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By GREG MASTERS
ANNAPOLIS (November 11, 2011) -- For Washington County farmer Myron Martin, whose farm occupies a rolling, mile-wide valley close to the Appalachian Trail, being organic is "a whole different way of thinking."
"It's actually getting back and being good stewards of what God made," said Martin, a Mennonite Christian.
Using prayer as guidance, Martin put his cows on a strict forage diet in 1996. Years later, he eliminated the use of fertilizer and other chemicals after deciding to join Organic Valley, a farmer-owned organic dairy cooperative based in Wisconsin.
"I said, well, we're already grazing. We're almost there. I just have to learn," he said.
Martin, who was certified organic in 2007, said he now gets farming tips from his 83-year-old uncle.
"He just loves coming down there," Martin said. "He said, 'Myron, this is so exciting, because this is the way we used to do it.'"
The "chemical influx" following World War II almost made farmers lose the accumulated knowledge from when all farming was organic, Martin said.
"We've lost so much on basic thinking on biological farming, and it's coming back," he said. "What they're doing is going back to the turn of the century and reading the books and learning what they learnt then."