On January 4, 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a draft Produce Safety Rule as required under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011. This proposed regulation would establish mandatory practices that farmers must take to prevent microbial contamination of fresh produce. Below are highlights of requirements FDA would issue in the final regulation:
Worker Health and Hygiene – Farm and packing house workers who harvest or handle fresh produce, and their supervisors, must receive training on personnel hygiene and health conditions that can increase the risk for food contamination. Growers are required to show proof of training by keeping written records. Toilet facilities have to be readily accessible, kept reasonably clean, and supplied with toilet paper. Hand-washing stations must be close to toilet facilities and supplied with potable running water, hand soap, and clean single use towels.
Agricultural Water – Growers must be able to demonstrate that the water they use for irrigation, pesticide preparation, cooling and washing, etc. is safe for its intended use. Maximum average E. coli levels of 126 cells per 100 milliliters have been proposed for irrigation water that can contact the edible part of the crop. Water used for post harvest operations face more stringent standards; no detectable levels of E. coli are allowed.
Biological Soil Amendments – At least a 9 month interval (270 days) would be required between application of raw animal manure to produce fields and harvesting if there is a possibility that the manure may contact the produce. Composted animal manures can be applied from 0 to 45 days before harvest depending on whether or not it can contact the crop. Growers, or commercial compost suppliers, must provide proof through laboratory testing that the composting process was adequate to make it safe to use. No human waste is allowed on fields except in the case of sewage sludge biosolids that are treated according to already existing regulations.
Domesticated Animals – Working animals, such as mules and horses, are allowed in produce fields as long as the grower can demonstrate that they have taken adequate measures to prevent contamination. If animals are allowed to graze in areas intended for produce growing, the waiting period specified for application of raw manure (270 days) would apply.
Wild Animals – FDA recognizes that it is impossible to keep all wild animals away from produce fields. If the situation is out of control and there is a reasonable probability that wild animals can contaminate produce, growers would be required to monitor their fields for signs of animals and take some kind of preventative measure to keep them out or discourage them from entering.
Equipment, Tools, and Buildings – Equipment and tools need to be kept reasonably clean. Sanitation standards for packing buildings requires good water drainage, control of dripping condensation, a pest control program, and regular clean-up of trash. Partially-enclosed packing buildings are acceptable if the grower or packer takes precautions to prevent birds and other pests from becoming established in the buildings.
Here are some important points that need to be made about the proposed rule.
• The proposed rule covers only fresh produce that is sold commercially. It does not apply to produce used for personal consumption, such as home gardens.
• The focus of the new regulation is on fruits, vegetable, nuts, herbs, mushrooms, and sprouts that are typically eaten raw, not commodities that are generally cooked or further processed. For example, potatoes, egg plant, winter squash, beets, and beans for drying are exempt.
• Not all farms that grow fresh produce are required to comply with the rule.
• Farms with gross food sales under $25,000 are exempt
• Farms with gross food sales over $500,000 are generally required to comply.
• Those with total sales of between $25,000 and $500,000 may or may not receive exemptions, depending on what kind of marketing channels are used.
For instance, if a farmer sells than more than half of his/her strawberry crop directly to consumers, such as at a farmers market, farm stand, as a CSA, or if he/she delivers it directly to a grocery store or restaurant, they are exempt from the regulation. However, to receive this exemption, these kinds of direct sales must be to buyers in the same state as the farm, or if out of state, no farther than 275 miles from the farm.
• If a crop is mostly sold through wholesale outlets, such as through distributors, warehouses, or fresh-cut processors, the farm is not exempt and is covered under the rule.
• Exemptions can be cancelled if FDA determines that a farm may be a source of contaminated produce.
• And finally, keep in mind that growers of any size who sell at least some of their crop through wholesale marketing channels, even if technically not covered by the federal regulation, have been facing and will to continue to face standards at least as stringent as anything in the final FDA regulations.
Remember, this is a proposed rule. It is not a final regulation. This means that growers have an opportunity to comment on any part of the rule they do not understand or object to.
The draft ruling is available for viewing at http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FSMA/ucm304045.htm. The public will have the opportunity to submit comment on the draft rule until May 16, 2013. Before this date, FDA will be holding public meetings to explain the proposal and to provide additional opportunity for input.
There are two ways to send comments. You may submit comments through the internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Once you are on the site, follow the instructions for submitting comments.
For written comments, you may fax them to FDA at 301-827-6870 or mail them to:
Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration,
5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061
Rockville, MD 20852.
All written submissions received must include the Docket No. (FDA-2011-N-0921)
Look for updates on the rule making process and upcoming GAP training opportunities at the Penn State Farm Food Safety web site at http://extension.psu.edu/food-safety/farm, or contact Dr. Luke LaBorde at email@example.com or 814-863-2298.
Posted 4 months ago at 10:19 am. Add a comment
The Farmers’ Market Cooperative from East Liberty on Vimeo.
This time of year, most farmers markets in the area close up for the season. The outdoor markets operated by the City of Pittsburgh wound things up Thanksgiving week and other markets ended even earlier.
Many of the Pittsburghers who reveled in the bounty of local foods all summer and autumn, assume that there are no opportunities for local once winter is upon us. But if you are interested in adding some local flavor to your winter meals, don’t fret, there are plenty of options still available.
The Farmers’ Market Co-op of East Liberty is a must-visit for local foods this winter. Whether you make it a weekly outing or you are looking to prepare a local holiday meal for family and friends – the indoor East Liberty Farmers’ Market C0-op is a great place to visit. And don’t take my word for it, check out the video above for proof. Their local repertoire currently includes: meat, eggs, cheese and produce, coffee, dried fruits and nuts, olive oil, local honey, maple syrup and prepared foods all from small family owned farms.
They’ve asked that we spread the word and help people start thinking “local” again this winter. So grab a friend or family member and visit the market every Saturday in December.
The video above was commissioned by the folks at East Liberty Development (ELDI). It was directed and produced by local film maker Michael Pisano.
Posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago at 12:35 pm. Add a comment
Western PA Vegetable and Berry Growers Meeting
“What you need to know about GMO”
Register online or by phone!
Register and agenda at:
No Computer? No Problem!
Call 724-837-1402 to register
Registration fee: $40
Checks, credit and debit cards accepted for registration payment.
Walk-ins are Welcome
Walk-in fee is $50, cash or check (no credit or debit cards), at the door.
Save $10; register before the end of the day on November 8th.
Posted 6 months, 2 weeks ago at 3:15 pm. Add a comment
Executive Director, Farm Manager/Educator – Emmaus, PA
The Seed Farm is a new farmer training program and agricultural business incubator. Our mission is to start and grow new sustainable farms in the Lehigh Valley, and to facilitate the development of a vibrant local food system. We are currently seeking applicants for Executive Director, Farm Manager/ Educator, and Development Director. For detailed job postings and more information about our programs please visit www.theseedfarm.org or call Seed Farm Director Sara Runkel @ 610-391-9583 ex 16.
Posted 6 months, 2 weeks ago at 12:22 pm. Add a comment
Social media have become an exciting way to enhance your farm business’s marketing activities, allowing you, the owner, or manager, to connect directly with your audience. While a social media presence is almost expected of many businesses, many owners struggle with how to use the various tools to connect.
Whether you direct market your farm products and want to quickly and efficiently communicate with your customers or you just want to share your farm’s story with your neighbors and community, social media can serve as a powerful tool. Penn State Extension will be offering a 2-day Social Media Boot Camp for Ag Businesses on December 10 & 11, 2012 in Pittsburgh, PA.
During this 2-day boot camp, we’ll discuss the basics of several tools such as Twitter and Facebook and get you thinking about their strategic use. The first day of the workshop will be spent in a computer lab where you will begin developing your Facebook, Twitter, foursquare, and Yelp pages.
On the second day you will develop social media goals and objectives, a strategy for achieving those, and be introduced to tools for measuring and analyzing your social media impact. You’ll also hear from a farmer on their use of social media tools.
Save these dates – December 10 & 11. You can come for one or both days.
Register Online Today, Space is limited
Posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago at 11:53 am. Add a comment
Thursday, November 15
Please bring a packed lunch. Coffee and light snacks provided.
Cost: Free; $10 suggested donation
Learn how to protect land and water resources from pollution by livestock manure, and develop the required Manure Management Plan for your farm. Instructors from the Allegheny County Conservation District will help you complete your state-mandated Manure Management Plan in this Master Class.
Who should attend? All Pennsylvania livestock farmers, farmers and growers who apply manure of any kind to their land, horse owners, folks making compost, or who have livestock on pasture or in small holdings are encouraged to attend.
Why create a Manure Management Plan? Manure Management Plans help keep our waters free from pollution by ensuring optimal livestock manure management, storage, and application planning. The Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law* requires all farms, regardless of type or size, that apply manure to their fields, have animals that produce manure, or compost manure to have a written Manure Management Plan on site and available should it be requested.
Writing your plan. In this Master Class, work through the Manure Management Manual (provided as part of your registration packet) and through interactive planning sessions, develop a plan that applies to your own situation and farm! While you may not have completely finished your plan during the workshop, you will know what additional information or help you need, where to get that information and help, and how to finish the plan.
Pre-Registration Required: Please Register Here or contact 412-365-2985 or firstname.lastname@example.org
*Note that in accordance with section 5(b)(1) and Section 402 of the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, 35 P.S. Sections 691.5(b)(1); Section 1920-A of the Administrative Code of 1929, 71 P.S. Section 510-20, and 25 Pa. Code Section 91.36(b), every farm in Pennsylvania that land applies manure or agricultural process wastewater (generated on the farm or received from an importer), regardless of size, is required to have and implement a written Manure Management Plan. This includes manure and agricultural process wastewater application by various types of equipment and/or direct application of manure by animals on pastures. In other words, farms that do not mechanically apply manure but which do have pastures or animal concentration areas still need a Manure Management Plan.
Posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago at 2:49 pm. Add a comment
The Carnegie Mellon Environment at CMU collective will be celebrating sustainability on our campus with a few events on October 23- 24. We invite you to join us!
Campus Sustainability and Food Day Celebration, October 23-24
Carnegie Mellon University will celebrate campus sustainability and the movement towards “more healthy, affordable and sustainable food” with events on October 23 and 24. The full lineup of events can be found at Environment at CMU.
The day will culminate with a talk by “Food Sleuth”, Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D entitled “F.A.R.M.: Food, Art, Revolution, Media: Changing the Way We Think to Change the Way We Eat.” .
“Food Day”, created by CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest), is powered by a diverse coalition of food movement leaders, organizations and people from all walks of life. Food Day takes place annually on October 24 to address issues as varied as health and nutrition, hunger, agricultural policy, animal welfare and farm worker justice.
October 24 is also the 10th annual celebration of Campus Sustainability Day, an event created to focus on campus sustainability accomplishments and to create momentum for future efforts towards greening college and University campuses.
Wednesday, October 24, 6:00-7:00pm
Campus Sustainability/Food Day Keynote to be held in the University Center, Rangos 1,2,3. Sustainable Earth, Eco-Reps, Peer Health Advocates and the CMU community garden, with support from University Health Services, University Dining Services, the Steinbrenner Institute and Green Practices, and our community partners including Chatham University, Masters of Food Studies Program and the East End Food Co-Op are proud to present: Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D., “F.A.R.M.: Food, Art, Revolution, Media: Changing the Way We Think to Change the Way We Eat. Exploring the power of images and stories to transform and support healthy food, farmers and communities.”
Media “diets” feed us illusions of “natural,” green,” “sustainable,” and “good” food choices. Yet if our future depends on how we feed ourselves, then we need a set of “media literacy” or critical thinking skills, to navigate and analyze food and agriculture public relations spin and propaganda. Melinda will define “good” food, connect the dots between food, health, agriculture and our environment, and identify the critical questions we need to become “food system literate.” She’ll expose green-washing, reveal the unintended consequences of our food and farming decisions, and explore ways to find and disseminate “food truth” and “think beyond our plates” .
Erika L. Ninos, Environmental Program Coordinator
Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education & Research
Educating at the Interface: NEEP
Carnegie Mellon University
Hamburg Hall 1209
Posted 6 months, 4 weeks ago at 2:20 pm. Add a comment
Allegheny County Cooperative Extension presents :
“Exploring the Small Farm Dream”
Whether your vision includes making goat cheese, selling cut flowers, or growing rare tomato varieties, this course will give you the tools to start making that dream come true. Participants will discuss current opportunities in small-scale agriculture, explore objectives, assess personal and financial resources, conduct preliminary market research, and develop an action plan for pursuing their interests in food and farming. All levels of experience are welcome. If you are thinking about starting a farm, this course is designed for you. This includes people thinking about full-time farming, farming part-time while continuing other employment, changing careers to start a farm, and/or developing an existing but informal farming pastime into a more serious business activity.
What to expect:
- Creative exercise, research and class discussions that will help you assess your skills and resources.
- Interviews with local farm business owners that will assist you in deciding how to carry your dream forward.
- The opportunity to connect with others interested in new farm enterprises.
- Qualified instructors and peer farm entrepreneurs to teach and share ag business experience.
- The Class is $100 per person or $150 per couple.
- Workbook and supplemental materials are included.
- Scholarships available
SCHEDULE Four Wednesday Evenings(All sessions 6 – 8:30 p.m.):
October 10, 2012 Session I: Expressing Farm Dreams and Evaluating Goals
October 17, 2012 Session II: Researching the Landscape
October 24, 2012 Session III: Assessing Resources and Risk
October 31, 2012 Session IV: Decision-Making and Identification of Next Steps
Penn State Extension of Allegheny County
400 North Lexington Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15208
Want to learn more?
For an application or more information contact Heather Mikulas at 312-473-2540 or email@example.com.
There are only a few spots left and classes start soon – so act fast!
Posted 8 months ago at 3:00 pm. Add a comment
Come celebrate the end of the garden season and the Herbal Harvest with the Western Pennsylvania Unit of The Herb Society of America.
Learn tried and true methods as Unit members Ruth Rouleau and Patricia Leiphart discuss techniques for harvesting, preserving and winterizing your herbs. Attendees may then choose from one of two workshops where they will use herbs and spices creatively in cookery and craft projects that will surely delight the senses.
The herbal craft workshop features Andrea Jackson and Peggy Trevanion as they share their knowledge of simple, but effective uses for herbs in the home. Participants will blend their own Lemon Rose Bath Vinegar and Moth Chaser Potpourri Sachets.
If cooking is your interest, Betsy Hollweck and Nancy Hanst have brewed some good ideas for aromatic tea rubs to use on meats, vegetables and tofu. Tidbits of these three foods will be tasted. And participants will get hands-in experience mixing one of the rubs.
Get a head start on your holiday season shopping at the Unit’s Herbal Market where the Rose (2012 Herb of the Year) will be featured in many of the handcrafted items, ornaments, dried herbs, potpourris and much more. There will also be an array of delectable herbal baked goods as well as a used book table featuring gardening and cookbooks.
Choose one of two workshops – Herbal Crafts: Lemon Rose Bath Vinegar and Moth Chaser Potpourri presented by Andrea Jackson and Peggy Trevanion or Aromatic Tea Rubs presented by Nancy Hanst and Betsy Hollweck.
Proceeds from this event will help support Unit educational programs and the herb gardens members maintain at Mellon Park in Shadyside (PA) and at Old Economy Village, in Ambridge (PA).
The Herb Society of America is dedicated to promoting the knowledge, use and delight of herbs through educational programs, research and sharing the experience of its members with the community. Committed to protecting our global environment for the health and well-being of humankind and all growing things, The Society encourages gardeners to practice environmentally sound horticulture and does not advise, recommend or prescribe herbs for medicinal use.
What: Herbes de Pittsburgh XI – Herbal Harvest
Where: Old Economy Village 270 Sixteenth Street Ambridge, PA 15003-2298
When: Saturday, October 27th from 1 – 4 p.m.
Admission is $20.
Space is limited and pre-registration is required to select the workshop you wish to attend. Reservations are recommended no later than October 20th, 2012.
Checks made out to Western PA Unit, HSA may be sent to Margaret Campbell, 1999 Powell Road, Cranberry Township, PA 16066
For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.westernpahsa.org
In addition to being members of the Western Pennsylvania Unit, The Herb Society of America presenters for Herbes de Pittsburgh XI have a vast collective knowledge of all things herbs.
Ruth Rouleau caught the love of plants from her mother. She has been President of Edgewood Garden Club, became a Master Gardener and taught the Master Gardening Course on herbs for 19 years. She credits her love of herbs with being a member of the Western Pennsylvania Unit of The Herb Society of America since 1975. Working in the Unit’s Elizabethan Garden in Mellon Park since 1975 with other members has taught her a great deal about growing, harvesting, and using herbs. Ruth served as Unit Chair for five years. She has enjoyed opportunities for research at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. In 2008 Ruth was honored to receive the Helen de Conway Little Medal of Honor awarded by The Herb Society of America.
Patricia Leiphart has been the museum educator at Old Economy Village until retiring in 2003. A Penn State Master Gardener, Patricia is currently the coordinator for master gardener volunteers at Old Economy Village. The Western PA unit of The Herb Society of America has a Medicinal & Dye Garden at Old Economy Village, and Patricia has been in charge of it for about 10 years. In the herb garden you will find the medicinal and dye plants that the Harmony Society would have used when they lived at Economy (1824-1903). She has been a Western PA unit member of the Herb Society of America since 1995
Nancy Hanst is more cook than gardener, but she loves herbs in both roles. She’s just finishing the fourth year as an instructor in Slow Food Pittsburgh’s “Of Course U Can” series of lessons/workshops .And she freelances as a writer for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and TABLE magazine.
Betsy Hollweck has been working with and selling herbs and spices since 1991. From 2003-2009 she operated a tea store, Marktfrau, in Wexford, where she sold over 140 different loose teas, and a variety of teabags. She spends her time now wholesaling teas, as well as delivering to private customers, and working with Slow Food Pittsburgh. She has been a member of the Western Pa Unit of the Herb Society of America since 2003.
Andrea Jackson is a Master Gardener and nurse and frequently lectures on herbal topics to garden clubs and professional organizations. In addition to being a Western PA Unit member, she is also a member of the Piccadilly Herb club and the American Herbalists Guild.
Peggy Trevanion is a Penn State Master Gardener and retired medical librarian who believes in using what we grow in our gardens. For the past 30 years she has been growing and preserving the harvest of her garden on the edge of North Park – this includes culinary pesto, vinegars, jellies and fragrant potpourris, wreaths, ornaments. She also assists in the design and maintenance of herb gardens in Mellon Park, North Park, and UPMC Passavant. Peggy currently serves as the Chair of the Western Pa Unit HSA and has been a member since 2004.
Posted 8 months ago at 6:07 pm. Add a comment
Join Global Solutions Pittsburgh, local experts, and community members for a panel discussion and Q&A about the global food system, how it operates, who it affects, and the impact of the interconnected system. Global Solutions Pittsburgh is partnering with Marty’s Market – a new, community-minded specialty food market & cafe that celebrates Pittsburgh’s rich cultural & agricultural diversity through food – to present this discussion.
A variety of specific topics will be discussed through the evening including local and regional agriculture, the recent historic drought in America, the effect on development and food aid, the upcoming farm bill vote in the U.S. Congress, as well as positive action steps and local resources for participants to engage in after the discussion.
On the panel for this discussion:
- Johanna Klotz, Marty’s Market
- Miriam Seidel, Chatham University Food Studies Dept.
- Alissa Matthews, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture
- Heather Mikulas, Pittsburgh Food Policy Council
Global Challenges & Local Impacts: Food Systems will take place on September 20th, from 6-8p.m. at Marty’s Market in the Strip, 2305 Smallman St.
For more information and to register please visit: www.bit.ly/GSP-FoodSystems
Posted 8 months ago at 2:07 pm. Add a comment