Produce & Flowers

Blackbranch Farm

Owner: Christopher Hench

Address:
122 Jack Straw Rd
Julian, PA 16844
Centre County

daytime phone: (717) 543-8490
evening phone: (717) 543-8490
Web site: http://blackbranchfarm.com

Application Date: 2021-11-15

Applicant Details

Please briefly tell us why you are applying to be part of the Certified Naturally Grown program: *
We love everything the the CNG program stands for and truly believe it is the way forward for farming. We're a new farm in our area and want to offer a certification on our crops that we believe in and can educate our community on higher standards for produce. The farmers market we are joining for 2022 is struggling a bit and we will be the only veggie vendor there. We want to offer the best, most healthy and cleanest produce we possibly can.
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? *
Through the many many other farms we follow and look up to.
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? *
My fiance and I are both self taught as well as some online learning. We have been growing food for a long time now according to the CNG standards on a very small scale and homestead scale. 2022 will be our first year really farming for profit.

General Farm Information

Farm Acreage you want listed as Certified Naturally GrownTM:
Total Farm Acreage you actually GROW on: *
.8
Number of above acreage that you own: *
3
Number of above acreage that you lease: *
0
Do you have other acreage in "Conventional" Agricultural Systems? *
no
General Listed Acreage Breakdown
Veg Crops:
100%
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:

Farmland Management and Practices

Primary Tillage System: *
We operate as no till. At most we broadfork for bed flips.
Do you use Cover Crops? *
yes
If yes, please list: *
We plant field peas when beds are out of rotation and as a winter kill mulching technique.
Do you use Compost? *
yes
If yes, please note general sources (on farm, purchased complete, local grass clippings, local dairy, etc.): *
We purchase compost from Penn State our local college.
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". *
1cu yard per bed.
Do you use Manure? *
yes
If yes, please note general sources (local dairy, horse farm, etc.): *
We use our layer chicken flock to spread manure over land we are preparing to convert to growing space.
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". *
24 chickens manure over 30x50 foot plots for a month or so.
What time of year do you apply the manure? *
Our application is only when preparing new growing space.
Do you apply any non-composted Manure within 120 days of veg-crop harvesting? *
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. *
We have been using the Neversink blend from Seven Springs Farm Supply every bed flip and to side dress long season crops. 30% Feather Meal, 15% Fish Meal, 15% Alfalfa Meal, 15% Thorvin Kelp, 12% SOP Granular, 12% BioChar
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. *
Our farm has been a unmaintained pasture for some time before we converted it to growing space. There are creeping grass issues that we manage with frequent cultivation and hand pulling weeds. We plan to adopt flame wedding for 2022. We also use silage tarps to help control weeds when approproate.
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. *
We have had beetle, cutworm and aphid problems in the past and always remove by hand and use insect netting, agribond cover etc. We firmly believe in doing anything but spray. We will not spray anything, even approved types.
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. *
We havent seen much to be honest. If anything its just plants that look like they need a healthier soil with more organic matter (our initial test was 3% organic material in the soil). We intend to correct this with a lot of compost and often as well as the organic fertilizer mix we use.
Please list the water source you use for crop irrigation. If source is public river, pond or lake, please note the name: *
From a well.
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. *
We source from Johnny's, High Mowing, and Osborne. We only use organic seeds and make our cultivar decisions based on this.
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? *
Purchase
What ingredients does your potting mix contain? If you purchase a mix, please also indicate which product. *
We use PRO-MIX MP MYCORRHIZAE ORGANIK.
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. *
We have no neighboring AG land. We have a boundary behind us of a wooded area, and a creek on one side, the other boundary is a private residence that dose not spray anything.

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:
2022 will be the fist main growing year of this new far. We have next years garlic in already as well as some other things. We just hope to be able to get certified early on next growing season so we can market it to our customers and educate them about it and ideally educate other farms in the area as well!