Justine and Brian Denison say they adhere to all the growing practices required for organic certification, yet if they label their beans and tomatoes “organic” at the farmers market, they could face federal charges and $20,000 or more in fines.
Because the Denisons chose not to seek organic certification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Denison Farm, which has been under organic management for more than 20 years, is banned from using that term. So they and hundreds of other small direct-marketing farms across the country have adopted an alternative label: Certified Naturally Grown.
Started by a group of organic farmers in New York’s mid-Hudson Valley as a backlash against federal takeover of the organic program in 2002, Certified Naturally Grown has expanded over the past decade to include more than 700 farms in 47 states, executive director Alice Varon said.
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