Hygienic design intentionally creates or improves spaces and equipment so they can be cleaned and sanitized as appropriate.
This post, associated PDF guide and checklist (PDF and Excel) are tools we developed to help apply hygienic and sanitary design practice on produce farms. These tools cover the five key principles of hygienic design for produce farms:
The intentional, directional, and reliable flow of water is important to ensure agricultural water is “safe and of adequate sanitary quality”.
This post provides information on the importance of backflow prevention and some common practices that help mitigate the risk of backflow. You can also view a recorded webinar on this topic that was provided for the May 2019 Produce Safety Alliance Educators Call.
Last Fall we surveyed growers in the region about postharvest topics in preparation for a USDA NE SARE proposal. That proposal has been funded! Growers who responded assigned a high level of importance to aggregated postharvest knowledge (4.5/5.0, n=56) while indicating poor availability of the information (3.3/5.0, n=57). Several ideas for research topics were provided as well.
We’ve received a number of inquiries about building germination chambers so we have decided to provide some consolidated resources and guidance.
An important first step is to consider what the purpose of the chamber actually is. There are a number of horticultural practices that benefit from dedicated, environmentally controlled spaces. These include germination, starting, propagation/transplanting, sprouting of tubers and rhizomes, and grafting. These all fall under the category of “growth chambers.”
Chris recently served as a technical advisor to Rose Marie Belforti on her recent NE-SARE funded project to demonstrate a hydraulic press used to make fuel briquettes from manure and bedding. The machine, dubbed the “Biomass Beast” by Rose, was built for $5,766 and Rose demonstrated production of briquettes at a rate of 90 dry pounds per hour for 3 cents per dry pound. The briquettes were found to have 6,481 BTU/lb (at 10.5% moisture content) which compared favorably to dry cord wood (e.g. 5,649 BTU/lb for sugar maple at 10% moisture). They burned easily and well. All in all, the cost of production and the heating value suggests that these briquettes deliver energy at a cost of about $4.4 per million BTU (roughly the equivalent of $105 per cord of firewood or $0.60 per gallon of fuel oil).
Having water when and where you need it can make a big difference in vegetable wash station efficiency. Planning for multiple “drops” or spigots around the wash area can make it more convenient to access water where it is needed. It can be helpful to consider the routing of the supply lines to avoid condensation on people and produce. Cold water flowing through the lines on a warm humid day can result in condensation of water that can drop from the lines. Running the lines away from walkways and produce areas can avoid this being a problem. Running the lines down low in wash areas can also help keep any condensation exposure at a minimum.
Also, investing in a hose hanger, hose reel or a trolley can help keep the hose off the ground, resulting in a cleaner and more safe work environment. Continue reading Hanging Hoses
I recently had the opportunity to record a public service announcement (PSA) for WDEV. This is part of a series of PSA’s the UVM Extension colleagues contribute to. I decided to focus on ergonomics and shared some lessons from my grandmother and other sources. Click below to listen.
The text and additional resources are available below.
I recently visited Chewonki, a school, camp, and farm in Wisscasset, ME that had a recent visit from an ergonomics consultant at their beautiful new pack shed. Some insurance companies offer these visits for free as an injury (and claim) prevention measure.
Several things that struck me:
They were experimenting with different heights for wash bins, harvest crate landing zones, and drying racks using combinations of cinder blocks, stacked pallets and adjustable kitchen racks. They have a constantly changing work crew of different ages and physical abilities. I thought it was a great way of settling into a new workspace and getting a feel for efficiency, flow, and positions of things before committing with permanent fixtures.
bring the work to you, and
prototype your layout before building anything permanent.
The tool shed attached to the wash packed shed was highly organized. Again, with a dynamic, changing crew it is important that tool location be standard and searching be minimized.
a place for everything, and everything in its place.
Join Howard Prussack of High Meadows Farm, University of Vermont Agricultural Engineer Chris Callahan and Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Specialist Crystal Stewart for a field walk discussing garlic and onion production and postharvest handling. The event will include a focus on Fusarium control practices, a hands-on demonstration of Allium Leaf Miner identification and discussion of control strategies, followed by a discussion of post-harvest handling best practices and ways to achieve these conditions at your farm.
High Meadows farm is a 65 Acre organic, diversified vegetable farm of rolling hills, fertile soils, surrounded by oak and maple woodlands. Situated just a short drive from the center of Putney, VT, it is Vermont’s oldest certified organic Farm. Howard Prussack and his team have been providing the community and greater New England with premium organic vegetables and potted plant plants since 1979.
UVM Extension helps individuals and communities put research-based knowledge to work. University of Vermont Extension, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status.
To request a disability-related accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Chris Callahan at 802-447-7582 x256 by July 5 so we may assist you.