To follow up on the August 16, 2018 post, I wanted to start with some work we have been doing with The Conservation Fund and FRESHFARM Markets since early 2016.  The Conservation Fund (CF) and FRESHFARM Markets  (FFM) obtained funding from the USDA to provide food safety training and assistance with the GAP certification process for farms in the Mid-Atlantic region.  These folks reached out to Dr. Laura Strawn for on-the-ground educational support, Laura contacted me to team up with her and Rachel Pfuntner–her Lab manager at the time–and the rest is history!

Rachel (far left) and Laura (far right) assisting participants as they discuss their scenarios with one another.

Farm tour of the hydroponic production area at Tioga Farms.

Laura, Rachel,  and I held a class at Tioga Farms, PA, in March 2016.  The class included an overview of food safety risks and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), coupled with a breakout activity in which groups were given different farm scenarios to identify risks and GAPs.  We also had a tour of Tioga Farms greenhouse and packing area, which provided more opportunity to discuss on-farm risks at these different stages of the process.

Packaged tomatoes ready to be transported to different buyers.

As a follow-up to this workshop, growers were put into touch with their state extension service agencies.  Additionally, Laura, Rachel, and I were asked to conduct a similar workshop in northern Virginia.   Collaborating with CF, FFM, and our local VCE-Loudoun County colleague, Beth Sastre, we held a workshop in November 2016.  We had a great turn-out, and similar to the previous workshop, we taught about risks, GAPs, and working through the GAP certification process.

Participants working through their assigned scenario to identify specific risks and possible GAPs to mitigate those risks.

Subsequent to the second workshop, Beth and I traveled to Washington, D.C. , to visit with some of the participants from the November workshop and provide further guidance on the GAP certification process.  We visited Common Good City Farm and Little Wild Things Farm.  It was an amazing time of seeing what folks are doing in the urban farm scene!

Common Good City Farm.

Little Wild Things Farm microgreens.

Little Wild Things Farm harvesting edible flowers to be sold to high-end D.C. restaurants.

Just recently, I went to Garners Produce in Warsaw, VA.  Bernard and Dana Boyle were wonderful hosts, and shared about their farm and practices, while I led the group on a farm walk-through demonstrating the risk assessment process.  The purpose of the on-farm visit was to share with FRESHFARM Market staff some of the food safety challenges farmers face and to highlight one of their participant farms at their markets in D.C.  Click here to learn more about Garners Produce, the farm visit, and the larger project.

Amber discussing risks in the packing shed area. ©The Conservation Fund

Peg Kohring from The Conservation Fund, who traveled to Virginia from MI. ©The Conservation Fund

FRESHFARM Market staff with Bernard and Dana Boyle after we finished the farm walk through. ©The Conservation Fund.

Thank you to The Conservation Fund and FRESHFARM Market for inviting us to collaborate and be a part of the great work they are doing.  By partnering together, the Fresh Produce Food Safety Team was able to assist and support them and their growers, while at the same time develop more networks in our broader food safety outreach efforts in the region.  We are already discussing some ways we can collaborate on future projects, and we look forward to the possibilities!