Growing Organics
Organics for health and well-being

Getting Certified and Being Audited

Certification is a national process managed regionally. The Certificates are issued by Organic FarmNZ.

Application for certification is made by the completion of a Property Management Plan (PMP).

There are two forms of certification: 

  • As the certified organic producer or processor member of a pod
  • As an individual certified organic producer or processor   

The principal differences are:

Pod: A pod would normally have at least three sites, which are easily accessible to each other. At least one site in a pod is audited in any year. Each pod needs to designate a Pod Leader and advise the Certification Manager. Pod members must visit each other’s properties during the year to keep themselves informed about issues and developments. They are responsible for reviewing each other’s documentation before the annual audit and must attend each other's audits. A Pod Peer review form for each pod member has to be completed and each pod member must include it with their PMP. The Pod process is also audited. More details are given on the Forms and Standards page. 

Individual:  An annual site visit for the audit, and a higher certification fee. Currently, all certified members of Growing Organics are individually certified.

Participatory Guarantee System

All members of Growing Organics are encouraged to work together. We are committed to the principles of the Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS), which focusses on the ways in which organic producers can support each other through shared learning, mutual support, and open discussion about organic practices, certification requirements, finding markets etc. For further information, go to: http://www.ifoam.bio/en/organic-policy-guarantee/participatory-guarantee-systems-pgs.

There are four levels of certification

These levels are related to the time taken for a property to make the transition to full organic status.   

C0      C1      C2     Full 

The entry level, C0, has a lower fee than later levels. Those with transitional certification (C1-C2) are able to sell produce labelled as “organic – in transition”. 

Applying for certification

Certification is determined in relation to the Bio-Gro NZ Standards relevant to the management of organic properties, and to the production and processing of organic products.

If you are considering applying for OFNZ certification, then it is most important to familiarize yourself fully with the relevant documents and forms, which can be found on the OFNZ website. More details are given on the Forms and Standards page.

Knowledge of the organic standards is required in order to complete satisfactorily a Property Management Plan (PMP). The PMP is a substantial document requiring detailed information. First-time applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss questions raised by the PMP form with the Certification Manager before completing it.

The PMP form can be downloaded, and it is expected that the completed form will be submitted as an electronic document.

An advantage of preparing and retaining a copy of the PMP as an electronic document is that future applications can be easier to complete. It also reduces paper costs.

Being audited

Once the PMPs have been received, the Certification Manager establishes a timetable for audit visits with the Auditor. The Auditor then arranges the date and time for the audit with each individual applicant and with the pod member(s) selected for audit.

All PMPs are sent to the Auditor for assessment, whether a particular site in a pod will actually be visited or not.

During the site visit, which will take several hours, the Auditor will discuss any issues raised by the PMP and will inspect the property/facilities. All members of a pod are required to be present at their members’ audits. The audit is a valuable learning experience.

Keeping a journal or diary is very important.

The Auditor will ask about inputs, like sprays (date, frequency, amount) and other aspects of property management, including sales. Having a well-organised record of activity during the year simplifies the audit process and generates confidence in the quality of management according to organics principles.

Following the site visits, the Auditor writes reports on each PMP, including providing Corrective Action Recommendations (CARs).

The Auditor’s reports and CARs are assessed by the Certification Committee, which recommends to OFNZ to issue the certificates.

CARs need to be resolved with the Certification Manager and must be addressed in the stipulated timeframe before approval is given to OFNZ to issue certificates.

The audit visit provides a good opportunity for extending knowledge of organics practices and discussing current issues and future developments.