Food Alliance launches sustainable nursery certification

Greenhouse and nursery products are consistently Oregon's top-grossing agricultural commodity. Now the Food Alliance is offering a sustainable certification for the industry.

Greenhouse and nursery products are consistently Oregon's top-grossing agricultural commodity. Now the Food Alliance is offering a sustainable certification for the industry.

Greenhouse and nursery producers nationwide can now certify as sustainable through the Food Alliance, thanks in part to interest from Oregon nurseries and the Oregon Association of Nurseries, which supported the program, egged on by members.

It’s the first such certification program to target a range of sustainability measures exclusively for domestic nurseries and greenhouses.

“They wanted something that would be relevant to operations here North America and be comprehensive and cover a wide range of issues, not just energy efficiency,” said Roberta Anderson, business development director at Food Alliance.

The Portland-based national nonprofit is an experienced certifier of sustainability claims in agriculture and sets benchmarks for operational, environmental and social excellence.

The Food Alliance Sustainability Standard for Nursery and Greenhouse Production covers resource conservation, integrated pest management, safe and fair working conditions, wildlife habitat and biodiversity conservation, along with operational efficiencies like energy use, recycling and waste disposal.

Food Alliance’s Anderson said the program will move forward as planned following the departure of former Food Alliance Executive Director Scott Exo, who led fundraising for the certification criteria as Karen Lewotsky led development.

Exo left the organization May 1 after 12 years, eight of those serving as executive director, in which he presided over an increase in the number of certified farms and broadened Food Alliance’s reach nationwide.

Elizabeth Peters, director of communications for the Oregon Association of Nurseries, said the association encouraged Food Alliance to create the program because, “our members had for quite some time been looking for ways to come together, initially to define what sustainability is for a nursery grower. Many of them do these best practices naturally, it’s part of how they have done business for generations. So they wanted to formalize that process.”

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