Maple Producers of Certified Naturally Grown

By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator

Missouri Maple
Hart|Beet Farm, Eolia, MO

This time of year, we're celebrating maple sugaring season! Peaceful sugar bushes, a roaring fire, billowing steam. Plastic tubing, and the aroma of maple wafting through the air. At the end of it all: a perfect topping for a stack of pillowy pancakes.

Maple sap flows freely when temperatures are above freezing during the day, and below freezing at night. This usually takes place from the months of February through April throughout the Northeast down south to Tennessee and on west to Minnesota. Homesteaders, outdoor enthusiasts, farmers, and waffle aficionados alike can all get involved to savor this sweet process that comes with the changing seasons. 

Did you know Certified Naturally Grown certifies maple as part of our Produce Certification? Just like our other certifications, we require that maple producers use absolutely no synthetic chemicals in production. But we also ensure that maple producers are using the best practices to preserve the health of the trees.

For instance, producers must use taps that are no larger than 5/16" in diameter. They must also minimize the number of taps based on the circumference of the tree to avoid stunting future growth. Additionally, sap harvested from this wild crop must not come from trees surrounded by all-too-common dumps in the woods, or abandoned cars that are leaking oil.

You can learn more specifics about our maple requirements on our supplemental inspection form for maple producers.

Certifying your maple can help you gain access to better markets, earning your hard work a spot on shelves of local grocers and co-ops, for example. 

Read on to learn about some of our Certified Naturally Grown maple producers. Just like produce or livestock operations around the country, there's room for all at the sticky maple syrup table.

Read more

Earth Tools Helps Certified Naturally Grown Grow!

By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator

Organic Alternative Sustainable Farm Tools

Earth Tools was one of our first Business Allies, and an enthusiastic one, at that!

The Kentucky company is currently the only full-time power equipment dealership in the USA dedicated solely to walk-behind tractors. Plus, Earth Tools is currently the largest walk-behind tractor dealership in North America!

In fact, founder Joel Dufour has been selling and servicing walk-behind tractors since 1977. We caught up with him to learn more about the mission and history of his company, as well as what Certified Naturally Grown means to him.

Read more

The Story of CNG's Logo

By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator

In the early 2000s, Certified Naturally Grown was just a twinkle in the eye of some innovating Hudson Valley farmers. But as Ron and Kate Khosla created an alternative to the National Organic Program's certification, they soon realized they'd need a recognizable logo for their brand new grassroots certification. 

Enter Cecilia Garvin, a member of the Khoslas' CSA and the creator of CNG's vibrant logo.

We caught up with Cecilia after all these years to learn about her inspiration for the imagery that's helped our certification take flight since 2002. Read on to find out what her creation means to her today, and to check out her most recent work.

Read more

The Fertrell Company Helps Certified Naturally Grown Grow!

By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator

Organic Fertilizer

The Fertrell Company is one of the oldest organic fertilizer manufacturers in the United States, and a proud Certified Naturally Grown Business Ally!

The company has come a long way since it began in John Johnson's Maryland garage. We spoke with Casey Trinkaus, Marketing Manager, to learn more about Fertrell's rich past and commitment to sustainable agriculture and forward-thinking business structure.

Read more

CNG Leader Reappointed to Committee of the World's Organic Umbrella Organization

By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator

Organic Global Agriculture
IFOAM participants Chris May (New Zealand), Joelle Katto-Angrighetto (Germany), Konrad Hauptfleisch (South Africa), CNG's Alice Varon, and Mathew John (India) at a gathering preceding the IFOAM General Assembly in South Korea, October 2011.

Did you know Certified Naturally Grown's peer-review inspection model is part of a much larger worldwide movement?

CNG is a participatory guarantee system (PGS), in which community stakeholders are active participants, and inspections are typically carried out by other farmers. The PGS model promotes knowledge sharing about best practices and fosters valuable local networks that strengthen the farming community. As a matter of principle, and to encourage participation and growth of the organic movement, the PGS approach minimizes paperwork and keeps certification dues affordable.

PGS are actively recognized and embraced by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, or IFOAM-Organics International. We are proud to announce that CNG's Executive Director, Alice Varon, has been reappointed as the North American representative on IFOAM's PGS Committee!

Read more

Brooks Contractor Helps Certified Naturally Grown Grow!

By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator

Brooks Compost

Brooks Contractor is so much more than a compost company.

Sure, the North Carolina operation diverts massive amounts of food waste from landfill and creates top notch compost blends, but the business is deeply committed to supporting farmers (and eaters) at all points in the food system. We spoke with Amy Brooks Fulford, Brooks Contractor's Food Waste Collection Manager, to learn more about her mission in North Carolina and beyond.

Plus: do you live in North Carolina and want to learn more about hemp production? Be sure to register for the Industrial Hemp Workshop from 4–9 p.m. on Thursday, February 28 in Pittsboro. Amy will be presenting on growing hemp in poor NC soils! More details can be found here.

Read more

How To Know If Your Farm Needs a Paper Pot Transplanter

By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator

Paper Pot Transplanter Organic CNG
Peas waiting to be planted with the paper pot transplanter at Patchwork Farm in Copper Hill, VA

You may be wondering: what's the deal with the paper pot transplanter? Is it actually worth the investment? Will it really save my back? And wait a second: if I'm a Certified Naturally Grown farm, can I even use this tool for my crops?!

Certified Naturally Grown will continue to allow the use of paper pot transplanters on CNG operations.

In early 2018, the USDA National Organic Program banned this tool for certified organic operations due to a synthetic binder in the pots. In response to a petition from Small Farm Works, the National Organics Standards Board is reviewing the substances used in paper pots. Meantime, NOP has walked back its original ruling, and is temporarily extending the use of paper pot transplanters in organic system until further notice.

Anna Wilson of Brown Bottle Farm in Mulino, OR is grateful that CNG continues to stand by this tool:

Being able to use the paper pot transplanter and maintain our certification shows us that CNG understands and appreciates farmers. They also see how it can increase yields, cultivate in a variety of locations, and be at the forefront of progressive natural farming practices. I don’t know what we would have done if we were unable to use this tool. It has meant a lot to our small farm.

Don't just take Anna's word on the paper pot transplanter. Read on to learn other farmers' perceived pros (and cons) on this Japanese tool.

Read more

WeedGuardPlus Helps Certified Naturally Grown Grow!

By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator

Organic Alternative Weed Protection

Are you curious about new ways to control weeds this upcoming season?

WeedGuardPlus is a biodegradable and water permeable mulch made from cellulose fibers that suppresses weeds, sparing countless hours spent on weed management. We spoke with VP of Sales & Marketing Mike Gallagher to learn about paper innovations in the management of unwanted plants.

Read more

Winter News from Your Grassroots Certification: 39 New CNG Farms & More

Certified Naturally Grown
Even winter is an abundant time at Certified Naturally Grown: we're celebrating 39 newly certified farmers and beekeepers! Check the list below to see if a farmer you know is among them. Plus, we have brand new Business Allies and a blog bursting with fresh news.

Organic Carrot

The Harvest Quarterly is our seasonal newsletter, delivered every few months. Enjoy it while it's fresh! Not yet subscribed? Sign up here.
Read more

7 Tips for Farming in the Winter

By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator

Sustainable Winter Agriculture Farm
A winter scene at Enon Valley Garlic, PA

Ah, winter. For many, it's a dreaded time of numb noses, grey skies, and sun lamps.

But for most Certified Naturally Grown farmers who grow primarily in the months of April to November, December through March is a rich time to recharge. The winter months are a respite from the chaos of market season, a rest for weary backs and hamstrings, and a reward for the summertime sunrise-to-sunset (and sometimes longer) workdays.

Read on to learn how we recommend you recharge in this slower season. #1 is guaranteed to make you giggle!

Read more