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Why Should your Farm be Certified Naturally Grown?

No GMOs, no pesticides, no synthetic fertilizers and a strong commitment to the natural world. Does this sound like your farm? Then you could be eligible to become Certified Naturally Grown (CNG). This certification is specifically designed for farmers who grow food for their local communities by working in harmony with nature, and covers produce, flowers, mushrooms, bees, livestock, and aquaponics operations.

Here are three reasons why you should apply to be Certified Naturally Grown and join the national network of over 700 member farms: 

Inspection of Ward Vegetables in Big Rapids, MI by Liz Visser from Blandford Nature Center Farm in Grand Rapids, Michigan

1) The Application Process is Efficient – and Affordable

Farmers are busy. That’s why CNG has made their certification process as streamlined as possible. Start today and you could be certified within two months! Here’s an overview of the steps to certification:

1)Submit an application online here, where you’ll answer questions about your production practices. You can expect to hear back from CNG staff within a week, either with follow-up questions or a determination on your application. 

2)Pay the Dues – The minimum dues is $150, but CNG Recommends $200 or more, and leaves it up to the producer to determine the amount appropriate for their farm. There’s an option to cover the dues with automatic monthly payments of $17 or more. 

3)Sign the Declaration – this one page statement shows your commitment to farming naturally and affirms you accept the terms of being part of the CNG program

4)Complete the Inspection – Inspections are performed by a CNG farmer in your area. It’s a great way to connect with a like-minded producer who can offer advice and tips for best practices. As a CNG farmer, you are expected to pay it forward by inspecting another CNG farm in your area. 

5)Keep Records – This can be done in your own system, but should be readily available for the inspector to review. Receipts for seeds, transplants, biological pesticides, soil amendments, and soil tests are a few of the components necessary to track. 

Highlight your certification with CNG marketing materials, like these market ties!

2 )  Get Recognized for Your Commitment to Ecological Practices

Applicants who meet all of the requirements are welcomed into the Certified Naturally Grown community and included in the searchable online map and directory of CNG farmers. They are granted access to CNG branding to highlight their certification online, in print, and at the farmers market. Becoming CNG certified and verifying your commitment to sustainable growing practices makes it easier to gain access to new markets, such as discerning grocers, farmers markets, and co-ops. 

3) Build a Stronger Local Food Community

CNG’s peer-review model connects CNG farmers directly with other producers. Plus, many farmers invite community stakeholders, like chefs, grocers, or farmers market managers, to observe their annual inspections. This gives the farm additional transparency and credibility in their process and an insider’s look for those who participate. Eaters seek out Certified Naturally Grown because they know it means the farmers care for their land and crops in a way that nourishes the earth.

If you feel like your farm is a good candidate for this process, start your application before the growing season is in full swing! Apply today: https://www.cngfarming.org/why_join 

Emma Beauchamp is the Communications Manager for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at emma@localdifference.org 

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