How we Farm, Part 2: Organic, or Other?
3 minute read
written by: Curtis
This is the second of a four-part series describing the manner in which we farm.
Part 2: Organic, or Other?
One of the most challenging decisions for our business was to be certified organic, or not, or something else entirely. To be clear, we’re not suggesting that we were considering conventional practices vs. organic vs. other - our practices are grounded in principle, tradition, and connections.
Our goal as producers is to support natural systems using natural materials and ingenuity. The term organic has become institutionalized through the USDA, although “organic” is thrown around, claimed, implied, and everything between by farms everywhere.
"Our goal as producers is to support natural systems using natural materials and ingenuity."
When we looked at our business context and all the factors we’re working with (land access, business age, sales strategy, customer preferences, among others) we found several reasons against being certified organic:
- We currently only sell direct to our customers whether an individual or a commercial kitchen; this means we can have this very discussion about our practices
- Our business is new, small, and self-funded; the cost of USDA organic certification continues to rise with what we believe is a decreasing integrity of standards and certification process
- Customers may prefer organic over uncertified, especially when they don’t know the farm but when you know the farmer, does any seal of approval beat your first hand experience?
- There are alternatives to the national organics program offering integrity in production and aligns closer to the values and mission of Vibrant Farm.
We’ve chosen to pursue Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) to confirm our commitment to transparency and meaningful production practices. CNG is a grassroots, peer-reviewed certification process that uses standards based on the highest ideals of the organic movement. We suspect many of our customers are unfamiliar with CNG, but we are excited to share our certification process and the other benefits of this certification.
We believe CNG:
Confirms our commitment to growing practices that farm in synergy with natural systems
Provides our farm with networking and relationship opportunities with the regional farming community through peer-review process
CNG is less cumbersome, giving us room to focus on our business start-up
CNG is a great fit for Vibrant, but in the future, we believe we can do more. Beyond our production practices, we are exploring options to certify our commitment to worker fulfillment, empowerment, and fairness. Food Justice Certification and Certified B Corp are both distinctions that align well with the type of business we are aiming to create. With the support of our customers and community, we hope we can swiftly achieve the business milestones necessary for us to tackle these important certifications. Until then, we will be working hard to create a fair business and earn the trust of you and our employees to the best of our abilities.
Our blog series on our farming practices continues with:
Part 3: The Details
Part 4: Good Gardening Practices
Or, if you missed it, Part 1: The Brief