Diversified Vegetable Farms Receive Food Safety Training

Three men are discussing cleaning and sanitation methods for produce safety on farms.
Chris Callahan, UVM Extension agricultural engineer, and farmers at Gaia Gardens in Decatur, Georgia discuss cleaning and sanitizing practices.

UVM Extension’s Chris Callahan, Andy Chamberlin, Hans Estrin and Vern Grubinger recently completed a three-year, multi-state project called Training and Technical Support to Help Small Vegetable Farms Meet the Cleaning and Sanitization Requirements of the Produce Safety Rule.

Funded by the USDA-NIFA Food Safety Outreach Program for $451,217, the public-facing project name was Sanitizing and Cleaning Resources for your Business (SCRUB). Project partners were Cornell Cooperative Extension, Lean and Clean LLC in Georgia, Michigan State University Extension, and the National Farmers Union Foundation.

Our goal was adoption of improved cleaning and sanitizing practices on small, diversified vegetable farms in New England, Georgia, Michigan and New York. These farms face challenges implementing produce safety practices because they have limited financial and management resources. We focused on grower-identified information needs and developed educational resources to address them, including 93 blog posts, case studies, and videos. These have been viewed by 11,638 people to date. We held 29 virtual trainings and 22 educational presentations attended by 1,168 farmers and agricultural service providers. Direct technical assistance was provided to 219 farms.

A total of 151 farms reported adopting new or improved produce safety practices; these farms manage 2,065 acres of vegetables and 1.4 million sq. ft. of greenhouse vegetable production with estimated aggregate annual sales of $43.7 million.

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