The Skinny on Seeds & Seedlings

Posted on May 02, 2016

promo5.jpgEach year we get questions aplenty about the CNG seed & transplant requirements:

  •        Do I have to use Certified Organic transplants?

           Where can I find seeds that meet CNG standards?

           Are seed potatoes considered "seeds"?

We've got answers to those questions and more!





These are the key CNG requirements on seeds and seedlings. Find the full Produce Certification Standards here

The 3 rules below cover regular seeds, plus seed potatoes, onion sets, sweet potato slips, and day-neutral strawberry slips (that are harvested in the same year).

1. No GMOs. Never ever.

2. No chemically-treated seeds. The only exception here is if the chemical treatment is required by Federal or State phytosanitary regulations, which is very, very rare. 

3. CNG members must use seeds that are Certified Naturally Grown or certified organic whenever they are commercially available. So if you check with at least 3 major seed sources and still can't find the variety you need, you can use conventionally grown seed (as long as it's not GMO or chemically-treated, of course). You may also use seeds from a non-certified producer who adheres to CNG standards. However, seeds used for edible sprouts always must be certified organic or Certified Naturally Grown.   

Make sure to keep all your records - receipts, seed packet labels, and the seed sources you consulted - to show your inspector during their visit. Check out our list of seed sources below!




When you’re purchasing transplants, it can be hard to tell how they were grown. Look for a CNG or certified organic label or talk directly to the grower. Even when you’re growing your own, it’s important to confirm that your bagged potting mix is free from synthetic fertilizers and wetting agents. Make sure to check the label carefully!

Transplants and seedlings used in CNG operations must be:

1. Grown from seeds that meet the CNG seed standards – no GE seeds, no chemically treated seeds, and organically grown whenever available (see above). 

2. Grown without synthetic fertilizers, wetting agents, or pesticides.

There are a few exceptions we should mention:

Perennials that were started conventionally can be considered CNG after 12 months under CNG management.

If Federal or State phytosanitary regulations require the use of prohibited substances, those seedlings would be allowed. 

A temporary variance may be granted (usually due to extreme natural disaster) to use conventionally grown seedlings.


Seed Sources

These companies offer CNG or Cert Organic seeds. Please note some of these sources also offer non-organically grown seed varieties, so be sure to double check before placing your order. (Don't see your favorite seed supplier on the list? Let us know!) 

Victory Seeds (CNG)*
Logo_VictorySeedCo.jpgcrew_cropped.jpgFamily business devoted to preserving open-pollinated and heirloom varieties
Based in Oregon

Harris Seeds Organic*
Based in New York 

Osborne Quality Seeds*
Based in Washington

True Leaf Market Seed Company*
Based in Utah

Adaptive Seeds
Based in Oregon 

Annapolis Seeds
Based in Nova Scotia


Fedco Seeds
Based in Maine 

Fruition Seeds
Based in New York

High Mowinghelpusgrow_origins3.PNG
Based in Vermont 

Hudson Valley Seed Library
Based in New York 

Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Based in Maine

Meadowlark Hearth
Based in Nebraska 

Organica Seed Co.
Based in Massachusetts

Park Seed Co.
Based in South Carolina

Sand Hill Preservation Center
Based in Iowa   

Seed Savers Exchange
Based in Iowa 

Seeds of Change
Based in California

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Based in Virginia 

Territorial Seed Company
Based in Oregon 

Turtle Tree
Based in New York

Uprising Seeds
Based in Washington


* CNG Business Ally