Growers interested in improving food safety and post-harvest handling of fruits and vegetables can learn both at Iowa State University Extension workshops this winter. The workshops will be held during January and February at seven Iowa locations and will also cover the implications of recent federal food safety legislation on small growers.
"Fruit and vegetable growers work to deliver a safe product from farm to table," says Margaret Smith, coordinator with ISU Extension's value added agriculture program, and co-team leader for the workshops. "This may require additional planning and implementation of new practices and protocols on the farm."
USDA's good agricultural practices address microbial food safety hazards for unprocessed fruits and vegetables from the farm to retail. "These good agricultural and management practices are important to ensure safety as well as quality of most fruits and vegetables sold to consumers or retail foodservices in the unprocessed form," says Cathy Strohbehn, ISU Extension specialist, who is an associate professor and the workshop's other co-leader.
Good management practices help ensure food safety
"There are actions farmers and growers can take at each step - growing, harvesting, washing, sorting, packing and transporting – to meet these objectives, with the added benefit of presenting a competitive advantage within the market," says Strohbehn.
Topics to be covered during the full-day workshop include microbial risks, the regulatory landscape, production and safety issues and development of a food safety plan based on GAPs principles. Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion of On-Farm Food Safety Training, suitable for framing so you can display it at markets where you sell your produce or at other points of sale.
The workshops are funded by a two-year competitive grant to Strohbehn and Smith from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU in Ames. Paul Domoto, ISU Extension specialist and professor of horticulture, and Lester Wilson, ISU professor of food science and human nutrition, are additional project team members who are working on funding provided by this grant. More information about the project can be found at www.iastatelocalfoods.org.
Schedule, locations and registration contacts for workshops
The workshops will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Locations and registration contacts include:
Jan. 27 – Holiday Inn Des Moines Airport/ Conference Center. To register, contact Sue Woods at the Value-Added Agriculture Program at ISU Extension at 515-294-9483 or email@example.com.
Feb. 2 – Muscatine County Extension Office, Muscatine. To register, contact Shirley Grimm or Vera Stokes at 563-263-5701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feb. 8 – Griswold Community Center, Griswold. To register, contact Bahia Barry at Golden Hills RC&D at 712-482-3029 or email@example.com.
Feb. 9 – Downtown Sioux City Library, Sioux City. To register, contact Laura Kuennen, Local Food Systems Coordinator at 712-276-2157 or Lkuennen@iastate.edu.
Feb. 10 – North Iowa Fairgrounds 4-H Building, Mason City. To register, contact Mark Schutt at Prairie Winds RC&D at 641-923-3606 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fees for the workshop are $50 per person and $25 per second family or business member, which includes take-home reference materials, a meal and refreshments. Contact your local workshop site for scholarship information.
Established by the 1987 Iowa Groundwater Protection Act, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU supports the development of profitable farming systems that conserve natural resources. More information about the Leopold Center is available on the web at www.leopold.iastate.edu, or by calling the Leopold Center at 515-294-3711.