By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator
We are thrilled to announce the first nine CNG inspections conducted with Community Observers!
Community Observers are those who participate in the CNG certification process by witnessing a farm's annual inspection. Just about anyone can serve as a Community Observer! From farmers market managers to school crossing guards, postmasters to pitmasters: if they want to have a healthier and more resilient local food system, they're a good candidate.
Community Observers all over the country are starting to join the CNG movement, connecting on a deeper level to their local food system and those who help it thrive.
Farmers are benefiting by developing stronger ties with local community members, while some gain flexibility around our "No repeat inspectors" rule.
Read on to hear from the pioneering cohort of growers welcoming Community Observers to their Certified Naturally Grown farms!
Farm: First Light Farm in Carnation, Washington
Inspector: Jeremy Houston, Green Raven Farm in Duvall, Washington
Observer: Natalie Quist, Manager at Carnation Farmers Market
"It was great. In fact, I'd like even more community involvement so farmers in our area can learn more about our community's needs. I teach at a community college, and there we're really big about peer assessment. Farmer-to-farmer is great, but it's important to involve someone from the community. It just seemed like a natural fit to bring them into the conversation to learn about the farm, and to ask questions farmers might not ask of each other!
- Farmer Jane Reis, First Light Farm
"I really liked having a third party involved, especially a person who is invested in the farm in question. They'll know exactly the kinds of growing practices the farmer uses, and their goals for future sustainability."
- Observer Liz Visser, Blandford Nature Center Farm
"We were so fortunate to have not only Sam Wiseman from Sunflower Savannah Farm conduct our CNG inspection, but she brought a WWOOF-USA volunteer, Job Green, as well. Sam asked if she could bring Job as it would be a great experience for him to have while exchanging at her farm - and we were thrilled with the idea. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting both Sam and Job. Job was very interested in the components of the CNG inspection (I made a copy of the inspection forms for him as well to follow along during our inspection). It was interesting to hear more about the WWOOF-USA program and the farms Job has had the opportunity to exchange with."
- Farmer Cathy Smith, Lavender Rhapsody
Farm: Bittersweet Farm in Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Inspector: Tom Kalal, University of Connecticut Master Gardener
Observers: Two customers
Farm: Rainbow Beavers in Hominy, Oklahoma
Inspector: Edna Sappington of Sappington Common Wealth in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Observer: Brandy Swanson, customer
Farm: Present Moment Farm in Hakalau, Hawaii
Inspector: Eric Weinert of Pure KNF in Papaikou, Hawaii
Observer: Susannah V. Gudmundson, local farmer, locavore, and healthcare practitioner