Demand for organic produce rising

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The US Department of Agriculture has reported a whopping 250% increase in the number of organic farmers over the past 12 years. Valley farmers have played a big part in that growth.

A colorful display of organic vegetables has always drawn a crowd at the Vineyard Farmers Market in North Fresno. Kyle Reynolds of KMK Farms in Kingsburg has watched his organic offerings gradually grow over the years. More people want produce free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

Reynolds said, "We started 18 years ago with one acre and just because of demand it's grown. We're almost up to 80 acres today."

Abundant Harvest Organics in Kingsburg packs produce for 50 organic farmers. Freshly picked peaches were set to be shipped across the US and to Canada. Vernon Peterson said the rapid growth of organic farming was a simple response to consumer demand.

Peterson said, "Organic produce fresh produce is 11% of what's in US supermarkets. That's a huge number. If you're familiar with tipping points, 12 is where you get in the mainstream."

Peterson expected the healthy growth trend for organic farming to continue. "In the last 8 years we're up 119% more farmers at a time when all us farmers are in decline organic farmers are up 119%."

US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said growing demand for organic goods is especially helpful for smaller family operations.

Reynolds said, "I think people are catching on. I think it's more in the big cities but it is moving out to the rural areas. What you eat affects your health."

Secretary Vilsack now looks to increase the number of certified organic farms.

Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.