Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) are locally-focused quality assurance systems.
They certify producers based on active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange.
Certified Naturally Grown is a Participatory Guarantee System. PGS have existed for decades, but in recent years they have gained recognition for the valuable role they play in the organic movement by including small-scale farmers in organic guarantee systems.
PGS provide an important alternative to third-party certification programs. In addition to being more affordable and less reliant on paperwork, PGS are distinguished by their approach. Inspections are carried out by peers - typically other farmers in the area. The PGS model is based on transparency, trust, and direct relationships. PGS foster local networks that strengthen the farming community through mutual support and educational opportunities.
IFOAM - Organics International (the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) actively supports the development of PGS with educational materials, a bi-monthly newsletter, the publication of an international PGS directory, and its PGS committee. An estimated fifty thousand farmers in more than 50 countries participate in this type of peer-review certification program. In some countries PGS has gained official government recognition and has entered into organic regulations.