UVM Extension Ag Engineering

Risks Posed by Cats on Produce Farms

Authored by Phil Tocco, Michigan State University & Chris Callahan, University of Vermont

View or download a PDF of this factsheet here.

Many small farmers rely on cats to control rodents on farms. These “working animals” seem like a good way to limit crop loss and reduce other produce safety risks from rodents. Unfortunately, cats bring risks of their own. Cats are the only full-cycle host of a protozoan parasite called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii or ‘toxo’).

The FSMA Produce Safety Rule generally requires “measures reasonably necessary to prevent the introduction of known or reasonably foreseeable hazards into covered produce” (112.11). The rule specifically requires an assessment of areas where covered activities take place for evidence of potential contamination, and evaluate whether covered produce can be harvested if there is a reasonable probability of contamination (112.83). This includes the observation of an animal in a production or handling area such as a greenhouse or packing shed.

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Considerations for Fruit and Vegetable Growers Related to Coronavirus & COVID-19

Updated 3/18/2020

The current COVID-19 pandemic is a common concern and many are wondering what they can and should do. The information here is intended to help guide the fruit and vegetable farming community. If you have concerns or additional suggestions please contact the UVM Extension Produce Safety Team (producesafety@uvm.edu / (802) 257-7967) or the VT Agency of Agriculture’s Produce Program for additional guidance (agr.fsma@vermont.gov / (802) 828-2433).

Download as a PDF.

Listen on the The Ag Engineering Podcast.

Please also see the compiled resources at the UVM Extension VT Vegetable and Berry Growers Page.

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Planning an Efficient and Safe Wash/Pack Area

By Chris Callahan, Hans Estrin, and Andy Chamberlin

Summary

Efficiency and food safety are integral parts of running a profitable and viable farm, producing high-quality produce, and retaining valuable employees. This integration should start with a vision in the planning stage of all postharvest projects. 

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Across The Fence: Mean Green(s) Washing Machine (TV Segment on Greens Spinners)

UVM Extension’s own television program Across The Fence did a segment on a project we’ve been working on related to greens spinners. You can watch the video clip here explaining why small farms are making use of washing machines as greens spinners and what we are doing to help make them more feasible.

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Washing Machine Greens Spinners: Shopping Advice

This blog post is for those using or considering a converted washing machine as greens spinner. 

Background

For background information on several different types of greens spinners and general thoughts on using washing machine conversions see this blog post

Shopping Tips

What to look for when shopping for a washing machine for a greens spinner? The details are in the drum. Minimize seams, nooks and crannies for an easy to clean surface.

There are a few things to consider when shopping for a washing machine to convert into a greens spinner. Like most things, it comes down to:

  1. How much you want to spend, and
  2. What features are important to you. Continue reading “Washing Machine Greens Spinners: Shopping Advice”

Ag Engineering Downloadable PDF Resources

All of our resources are available here on this blog. However, if you are looking for a printed handout, here is a list. These are all of the PDF documents that we share during workshops, meetings, and presentations. All links will open the PDF in a new tab.

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Washing Machine Greens Spinner Workshop

Build a greens spinner out of a washing machine! (Speed queen model shown here)

Have a washing machine that you want to convert into a greens spinner?

Have you already done the conversion, but want to improve it?

Join us for one of two hands-on, intensive workshops this fall focused on getting the job done and doing it well. Continue reading “Washing Machine Greens Spinner Workshop”

Greens Washline from China

With innovative tools becoming more available for salad greens production from field prep through harvest, mixed greens are becoming more attractive for farmers. Postharvest handling and wash/pack still causes a bottleneck for many farms. Today we share some knowledge on a piece of equipment recently adopted at Jericho Settlers Farm in Jericho, VT.

This Greens Washline is made by China Joy Equipment. They call it an “Air Bubble Washing Machine.” This has been an affordable piece of equipment to allow their farm to scale up greens production for $13,900. Mark Fasching from Jericho Settlers Farm was gracious enough to share some of his experiences sourcing this machine from the other side of the world.

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Ventilation in Greenhouses and High Tunnels

I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop at the 2019 NOFA-MA Summer Conference about Ventilation in Greenhouses and High Tunnels. It provided an opportunity to collect information from various sources, ground truth observations with growers, and to revisit some fundamentals. The big takeaway, for me, is that there are many, many ways to ventilate a protected culture environment and opportunities for improvement abound.  I hope this review provides a framework for troubleshooting some issues that may be common in the field.

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