Introducing Remote Observed Inspections (ROI)

Posted on November 15, 2021

Pumpkin Patch at ShireFolk FarmEven though farmers appreciate CNG's annual peer-review process as an opportunity to meet and learn from others, it can be a little intimidating for newer members. Plus it can take some practice and a bit of learning in order to do it well.

So this fall we tested out a new idea - Remote Observed Inspections (ROI)to see if we could achieve two goals at once:

  • Help new CNG members to "learn the ropes" of the CNG inspection process
  • Increase dramatically the number of new members we're able to pair with experienced farmers for CNG inspections

Much to our delight this idea has overachieved! 

We organized nine ROIs over the past six weeks, each one observed by up to eight other farmers, for a total of 60 observers to date. The peer-review inspections were all carried out by one of our Senior Remote Inspectors (SRIs). (You can look back to announcements of our first SRI cohort and second SRI cohort with more to come this winter!) The newer CNG members who were observing the inspection were very glad to learn about another CNG farmer's practices, and to get a feel for the inspection process during the ROI. 

One observer shared this anonymous feedback:

I thought it was a great way to see another farm that was outside of my inspection region, especially since there are currently few CNG growers in my area. I really enjoyed hearing the thoughts and reactions of the inspector. It will help me conduct better inspections in the future.

But it wasn't just facts and techniques shared - it was also our approach. Again and again the observers expressed appreciation for the values that were embodied in these ROIs, including:

  • Interest in sharing knowledge and fostering each other's farming success
  • Emphasis on continuous improvement, and sustainability goals,
  • The transparency that comes with including observers, which is valuable not only as a means of ensuring accountability but also as a way to strengthen the CNG community
  • CNG"s intention to expand the number of farmers who benefit from a given inspection experience

At the end of our last ROI, another observer reflected:

This is more like a support system; that's what CNG feels like to me.

In the near future we will just organize ROIs for those who are in production during the winter months. Register here if you are in winter production and interested in receiving an ROI. Priority will be given to those who have been with CNG for at least 3 years, and who would have a hard time finding a peer-reviewer otherwise. As spring approaches, we will reach out directly to members about additional ROI opportunities.

Perhaps you're not a CNG producer, but you're intrigued by this idea. Register here if you'd like to observe an ROI. We will likely have some open spots to include community stakeholders, but priority will be given to farmers in their first few years of certification. 

Farmer Emilie and her Greenhouse