Peer inspections are at the heart of our certification process, and a top reason farmers are drawn to CNG. For several years we have been evolving our distinct approach, to maximize the value it offers.
Last fall we combined two somewhat recent innovations to create a third:
Observed Inspections (2019)
Remote Inspections (2020)
Remote Observed Inspections (2021).
Our first Remote Observed Inspections (ROIs) were intended to help newer CNG members (observers) learn from more experienced farmers how to conduct a peer-review inspection. They were surprisingly well-received, as we reported here. Yet we also saw how these ROIs could be even more valuable, with a bit more guidance for the Senior Remote Inspectors (SRIs) conducting them. We also realized we'd need many more SRIs in order to host more ROIs, and offer enough observer seats to satisfy interested members. So this winter, we developed a new educational offering.
CNG's new Peer-Review Training teaches the fundamentals of what it takes to conduct a robust peer-review inspection. At the heart of the training is a two hour class, short videos, and a series of quizzes based on the class and two Study Guides. Farmers who complete these elements may enter the final stage: receiving a practical assessment with individual feedback, observing an ROI, and then ultimately conducting an ROI and debriefing afterwards.
While the training was initially designed for developing Senior Remote Inspectors, the curriculum will be used for the benefit of all CNG producers, and the class will be offered again to a broader swath of the CNG membership later this year. But already we've accomplished so much.Read more
As the growing season is upon us, farmers are focused on production, at last! But at some point every CNG producer needs to arrange for their annual peer-inspection.
Farmers report gaining a lot from the inspections they give and receive, but we are striving to make them even more valuable, while keeping the process as streamlined as possible. In 2020 we developed an initiative to name highly qualified, experienced CNG producers to serve as Senior Remote Inspectors (SRIs). We announced our first cohort in November.
Today we’re pleased to announce CNG’s second cohort of SRIs. This group of twelve long-time members includes several who have been with CNG for more than ten years.Read more
Certified Naturally Grown's peer-review certification model is attractive to many farmers. Not because it’s easier - it actually can be a real logistical challenge. Rather, peer reviews actively foster valuable knowledge exchange and mutually supportive farmer networks.
We have been exploring ways to boost the inherent value of our peer inspections, all while streamlining the process of identifying an appropriate inspector and navigating the logistical challenges posed by the COVID-19 epidemic.
Today we’re pleased to announce one outcome of this effort - CNG’s first cohort of Senior Remote Inspectors (SRIs).Read more
Flashback to another time (Autumn, 2019): Two farmers inside a tunnel completing a peer inspection, without masks
When we asked the Certified Naturally Grown membership how we could better support them during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the number one request was for flexibility with CNG's peer inspection requirement. People were concerned about the health risks posed by such a contagious virus. We wanted to help keep our members healthy, so we've granted flexibility with inspection deadlines as a stopgap solution.
But for the long run, it was important to investigate alternative, safe approaches to conducting peer inspections - ones that would protect the health and safety of our members. It seemed very unlikely the pandemic would just disappear in a few months. So we began to explore the option to conduct remote inspections via video call, where the farmer receiving the inspection gives a live virtual tour of their farm and fields questions from their peer inspector who is at another location.Read more
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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!