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Co-ops, Markets, and Farmers Markets That Build Local Food Systems

By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator

Just like the symbiotic relationship between pollinators and produce, Certified Naturally Grown farmers rely on their local farmers markets, co-ops, and independent grocery stores to support their work.
Our Guide to Exceptional Markets (GEMs) has been a key resource for farmers and markets alike to thrive. GEMs source from ecologically-minded, CNG-certified growers to make it easier to keep money in the local economy and to promote a stronger food system and healthier community.
We have some beautiful badges and updates to make this year the most sparkling year for sustainable, local food yet! Keep reading to learn more about what’s new and how to get involved.

Our New Tier Guide

Markets, co-ops, and groceries can earn a GEMs listing or upgrade their GEMs Tier by meeting the qualifications for each Tier. Click here to learn more specifics about each Tier.

Tier 1: Recognize
These markets clearly indicate which vendors or products are CNG-certified.

Tier 2: Prefer
These markets have a clear & visible policy that the market or co-op prefers farms with certification, and CNG is one of the options, when selecting vendors.
Tier 3: Require
These markets have a clearly stated and visible policy that the market or co-op requires vendors hold a certification, and CNG is one of the options.

Perk Alert!

There are different benefits of being a GEMs Market at each Tier:
Tier 1: Recognize
– Social media promotion
– Inclusion in the Guide to Exceptional Markets (GEMs)
– Free laminated sign promoting your GEMs listing
– Permission to use Exceptional Market badge for your Tier
Tier 2: Prefer
– All the benefits included in Tier 1
– Free banner design
– Free press release
– Free temporary tattoos for market booth
– Priority assistance involving community stakeholders in CNG farm inspections
Tier 3: Require
– All the benefits included in Tiers 1 and 2
– Dedicated blog post about your market
– Other collaborations we can think up together!
Learn much more about each Tier here to find out where your market lands.

A Brand New Badge

To further lift up the markets that go the extra mile to make their local food systems for transparent and accessible, our designer Aly Miller has created a brand new icon and badge to correspond with each of the GEMs Tiers.
To gain access to this badge for your market banner, website, and more, you are invited to become a GEMs Market!

We’re All In This Together

Are you a market manager who is interested in being listed in our guide, but don’t have any vendors who are Certified Naturally Grown? Don’t fret, your listing in our Guide to Exceptional Markets is not out of reach!

We will work with your vendors who are interested in transitioning to CNG to help you join GEMs. We are on call to educate, troubleshoot, and support your vendors as they join our nationwide grassroots community. Reach out to to get started!

Pitch Your Market

We would be delighted to add your market to our roster. Please take the steps to join our Exceptional Markets! 

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