Produce & Flowers

Two Hands Farm

Owner: Jessica Serko

Address:
Cape Elizabeth, ME

daytime phone: (516) 617-0555

Application Date: 2021-12-08

Applicant Details

Please briefly tell us why you are applying to be part of the Certified Naturally Grown program: *
I am applying to the Certified Naturally Grown program because I believe in a community of farmers and farms supporting each other in the mission to create healthy soil and healthy food! As a small - less than 1/4 acre farm - run by just me, NOP and other certifying agencies can be costly to apply to and don't support my local farming community directly. Being CNG certified shows my customers at the farmers market that I am committed to organic growing and practices while also supporting my local farming community, which is very important to me.
Are you currently third party Certified for your produce operation by any other organization (Organic, Biodynamic, etc)? *
no
Have you ever been certified in the past? *
no
Have you ever been denied certification? *
no
How did you hear about Certified Naturally Grown? *
I used to live in Washington State and my farmer friends had applied to be Certified Naturally Grown. It was a great stepping stone for them to achieve organic certification as a new farm to show others the great soil work they were doing and they loved being held accountable by their peers and other local farms. It made for a great community and CNG certification showed buyers that they were committed to organic growing without making a big dent in their first season financially trying to apply for other more costly and time consuming programs.
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? *
I learned to farm by working as a farm camp counselor at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture back in 2015. While working as a camp counselor, I was able to attend workshops and speak with farmers to learn more about farming. I went on to become a teacher, but farming stuck with me! In 2017 I left teaching to work on a small, organic market-garden style farm in Hawaii. I started off as a WWOOFer in 2017 and promptly became the farm's manager for the next year and half. This farm was dedicated to organic standards and practices put forth by Eliot Coleman and his books. Soil health was of upmost importance. After Hawaii, I moved to Washington State where I worked on a larger scale organic farm that used very similar practices and was committed to healthy soil and delicious crops for our community. I think these experiences, as well as attending organic farming conferences in Hawaii, Washington, and Maine (through MOFGA), have prepared me to successfully farm according to CNG standards.

General Farm Information

Farm Acreage you want listed as Certified Naturally GrownTM:
Total Farm Acreage you actually GROW on: *
8,000 sqft, or a little less than a quarter of a an acre
Number of above acreage that you own: *
0
Number of above acreage that you lease: *
all
Do you have other acreage in "Conventional" Agricultural Systems? *
no
General Listed Acreage Breakdown
Veg Crops:
All will be veg crops, except for 1 30 inch x 100 ft bed of flowers
Fruit Crops:
Hay:
Grains/Beans:
Sugarbush:
Other Acreage:
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:
I am starting to build up my CSA, but so far do not have any sign ups.

Farmland Management and Practices

Primary Tillage System: *
I use a BCS walk behind tractor and have a low-till system. I do not have the tiller attachment, but instead use the rotary plow and power harrow to shape and form my beds. I use a broadfork to open up the soil.
Do you use Cover Crops? *
yes
If yes, please list: *
I will be using organic oats, peas, vetch, and rye throughout the growing season as part of my crop rotation plan.
Do you use Compost? *
yes
If yes, please note general sources (on farm, purchased complete, local grass clippings, local dairy, etc.): *
Purchased from Vermont Compost Company
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". *
1 inch per bed at first, then less as the soil develops more biological activity of its own.
Do you use Manure? *
no
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. *
I have applied lime to all of the fields based on soil test recommendations from Maine Soil Testing services and will only apply again if recommended by soil tests submitted next year. I have also applied 2 bags of North Country Organics Pro Booster for increasing Nitrogen over the winter as per the soil test recommendations. Throughout the season, I will be using Organic Alfalfa Meal from Fedco that is MOFGA approved, Pelleted Chicken Manure from Fedco (pending availability) or Chick Magic Organic 5-3-2 Ag Fertilizer - Pellets from Earthwise organics. I am awaiting further soil testing to confirm rates of application. I will also be using organic Liquid Kelp that is MOFGA certified from Fedco for application on seedlings in the nursery before transplant for plants that are in cell trays for longer periods of time.
Have any chemical fertilizers been applied to the fields you are seeking Certification for in the last three years (36 months)? *
no
Have any non-acceptable pesticides and/or herbicides been applied to these fields in the last 3 years? *
no
Do you use Professional Soil Testing services? *
yes
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. *
My primary weed problems include established clover and quack grass. I am using a combination of silage tarps, landscape fabric and early weeding practices to manage these weeds. For other weeds, I plan to regularly cultivate the soil and remove weeds through this using hand tools like hoes and wheel hoes.
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. *
I am unsure of insect challenges because I am new to the land, but I plan to be very diligent about field walks each morning to check for insect pests, use intercropping, crop rotation, and planting hedgerows for beneficial insects. I will also be using row cover and insect netting to protect crops that are prone to pest pressure as well as introducing beneficials in my caterpillar tunnels if needed. I plan to use all organic methods possible before applying any bioinsecticides.
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. *
I am unsure of disease challenges in this soil since I am new to this land, but I plan to create a very healthy soil environment by using a low-till system which will hopefully deter many diseases. I also plan to use as many organic and disease-resistant seed varieties as possible. If disease does arise, removing diseased plants is of upmost importance. I plan to create strong starts in the nursery using organic potting soil and spraying with liquid kelp, which will likely mitigate disease as well. Mitigating insect pests that transfer diseases using the practices mentioned above is also a strategy.
Please list the water source you use for crop irrigation. If source is public river, pond or lake, please note the name: *
I will be using city water as the property is someone's home and their water source is Cape Elizabeth.
Are there any known contaminants in the irrigation water? *
no
Are you a maple producer who seeks to certify your sugarbush? *
no

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. *
I have selected my seeds based off of organic status. I used Johnnys, High Mowing, Osbourne, and Row 7 seeds to conduct my search. For specific varieties that I searched and could not find and organic substitute , such as a pink Napa cabbage or a short DTM summer sprouting broccoli, I have purchased the non-organic version but will grow it using real organic practices. None of the seeds are GMO or chemically treated.
Do you purchase or grow using any Genetically Modified seeds? *
no
Do you use any chemically treated seeds in your operation? *
no
Do you grow your own transplants? *
yes
Do you purchase potting soil, or do you mix your own on the farm? *
I will be using Vermont Compost Fort Light™ Potting Soil and top dressing with Compost Plus from Vermont Compost Company when needed.
What ingredients does your potting mix contain? If you purchase a mix, please also indicate which product. *
Blond sphagnum peat, compost, coconut coir, perlite, and a blend of organic and mineral amendments - Vermont Compost Fort Light™ Potting Soil Blended from manure compost, sphagnum peat moss, granite, basalt, coir, vermiculite, blood and bone meals, kelp and gypsum. - Vermont Compost Plus.
Are all of your transplants grown according to CNG standards, without synthetic fertilizers or wetting agents? *
yes
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. *
N/A
Do you purchase any transplants from outside sources? *
no
Chemical/Spray Drift and Buffers:
Is there any likelihood of Chemical/Spray drift contamination of your fields? *
no
Do you have an adequate buffer to protect yourself from potential contamination? *
yes
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. *
I am in a residential area and the owners of the land have 10 acres. I am right in the middle of those 10 acres, with about 2 acres in woods surrounding me. The landowners only use organic products.

Agreements

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:
Thank you so much for considering my application! I just wanted to put some Information here about the mission and 3 pillars of my farm since my website is not up yet. I do have an instagram - @twohandsfarm Mission Statement Two Hands Farm believes in the conscious and responsible cultivation of our land. We are dedicated to growing organically by using ecologically informed, regenerative, and biointensive practices to produce nutrient-dense, delicious, seasonal vegetables. As first-generation farmers, our intentions are rooted in nurturing a resilient and equitable food system that empowers, enriches, and engages our local community. Sustainably working the soil, we humbly grow this food and share it - from our hands to yours.