Certified Naturally Grown

     Beech Hollow Farms is proud to announce that we have been accepted into the Certified Naturally Grown program for 2013!  We’re looking to start selling plants at local farmer’s markets and they use CNG standards as the criteria for evaluating their vendors (Athens Farmer’s Market requires CNG certification) so we went ahead and applied.  We still have to get inspected by another local farmer in the program, and that is one of the cooler parts of this organization: the co-operative nature of it.  There is no central governing body that approves or denies your farm, just a network of participating farmers that evaluate each other based on some general guidelines.  The program is really aimed at food producers, so it might seem like a bit of overkill for us to join, but many of our plants can be eaten by humans as well as wildlife. (Some are deadly poisonous so don’t just start eating our plants willy-nilly)

     Certified Naturally Grown was developed as an alternative to the costly, time-consuming USDA Organic Certification that most small farmers don’t have enough time or money to attain.  It uses the USDA Organic standards as the jumping off point for their guidelines, but allows fewer exceptions.  Many things that would not be considered “organic” by most rational people are allowed under USDA Organic.  Just take a look:

“(b) In addition to the criteria set forth in the Act, any synthetic substance used as a processing aid or adjuvant will be evaluated against the following criteria:

(1) The substance cannot be produced from a natural source and there are no organic substitutes;”

That #1 is a the main way that producers can argue for exceptions for all manner of chemicals.  Contrast that with the CNG list of prohibited substances:  

   “PROHIBITED

Fertility and Soil Amendments – Prohibited Substances

Ash from manure burning

Chemically-processed minerals, including quick lime, sugar lime

Compost with sewage sludge, synthetic compost starter, glossy paper, paper with colored ink

Synthetic fertilizers

Plant Pests and Diseases – Prohibited Substances

Rotenone

Detergent-based soap products

Synthetic wetting agents

Nicotine sulfate and other tobacco products

Heavy metal-based pesticides

Most synthetic insecticides, fungicides, miticides

Weed Management – Prohibited Substances

Most synthetic herbicides

Heavy metal herbicides

Micronutrient-based herbicides

Soap-based herbicides

Paper mulch with glossy paper or paper with colored ink

Very similar, but with much less tolerance for synthetic substances, which in my opinion is what “organic agriculture” should be all about.

    You can view our farm profile, grower’s declaration (and soon our inspection report) right here.  The transparency is another aspect of this organization that I also find refreshing.  Anything that we use for fertilizer or pest control has to be declared and anyone can look it up through the website.  You can also use the site to find participating farms in your area.  Who’s YOUR Farmer?