In 2016, Health By Plants in Pine River, WI, applied to become Certified Naturally Grown but, like many farmers just starting out, farmers David and Allison were unable to cover the full certification dues. They both worked full time jobs in addition to running a farm, and did not expect to turn a profit until the summer of 2017. Until then, they planned to run crop trials, grow food for their friends and family, research the market landscape and test out a trial run of their first CSA season.
David and Allison grow on a half-acre in raised beds and in a geodesic greenhouse, where they implement ecologically-friendly practices like composting and crop rotation to maintain their small and highly diverse farm.
Becoming a member of CNG was an important step on their path towards becoming full-time farmers. David investigated the USDA Organic program and knew it would not be feasible for him after reading about all of the paperwork and associated costs. While he knew he was growing food that was just as high quality as organic food, he still needed a way to justify his "organic-level prices” to his consumers. “I loved the idea of CNG immediately,” wrote David in his scholarship application. “I want to proudly display my CNG certification and educate folks on what that is.”
Farmers David and Allison are now in their second season of raising CNG fruits and vegetables, all while juggling busy careers and a family. Now, they’re at a point where they can grow food very efficiently in ways that nurture the soil, and they’re often found spreading the word about CNG to other farmers in the region.
The CNG Scholarship Fund helps make our program accessible to farmers who need our marketing and messaging the most. Established farmers or friends of CNG donate regularly to make this happen, but this year, there are more applicants than we can afford to help. Together, we make it possible to bring more new farmers into the organization.
Want to make more scholarships possible? Chip in to the scholarship fund here.