It's a common misconception that CNG members must only rely on another CNG producer to complete their annual peer-review. While we'd love to have so many participants that there's always a CNG-er within an hour's drive, for many, the nearest CNG farm is a couple hours away or more. This post reports on the full variety of inspector-options available to members.
All CNG members are required to conduct an inspection of another CNG farm once every year. So it's important to consult the map of CNG producers as your first step when planning your inspection. Members are NOT required to drive more than an hour to conduct an inspection, however. If you're more than an hour's drive away from the closest CNG producer (of the same production type) you should consider the options below!
Producers certified by the USDA organic program grow food under the same conditions as CNG farmers. They are qualified peer-reviewers of CNG farms! We don't have a directory of these growers, so you'll want to do your research locally.
Non-Certified Producer Using Natural Practices
As you know, there are plenty of growers committed to farming without synthetic chemicals or GMOs who are not certified. You were probably among them once upon a time! If you trust and respect their production methods, reach out to see if they'll make some time to conduct your inspection. They might appreciate the opportunity to visit your farm. Who knows, maybe by the end they'll feel inspired to join CNG as well! Note the inspector should have a farming business with a name - gardeners don't qualify.
County Extension Agent
Through a network of county extension agents, Land Grant Universities extend educational and agricultural resources to farmers. They qualify as inspectors, and are sometimes available to participate in CNG's inspection process. Find your local extension agents here.
Sustainable Agricultural Educator
Instructors in sustainable agriculture are a great option to consider. They may be from the university, community college, or an independent consultant. To qualify, they must have an institutional or business affiliation named on the inspection report.
This can be a fall-back option for members who are having trouble finding any of the above options. Farmer's market managers, food co-op produce buyers and leaders in the good food movement are examples of community stakeholders who care about the vitality of their local food systems and have an interest in verifying a farm's production practices.
This is an option for members who have already had at least three peer inspections. Invite a few customers out to the farm for this opportunity to engage more deeply with where their food comes from. Customers may do the review all together or on separate days, but they must complete their own inspection worksheets, and all must be returned to CNG. Please note, first-year members may not rely on customers to conduct their inspection.
If you need help identifying the best option for your farm, feel free to contact the CNG office either online here, or by phone at 845 687 2058.
Gypsy Flower Farm, Maryland (top)
Ajo CSA and Crooked Sky Farm, Arizona
Perdue Farm, Missouri
Moon Dog Farm, Texas (bottom)