UVM Extension Ag Engineering

Posts

Spray Tables for Produce Farms

Spray tables are commonly used to rinse bunched produce or crops with relatively high soil load. They are typically made from a porous horizontal material supported by a framed structure. A very common approach is to use 2×4 lumber for framing and either hardware cloth or welded wire fencing stapled to the top. Although this approach is inexpensive and uses readily available materials this design has two main downsides:

  1. Wood and galvanized metal are not very easy to clean completely.
  2. Wood and galvanized metal will wear over time with repeated soaking and drying cycles.

If we apply the principles of hygienic design to a spray table it becomes clear that we should think about the cleanability of the materials and their assembly while also thinking about how the materials will hold up over time.

Below are some options for spray table materials and approaches that should help make yours easier to clean and more durable. These options are sorted by lowest per square foot cost to highest. Support structure and legs were not accounted for in the cost.

Continue reading “Spray Tables for Produce Farms”

Drains for Produce Farms

This guide provides background on planning for drains and drainage from produce wash and pack areas. Direct drains, floor and spot drains, and trench and gutter drains are discussed. A construction drawing for a trench drain is also provided.

Continue reading “Drains for Produce Farms”

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.

Continue reading “Risks Posed by Cats on Produce Farms”

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.

Continue reading “Considerations for Fruit and Vegetable Growers Related to Coronavirus & COVID-19”

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. 

Continue reading “Planning an Efficient and Safe Wash/Pack Area”

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.

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

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.

Continue reading “Ag Engineering Downloadable PDF Resources”

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”

Skip to toolbar