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Growing greener in SLO County

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It's hard to remember if local is the new organic or vice versa, but SLO County is seeing lots more organic farming.

The number of new organic growers in SLO County doubled between 2005 and 2006 from nine to 18, according to James Moore, a county agriculture technician. Moore said that he has already registered 10 new organic growers in the county this year.

According to County Ag Commissioner Bob Lilly, organic agriculture is growing by about 20 percent per year across the country. In SLO County, the number of acres dedicated to organic farming increased by 36 percent in 2006 (the most recent assessment by the California Department of Agriculture).

Supervisor Jim Patterson called upon those statistics during the March 11 Board of Supervisors meeting when he suggested adding another seat to the supes' agriculture advisory board to represent organic and direct-to-market producers. They did. Lilly said that while the field is growing steadily, it still represents fewer than 5 percent of total agriculture in the county.

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