Asbury Village Farm

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certified naturally grown

certified naturally grown


What is Certified Naturally Grown? 

Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) means: no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or GMO seeds.  Annual inspections are done by other certified farmers.  It’s designed for family-sized farms, not agribusiness.  We call it the grassroots alternative to Certified Organic.  To be granted the CNG certification, farmers don’t use any synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, or genetically modified organisms.  The standards are based on the standards of the National Organic Program. CNG participation requires a full commitment to robust organic practices.

So why not just be Organic?

Simply because once the National Organic Program was implemented in 2002, farmers that proudly referred to themselves as "Organic" for decades were no longer allowed to do so unless they became "certified" by a USDA sanctioned agency.  The cost of the USDA program - both in terms of money and paperwork requirements - is too much for many small farmers to afford. This is even more true for farmers that grow a wide range of crops all at once, typical of diversified family farms like Asbury Village Farm, but not common among the large mono-crop farms typical of agribusiness operations. This is a shame, because growing many different crops at once is a safer and more ecologically sustainable practice. The soil is worked in different ways, and disease and pest problems are significantly reduced.  The need for an alternative certification program - and a "New Label" became apparent in the spring of 2002 as more and more small farmers voiced their concern over the USDA requirements and declared that they were not planning on joining the new program when it went into effect in October 2002.  Certified Naturally Grown was created as a grassroots alternative to the USDA Organic program. It was created by small farmers, for small farmers - the same ones that created, nurtured and grew the organic label to such phenomenal public recognition and acceptance over many decades.  While the USDA program forbids farm inspectors from making suggestions to improve a farmer's situation, the Certified Naturally Grown program ENCOURAGES sharing and advice between farmers.  The crux of the Certified Naturally Grown program is the farmer-to-farmer inspection approach. Farmer-inspectors are most familiar with the pest and disease challenges likely to be faced by other farmers using natural methods in their area, so they are uniquely qualified to observe and note whether their neighbors are sticking to the standards. They're also in a good position to make suggestions on how to deal with these challenges, thereby strengthening the local, natural farming community. Farmer-inspectors fill out a check-sheet inspection form and mail it back to us. It is scanned in and posted on the Internet for anytime public access.  All farmers applying to use the label must agree to do at least one inspection of another farm.  It is important to note that Certified Naturally Grown is not meant to be a slight or an attack on the USDA Organic program in any way! While it is frustrating that we won't be able to use a word that we've come to count on for decades now, the USDA program rules have been very well thought out and carefully crafted to maintain the ideals that the Organic farming movement developed and continues to live by.

kale & lettuce in the greenhouse, 2012


Asbury Village Farm
10 Asbury Bloomsbury Road
Asbury, NJ 08802