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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org / (802) 257-7967) or the VT Agency of Agriculture’s Produce Program for additional guidance (email@example.com / (802) 828-2433).
By Chris Callahan, Hans Estrin, and Andy Chamberlin
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
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.
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.
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.
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.