CNG offers certification for the following types of operations: produce, livestock and apiaries. If your farming or beekeeping practices are in keeping with the standards specified for each type, you're probably ready to take the five steps to certification, detailed below. For a visual representation of the process, check out the Certification Flow Chart.
- Complete Certification Application/s Online Each type of certification has its own application: Produce (fruits, veggies, and maple), Apiary (for beekeepers), and Livestock (includes poultry and eggs). Once accepted, applications become part of your online farm profile on on the CNG website. This public document should be kept updated to reflect your current practices.
- Membership Dues An annual financial contribution is required for certification. We recommend $125 - $200 per year, and the minimum dues for livestock or produce certification is $110. The apiary certification program is newer, so while a contribution is required, and we recommend $75 - $200 per year, we don't specify a minimum. Membership dues payments may be made over time by using a credit card in our store. For beginning farmers and farmers facing unusual hardships (like extreme weather, physical injury, or job loss) we have established a Scholarship Fund. Find details on how to apply for a scholarship here. You may wait until after your application is accepted to pay your membership dues.
- Sign & Return Your Declaration/s This is quick and easy, but essential. Your signature indicates you meet and agree to all the Certified Naturally Grown standards, and you understand and accept the terms of participating in the CNG program. Your signed Declaration will be posted on your online profile. Declarations must be returned annually to keep your certification in good standing. We'll send you this one page form once your application is accepted. With livestock certification a Feed Supplier Declaration is also required.
- Arrange On-Farm Inspection All farms must arrange their own on-site inspection, which should take place within two growing seaon months of being accepted into the program, and then annually, at least once every 16 months. Inspections are done by volunteers for free, ideally by other CNG farmers. Inspection forms and guidelines are available online.
- Conduct an Inspection A true grassroots organization, CNG does have a work requirement. All participating farmers and beekeepers agree to conduct at least one inspection of another CNG farm or apiary annually. This requirement is waived if there is not another CNG farm or apiary within a 1 hour drive. Be pro-active and contact farms near you that need an inspection (nobody "at CNG" does it for you). To maintain the program's integrity, you may not "trade" inspections with the person who inspected your farm or apiary.
If your certification has been suspended, you may re-join CNG by following the steps detailed here.
Record Keeping This is something that you should do in your own way. The observations you record today will help you plan tomorrow. We simply ask that you maintain records of the following items in one convenient folder for your inspector to quickly and easily access. Copies should not be sent to us.
- Receipts and orders of the following: seed and transplant orders; any purchased soil amendment items (off farm compost, rock powders, pre-mixed Organic Fertilizers, etc.); and any purchased organically acceptable botanical and biological pesticides (Bt, Sulfur, insecticidal soap, etc.)
- An updated copy of your application. This was emailed to you when it was accepted by us, or updated by you. It can also be printed from your online profile.
- Farmers that need to use chelated micronutrients to correct a soil deficiency must have soil tests from within the last one year that specifically note the deficiency.
That's it! Now you can get back to the REAL work of running your farm!