Some of the farms listed in our Farms category are certified naturally grown (CNG). What is CNG?
CNG is a non-profit organization created in the early 2000s, around the same time as the National Organic Program (NOP). According to the CNG website, "this organization was born of a commitment to healthy food and healthy soils. It grew out of a belief in our ability to work at the grassroots level to strengthen the local food system by encouraging natural practices and providing customers confidence in - and appreciation of - their farmers' methods."
CNG is locally-focused, and is tailored to small, direct-market farmers and beekeepers. It is different from the NOP program in that its certification is done via a "Participatory Guarantee System" (PGS). The system involves peer inspection and review. It also encourages input from all stakeholders involved in the process, such as the farmers, consumers, environmental groups, government agencies, etc. Through this process, it encourages information and knowledge building within the community. It is a lower cost certification alternative for smaller farmers.
While the term PGS was only coined in the early 2000s, and the concept is still new to the U.S., the practice has been in place globally for many years. According to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) website, the PGS in France was established in the 1980's. IFOAM has established an international task force to actively support the development of the PGS model.
The CNG certification is built on organic standards. It uses USDA's organic standards as a starting point and adds its own standards in certain areas. It now provides whole-farm certification for produce, livestock, and apiaries.