Noosa Farmers’ Market proprietors Shane Stanley and Ishtarlia Stanley-McVinnie. Mr Stanley has announced that standardized signs will be introduced throughout the Noosa Farmers’ Market that make clear the source and production system of produce.

A NEW idea is blossoming on the landscape of local, slow, sustainable, organic food. It is called Participatory Guarantee Systems or more simply PGS.

It is a system that can certify the local origin and organic provenance of food to guarantee that it is what it claims to be. Unlike other certification systems PGS is not bureaucratic, expensive or disempowering.

  • It is intended to be participatory to the extent that it is community building and most jobs are shared by members and any necessary small expenditures contribute to local employment.
  • It can encompass producer, seller, health, environmental and consumer interests.
  • It is designed to encourage sharing of information between producer members, something that existing certification systems cannot do, so it can encourage the growth of organic and sustainable agriculture.

PGS is a local strategy. To work well it creates a community of people who know each other and can work together. Confidence, trust and shared knowledge arising from PGS can only encourage local development and food sovereignty.

Many of the farmers appearing on these pages of Acres could well benefit from PGS because as direct and local sellers of their product (farmers’ markets, local shops, internet sales) they do not need to pay for the same level of certification protocols that govern international trade. They can still use the same Standard and practices, but the ‘verification’ costs of major certifiers are replaced by participation of local stakeholders.

Farmer’s markets are a place where local producers, consumers and diverse community interests come together so they are a natural focus for PGS. The market may already have an interest in establishing that produce is from farms, and not resellers, or at least is honestly declared.

Noosa Farmers Market owner Shane Stanley has announced that he will sponsor the formation of a local PGS to help small growers in the region. The PGS will be focused around the market but will be owned and operated by the members (including Shane as a stakeholder member).

The low cost of the PGS will remove the need for labels such as ‘uncertified organic’, etcetera and PGS will make clear which produce is local, farmer grown and genuinely organic. PGS can also identify other claims such as vegan.

Shane Stanley has announced that standardized signs will be introduced throughout the Noosa Farmers Market that make clear the source and production system of produce.

– Tim Marshall

12/11/2018

Related reading:  https://www.acresaustralia.com.au/11/pgs-an-alternative-certification-scheme-for-small-organic-growers/