This rating system empowers food procurers to make informed decisions about their purchases and to be transparent with consumers about their source of nutrition. It also rewards farmers and food businesses for their dedication to protect human and environmental health and wellbeing, and encourages food businesses and farmers to improve their standards. It is similar to rubrics or scoring guides used in teaching.
This rating system aligns with stated values of NWTC:
Sustainable means meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the needs of future generations. Sustainable food entails a combination of factors that balance people, planet, and profit. The factors include:
Food that has been grown and/or processed within a certain radius (in miles) from campus or with at least a certain percentage of the ingredients grown in Wisconsin or grown within a certain radius (in miles) of campus. Certain foods (i.e. coffee beans, citrus) that cannot truly be purchased locally must come from businesses that are verified as fair-trade, sustainable, or organic.
Criteria-encourage, recognize and reward farm and food business owners who value the wellbeing of their employees and community through actions such as paying a livable wage, volunteering or donating to the community, being locally operated and managed, and more.
Pays livable wage
5: average field worker wage is over $14/hr
4: average field worker wage is $12/hr
3: average field worker wage are a living wage of $10/hr
2: average field worker wages are $8.00/hr worker
1: less than $8/hr
Volunteers/donates to community
5: there is documentation showing the company donates time and $$ to at least 3 local community non-profits and projects each year, and these are substantial efforts
4: No evidence, company claims to donate to at least 2 community organizations
3: company donates to one group per year, and evidence is shown
2: company donates to one group, but has no documentation
1: Poor, no evidence, no claims to donate to the community
Owners are operators
5: 100% of the owners live and work on the farm. No non-farm investors.
4: 75% of the owners live and work on the farm. Investors located in NE Wisconsin.
3: 50% of the owners live and work on the farm. Outside investors located in Wisconsin.
2: Less than 50% of the labor is done by the farm owners.
1: Less than 50% of labor is done by the farm owners and outside investment is not transparent.
Representative of cultural, gender and ethnic diversity of Northeast Wisconsin
5: At least one non-white, or female, or LBGQT+ person in a management role at the farm
4: At least two non-white, or female, or LBGQT+ person employed at farm
3: At least one non-white, or female, or LBGQT+ person employed at farm
2: At least two non-white, or female, or LBGQT+ person volunteers at farm
1: No cultural, gender or ethnic diversity at farm
Criteria- encourage farm owners to utilize land set aside to provide ecological services, which can include: native plants, undisturbed patches of land, designated watering areas, minimizing climate change through carbon sequestration, providing wildlife habitat, preserving water quantity and quality, improving and regenerating soil health, and more.
Local- Proximity to sales area
5: Products are grown within 25 miles of Green Bay
4: Products are grown within 50 miles of Green Bay
3: Products are grown within 75 miles of Green Bay
2: Products are grown within 90 miles of Green Bay
1: Products are not grown locally.
Note: to be considered local, 90% of the product/inputs/labor must be sourced from within 90 miles of Green Bay. If not, please do not use the scorecard to rate the business or farm.
Pollinator habitat - Some practices that promote sustainable pollinator habitat: native flower/ diversified gardens, provide sources of water for pollinators, pollinator-friendly mowing speeds/ no-mow, no synthetic pesticide/ herbicide usage, designated undisturbed patches of land for nesting
5: out of every 10 acres, .75 acre or more is in pollinator habitat
4: out of every 10 acres, .5 acre is in pollinator habitat
3: out of every 10 acres, .25 acre is in pollinator habitat
2: out of every 10 acres, at least .1 acre is in pollinator habitat
1: very little to no farmland is in pollinator habitat
5: All mapped designated wetlands are protected
4: 75% of mapped designated wetlands are protected
3: 50% of mapped designated wetlands are protected
2: 25% of mapped designated wetlands are protected
1: 15% of mapped designated wetlands are protected
5: out of every 10 acres, .75 acre or more is protected/ designated wildlife habitat
4: out of every 10 acres, .5 acre is protected/ designated wildlife habitat
3: out of every 10 acres, .25 acre is protected/ designated wildlife habitat
2: out of every 10 acres, at least .1 acre is protected/ designated wildlife habitat
1: very little to no farmland is protected/ designated wildlife habitat
4: out of every 10 acres, a .5 acre is protected/ designated wildlife habitat
Perennial grass cover
5: 100% of pastures are perennial, managed grazing is used for livestock; there is a goal of no soil loss from the farm; Cover crops are used or fields/beds are fallowed appropriately
4: 75% of pastures are perennial, managed grazing is used for livestock; there is a goal of no soil loss from the farm; Cover crops are used or fields/beds are fallowed appropriately
3: 50% of pastures are perennial, managed grazing is used for livestock; there is a goal of no soil loss from the farm; Some cover crops are used or some fields/beds are fallowed appropriately
2: 25%of pastures are perennial, managed grazing is used for livestock; there is a goal of no soil loss from the farm; few over crops are used or a few fields/beds are fallowed appropriately
1: below 25% of pastures are perennial, managed grazing is used for livestock; there is a goal of no soil loss from the farm; Little to no cover crops are used or fields/beds are fallowed appropriately
Soil health & improvement - Organic matter is maintained and increased through compost, cover crops and/or green manure practices annually, and adding soil amendments that enhance the naturally occurring microbes in the soil. Animal/green manures are the main nitrogen sources.
5: Average farm soil organic matter test is above 4% ; farm composts 100% animal and vegetable waste
4: Average farm soil organic matter test is above 3% ; farm composts 75+% animal and vegetable waste
3: Average farm soil organic matter test is above 2% ; farm composts 50+% animal and vegetable waste
2: Average farm soil organic matter test is 1-2% ; farm composts 25+% animal and vegetable waste
1: Average farm soil organic matter test is less than 1% ; farm composts below 25% animal and vegetable waste
Animal welfare: Raising animals humanely can use less feed, fuel and water than intensive farming, reducing costs and pollution. Best practices in Animal Welfare (AW) include use of lidocaine when dehorning youngstock, no tail docking, weaning at 8 weeks or longer, full access to pasture during the growing season, animals are never chained or confined to a stall or barn, square footage for each animal meets Animal Welfare Approved guidelines, organic animal welfare standards for care are met.
5: All animals are raised on pasture; certified humane practices or organic standards are met
4: 75 % of a all farm animals are raised on pasture; all best practices in AW are used
3: 50 % of all farm animals are raised on pasture; all best practices in AW are used
2: Less than 50% of farm animals are raised on pasture; not all best practices in AW are used
1: Less than 50% of farm animals are raised on pasture; less than 50% AW best practices used
Herbicide & Pesticide usage
5: No synthetic herbicides or pesticides are used
4: Herbicide use restricted to non-food crop areas, no pesticides used
3: Herbicides & pesticides used within an IPM program
2: Herbicides & pesticides used occasionally, no IPM program plan
1: Herbicide and pesticides used routinely
Certified Organic- This certification requires yearly inspections and documentation of best practices already listed as well as no hormones or antibiotics used in animal management and no synthetic inputs or herbicide/pesticides are used.
5: Certified with USDA National Organic standards
4: Uses 100% organic practice but is not certified, has some documentation
3: Uses 75% organic practices, but is not certified, has partial documentation
2: Uses 50% organic practice, but is not certified, has no documentation
1: Does not use organic practices, is not moving toward organic best practices
Water management: Best Practices, a) soil moisture is monitored before any watering or irrigation, b) irrigation practices control volume, frequency and flow rate, c) vegetative buffers along waterways to improve water quality, d) soil erosion from runoff water is managed, e) groundwater is monitored and managed appropriately.
5: Written plan with best practices is in place and implementation is documented
4: Farm addresses all best practices without written plan
3: Farm does not employ best practices in at least 50% of target priority
2: Farm does not employ best practices in at least 25% of priority areas
1: Farm does not pay attention to ground, surface or irrigation water
Waste management & reduction. Best practices, a) produce packaging materials are reusable, washable CSA boxes, compostable bags and boxes, b) plastic hoop house and mulch are recycled
5: Complies with best practices 100%
4: Complies with best practices 75%
3: Complies with best practices 50%
2: Complies with best practices 25%
1: No compliance or attempt to reduce, re-use, recycle
GMO usage- Genetically modified organisms are those in which a snip of DNA from a separate species has been inserted into a ‘regular’ species. Traditional breeding is when genetic material is mixed through natural methods. GMO seed can be patented and held by a corporation, traditional seed is never patented.
5: no GMOs, plant or animal are used
4: only one or two GMO plants are used on the farm
3: half the plants are GMO
2: most of the plants are GMO
1: no GMO information is available
Other certifications; List any other certifications held by this farm, for example, Animal Welfare Approved, or Certified 100% Grassfed. Score one point for each recognized alternative certification.
Criteria- product quality, fair pricing, food safety and insurance plans, accessibility and management provide insight on the business and product’s sustainability and the sustainability of its relationship with the buyer.
Product quality. May require sampling a product. Things to consider: a) How long does the product keep?, b) education around ugly food vs spoiled food, c) taste & color are appealing, d) no dirt or spoilage is evident (see food safety). Chefs or food prep personnel will score this category in an ongoing evaluation.
5: All food is of highest quality
4: 90% of food meets quality standards consistently
3: 80% of food meets quality standards consistently
2: 75% of food meets quality standards consistently
1: inconsistent quality
Ease of transaction- Things to consider: a) costs, invoices are transparent & timely, b) Standard Business Operating Procedures in place, c) farm can accept ‘P’ card or other credit card d) farm personnel are easy to work with.
5: Meets above considerations all the time
4: Meets above considerations almost all the time
3: Mets considerations consistently, but occasional lapses
1: difficult to work with, complete transactions
Affordability/ accessibility. Is there a plan for low-income access? Does the farm offer EBT? Does the farm donate a certain portion of its products to low income populations?
5: Farm exceeds community averages of access for low income populations
4: Farm meets community averages
3: Farm does not meet community averages, but is attempting to
2: Farm does not know about access or have a plan to address it
1: Farm is not interested in providing access by low-income populations
Farmer is paid a “fair” price
5: Cost of goods sold is known and farmer earns at least 5% return on investment (ROI)
4: Farmer earns at least 2% ROI, uses a farm business management program
3: Farmer sells at break-even, is working with a farm business management program
2: Farmer sells at below break even as ‘loss leader” to gain market entry
1: Farmer does not know their COGS or break-even pricing
For the next three criteria, the producer either meets or does not meet the requirement and will score either a 5 or an N/A.
Liability insurance in place - can the farm provide documentation/ proof of liability insurance? This is important to help insure that farms are operating in a safe way and that if a food recall happens there is coverage to help with any claims.
Farm is part of a Cooperative. Cooperatives help ensure that farmers receive a fair price and that they welcome new beginning farmers/members into the marketplace in equitable ways. Governance is democratic, pricing is set in ways that bring buyer and seller into sustainable relationships.
Food safety plan in place. This is important to ensure clean, safe food. Certifications and training and written plans are required to sell to NWTC. Plans require a designated food safety manager, all employees to be trained in food safety, especially harvest protocols. Employees have easy access to handwashing stations and bathroom facilities. Plans require produce wash water testing, surface area and tool disinfection, SOPs for spills and accidents and much more. Plans address potential animal contamination, compost/manure safety requirements for use in veggies. Plans are audited/updated yearly.
Farm will be automatically disqualified from scoring if: