Enid News -- Eagle

FAIRVIEW -- John Gosney has for the past 11 years lived by the motto, "Beef, it's what's for dinner."

Gosney, however, is not your typical Oklahoma farmer. He is an organic farmer.

Gosney and his wife, Kristin, have farmed wheat and beef in Oklahoma for the past 40 years, but it was a chance meeting with a neighbor in 1996 that led Gosney to change his way of thinking about the way he farmed.

"I got into organic by accident," he said. "A neighbor of mine passed away, and his son took over the farm, but he had another business, so he asked me to take over."

Gosney said he discovered farming organically proved to be more profitable than farming the regular way. Most of his profit comes from direct sales of his wheat flour and organic beef to various mills and stores throughout Oklahoma. He also said one of his biggest buyers is the farmers' market located across from the Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City campus.

"You add more value, you retain more money," he told the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in a recent book, "Closer to Home: Healthier Food, Farms and Families in Oklahoma."

"That's what keeps us alive."

Farming always has been a part of his family going back to his great-great-grandfather, who staked a claim to the family's Centennial Farm in the Land Run of 1893. He said his current farm has 3,500 acres, and all of it is organic.

The benefit of organic food, Gosney said, is a health factor. Organic beef has none of the antibiotics or growth hormones regular beef has to help extend its shelf life. Gosney said his beef also is grass finished, which allows for lower omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that clog arteries.

According to Gosney, conventional wheat and flour has similar issues with chemicals added to extend the shelf life. His flour, he said, has no chemicals that pass through it, which allows for more fiber.

Gosney said he has been approached by a few schools in the state about providing organic beef and flour, but nothing has been confirmed. He said there had been a discussion about using his beef to create organic beef sticks, similar to beef jerky, for kids to eat in schools.

Organic farms have grown 20 percent in the last year throughout the United States, Gosney said. He said the local farmer has more opportunities to compete by farming organically.

"It's a growing trend and something to watch," he said.

He realizes, however, it may take a little time for Oklahoma to catch up.

"Right now, as far as I know, we are the only certified organic beef farm in the state," he said.

Gosney said what he really hopes is for local consumers to start shopping for local products.

"We are striving to have people around here buy organic, but I think there is room for both," he said. "I'd really just like to encourage people to know their local farmers and their products, though."

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