Aquaponics and Food Safety

Aquaponics and food safety has come up over the past two months in several meetings across the state. Specifically can I get a GAP certification while growing my produce with aquaponics? How do I deal with manure?

Here are some documents to help with developing food safety

On-Farm Food Safety: Aquaponics

Microbial Water Quality Related to Food Safety with Aquaponics

Food Safety Audit Training for Farmers

Today every farm, large or small, needs to have a smart plan for ensuring food safety. “Good Agricultural Practices” or “GAP” certification is one way to put a plan in place. It has the added bonus of opening doors to markets that require GAP. But will GAP work in the small farm context? The answer increasingly is — yes!

This training will address how local farmers can achieve USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) certification (USDA GAP checklist), provide information on risks behind specific GAPs requirements, and outline logistics for preparing and scheduling a GAPs audit. The USDA GAPs certification program is an independent audit of produce suppliers that focuses on best agricultural practices to verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.

Please email csmitchell@wakegov.com to register on a First Come First Serve basis while there still is space available.

EVENT DETAILS

Wake County
Wednesday, February 20, 2013 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
NC Cooperative Extension, Wake County Office
4001-E Carya Dr, Raleigh, NC 27610-2914
Auditorium Rm 107
Contact: Carol Mitchell, 919-250-1094, csmitchell@wakegov.com

Presenters: Audrey Kreske, PhD and Katie Baros, MS

Agenda

1:00 pm             Introductions

1:30 pm             USDA GAP & GHP Audit Preparation and Scheduling

2:15 pm             USDA GAP General Section

3:00 pm            Break

3:15 pm             USDA GAP Part One – Farm Review

4:00 pm            USDA GAP Part Two – Field Harvest and Field Packing Activities

4:45 pm             Wrap Up & Questions

U-pick, I pick, We all pick!

It is important to remember that all customers entering the U-pick field need to be aware and follow good hygiene practices. You can post signs on your property that remind customers to wash their hands before entering U-pick fields and locations of restroom facilities.

Hand washing
Restroom locations
Not harvesting while sick with foodborne illness
No animals in the fields

upick-image

N.C. Cooperative Extension Providing Food Safety Audit Trainings for Farmers

North Carolina State University and North Carolina Cooperative Extension are partnering with the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association to deliver workshops across the state that help N.C. farmers meet with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) fresh produce safety standards. Workshops will be held at four Cooperative Extension centers across the state in November and December.

The trainings will address how local farmers can achieve USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) certification, provide information on risks behind specific GAPs requirements, and outline logistics for preparing and scheduling a GAPs audit. The USDA GAPs certification program is an independent audit of produce suppliers that focuses on best agricultural practices to verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.

As pressure mounts for agricultural producers to pass food safety audits for their operations and crops, one of the most common concerns Cooperative Extension agents hear from farmers is that the GAPs certification process is confusing and overwhelming.

An N.C. farmer discussing preparation for a GAPs-certification audit explained, I need someone to help me understand things better so this doesn’t seem so complicated. Otherwise I just put this information in the corner and give up.”

Workshops will focus on prevention and risk identification across all commodities from farm to fork. Wholesalers, community supported agriculture (CSA), educational institutions and retail establishments increasingly want to know what risk-reduction practices are in place on the farm.

Another N.C. farmer discussing GAPs certification said, “The driving reason for us getting GAPs certified is to be eligible to sell to wholesalers, and by extension, major retailers, the party that insists that any vendor be GAPs certified.”

An N.C. Specialty Crop Block Grant funded the development of this curriculum. For more information, contact Dr. Audrey Kreske, Food Safety Extension Associate, at ackreske@ncsu.edu.
EVENT DETAILS

Pender County
Monday, November 19, 2012 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Pender County Cooperative Extension Office
801 S. Walker St., Burgaw, NC 28425
Contact: Mark Seitz, 910-259-1235, maseitz@ncsu.edu

Participants Feedback: ‘Cleared up some questions I had’, ‘Very useful information’, ‘Simplified the process for me’, ‘Very illustrative’, ‘Good examples’

Richmond County
Friday, November 30, 2012 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Ag Services Center
123 Caroline St., Rockingham, NC 28379
Contact: Paige Burns, 910-206-0261, lpburns@ncsu.edu
Buncombe County
Tuesday, December 4, 2012 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center
455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759
Sue Colucci, 828-697-4891, sjcolucc@ncsu.edu
Chatham County
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Chatham County Agriculture Building Auditorium
45 South St., Pittsboro, NC 27312
Debbie Roos, 919-542-8202, Debbie.Roos@chathamnc.org

Dec 12 Chatham DEC 12 Chatham 1

Upcoming GAP Trainings for Small Farmers

Sustainable Agriculture Conference, Greenville, SC, October 26-28

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

To learn more information, please visit the conference website.

GAP Certification for the Small Farm

Friday October 26th, Pre-Conference Intensive

9:00 am to 12:00 pm
NCSU Presenters: Ben Chapman, PhD, Audrey Kreske PhD, and Gary Bullen

Today every farm, large or small, needs to have a smart plan for ensuring food safety.  “Good Agricultural Practices” or “GAP” certification is one way to put a plan in place.  It has the added bonus of opening doors to markets that require GAP.  But will GAP work in the small farm context?  The answer increasingly is — yes!  Come join top experts from NCSU who have been studying the best ways for small operators to take advantage of GAP.  They will lead you step-by-step through the process.  Ben and Audrey have years of experience in food safety in the farm-to-fork path and are excited to share their knowledge with you.  You will come away with a new confidence to tackle the GAP.

Food Safety on the Farm

Saturday October 27th

8:30 am to 10:00 pm
NCSU Presenters: Audrey Kreske PhD and Gary Bullen

Presentation

2012 Southeast Strawberry Expo, Charlotte, NC, November 7-10

NC Strawberry Association

To learn more information, please visit the conference website.

Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 7

On-Farm Workshop 2 pm -4:30 pm

Presenters: Audrey Kreske PhD, Diane Ducharme, GAPs Program Coordinator, and Katie Baros, Extension Produce Safety Assistant

A Critical Eye, Food Safety Risk Investigation: a hands-on approach to identifying food safety risks and GAPs audits

Learn how to identify hazards and risks – and learn some insight into what GAPs auditors look for.  This hands-on workshop will take place at a nearby farm. Participants will be taught how outbreaks happen, and be shown techniques to evaluate risks  and discuss management options. For those who wish to obtain GAPs certification to help open new markets, the workshop will also help prepare for an audit. Clipboards and sharp pencils provided…

 

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International Association for Food Protection Annual Meeting, July 24, 2012

Opening Markets: Identifying barriers and developing guidance for GAP certification

A. Kreske, D. Ducharme, C. Gunter, R. McReynolds, & B. Chapman

Introduction

For small produce farmers, verification of good agricultural practices (GAPs) certification has been raised as a roadblock to entry into institutional markets. Currently there is a plethora of anecdotal information as to the technical and resource barriers associated with GAPs verification but there is a lack of actual data, collected in a structured manner, to confirm or refute concerns.

Purpose

The objective of this study was to observe current on-farm practices and cost of GAP implementation to better understand barriers, and direct strategies and resources to better enable market access.

Methods

Case studies were conducted using a combination of quantitative (costs and time calculations) and qualitative (in-depth interviews and self-diaries) collection methods with small fresh produce farmers (n=12) who were going through the process of attaining USDA GAPs certification.  The farms, all less than 30 acres with multiple commodities were selected based on growing method, commodity diversity, labor, harvest seasons, and quantity of land. Preliminary onsite surveys were conducted to compare current practices to USDA GAP guidelines resulting in a risk practice score. The farms participated in monthly onsite interviews discussing on-farm practices, risk reduction strategies, GAPs requirements and economic impact.

Results

Survey results (n=12) demonstrated the lack of policy documentation (0%), traceability program (8%), and worker training (33%). Farmers expressed GAP implementation cost as an issue related to inadequate storage (83%), treatment of irrigation water (75%) and packaging (50%).  Barriers identified in this study included interpretation of GAP principles, unclear buyer expectations, and site-specific risk recognition.

Significance

This case study was effective in identifying process and cost barriers to GAP certification, providing site-specific consultation, and determining parts of GAP certification not applicable to small farms. Onsite visits facilitated the development of resources to overcome barriers and strategies to mitigate the cost of implementation for small farms attempting GAP certification.

Presentation

Risk reduction on the farm

On April 30th, I guest lectured in the Advanced organic crop production class at Central Carolina Community College (Pittsboro campus). This class is part of the Sustainable Agriculture program which provides training in organic farming methods and technical skills. I was asked to speak with the class about the Opening markets project and risk reduction practices on the farm. Most of the students either own their own farm or work on a farm in the area. One of the instructors asked, “Did I know of any resources available for packing shed design?”, I responded ‘I am not sure’. So I decided to perform an internet search to see what resources, if any, are already available. Here is what I found:

CDC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

FAO: PackingHouse Operations

Healthy Farmers, Healthy Profits Project

- See Packing Shed Layout link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the presentation.