New Sustainability Tools Benefit Greenhouse and Nursery Producers
May 31, 2012 | Food Alliance
News Release – Portland, OR – Food Alliance (FA), a national non-profit and experienced certifier of sustainability claims in agriculture, launches three tools for greenhouse and nursery producers who are committed to managing for operational, environmental, and social excellence.
1) The FA Sustainability Standard for Nursery and Greenhouse Production provides a comprehensive definition to guide nursery and greenhouse operators in achieving greater sustainability.
2) The FA Sustainability Evaluation Tool allows growers to self-assess current sustainability performance – and set sustainability objectives – either as a prelude to certification or as a best management practice.
3) The voluntary FA Sustainability Certification Program gives producers a credible way to distinguish their sustainably-managed operation and products in the marketplace, to customers and consumers.
The FA Sustainability Standard for Nursery and Greenhouse Production was developed by industry request, and covers resource conservation, integrated pest management, safe and fair working conditions, wildlife habitat and biodiversity conservation—along with operational efficiencies such as energy use, recycling, and waste disposal. Producers use the resulting information to support decision-making and to assure customers and consumers, credibly, that products have been produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
“Greenhouse and nursery producers care about sustainability and seek greater operational efficiency,” says Karen Lewotsky, certification director for Food Alliance. “By using FA’s new tools for this industry, producers realize two big benefits. First, our tools offer a systematic mechanism for managing and improving environmental and social outcomes across the entire operation. And second, greenhouse and nursery leaders who meet the stringent certification requirements can add value to their product with credible market-facing claims supported by certification.”The FA Sustainability Standard for Nursery and Greenhouse applies to all ornamental plant producers across North America, including field, container, and greenhouse production. Industry stakeholders were involved from the onset.
“Our members came to us requesting an independent evaluation tool that could lead to third-party verification of their sustainability practices,” says Jeff Stone, executive director for Oregon Association of Nurseries. “We turned to Food Alliance because they have a long history in working well with agriculture, and because they set the bar high. When you’re certified to FA, it sends a clear message that you’re a leader, you value continual improvement, and your sustainability claim is irrefutable.
Producers in the Pacific Northwest may further differentiate their operations by concurrently verifying compliance with Salmon-Safe (www.salmonsafe.org), which protects water quality and the spawning habitat of native salmon.
The FA Sustainability Standard for Nursery and Greenhouse Production was developed with input from industry stakeholders including land grant colleges, researchers, extension specialists, industry organizations, and production specialists. Funding has been provided by Meyer Memorial Trust, the Bullitt Foundation, the Nike Employee Grant Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation and a USDA Specialty Crops Grant. Salmon Safe participation was courtesy of an Oregon Governor’s Grant for the Environment.
All nursery operations that apply for Food Alliance certification in 2012 will receive half off their annual licensing fee for the first three-year term of their certification. For more information on the FA Sustainability Standard for Nursery and
Food Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defines sustainability in agriculture and food handling operations with sustainability standards and a comprehensive third-party certification program that addresses a wide range of consumer and industry concerns. Food Alliance ensures safe and fair working conditions, humane treatment of animals, and careful stewardship of ecosystems. Food Alliance Certified products include meats, shellfish, eggs, dairy, grains, legumes, mushrooms, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, prepared products made with these certified ingredients, and ornamental plants. Today, there are more than 330 Food Alliance Certified operations, and over 5.5 million acres managed by Food Alliance Certified producers throughout North America. For more information, visit www.foodalliance.org