UNITY, Maine — Well-known author and educator Atina Diffley of Chicago-based Family Farmed will offer three hands-on workshops on produce safety at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s (MOFGA) Common Ground Education Center in Unity.
Diffley is an organic farmer, author of the critically acclaimed book “Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works,” and an expert in food safety, marketing and quality of life on the farm. She is renowned for her hands-on training style and capacity to break daunting issues into manageable pieces. She has been a keynote speaker at MOFGA’s Farmer to Farmer Conference, and MOFGA is grateful for the opportunity to host her in Maine again.
Her trainings make the USDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule accessible and actionable for diversified family farmers by exploring risk assessment and record keeping, postharvest handling, and wash and pack shed design. Farmers who attend the food safety workshop could then attend the February grower training with a strong background and practical understanding of the topic, followed by opportunities in March to apply their understanding at the postharvest handling and the wash and pack shed design workshops.
January 31 to February 1, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Food Safety Workshop. Farmers will assess risks to identify potential hazards; discuss all areas of food safety on the farm and ways to implement cost-effective strategies related to food safety; and discuss record-keeping systems that support decision making and maximize profitability while also meeting food safety requirements. Participants receive a food safety plan template and a copy of their choice of the books “Wholesale Success” or “Direct Market Success.” This workshop may satisfy staff training requirements as described in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, but since no equivalency evaluation process exists yet, it does not currently satisfy supervisor training described in the rule. Registration is $30, and space is limited. This training is funded by USDA Risk Management Education. FMI and to register: http://www.mofga.org/MOFGA-
February 8 (snow date February 15), 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training. Maine residents can learn about, share experiences and ask questions about produce safety best practices and key parts of the produce safety rule requirements. Offered in collaboration with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and AgMatters LLC, this training currently is the only option that satisfies the supervisor training requirement of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. Register ($20) by February 1 at https://extension.umaine.edu/
March 4 (Postharvest Handling) and March 5 (Pack Shed Design), 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Day 1 focuses on postharvest handling; the cold chain and efficiency of systems; and quality and safety throughout harvest, cleaning, cooling, packing, storing and transport. Day 2 attendees will use their postharvest handout from day 1 to design a packing house. Participants receive a copy of “Direct Market Success” or “Wholesale Market Success.” This training will place farmers in an excellent position to implement efficient postharvest practices and a food safety plan for their farm. Attend either or both workshops, but registration priority will be given to those attending both. Registration (includes lunch) is $30 for both days or $15 for one day at http://www.mofga.org/MOFGA-
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA, www.mofga.org), formed in 1971, is the oldest and largest state organic organization in the country. MOFGA is a broad-based community that educates about and advocates for organic agriculture, illuminating its interdependence with a healthy environment, local food production, and thriving communities.
–Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
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