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Showing posts from April, 2023

Spring food safety to-do list for new and returning employees

 Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety As you hire new employees or welcome back returning employees to the farm this season, remember that anyone working on your farm should receive training about your farm's food safety policies each year.  Take a few minutes in the spring to remind the entire crew about your farm's rules and things will go more smoothly all season.  Here is a sample training agenda you can follow when you offer a training this spring. Remember to include all employees, and offer refreshers throughout the season as needed, especially if you are seeing that there are some practices not being done correctly or other issues arising. You will need to change this to fit your own farm, but this is a starting point.  1. Why does food safety matter? Start any sort of talk about food safety with the "why".  There are pathogens found in the feces of humans and animals that can spread on the farm through clothing, hands, footwear, tools and equipm

A war of attrition: Canada thistle management

  By Marissa Schuh, IPM extension educator As I’ve made some early season visits to farmers around the state, one weed has come up again and again, putting a damper on early season optimism - Canada thistle. Canada thistle as rosettes early in the season. Photo: Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Vegetable farmers are used to dealing with all kinds of tricky weeds, but the brute biology of Canada thistle makes it one of the most frustrating weeds to deal with.  Canada thistle isn’t just perennial, but it has storage roots that help the plant regrow after mowing and spread into new areas. These roots are also able to produce new plants if broken up, for example by tillage.    How does Canada thistle get on the farm? Canada thistle is common in ditches and field borders. Each flower produces up to 45 seeds, which can be blown by the wind or even carried by water.  Canada thistle is a common weed in forage crops, so seeds can enter the farm in contaminated straw,

2023 MN Local Food Purchase Assistance Program open for applications

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the MN Local Food Purchase Assistance (LFPA) Program. Approximately $2.125 million is available to fund projects that buy local food primarily from socially disadvantaged and emerging farmers, and distribute that food to underserved communities throughout the state. This is a new grant program. Applications are due no later than 11:59 p.m. Central Time on May 30, 2023. For potential applicants Please review the  2023 MN Local Food Purchase Assistance Program Request for Applications  before applying. This document includes key information about program eligibility, requirements, and priorities. Applications are preferred to be submitted online; the application is linked to on the  MN  LFPA  website . If you have not previously applied for a grant using the MDA’s online grant management software you will need to create an account. Instructions are also linked to o

Spring 2023 FSMA Update: Current Information about Agricultural Water for Produce Growers

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety The Produce Safety Rule is part of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that applies to some farms in Minnesota.  Since the law has been finalized,   updates and changes have been made that relate to water you use on your farm. If you have attended a training previously and wonder what has been updated since then, here is a summary of the updates to date. First, this rule only applies to some farms. To determine your status under the PSR, see this website.  Second, the rules about agricultural water only apply to water that is being used on covered commodities and that is likely or intended to touch the harvestable portion of the crop or food contact surfaces.  As a reminder, water is broken into both pre and post-harvest water for the purposes of the FSMA Rule. Pre-Harvest, or Irrigation water standards have had significant updates since 2015 Definition: Pre-harvest water is water used prior to harvest, generally for irrig

Online GAPs training - additional class offered

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety Are you looking to brush up on your food safety knowledge before you start the farming season in earnest? We have had requests for more online GAPs trainings for fruit and vegetable farmers, so are offering another option this spring. If you were not able to attend a training this winter, consider attending this training to improve your farm's food safety practices and plans for this coming season. Online GAPs Half-Day Training Course from UMN Extension This 3.5 hour fully-online interactive course will provide a deep-dive into Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) on the farm. GAPs are science-based, farm-level practices for keeping fresh produce safe. This training is strongly encouraged for farm owners, workers and gardeners who grow, harvest and pack fresh vegetables for sales to all markets, including at farmers’ markets, CSA, retail, schools, restaurants, or who donate produce to others.  Trainers will include experienced produc