The increase in food-borne illnesses associated with fresh fruits and vegetables has raised concerns with produce buyers and consumers over produce safety and on-farm food safety practices. Growers who can identify potential food safety risks and take the necessary steps to address these on their farms will not only be better prepared to protect their markets but also will improve produce quality and the overall efficiency of their operations.
University of Vermont (UVM) Extension's Center for Sustainable Agriculture will offer a hands-on workshop on April 10 for farmers interested in developing a viable on-farm food safety plan. It will be held at the Richmond Free Library in Richmond from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes a visit to Jericho Settlers Farm, a diversified farm in Jericho. Participants will leave with a draft of a food safety plan for their farm.
The workshop is designed for small and diversified organic and conventional farms that supply local markets directly. Although the workshop will lay the foundation for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audit certification, it is geared to farmers who do not intend to become GAP-certified in the near future.
The deadline for registration is April 3. The fee is $30, or $15 per person if two or more people from the same farm plan to attend, and includes all handouts and lunch. Scholarships are available.
To download the registration form, go to www.uvm.edu/sustainableagriculture/Documents/PFS_registration_v.5_apr12.pdf
The morning session will focus on the specifics of how contamination may occur on small farms and practical ways to reduce the risk. Participants will draft a food safety plan for their farm and should bring their own laptop computer or plan to borrow one from UVM Extension.
In the afternoon the group will visit Jericho Settlers Farm, a 165-acre year-round operation in Jericho, to observe how owners Christa Alexander and Mark Fasching implement practical and affordable food safety practices on their farm. The couple grow vegetables and raise grass-fed beef, pork, lamb and chickens (for eggs and meat), marketing their products through community-supported agriculture shares, an on-site farm stand, farmers' markets, local stores and restaurants.
For more information or to request financial assistance or a disability-related accommodation to participate, contact Ginger Nickerson, UVM Extension produce safety outreach coordinator, at (802) 505-8189 or firstname.lastname@example.org
by April 3.
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