Peer inspections have always been at the heart of CNG’s certification model. This will never change, but it’s time for our approach to evolve. In particular, we’ll encourage members to include Community Observers in CNG inspections. While it’s not required, we feel it’s a valuable approach, with several benefits that are outlined below.
Key benefits for Farmers and Beekeepers by including Community Observers at CNG Inspections
Increase appreciation for CNG farms and certification
There are still many people who don’t yet know what it means to be CNG. Including local leaders and customers helps people appreciate the robust process that takes place before someone can earn permission to use the CNG label.
Flexibility with the “No repeat inspectors” rule
For members located in remote areas without other farmers or beekeepers nearby, it can be difficult to complete the annual inspection requirement without relying on the same inspector repeatedly. This situation bumps up against CNG’s policy to require members to tap a variety of inspectors, and not go back to the same inspector year after year. Utilizing a variety of inspectors helps ensure members get diverse perspectives, while protecting the integrity of the inspection process.
For farms and apiaries in these situations, having a Community Observer at the inspection would both a) provide some flexibility to the restriction on repeatedly using the same inspector, and b) put a fresh set of eyes on the operation. Including Observers enhances transparency and gives a greater sense of integrity to the process.
Key benefits for Community Observers
When community members observe an inspection, they gain a better understanding of what it takes to run a farm according to CNG’s high standards. They also get a behind-the-scenes view and connect with two local producers – both the inspector and the farm being inspected.
Frequently Asked Questions About Community Observers
What does the Community Observer do?
They are there to observe, not to advise. They may ask questions at times designated by the inspector, but their role is to observe and verify that a thorough inspection was completed. The entire inspection should be carried out with the observer present, able to see and hear what is being said and observed. At the end of the inspection, the Community Observer should sign the inspection report at the bottom of the Summary Page, in the space/s designated for Community Observers.
Who Counts as a Community Observer?
- Farmers market manager
- Manager at a local independent grocer or co-op
- Faith leader
- Healthcare practitioner
- Lunchbox virtuoso
- School crossing guard
- Elected official
- Food policy council member
Choices are not limited to this list.
Contact us if you have questions about the eligibility of an Observer or Inspector.
How Many Observers?
No more than two.
Who should NOT be used as a Community Observer?
These people are not eligible to be Observers or Inspectors.
- Family members