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Personal tools On-Farm Food Safety Project

Last Updated: 22Feb2010

Summary provides technical assistance to small and mid-scale farmers selling into wholesale markets. As a result of this effort, we have identified a need to support these producers in developing on-farm food safety plans, the basic building block of a comprehensive food safety program. The On-farm Food Safety Project is a comprehensive national program that will offer farmers technical assistance through a free online tool they can use to create a food safety plan and training program for their employees. It will also provide farmers with a full set of record keeping tools to document their food safety program. Successful use of this tool will prepare farmers to pursue GAP certification, a process required by increasing numbers of wholesale buyers. With support from the USDA, we plan to launch the website in late 2010 with presentations at a number of the leading farm conferences in conjunction with a national public relations effort. began this project at the urging of many large-scale wholesale buyers interested in procuring more produce from local growers. Working with a core group of partners including Sysco, Chipotle, Compass Group, Wallace Center, Organic Valley, Goodness Greeness, WildFarm Alliance, Community Alliance for Family Farmers, and Earthbound Farm, we have developed an unprecedented team of stakeholders to guide the project’s development. Project advisors include leading farmers, food safety academics, wholesale buyers, USDA representatives, sustainable farming advocates, representatives of vegetable associations, urban agriculture experts, farmers market leaders, consumer advocates, and other industry professionals. Over the next year, we will work with them to develop a long-term vision and program to ensure that a majority of America’s small to mid-sized growers utilize this tool to create a comprehensive food safety program for their farm. As part of this process, we will explore ways to work with county Extension agents, State Departments of Agriculture, NGOs, and the private sector to build a comprehensive farmer support system for on-farm food safety.

Project Synopsis

The primary goal of this project is to educate farmers about on-farm food safety and provide them with an easy-to-use, free tool to help them create their own on-farm food safety plan.  Long term, the overall project goal is to assist a majority of small to mid-scale fruit and vegetable farmers in creating and implementing on-farm food safety plans.  To do this, from October 2009 through June 2011, will:

  • Work with technical advisors to create a process to compile and write the information necessary to create an online tool to allow farmers at no charge, small to mid-scale fruit and vegetable growers can identify their areas of greatest risk and create a corresponding on-farm food safety plan.
  • Launch the Website, including the food safety plan development tool, plus other relevant information on food safety. Growers will also be able to create a customized employee training manual and documentation system using this online tool.
  • In conjunction with a national public relations firm, create and execute a public relations and outreach strategy to publicize the project, Wholesale Success manuals, and the online tool to growers, stakeholders, and national media.
  • Pilot food safety workshops for small to mid-scale fruit and vegetable farmers that train farmers on how to use the Website tool.
  • Work with the USDA, Extension, and multiple State Departments of Agriculture to develop a strategy to nationally roll out workshops in late 2010 and 2011. Part of this strategic planning will include how to conduct outreach to direct- and wholesale-level farmers of all computer literacy levels.


On-Farm Food Safety Project Advisors (* denotes a member of Technical Advisory Committee)

  • Isabel Walls, National Program Leader, Epidemiology of Food Safety National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA*
  • Michelle Smith, Senior Policy Analyst, FDA*
  • Will Daniels, VP of Quality, Food Safety and Organic Integrity, Earthbound Farms*
  • Trevor Suslow, Post Harvest Handling expert, UC-Davis*
  • Bob Whitaker, Chief Science Officer, Produce Marketing Association*
  • David Gombas, Sr. VP Food Safety, United Fresh*
  • Ken Kimes, Farmer, Board Member Community Alliance for Family Farms*
  • Jo Ann Baumgartner, Director, Wild Farm Alliance*
  • Dave Runsten, Policy Director, Community Alliance for Family Farms*
  • Chuck Benbrook, Chief Scientist, The Organic Center*
  • Craig Watson, VP Quality Assurance and Agriculture Sustainability, Sysco
  • Carolyn Brickey, Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Will Allen, farmer and Chief Executive Officer, Growing Power
  • Rick Stone, Corporate Director SAG, Compass Group
  • Heidi Wederquist, Director of Quality Assurance and Food Safety, Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Bob Scaman, President/CEO, Goodness Greeneess
  • David Bruce, Director of Pools, Organic Valley
  • Steve Warshawer, Wallace Center at Winrock International
  • Hilde Steffe, Program Director, Farm Aid
  • Atina Diffley, Farmer, educator, and consultant, Organic FarmingWorks
  • Warren King, President, Wellspring Management
  • JoAnne Berkencamp, Program Director for Local Foods, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  • Chris Blanchard, farmer and Education Director, MOSES
  • Teresa Cuperus, Economic Development Consultant, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
  • Betsy Bihn, National GAPS Program, Cornell University
  • Stacy Miller, Executive Director, Farmers Market Coalition
  • Steve Gilman, Vice President, Northeast Organic Farming Association


About was created to encourage the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food. produces the annual FamilyFarmed EXPO, a trade show, conference, and celebration of local and responsibly produced food attended by over 9,000 in its four-year history. The purpose of the event is to link some of the Midwest’s best local farmers and family-owned producers of food and farm products with the public, trade buyers and leaders in the field to foster relationships that facilitate the growth of local food systems. now works with many of the nation’s largest buyers of local food including Sysco, Compass Group, Chipotle, Whole Foods Market, Sodexo, Aramark, Safeway, and others to connect them with local food sources, just published the national edition of Wholesale Success: A Farmer’s Guide to Selling, Post Harvest Handling, and Packing Produce. The 256 page 4-color manual gives detailed easy-to-read information targeted to a farmer audience on topics such as characteristics of wholesale growers, pricing, building relationships with buyers, and calculating return on investment. In addition, it compiles state of the art information on critical topics such as post harvest handling, packing produce, and food safety, and it presents this information in a very readable and compelling format.  The manual also includes crop profiles with key data on harvesting, cooling, cleaning, storing, transporting and packing the vast majority of fruits and vegetables grown commercially in the US. To produce this guide, assembled a 27-member steering committee and a group of eight authors consisting of farmers, retailers, distributors, academics, and NGO leaders. They helped shape the development of the guide and the companion training program, giving it strong credibility and leading to acceptance with stakeholders.


Contact information

On-Farm Food Safety Project:

Jim Slama
7115 W North Avenue #504
Oak Park, IL  60302

Technical Information on the On-line Tool:

Delia Hollbach

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