheese
  • Whatever else you want to add!

Make it!

Assemble sliced apples and cheese (and any additions) on a tortilla. Place on a lightly oiled pan or cast iron skillet. Top with another tortilla and grill until cheese is melted and tortillas.




- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

True Organic Fun Gardening Activities for Kids

September 23, 2022

Living Well

Fun Gardening Activities for Kids

Want to help kids grow their emotional and cognitive skills, apply academic principles, get outside, and learn to love fruits and veggies? Get them into the garden!

Getting kids gardening during early childhood and beyond is incredibly beneficial — read about why in our interview with school garden expert, Christina Abuelo. It’s not just math and science skills that kids can learn as they experience gardening, but also social-emotional skills, problem-solving, nature-based nervous system regulation, cooperation, patience, and more.

Here are some ideas to kick off the fun and learning.


Child and mother gardening in vegetable garden in the backyard

Play Garden Bingo

Every parent, teacher, and babysitter knows that kids love to find stuff! And there’s plenty to find in the garden. Bees, worms, birds, leaves shaped like hearts, leaves shaped like arrows, all the colors of the rainbow…these are just a handful of items you can put on a garden bingo card.

Download and print this blank bingo card, then fill in your own ideas. A game of bingo encourages kids’ curiosity and gets them exploring independently, and can help them learn about identifying different plants and wildlife.




Keep A Garden Journal

Keeping a garden journal is a great way for kids to feel more connected with the natural world. (And garden journals are great for grown-up gardeners, too! Check out our blog on creating your own garden journal.)

Ask kids to write about what they see in the garden: What kind of bugs and birds are in the garden today? Did the plants grow, get new leaves, or produce more fruit?

Give kids a framework or template for their journals and let them explore!

Here are some ideas for more fun activities for a kids’ garden journal:

  • Drying flowers and/or seeds, taping or pasting into journals, and labeling
  • Tracking plants’ growth and yield
  • Measuring rainfall and watering schedules
  • Drawing and coloring plant pictures
  • Writing about how they took care of the garden
  • Writing about how the garden makes them feel or what they learned.


Math is more fun in the garden!

…And it “sticks” better, too!

Everyone learns and retains information in different ways, but for most people, doing something hands-on to learn an intellectual concept really helps it sink in. For kids who are visual or experiential learners, a garden provides opportunities to practice math skills in a way that might be retained more effectively.

Measuring, mixing, counting, and calculating are all easy to do in the garden.

For kids who are just learning numbers, counting how many tomatoes one plant has produced or how many ladybugs are crawling on a flower is a perfect activity.

A little older, and they’ll love measuring and recording the heights or weight of plants and fruits (which they can record in their garden journals).

For older kids who are learning 4th or 5th-grade math skills, help them measure and calculate square footage of garden beds or containers.

When it’s time to learn averages and medians, kids can calculate the average yield of fruiting crops or the median height of tomatoes…you’ll find that math problems in the garden are endless!

For kids who are ready to handle plant foods, a parent or teacher can supervise as they measure, mix, and apply soil supplements (just make sure it’s a certified Food Safe, organic plant food like True Organic).


Vegetable and Fruit Tasting

Nurture healthy palates and encourage budding chefs by helping kids harvest, prepare, and taste garden crops.

Christina Abuelo of Barrio Botany has seen first-hand how empowering kids to grow and eat their own food helps them develop taste buds that crave fresh veggies.

She suggests a “taste test” activity where kids get to try different flavor combinations, then vote on their favorites and explain what they liked or didn’t like. Kids love to express themselves, and it’s important for their development!

Not only that, Christina Abuelo says, “There’s something about being the one in charge. Harvesting something and cooking vegetables themselves makes the kids more excited about trying new flavors.”

Give kids a few different vegetables with dips and let them express their favorites. (Christina Abuelo suggests carrots, lettuce, and cucumbers dipped in hummus.)

This works great in school classrooms or summer camps or in any group of kids who are learning to express their preferences, nourish themselves independently, listen to others’ opinions, and try new things.

Older students can have fun developing their own recipes, too!


Gardening With Wee Ones

What about really little kids? Yes, toddlers can learn and play and help out in the garden! Little kiddos are at peak curiosity age. Help them with some simple activities like:

  • Watering
  • Planting seeds
  • Sorting and cleaning planters and containers
  • Identifying bugs and plants.




Remember to Have Fun!

Don’t get caught up in making it fancy or perfect. Start small! Just the joy of being outside, playing in the “dirt” will spark curiosity and creativity.

Remember: gardening isn’t about perfection. It’s about learning, connecting with nature, having fun, making mistakes, and encouraging kids to explore the world around them.



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How Gardening Benefits Kids: Barrio Botany

August 30, 2022

Living Well


What makes gardening with kids so special? Ask Christina Abuelo, and the answer is clear. “There’s something magical for kids about being in the garden,” she says. 


“Garden-based education can be transformational, particularly for students who are affected by trauma or have learning challenges.”

Volunteer Christina Abuelo is the founder and full-time manager of Barrio Botany, an initiative that builds gardens and garden-based education programs at high-poverty urban schools in San Diego.

“Usually, when a kid is disruptive in class, they’re taken to the principal for discipline. Now we see principals bringing kids out to their school garden to get regulated.”

True Organic is honored to be a donation sponsor of Barrio Botany! We’re so inspired by Christina’s work and wanted to share the story of this life-changing enterprise. So we sat down with Christina to get her take on gardening with kids — why it’s so impactful, how she made it happen, and what she’s seen over the years.



Building The Garden

When she moved to San Diego, Christina was searching for a bilingual program for her oldest child to attend. She discovered that she had missed the deadline for enrollment at most schools.

“The only bilingual school I could get my son into was in a very high-poverty neighborhood. But I met with the principal and he sold me on the educational program, so I signed up my kids to go to this school.”

When her son was in first grade, she asked if she could put a garden in the school’s yard.

“I didn’t have a very developed idea of what that would be like,” she laughs, recalling how complex building a garden at an urban school was — without funding or outside support.

Christina started with two garden beds in a litter-strewn part of campus. “The full build-out took 10 years,” she recalls. “My husband would come in on the weekends and assemble raised beds and we had tons of sweat equity from parents and students.” They added about two beds per year. Twelve years later, the School Garden is made up of 14 raised beds, three composting stations, a tool shed, a produce sink, and pollinator habitats.

One year, the urban agriculture class for a nearby high school lost their community garden space, so six more raised beds were delivered by crane, joining the motley collection of existing planting areas.

Over the last three years, Christina has worked to upgrade and install gardens at seven more schools, with assistance from nonprofit partners and community volunteers. Educators from three garden education organizations now provide garden-based education classes and after-school programs.

Although the challenges have been immense, Christina radiates joy when speaking about Barrio Botany.

Her advice for people inspired to build school gardens? Be ready for anything. And be patient. It’s worth it.


“This is my superpower! I can get kids to eat vegetables!”

Christina recalls first watching kids pick broccoli, an “advanced” vegetable, straight from the garden, rinse it off, and eat it. She was amazed!

“As a mom, watching kids eat a plate of cooked kale, I thought, ‘This is my superpower! I can get kids to eat vegetables!’”

She thinks the empowerment aspect helps bring down the barriers between kids and fresh veggies and fruit.

“There’s something about being the one in charge,” she says. “Harvesting something and cooking vegetables themselves makes the kids more excited about trying new flavors.”

She recalls how excited the kids get about eating vegetables when their voices and preferences are respected — like during a “taste test” activity in which the students got to dip their garden-grown veggies (cucumber, carrots, and lettuce) in hummus and rate their favorite tastes.

“It’s about voice and choice. Being able to express what they like is really important.”




Gardens help kids become environmental stewards while learning academic skills.

“Kids really respond to the garden on multiple levels: connecting with nature is a big one.”

Christina sees the kids learning to protect nature because they are developing an appreciation for plants, insects, and wild animals.

“Connecting with nature — finding a roly-poly, seeing the Monarch butterflies at the butterfly bush — seeing all these creatures helps them understand nature and ecosystems. When they grow up, hopefully they’ll be good environmental stewards.”

At the elementary school, the students learn horticultural skills like soil testing, plant identification, weeding, mulching, composting, vermiculture, and cultivation, plus art and cooking/tasting activities.

Students of the garden also learn math skills like calculating volume and square footage — which any gardener knows is involved in all the tasks of building, nourishing, and maintaining a garden!

“There are so many ways gardening-based education can support academic learning,” says Christina. She emphasizes that kids learn better when things are hands-on and experiential.

It’s proven: Studies show that students involved with school gardens generally take pleasure in learning and show positive attitudes towards education (Canaris, 1995; Dirks & Orvis, 2005).

“If you’re only learning about a concept like square footage on a piece of paper, it’s so much harder to conceptualize,” she says. “That physical act — using the measuring tape, recording data on a clipboard, and calculating the square footage — really helps the lessons click and stick.”

She simply asked her children’s principal, “Who’s studying square footage right now?” Turned out: Fourth Graders! So she asked the fourth-grade teacher if they’d like to be learning with the garden, and the class got to measuring and calculating.

“Garden education is so much easier for teaching a lot of academic concepts because the garden brings these concepts to life,” Christina says.


Gardening builds joy and resilience – in kids and grown-ups.

Beyond academic learning, the students gain more important life skills in the garden, like social-emotional learning.

A 2005 study of third, fourth and fifth graders showed that students who participated in a garden program showed increased self-understanding, interpersonal skills, and cooperative skills when compared to their non-gardening peers (Robinson & Zajicek, 2005).

It’s not bad for the emotional health of the teachers and other grown-ups, either. “I’m working 50 or 60 hours a week, but it’s hitting all the dopamine receptors in my brain. I love it.”

And remember: Christina Abuelo is a full-time volunteer!

She can’t emphasize enough how beneficial the garden is for the mental and emotional health of the kids. While she’s been working with school kids in gardens for over a decade, the impact of having a school garden was especially evident as students returned to school after COVID-19 closures.

“These kids were particularly affected by COVID; all the stressors were much more potent for them.”

Students at the schools Christina works with are affected by numerous challenges like food insecurity, poverty, homelessness, unsafe or crowded living environments, limited (or no) access to the outdoors, and other challenges — and so both kids and teachers needed more support, even before the pandemic.

And numerous studies show that these and other adverse childhood experiences negatively impact adult health and increase rates of early mortality — unless kids are given resilience building-opportunities.

“We started seeing that the kids and principals understood that the garden was a sanctuary.”

She describes students on the autism spectrum who run to the garden when they are having a hard time. They know the garden is a place of solace where they can manage their emotions.

“One kid was particularly dysregulated,” she recalls. “I found him in the garden and said, ‘We’re not having garden class right now,’ and asked him to go back to his classroom.

“He screamed, “NO!” so I asked, “Why not?

“He said, ‘Because I’m angry!’ So I gave him a watering can, and we just started watering.”

Christina sees how the most challenging societal problems impact our youngest community members — and she knows that society-wide, we just can’t solve all these problems all at once. But communities can help get kids in gardens, connect with nature and nourishing foods, and become more resilient.

“What we’re doing here is building resilience,” Christina Abuelo says.

To find out more about Barrio Botany, get involved, and get inspiration for starting your own garden for kids (whether in school or at home), visit the Barrio Botany website or check out Barrio Botany on Instagram.


Canaris, I. 1995. Growing foods for growing minds: Integrating gardening and nutrition education into the total curriculum.

Children’s Environments 12(2): 134-142.

Dirks, A. E., & Orvis, K. 2005. An evaluation of the junior master gardener program in third grade classrooms.

HortTechnology 15(3): 443-447.

Robinson, C. W., & Zajicek, J. M. 2005. Growing minds: The effect of a one-year school garden program on six constructs of life skills of elementary school children.

HortTechnology 15(3): 453-457.

Merrick MT, Ford DC, Ports KA, et al. 2019. Vital Signs: Estimated Proportion of Adult Health Problems Attributable to Adverse Childhood Experiences and Implications for Prevention — 25 States, 2015–2017.

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019; 68:999-1005. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6844e1.htm?s_cid=mm6844e1_w




- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

3 Easy Recipes for Your Summer Tomato Harvest

August 25, 2022

Living Well

3 Easy Recipes for Your Summer Tomato Harvest

In so many parts of the country, ripe tomatoes are hanging on vines waiting to be made into salads, sauces, and snacks.  Tomatoes are nutrient-packed treats that boost our body’s health just as much as they delight our taste buds. They’re one of the only ways we get a dietary source of lycopene, an antioxidant that is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, healthy skin, and anti-inflammation.

Tomatoes provide us with so many important dietary needs:

  • Fiber
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Folate
  • Vitamin K
  • Beta carotene

These colorful delights are so versatile, but sometimes we forget that there are more ways to eat them than just in salads and on burgers (although those are brilliant ways to enjoy a tomato!).Do you have an abundant tomato harvest in your backyard garden? Let’s get slicing!

Check out True Organic Tomato & Vegetable Food. It’s one of our most popular plant foods!


Stuffed Caprese Tomatoes

Inspired by Delish

Elevate your tomato salad with this creatively designed “compact-salad.” Sometimes called Hasselback Caprese Salad, this stylish dish is perfect for parties and barbeques — and impressing your friends.

What you need:

  • Dense, medium-sized tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Olive oil & Balsamic reduction
  • Salt and pepper to taste



How to make it:

  • Pick the largest, densest tomatoes you can find.
  • Slice vertically about two-thirds of the way through, so that the tomato still holds together.
  • Slice fresh mozzarella into thin slices and insert into tomatoes.
  • Add fresh basil…preferably from the garden!
  • Dress with a drizzle of balsamic reduction, a sprinkle of salt, and fresh-ground pepper.
  • Dig in! This one can be messy 😉



Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed veggies are an ideal summer dinner dish for all occasions: dinner parties, busy families, or date night. Tomatoes can be trickier to stuff than peppers, because of their soft texture, but the ooey-gooey deliciousness is worth it! Just be sure to give your dinner guests plenty of napkins.

The best part? No measuring needed! Just gather these ingredients, plus any additional goodies you’d like to add, and build your own tomato creation.

What you need:

– Big tomatoes!

– Bread crumbs

– Fresh oregon & basil (dried works, too!)

– Cheese that melts nicely (provolone, mozzarella, or parmesan is perfect)

– Any other stuffing that sounds good to your taste buds!

How to make it:

– Slice tomatoes in half horizontally.

– Scoop out tomato seeds and pulp.

– Stuff tomatoes with breadcrumbs, cheese, and herbs, etc.

– Place on a non-greased baking sheet a few inches apart.

– Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes; tomatoes should be soft and shriveled but still holding their shape.

– Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and enjoy!



Tomato sauce in a wooden plate. On a black background. High quality photo

Homemade Ketchup

Inspired by NatureFresh

Who doesn’t love ketchup? Store-bought ketchup is certainly yummy, but making your own ketchup will forever change your standards for everybody’s favorite condiment — and may inspire you to become your own home sous chef.

Store-bought ketchup typically contains lots of sugar, preservatives, and other additions, distracting from that “true” tomato taste. Make your own ketchup from scratch and you’ll never go back to store-bought.


What you need:

  • 4-5 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika…or other spices like oregano, rosemary, etc.: get creative!

 How to make it:

– Place tomatoes and ½ cup of water into a pot.

– Cook over medium high heat.

– As tomatoes start to soften, add remaining ingredients.

– Simmer for 10 minutes, or until tomatoes are mushy and skin is falling off.

– Remove from heat and place in blender

– Puree until smooth.

– Place blender in refrigerator for a few minutes. Be careful, the blender is hot!

– Pour puree through a fine strainer to remove seeds and skin.

– Return to medium heat for 5-7 minutes, simmer to desired consistency.

– Pour into a heat-safe container.

– Cool before serving!




- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

Food Safety for Safer Edible Gardening

June 6, 2022

Living Well

Food Safety Standards for Safer Edible Gardening


You care about food safety testing for the fresh produce you buy at the supermarket. You want to make sure the food you bring home for your family table is free of pathogens and other potentially harmful ingredients.

Food safety might not be something that crosses the mind of most home gardeners, but let’s put it into perspective.

All food products are tested to make sure they are pathogen-free. That way, consumers trust that the romaine lettuce bought from the market and the chicken fingers your kiddos love are safe. Restaurants, food manufacturers and processors are all expected to have food safety measures in place for the same reasons.

Shouldn’t all the same standards apply to products that come into contact with our food? That’s our philosophy at True Organic.





17 Years of Industry Standards

When it comes to food safety standards, the agricultural industry has more regulation than the retail consumer industry. And because we’ve been providing fertilizer to the nations’ biggest organic farms for 17 years, our food safety protocol is backed by decades of expertise.

“We consider ourselves part of the food chain —so whatever a food manufacturer is doing, we are doing something equivalent,” says Mike Menes, True Organic’s VP of Food Safety and Technology.




Why Food Safety?

Much of the food you grow in your home garden is eaten raw, so whatever comes into contact with the edible part of the plant ends up in your salad.

If you’re eating what you’ve grown in your garden, the fertilizer you’re using comes into contact with your food. Which means that pathogens that can be transferred by untreated or improperly treated inputs including plant and animal byproducts, so rinsing or washing those items you pick in the kitchen sink just doesn’t cut it.

Every one of True Organic products is ISO 22000 food safety certified for safer edible gardening. What does that mean for you? Let’s take a look at some important parts of our wide-ranging food safety program.

Believe it or not, there are no regulatory standards regarding food safety and pathogen testing in the retail consumer fertilizer industry! But at True Organic, food safety has been part of our mission and our methods from the very beginning.


Understanding ISO 22000 & Bureau Veritas

Bureau Veritas is the third-party certification partner that audits every part of our manufacturing methods — from facility practices to packaging. Founded in 1828, Bureau Veritas is a world leader in testing, inspection, and certification services.

Read more about Bureau Veritas and their globally renowned standards.

ISO 22000 is the food safety management system that True Organic uses. ISO 22000 sets out the requirements for what an organization needs to do to demonstrate its ability to control food safety hazards in order to ensure that the product is safe. Currently, there are no food safety manufacturing standards for organic fertilizers and True Organic opted to follow a food standard that could be applied to our process. We chose to pursue ISO 22000 because of their reputation, applicability, and the international relevance.

Read more about the ISO 22000 standards here.


True Organic’s Industry-leading Practices

We have established some very unique practices to ensure that our methods go beyond the minimum standards and bring you the safest and highest-quality plant foods on the market.


A Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is another type of management system that we have in place. Unique to industry and facility, a HACCP plan is a crucial part of addressing safety through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards. This plan includes every step of our process, from raw material procurement, storage, and handling, to manufacturing, distribution, and even consumer use.


Process Separation & “Kill Step”

Just like you are sure to wash your hands, knives, and cutting board after handling raw meat, we ensure that the handling of raw materials is separated from every other step of the manufacturing process.

The “kill step” is a food safety term for putting materials through high heat to “cook” off any pathogens. This is a crucial part of the process that can be compared to washing a cutting board and cooking the meat in your kitchen.

The fact is that many animal byproducts are time-tested fertilizing agents. Ingredients like guano, manure, blood, and bone have been used as powerful agricultural fertilizers for centuries. (Seabird Guano is a prime example. Learn more about our Seabird Guano and how we ethically and safely harvest it.)


Start-to-Finish Oversight

From start to finish, we are in control of the product that makes its way to your garden. We like to think of it as “source to soil” transparency. This continuity and ownership gives us visibility into and control of every single step of the process, which is not the case when a company uses dispersed third-party partners to source, manufacture, or package their product. We know exactly what goes into True Organic plant foods and exactly what’s in each package.

Company Commitment

“This commitment has 100% backing from the top down,” says our food safety expert, Mike Menes. “It’s aligned with the vision and direction of True Organic and [our founder] Jake Evans.

In fact, Mike came to True Organic from a long-time career in food safety testing. He’s expertly transferred that knowledge to our organic fertilizer manufacturing to ensure that our safety standards are top-of-the-line.

We think our most powerful tool to guarantee food safety for our customers and their families is our team’s commitment to quality and safety. We hope to lead the way in our industry toward a culture of food safety, so you have one less thing to worry about when it comes to choosing how to nourish your garden.