Certified Naturally Grown is the “grassroots alternative to certified organic.” It is a non-profit, farmer-to-farmer service, with standards similar to those used in organic certification. There are three certification programs: Produce (including maple syrup), Apiaries (for honey), and Livestock (including poultry and eggs). Certification requires CNG membership, which requires an annual donation, no minimum, $75-200 recommended. I’ve certified with CNG, while being certified organic at the same time. They are definitely worth checking out, whether as an additional, locally-oriented certification, or as a standalone alternative organic certification.
If you’re small-scale farming, having a presence on the Web is pretty well a must these days. One approach is to start a farming blog. There are two basic approaches, either by opening a (free) account on one of the blogging platforms like Blogger, WordPress or TypePad, or by running your own blog software. The second way I far prefer, for flexibility and control, and it’s really no more difficult than using a blog service. Only thing is, it’ll cost you a few dollars a month (starting at $5-6), plus around $10 to register a domain name (www.yourfarmsite.com). If you opt for the DIY route, there is only one serious choices in blogging software: WordPress. WP is open source and free, friendly, easy to set up, and quite straightforward to use. It is also highly customizable (you can add anything, from contact forms to photo galleries with ease), and, well, FUN. That’s just one opinion, but an opinion shared by…literally, millions. (BTW, this site runs on WP.) If you’re about to set up a new blog, or are unhappy with your current situation, definitely give it a try!