I’m happy to announce that our farm has just become Certified Naturally Grown (CNG). I am excited about this program and you can read more about here http://www.naturallygrown.org/. Its standards are similar to the USDA’s Certified Organic program in that it does not allow synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or GMO seeds. It differs in that it is a small, private and grass roots organization not associated with the government and encourages collaboration, transparency and community involvement.
I’ve never been quite comfortable with the Certified Organic Program; its a government sponsored program that seems more tailored towards the larger sometimes corporate farms involved in monocropping. Not to mention their ownership of the word ‘organic’. USDA COP farm inspectors are forbidden to make suggestions or help the farmers in any way while CNP farm inspectors are peers and volunteers that are encouraged to share information. I look forward to my first farm inspection this spring by one of my peers who has volunteered to do so and I expect it to be a learning process. I’ve asked Darrell Cook of Ginger Cat Farm to do my inspection. CNP relies on volunteers like this which encourages community involvement and collaborations.
At Colorado Aromatics Herb Farm I grow things the way my Mother taught me and she learned from her Mother, the traditional way, long before there even were synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. I do have the benefit of having herbs and lavender as my main crop which are probably easier to grow than vegetable crops. But we fertilize our fields in the winter using manure produced by our horses, goats and chickens. Although we are still learning how to best control weeks; we pick by hand until our backs ache, we use weed cloth and we hoe (we also accept volunteers). We try to reduce the amount of gasoline we use on the farm too by doing most of the work by hand rather than by tractor (we don’t own a tractor). Because of the way we farm, beneficial insects such as bees, ladybugs and praying mantis abound. When we do get damaging insects such as aphids our first choice is to take care of them with the garden hose.
I think growing my herbs with the Certified Naturally Grown seal partners well with the extracts I make from them for natural cosmetics. I’ll soon be adding pictures and information to our profile at CNG http://www.naturallygrown.org/farms/3421.