Coming June 2 in Canton: Food safety practices for fruit, vegetable growers
Stark Parks will host a program on food safety practices for fruit and vegetable growers from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 2 at the Exploration Gateway at Sippo Lake Park.
The program will focus on Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPs, for fruit and vegetable production. The park is at 5712 12th St. NW, Canton.
"The Food and Drug Administration will be releasing draft standards for safe production of fruits and vegetables sometime this year, so it's a good time to learn about GAPs," said Ashley Kulhanek of Ohio State University's Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team, which is presenting the program.
Those draft standards are reportedly complete but have been delayed by the federal Office of Management and Budget, Kulhanek said.
Program participants will receive a resource workbook, handouts and a certificate of participation, but Kulhanek said they won't actually become "certified in GAPs" by attending just this program. Certification comes only through the successful completion of a farm audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or an alternative third-party auditing company.
"The program is designed to help growers prepare for an audit or write a food safety plan, but growers need to find out if their customers are asking for education in GAPs only, if they want the full audit, or both," Kulhanek said.
The program will also double as the required yearly attendance in a comprehensive GAPs class for anyone participating in the Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement.
Registration is $10 per person and is sponsored by a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Program. Pre-registration is encouraged, but registration is also available at the door.
To pre-register, a check payable to "OSP" (Office of Sponsored Programs) should be mailed to Eric Barrett, Mahoning County Office, OSU Extension, 490 S. Broad St., Canfield, OH 44406.
For more information, call Barrett, who is an agriculture and natural resources educator, at 330-533-5538.