Certified Organically Grown is a non-profit which bills itself as a “grassroots alternative to USDA certified organic.”
One of the challenges for small producers with the USDA Certified Organic label is the cost—both for start up and for the annual fees. The costs are, frankly, prohibitive for small producers. The USDA program changed qualifications in 2002, long after the organic farming movement had taken hold in several parts of the country and no longer allowed producers to label food “organic’ that was not through the certification process.
Certified Naturally Grown, or CNG, was a grassroots response which follows the same standards as USDA Organic certification but which relies on peer-review and volunteers to assess organic practices on local farms.
CNG does not support synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Nor does it support GMO crops. Key differences are the use of peer review for farm inspections, and the absence of fees which may make the program highly attractive to new farmers who want to produce organic. More information on CNG may be found at http://www.naturallygrown.org/.