I know you're wondering, "Hey Sharon, what is Certified Naturally Grown? I don't know what that means." Well, pull up your chair because it's time you know. In a nutshell and from the world of Sharon, it's our farm raising what we enjoy raising without using synthetic chemicals. No synthetic insecticides or herbicides. No synthetic fungicides or fertilizers, either. Nope. None. We also say heck no to chemically treated seeds and a wooooah Nelly no way Jose to genetically modified seeds. Many times I'll say we're, "Organic by definition, not by government association." I like the standards we follow through the Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) program. I feel it's a better fit with our family farm. First off, as much as I'd like to be able to actually tell folks we're "organic" and use the organic logo without having the hounds of government descend on me, we just can't afford the price tag. CNG is an affordable option for us to stand up and say, "Hey, we're here and this is what we do...," and we do it with the backing of a great organization where we keep each other in line, in check, and following the standards set out for us, some of those standards trumping the USDA in my opinion.
Okay, now that I've said that, and you're on the seat of your chair, I see that question on your face. You're saying, "Yeah, but if you're keeping each other in line, whose to say you won't let each other slide by?!" Well, that's where you have to understand we work together as an organization, making sure each other is following the standards. Just because we don't have an inspection by an official government person doesn't make us any less credible. In fact, the person that was here earlier in the year to inspect our gardens won't be here next year. It'll be someone else. We can't have the same person inspect two years in a row. I can assure you when I'm asked to inspect someone's CNG farm I'll be making sure they are doing what they should be doing. When I sign my name to that inspection form it will be there because I see what is supposed to be. If you go to the CNG website to look at a copy of an inspection form or any documentation that I've signed you'll know it's there because I am an honest person. I have no qualms about calling someone out about this. Oh, yeah, that brings up another point...CNG has what they call transparency when it comes to every one of their producers. You can see the paperwork on-line from the application we fill out to the inspections we perform.
When I asked a good friend of mine if she is going to consider joining CNG she said no, that she doesn't feel it's necessary. She is an honest person who would never lead her customers on. I get that. Truly. She's awesome and I know everything she does is what I do and she's spot on with what she tells her customers. However, I know others that say they're doing what we do and then squirt Round-Up around their plants to keep the weeds down. GAH! I won't even get into the pink coated corn seeds. Kind of makes me woozy.
Our poultry ~ the chickens, ducks, and geese ~ are fed a USDA Organic feed. According to CNG, the feed doesn't have to be from the USDA Organic program. It can be purchased from a non-GMO producer or mill that will sign paperwork that states they follow the growing standards for their product of not using GMOs or synthetic chemicals. Sadly I haven't found a one around here that can state that fact, so I buy Organic feed from a feed store. That feed costs me $35 for 35 lbs. Yikes, you bet'cha that's a lot of money! Non-organic feed at that particular store costs less than $13 for a 50 lb. bag. What? You want to know why do we pay that huge difference in price? Well, that's an easy one. We do it because we care. We care for not only our family but yours, too. Yes, our chicken eggs cost you a little more money than others in the area. So do the ones with the Organic label at Wal-Mart...and theirs are still more money than ours. We have duck eggs, too, which I don't ever see at the grocery.
So, there you have it folks. I could go on about being Certified Naturally Grown and why we are thrilled to be a part of the CNG family, but you look like you're ready to to get up, stretch your legs, and go put that fishing pole you've been holding on to over in the pond. I am in the middle of roasting pumpkins for pies, anyway, and the timer is about to go off, so I need to get back to that. Just remember...as the ducks and geese swim around you...as you much on that lettuce I'll be serving up with supper...it's all good. It's Certified Naturally Grown. Smiling & Waving, Sharon