Hey there! I thought I should introduce my self now that I’ve been a part of the UVM Extension community for a few months now, met many of you (farmers, colleagues) and look forward to getting to know many more impactful individuals in the agricultural and food system space with-in (primarily) Vermont communities.
I’m Andy Chamberlin and work with Chris Callahan on agricultural engineering types of projects. The main focus of the work I do is to help fruit and vegetable farmers with their post-harvest processes to increase efficiencies to drive success and increase profitability all with food safety in mind.
Some background info on me: I grew up on my grandparents vegetable farm and quickly learned that I enjoyed working outside, particularly with the tractors and equipment, not hand weeding strawberries with a hoe. Snacking on berries or cucumbers right out of the field though is always rewarding, but I think this audience knows that! I graduated from Vermont Tech with a degree in mechanical engineering, then worked in the consumer packaged goods industry which provided me with a lot of lean manufacturing, and food safety knowledge from my roll in research and development. When the opportunity came up for this position in Extension I was excited for it sounded like a good fit for me from the experience I have acquired.
Since joining UVM Extension I have helped with new barn/produce wash and pack area consultation which is exciting to help dream up new spaces and how to best utilize them. It’s a fun challenge trying to find the optimal layout of equipment and infrastructure to best suit the individual’s needs. This summer I got trained from the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) to help guide farmers in implementing food safety practices on their farms. This is a major topic that I will be contributing my time to as well.
In short – produce safety on farms means implementing practices to reduce microbial risks that can cause food born illness. This covers areas of proper training, cleanliness, health, hygiene and sanitation, record keeping, creating a Farm Food Safety Plan and linking these practices to the requirements of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.
Additionally, I’m working with Chris on a precooling/curing project which we’ll be doing experiments to see if we can effectively drive down field-temperature of harvested products to storage temperatures quicker than just placing products into a cooler, increasing shelf life and product quality. So far our prototypes are looking promising, stay tuned for updates as things develop over the next few months!
Other work I will be doing is on the publication side of things. Keeping a little more regular blog post activity providing tips, tricks, and guidance for farmers. I have already published a great post and factsheet on dealing with Rats (and other rodents) as well as finish surfaces for Food and Produce areas.
I also help manage our social profiles, so please go ahead and like, follow, subscribe and share our pages! We can be found at:
Facebook UVM Extension Ag Engineering
YouTube UVM Extension Agricultural Engineering
Video is a passion I’d like to embark on, so stay tuned for video media content to come as well! If you are interested, here is some content I posted this summer.
If you think I could be of assistance to you shoot me an e-mail, and if you have a really cool piece of post-harvest equipment that changed your life and want to share it with other farmers let me know, and I just might come shoot a video about it.
See you around!