Produce & Flowers

Goldfinch Gardens

Owner: Ben McCann Cedar Johnson

77 Paw Paw Hill Rd
Burnsville, NC 28714
Yancey County

daytime phone: (828) 675-1740
evening phone: (828) 675-1740
Web site:

Application Date: 2016-02-02

Applicant Details

Please briefly tell us why you are applying to be part of the Certified Naturally Grown program: *
We have farmed "naturally grown" produce for 8 years and have have come up with all types of explanations of how we grow for our customers. As the number of farms increases, I am interested in the accountability that certification offers our customers as well as still having a voice in the organic movement.
Are you currently third party Certified for your produce operation by any other organization (Organic, Biodynamic, etc)? *
Have you ever been certified in the past? *
Have you ever been denied certification? *
How did you hear about Certified Naturally Grown? *
Neighboring farmer in our county, Jim Stockwell.
How did you learn to farm, and for how long have you been farming for market? What has prepared you to farm successfully according to CNG standards? *

General Farm Information

Farm Acreage you want listed as Certified Naturally GrownTM:
Total Farm Acreage you actually GROW on: *
Number of above acreage that you own: *
Number of above acreage that you lease: *
Do you have other acreage in "Conventional" Agricultural Systems? *
General Listed Acreage Breakdown
Veg Crops:
Fruit Crops:
Other Acreage:
11 in managed sheep pasture
Please check all items you grow and will market as Certified Naturally GrownTM *

Please Specify Any Other Items:
Please check all markets you grow for (this will be displayed on your farm profile to help potential buyers find you). *

Please Specify Other Markets:

Farmland Management and Practices

Primary Tillage System: *
We use a rotary spader as our primary tillage tool. This heavy piece of equipment is ideal for incorporating cover crops into the soil while minimizing the damage to the soil structure. We also use a small rototiller to incorporate compost and soil amendments into the top 1" of the beds.
Do you use Cover Crops? *
If yes, please list: *
We try to head into winter with all open ground in cover crops. In areas that are to get a summer cash crop such as winter squash, we use rye and vetch. Because rye can be so hard to kill in the spring, we use oats, wheat, peas and crimson clover in areas that are to be cropped earlier in the spring. We also grow a lot of summer soil building crops in order to build up the soil organic matter. This is usually sudex grass mixed with cowpeas. We mow the cover crops a few times during the season to encourage root growth and to prevent the above ground bio-mass from getting more abundant than our equipment can handle.
Do you use Compost? *
If yes, please note general sources (on farm, purchased complete, local grass clippings, local dairy, etc.): *
We use purchased compost from Danny's Dumpsters in Asheville. He makes compost from locally collected food waste and leaf mulch. Due to the cost, we focus the compost in the hoophouses, and on crops that show a strong response to the compost such as carrots.
Please list application rates. Give a specific amount or range (for example: one to two tons per acre, ten wheelbarrow loads per 1,000 square feet, or 1-2 inches deep). Do not answer "varies". *
30-40 gallons per 50' bed (measured in 5 gallon buckets)
Do you use Manure? *
Please list any other brought in fertility sources that you use (specific rock powders, lime, soybean / alfalfa meal, specific purchased pre-mixes, etc)and how often it's used. If you indicate a name brand product, please also specify the ingredient/s. *
Our general nitrogen fertlizer is a processed chicken manure pellet. We have used Harmony 5-4-3, OMRI approved, but are now, due to cost, trying product from Herbruck's Poultry ranch. It is rated at 4-3-2. This product is 100% manure from laying hens. We also apply steamed bone meal for our phosphorus source.
Have any chemical fertilizers been applied to the fields you are seeking Certification for in the last three years (36 months)? *
Have any non-acceptable pesticides and/or herbicides been applied to these fields in the last 3 years? *
Do you use Professional Soil Testing services? *
Describe your primary weed problems AND methods of control. Do not answer "none". You MUST indicate either actual weed challenges and/or LIKELY challenges, and you must ALSO indicate how you manage (or would manage) them. If you indicate a product, also specify how often it's used. *
Our primary weed challenges are Galinsoga in our main field. We are increasing our use of a flame weeder to get ahead of this one. In the winter greenhouse, we find that chickweed and mouse eared chickweed are a challenge. Hand weeding seems to be our best option there. In general, we attempt to get ahead of the weeds by keeping weeds from going to seed. We use some biodegradeble plastic mulch on long term crops such as winter squash. We use a flame weeder on shorter day crops and we hand cultivate or tractor cultivate to keep the fields clean. We will smother areas that are not in use but will be soon with landscape fabric.
Describe your primary insect challenges AND methods of control. Do not answer "none". You MUST indicate either actual pest challenges and/or LIKELY challenges, and you must ALSO indicate how you manage (or would manage) them. If you indicate a product, also specify how often it's used. *
Our primary insect challenge is flea beetles and cabbage root maggot. We make extensive use of Proteknet insect barrier and agribon floating row covers. We use Azadiractin on the newly planted beds of arugula and similar crops, hoping to affect the larval stage and try to group our plantings of susceptible crops in the cooler months. We also struggle with cucumber beetles. We keep the plants covered with rowcover until flowering, and hand vacuum early insects. If it gets out of control, again we use Azadiractin, a neem derrivative. We plant multiple successions of cucumbers expecting a limited harvest window before they succumb to the insect pests. We have permanent insectiary plant borders around the farm and along with flowering cover crops we are strive to attract beneficial insects.
Describe your primary disease challenges AND methods of control. Do not answer "none". You MUST indicate either actual disease challenges and/or LIKELY challenges, and you must ALSO indicate how you manage (or would manage) them. If you indicate a product, also specify how often it's used. *
Leaf mold and other greenhouse tomato diseases are a challenge for us, along with powdery mildew on basil. Again, we have successions of basil to try and outrun the powdery mildew, and we spray Regalia biostimulant on the tomatoes. We have also experimented with oxydate on the tomatoes if we are facing a season ending situation. We have also tried copper once. It is not a regular part of our routine, and our hoophouses where we would use it are movable, with tomatoes on a certain area only once in 4 years.
Please list the water source you use for crop irrigation. If source is public river, pond or lake, please note the name: *
On our main site, we pull irrigation water from Hannah Branch, a creek that feeds into the South Toe River. On our secondary site, we pump directly from the South Toe river.
Are there any known contaminants in the irrigation water? *
Are you a maple producer who seeks to certify your sugarbush? *

Seeds, Transplants and Buffers

How do you select your seeds? CNG standards call for growers to make a good faith effort to locate organically grown seeds by contacting at least 3 major suppliers. *
Do you purchase or grow using any Genetically Modified seeds? *
Do you use any chemically treated seeds in your operation? *
Do you grow your own transplants? *
Do you purchase potting soil, or do you mix your own on the farm? *
What ingredients does your potting mix contain? If you purchase a mix, please also indicate which product. *
Are all of your transplants grown according to CNG standards, without synthetic fertilizers or wetting agents? *
If any transplants are not grown according to CNG standards, please list them here. (If they all are, put "N/A".) This produce may not be marketed as Certified Naturally Grown. *
Do you purchase any transplants from outside sources? *
From which sources do you buy transplants? *
We purchase sweet potato slips locally.
How have you confirmed with your supplier that the transplants are grown without synthetic fertilizers or wetting agents? *
Have not been able to.
Please list any bought-in transplants not grown according to CNG standards. This produce may not be sold as Certified Naturally Grown (except, in the case of perennials, after twelve months of CNG cultivation). *
We purchase sweet potato slips locally, although we are striving to grow our own.
Chemical/Spray Drift and Buffers:
Is there any likelihood of Chemical/Spray drift contamination of your fields? *
Do you have an adequate buffer to protect yourself from potential contamination? *
Please describe your buffer. Be as specific as possible. On all sides, how far is it from your crops to the next closest use (road, conventional crop, residential yard)? Be sure to specify what is grown on neighboring land that is in agricultural use. For example: To the north and east, a wooded area of at least 100 yards separates us from the neighbor's corn fields, to the south is a fallow field at least 100 yards deep separating us from the road, and to the west about 60 feet separates our crops from a field where conventional corn and soybeans are grown. *
Our main site has pasture on 2 sides, river on 1, and residential and organic garden on the last. Our secondary site is 2 acres in the middle of 13 pasture acres. We manage the pasture and it is bordered by the river on one side, and forest on other sides.


Please indicate your agreement with the following statements by checking the boxes.
I will not label, or in any way lead consumers to believe that produce not raised in accord with CNG standards is Certified Naturally GrownTM. *
I understand that I have to complete at least one (and hopefully more) Certification Inspection(s) of another farm in my area each year, and that the inspection will NOT be of the same farmer that inspected me. *
I have reviewed the Certified Naturally Grown certification standards, I understand them, and I will abide by them. I understand that if I have any questions I may contact CNG for clarification. *
You may use this space to tell us anything else you think we should know about your farm:
We also raise Kathadin meat sheep on intensively managed pasture, and will not be certifying them. We feed them locally produced non-gmo grain, but have not been able to source affordable grain that meets the CNG standards.