By: Billy Mitchell and Tricia Wancko
Although miles apart, the East and West coasts of the US share a lot of things like beautiful views and amazing wildlife. Another thing they share? Both coasts have communities of small-scale growers who care about improving their food safety and food quality practices. Over the past few weeks, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association—East Coast—and the Tilth Alliance—West Coast—have hosted well-attended food safety sessions to an audience of enthusiastic growers at their annual conferences.
Tilth Alliance and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association are also partners in the Local Food Safety Collaborative (LFSC), an FDA-funded initiative to provide training, education, and technical assistance to local food producers. Both organizations’ recent conferences were packed with opportunities for growers to learn from and with each other. Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s event featured a Achieving Quality & Long Shelf Life Through Good Handling Practices workshop that was co-led by Dave Henderson of Red’s Quality Acre. During this food-safety-focused session, Henderson guided attendees around the farm, showcasing its wash pack areas while highlighting the changes they had made for quality and safety—alongside sharing lessons learned from farming over the years. Henderson was supported by Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Local Produce Safety Manager Chloe Johnson (who brought their own handmade bacteria clock to show how quickly bacteria can grow) as well as their Market Access Coordinator Geoff Seelen (who used their past farming experiences to help clarify good handling and good agricultural practices).
Over on the West coast, Tilth Alliance’s Wash/Pack Design – Increase Shelf Life, Lower Risks, Reduce Bottlenecks workshop featured a bit of harvest bin show-and-tell by co-presenter Ryan Lichttenegger of Steel Wheel Farm. Lichttenegger emphasized the importance of not only having bins that are easy to use in the field, but also ones that are easy to clean and sanitize. The session also featured a discussion of basic tools (like a funnel and a twin-neck bottle—also called a “tip-and-pour”) that many farmers might have laying around that can simplify and ensure the effectiveness of sanitizer use. Both Lichttenegger’s and Henderson’s discussions of their on-farm experiences around improving produce quality and safety were well received by session attendees, sparking an exchange of questions and ideas around practical solutions to managing produce safety risks.
Check out the Tilth Alliance and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association websites for upcoming events (like the Good Manufacturing Practices for Small-Scale Farms & Food Businesses Making Low-Risk Foods workshop) and resources (like the Farm Walks podcast series). Have your own food safety questions? Please visit the Local Food Safety Collaborative website along with the Food Safety Resource Clearinghouse for a curated source of food safety guides, factsheets, templates, and more. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the latest food safety news.
This project website is supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award 1U01FD006921-01 totaling $1,000,000 with 100 percent funded by FDA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by FDA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.