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Workshop to address post harvest handling and food safety

Ag Weekly

The workshop is presented by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, University of Idaho Extension and Idaho State Department of Agriculture through the Idaho Preferred program.

Fresh produce growers are invited to attend a Friday, February 1 workshop in Caldwell on post-harvest handling, food safety, wholesale marketing, and profit planning. The workshop will address issues of interest due to FDA's recent release of the proposed Food Safety Modernization Act rules.

The workshop is presented by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, University of Idaho Extension and Idaho State Department of Agriculture through the Idaho Preferred program.

The training will be provided by FamilyFarmed.org, which is conducting its Direct Marketing & Wholesale Success workshop in 15 states. Topics will include marketing and packing quality, post-harvest handling, writing a food safety plan and pack shed design. The workshop will conclude with a panel of retail and food service buyers from the Treasure Valley and a discussion of their local produce buying preferences and requirements.

Participating farms will receive a free manual, Wholesale Success: A Farmers Guide to Food Safety, Post-harvest Handling, Packing and Selling Produce, valued at $70. The 312-page color publication is a leading resource on selling into wholesale markets. It includes topics including Calculating Return on Investment; Cleaning, Drying, and Curing Produce; Traceability; Packing Shed Design; and Maintaining the Cold Chain.

Workshop sessions on financial management tools and record keeping will also be offered on February 1.

Following the workshop is the fourth annual Grower's Own Conference, a farmer-to-farmer exchange and networking opportunity for farmers interested in organic production methods. The conference will be held Friday evening and Saturday, February 2.

  

 

This year's guest farmer is Laura Masterson of 47th Avenue Farm, located near Portland. Masterson is a veteran of farmer-to-farmer exchanges in Oregon. She will speak about her extensive experience in organic vegetable production, season extension, year-round CSA production and marketing, employee and intern management, and micro-enterprise budgeting.

"This is a unique and highly valuable experience," says Grower's Own Conference co-organizer Beth Rasgorshek of Canyon Bounty Farm in Nampa. "It is also farmer driven, so now is the time to register and cast your vote for the topics to be discussed."

Some of the topics under consideration include micro-enterprise selection; wash facilities, packing sheds & supply sources; vegetable start production; livestock feed rations & on-farm production; employee management; integrated pest management; high tunnels; irrigation systems, cooperative CSAs; meat marketing; starting a livestock operation; and alternative financing.

  

The workshop and conference will be held at the College of Idaho in Caldwell. The Feb 1 workshops cost $25, the Grower's Own Conference costs $55, and both cost $70. Pre-registration is required. Register online at www.pesticide.orgor contact Jennifer Miller at jmiller@pesticide.org or 208-850-6504. Funding is provided in part by USDA.

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