The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) awards $60,000 to 13 Vermont produce growers making on-farm improvements that prevent or reduce produce safety risks. VAAFM’s Produce Program issued a third round of Vermont Produce Safety Improvement Grant (VPSIG) funding to help Vermont producers continue to grow food safely, efficiently, and economically.
Grants were awarded through a competitive process in this round to help Vermont produce growers implement on-farm food safety practices, transition to compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule, and meet market demands for on-farm food safety. This grant round was funded by the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the Castanea Foundation.
To date, the Vermont Produce Safety Improvement Grant program has awarded $208,000 in grants to 30 Vermont farms. Each round saw an impressive range of applications and, due to high demand, not everyone who applied was able to receive funding.
“Our farmers are gearing up for the growing season and it starts with going above and beyond produce safety standards. We encourage farms of all sizes to work with our Produce Program team to grow produce safety,” said Vermont Agriculture Secretary, Anson Tebbetts.
Projects granted in the third round include renovations to wash and pack areas, equipment installations and upgrades, improvements to produce cold storage on the farms listed below:
- Evening Song Farm to upgrade existing handwashing equipment and supplies related to harvesting and washing produce, with stainless steel and plastic materials to allow for more effective cleaning and sanitizing. ($4,800)
- Dog River Farm to install a stainless steel AZS Rinse Conveyor for increased cleaning ability and single pass water rinse of vegetables. ($5,000)
- Tamarack Hollow Farm to install fencing to reduce risks of wildlife crop contamination in and around produce fields. ($4,790)
- Full Belly Farm to improve the wash/pack area with equipment that can be cleaned and sanitized, install an employee hand washing station, and purchase labels to accurately track produce when it leaves the farm. ($5,000)
- River Berry Farm to make walk-in cooler and pack house improvements that will improve cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces and reduce associated produce safety risks. ($5,000)
- Old Athens Farm to upgrade the farm’s wash line with a commercial grade stainless spinner and improve draining areas by replacing wood surfaces with stainless steel. ($5,000)
- Newleaf Organics to transform an old dairy barn into a produce wash/pack area with stainless steel food contact surfaces and cleanable walls and floors. ($5,000)
- Johnson Farm to improve the wash/pack space with durable packing, washing, and storage surfaces, cleanable harvest bins, and improved overhead coverage to reduce risks from outdoor elements. ($4,786)
- Luna Bleu Farm to expand and improve the wash/pack and storage areas with easy to clean food contact surfaces and equipment, improved drainage, and to install a knee-pedal operated hand washing sink. ($3,440)
- Jericho Settlers Farm to replace wooden bins with plastic harvest bins that can be cleaned and sanitized. ($5,000)
- Champlain Orchards to install an automated water sanitation system that will enable pH and temperature logging of the water in the apple packing line wash tank to reduce risks of food borne pathogens and improve water quality monitoring. ($5,000)
- Sam Mazza Farms to replace old harvest buckets with new washable buckets. ($2,184)
- Joe's Brook Farm to install a high pressure rinse line in the pack shed to improve produce and container washing procedures and reduce food safety risks. ($5,000)
VAAFM’s Produce Program is committed to assisting produce growers with making produce safety improvements and upgrades to their farm operation focused on food safety and improving the sustainability of their businesses. For more details about the program visit agriculture.vermont.gov/produceprogram.
Growing Produce Safety on Vermont Farms
Funding for this program was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant AM180100XXXXG041. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.
Funding for this press release was made possible, in part, by the Food and Drug Administration through grant PAR-16-137. The views expressed in written materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does any mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organization imply endorsement by the United States Government.
Produce Program Outreach & Education Coordinator