Mark Levick shares his story and talks about the skills and experience he brings to the OANZ Board.
When I first started gardening, organic farming as it later became known was the norm. At seven years old, I was the oldest male in our home and became responsible for providing the family with vegetables for the table.
As a teenager I read Culpepper’s Herbal and a book on homeopathy and for the first time in my life I had found something that just made so much sense.
When attending university as an adult, I discovered there was no course in organic farming. I had always had a thing about equality and fairness, so I insisted on doing all my electives with an organic twist.
I was a contributing author to American professor John Reganold’s comparison of soil fertility between bio-dynamic / organic and non-organic farming enterprises. This work pioneered in New Zealand the measurement of soil respiration rates and the benefits of earthworms.
From 1984 to 2000 I managed all the certification processes of BioGro licensees. I was responsible for the first organic audits in the Pacific, and for ensuring access to the EU and Japan for New Zealand organic produce – by personally visiting and hand-delivering sample certification documentation to various EU Agriculture Ministries.
I was also an IFOAM Standards Committee member for five years and after leaving BioGro worked as a consultant to two US certifiers while the NOP was being developed. So standards and consistency really are my passion.
I have always worked to ensure consumers can completely trust what organic certification means. After I left BioGro, the New Zealand organic export standard was developed without linking the domestic situation to it; as it is in the EU and the US. This was something I resisted when I was at BioGro. Ideally we can rectify that situation via OANZ in future.