Wholesale Success; This Old Farm Needs More Trained Produce Growers!

USDA Invests in FamilyFarmed.org, This Old Farm, Inc and Purdue Extension to Train More Than 2500 Fruit and Vegetable Growers Nationally in Best Practices in Food Safety, Packing and Postharvest Handling.  This Old Farm is pleased to announce that the Risk Management Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has funded FamilyFarmed.org to expand its farmer training programs in 2013. With these agreements, FamilyFarmed.org will work with local partners, including Purdue Extension and This Old Farm, Inc. to produce twenty-five trainings for small to mid-size growers and teach them best practices in food safety, postharvest handling, and packing produce. More than two thousand five hundred fruit and vegetable farmers from across the country are expected to participate.

“Despite the challenges and setbacks due to extreme weather felt in many parts of the country this year, American agriculture is experiencing its strongest period in history thanks to the dedication and resilience of our farmers and ranchers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Our responsibility at USDA is to sustain and nurture these hard-won gains for all producers. For small and beginning farmers, in particular, risk management often means understanding direct marketing, or food safety standards, or designing tools to meet the scale of their operation and the markets that they serve. Overall, these agreements will provide tools and knowledge for underserved, small, and limited-resource producers to succeed.”

The trainings will take place in fourteen states and provide each grower with a free copy of the third edition of the Wholesale Success: A Farmers Guide to Food Safety, Postharvest Handling, Packing and Selling Produce manual, edited by FamilyFarmed.org President Jim Slama and farmer Atina Diffley. The recently revised, 312 page book is the definitive training source on selling into wholesale markets. It includes topics such as: Calculating Return on Investment; Cleaning, Drying, and Curing Produce; Traceability; Packing Shed Design; and Maintaining the Cold Chain. Wholesale Success builds the capacity of farmers to meet the burgeoning demand for locally/regionally grown fruits and vegetables. Adopting best practices in food safety, postharvest handling, packing, and business management will help farmers be more efficient and profitable. It will also give buyers an incentive to increase their purchases of locally grown food.

“FamilyFarmed.org is grateful for USDA support,” says Jim Slama. “They are a tremendous partner for us and countless other organizations that are working to create new opportunities for family farmers and regional economic development. These grants will help thousands of new farmers tap into the strong demand for local food and ensure that their products meet the standards of wholesale buyers for quality and food safety.” The grants total $605,810 and are to be used over the next year.

As one of the Partner Organizations, This Old Farm will utilize the training to help grow the knowledge base within its alliance of farms.  This Old Farm markets retail and wholesale produce meats and value added goods from an alliance of farms now totaling over 75.  This Old Farm’s Mission is to support the family farm by offering full scale services from processing to marketing and distribution of locally raised, healthful meat, produce, and value added food.  We believe sustainable agriculture needs to take into account both the environment and the true cost of production supporting both the farmer while offering value for the customer.

Our training session will be held April 9th, 2013, through Purdue University Extension Offices.  Atina Diffley will be at the Parke County Extension office in person, but we will utilize Purdue’s technology to make the program available throughout the state at various offices in an effort to reach as many growers as possible.  The time will be from 10-3:30 with a Meet the Buyer lunch break scheduled from 12-1:30.  If you are an extension office wishing to host a meeting please contact Alice Alderson, Parke County Extension at (765) 569 3176.  Steve Engleking out of LaGrange County Extension will work to set the technology portion of your site up.  If you are a grower wishing to attend and receive your free copy of the third edition of the Wholesale Success: A Farmers Guide to Food Safety, Postharvest Handling, Packing and Selling Produce manual please contact Alice Alderson, Parke County Extension at (765) 569-3176 or Jessica Smith, This Old Farm, at (765) 324-2161.