Produce & Flowers

Middle Way Farm

Owner: Jordan Scheibel

3633 Hwy 146
Grinnell, IA 50112
Iowa County

Mailing Address:
1325 4th Ave
Grinnell, IA 50112

Web site:

Application Date: 2022-04-20

Applicant Details

Please briefly tell us why you are applying to be part of the Certified Naturally Grown program: *
I have always followed organic practices in my operation since my first growing season, 2013. I worked on a certified organic farm for 3 years prior to starting my own farm. I have always aspired to organic certification but have simply found the timetable and the paperwork too challenging to get together in the midst of all the prep work I have to do for the season and continually miss the spring deadlines. In addition, some of the specific strict provisions around organic certification, such as not being able to use biodegradable plastic mulch or the temporary ban on paperpots, present challenges to my production system. As I move more into wholesale production and away from almost exclusively retail sales, I would have to have a certification that carries with my farm name so that customers I don't have immediate contact with can have some assurance about my practices.
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? *
I have known of a few farms being certified naturally grown. Michael Kilpatrick talked about it in the early 2010s when I was at the Midwest Organic Conference. The farm I am most familiar with in Iowa who is certified naturally grown in Blue Gate Farm - Jill Beebout.
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 worked on a certified organic farm for 3 seasons prior to starting my own farm, as well as having several years of experience starting and managing community gardens. This is my tenth season market farming, seventh season as a full time grower. All my current and historic practices have been in compliance with CNG standards, as I have typically strove to meet certified organic standards in my operation, with small exceptions that I mentioned above which do not conflict with CNG standards. I have a good recordkeeping system and a fairly well organized farm operation. My main issue with organic certification has been the hard deadlines and significant paperwork.

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:
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:
Institutions, Online Farm Stand, On-Farm Plant Sale, Consumer Buying Clubs & Coops

Farmland Management and Practices

Primary Tillage System: *
1) Minimal till preparation for intensive crops - broadfork, wheel hoe, rake, drill powered tilther 2) Conservation tillage for extensive crops - Chisel plow, rototiller. Moldboard plow for thick cover crop residue only.
Do you use Cover Crops? *
If yes, please list: *
Oats, Field Peas, Winter Rye, Hairy Vetch, Buckwheat, Berseem Clover, Cowpeas, Sunn Hemp, Japanese Millet, Teff, Phacelia
Do you use Compost? *
If yes, please note general sources (on farm, purchased complete, local grass clippings, local dairy, etc.): *
Purchased complete
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". *
1-2 inches deep on 300 square foot intensive and high tunnel beds no more than once yearly (usually less often for field beds) or for lighter maintenance application, 10 - 50 lb. per bed.
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. *
We typically fertilize 1-2x per season prior to tillage/bed preparation. Sourced from Ohio Earth Foods: Nature Safe 13-0-0 - feather meal, meat meal and blood meal. Azomite - Micro Minerals Revita 8-3-3 - Composted Chicken Manure, Blood Meal, Leonardite Ore, Feather Meal, Sulfate of Potash, Kelp Meal Kelp Meal Alfalfa Meal Fish Meal Feather Meal Sulfate of Potash Agro-Lig Humate Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Boron, Elemental Sulfur - 1x per year or less to correct soil imbalance
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. *
Summer annual grasses such as foxtail and crabgrass are most challenging, as well as summer annual broadleaf weeds such as lambs quarter and amaranth. Some challenge with winter annuals such as pennycress and mustard but that has been diminishing over the years. Perennial weeds such as Quackgrass and thistles are challenging in certain areas. We control weeds mainly by hand using wheel & hand hoes in our intensive beds. We will also hand weed in row as needed. We use the flame weeder particularly on carrots prior to germination but also on thistles and edge weeds. We weed whack and mow access pathways and field edges across the farm, as well as mowing down weedy beds after harvest and prior to incorporation. We use plastic mulch in our extensive fields for in row weed control, as well as hand weeding plant holes. We began experimenting last year with bio plastic mulch that does not need to be removed before tillage. We use tractor mounted cultivators, wheel hoes, or landscape fabric to control tire track weeds. We are experimenting with doing two row blind cultivation using a field cultivator with mounted row shields as we look to minimize our use of plastic mulch long term.
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. *
Biggest insect challenges are aphids on leafy greens, flea beetles on brassicas primarily, squash bugs, cucumber beetles, and vine borers on cucrubits, various species of cabbage looper & caterpillar on brassicas, leafhoppers and Colorado potato beetles on potatoes. We use various control methods including purchasing beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings to release in high tunnel to control aphids, using row cover and insect netting to exclude insects during part of the plant's life cycle, using reflective silver mulch to deter flea beetles and leafhoppers, transplanting certain crops rather than growing from seed to give them a better head start, foliar feeding plants to increase their health and immunity, and using organic pesticides every 7-14 days during pest outbreak season - typically June - September. We use a gas powered mist blower or a 2 gallon hand pump sprayer to apply insecticides, almost always with foliar nutrients. We rotate pesticides every other application or every third application to prevent pest resistance. Bioceres WP - Beauveria bassiana Dipel & other powdered BT variants Pyganic - pyrethrum Azera - pyrethrum & neem Neem Oil Mineral Oil Insecticidal Soap Monterey Garden Spray - Spinosad
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. *
Biggest disease challenges are black rot in brassicas, powdery mildew on cucurbits and lettuce especially in the fall, cucumber mosaic viruses and bacterial wilt on cucurbits, and cercospora on beets. We use a foliar nutrient weekly program from Advancing Eco Ag (AEA) that we have augmented and customized from the original recommendation based on deficiencies found in soil tests to prevent black rot as well as other plant diseases, detailed below, as well as with the other organic bio-pesticides we use to control disease: Holomac - seafood protein hydrolysate, rock phosphate, potassium sulfate, calcium carbonate Accelerate - bio-available manganese, seaweed, salmon crab & shrimp shell Holomic - kelp, disodium octaborate, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, cobalt sulfate Rebound Manganese - manganese sulfate Photo Mag - magnesium sulfate, cobalt sulfate, disodium octaborate, concentrated sea water, sodium molybdate Rebound Boron - disoidum octaborate Rebound Copper - copper sulfate Rebound Zinc - zinc sulfate Cease - Bacillus subtilis Mineral Oil Neem Oil
Please list the water source you use for crop irrigation. If source is public river, pond or lake, please note the name: *
We use municipal (rural) water for crop irrigation.
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. *
We buy the majority of our seeds from Johnnys Seeds, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and Osborne Seeds. For particular varieties we like, we will search other seed companies if they are unavailable or sold out from our preferred three companies. We look for certified organic varieties when possible, but also have long standing preferences for high performing hybrids which are not available certified organic. When new certified organic varieties become available that appear to have desirable characteristics which we could use to replace a long standing conventional hybrid, we test out those new organic varieties to see if they will be a suitable replacement. We keep a seed spreadsheet where we can record sources checked for organically grown seed when we purchase conventional seed.
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. *
Rainbow Garden Organic Potting soil. Ingredient list (if not OMRI listed, indicated with N and source info): Berger Peat Moss, Perlite, Vermiculite, Aeromaster Humas (N, Midwest Bio-Systems, Inc.), Activated Compost, Worm Castings, Hi-Cal Lime 98G, Super-Cal So4, Standard Cal Phos, Paramagnetic Rock (N, The Green Dance World Organics, Inc., Blood Meal (N, Hall Roberts Son, Inc.), Perma-Guard Fossil Shell Flour, Humate (N, Zone Products Inc.), Allganic 0-0-52+18S, Mino-Cal , Omega Grow Fish, Foliar Supplement, Kelp Gro, Soil Supplement, MS Crystals, N-Fix, N-Plus Vermont Compost Fort Vee - Fort Vee & Compost Plus
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? *
Hillcrest Nursery, INc. - certified organic herb plugs for potting up and resale to customers.
How have you confirmed with your supplier that the transplants are grown without synthetic fertilizers or wetting agents? *
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). *
Chemical/Spray Drift and Buffers:
Is there any likelihood of Chemical/Spray drift contamination of your fields? *
If yes, please state the source (conventional farm field, golf course, etc.)and any details you can provide (type of pesticide, fertilizer, herbicide used, and/or what used for.) *
We have historically experienced herbicide drift on a few occasions from the neighboring conventional row crop field. As a result we have implemented more robust buffers (see below) and also communicate through our landlord with the farm equipment operator to try to avoid weather scenarios that are conducive to volatilization and subsequent drift. The farm is custom farmed, meaning our landlord hires the operator to do specific tasks and therefore retains control over what is applied on the fields. No aerial or ground application of insecticides or fungicides are used in the conventional fields on the farm property. We have not discovered evidence of herbicide drift in our fields in the last 3 years.
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. *
We maintain a 30 foot wide, 3 row native hedgerow (5 years old) around our main production fields, which in turn is surrounded by 100-200 feet plus of chemical-free hay ground, intentionally planted as a buffer to the conventional row crop fields.


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:
I would interested in more guidance about using biodegradable plastic films. A big reason that I'm interested in Certified Naturally Grown is the ability to use these in my rotation.