RVA’s Urban Farm on Bainbridge St & W 9th St

Tricycle Urban Agriculture  has been working with Richmond communities  since 2010, when it began Richmond’s first Urban Farm.  The work of Tricycle has not only grown literally in the size and number of its various farm and garden sites, but in its many partnerships geared to their outreach efforts around the Richmond area.  One of their successful programs is the Fellowship and Certificate program –“the first program of it’s kind designed in partnership with the USDA- Natural Resources Conservation Service.”  Each year, fellows participate in an 11-month period that includes instruction and hands-on experiences about production practices, handling, marketing,  and the unique interests of each fellow.

RVA’s Urban Farm with Richmond in background

RVA’s Urban Farm tricycle mascot

For the last two years, Laura Strawn and I have been asked to come to teach the fellows about on-farm food safety risks and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).  For Laura and I, this has been one of the highlights of our annual teaching together!   We typically provide an overview of how to assess risks–either in the classroom or on the farm, followed by an on-farm walk to provide lots of opportunities for questions and answers related to risks, GAP, monitoring, corrective actions, and documentation.

Laura teaching about on-farm risks and how to identify them on the farm

Fellows in break-out groups assessing risks for different scenarios

Between 2017 and 2018, we were impressed by the way Tricycle’s RVA Urban Farm had incorporated many changes  based on our walk through, including a covered packing area with stainless steel tables, and also the growth of the farm in terms of infrastructure and planting areas.

New covered packing area in front of walk-in cooler

Newer planting area on upper part of the farm

The relationship with Tricycle Urban Agriculture has been a rewarding one for all of us, especially knowing the fellows are learning about on-farm food safety so as to best equip them in whatever their future farming-related endeavors are.  Our training demonstrates how our team is taking bigger picture, on-farm food safety principles and applying them to different situations such as urban farm settings.  Our partnership also has helped us to better understand unique challenges facing our varied stakeholders and discussing possible solutions together.  We look very forward to more opportunities to work with Tricycle Urban Agriculture in the future!