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Grants to help Vermont farms improve produce safety

April 3, 2018

Brattleboro Reformer

New Leaf CSA Dummerston and Harlow Farm in Westminster were two of nine recipients of state grants to help them make on-farm improvements to prevent or reduce produce safety risks.

"New Leaf CSA is grateful to the Brattleboro area community for allowing us to thrive for the past 16 years," said Elizabeth Wood. "This grant will help us continue providing our CSA members with the highest quality fresh lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, and many other crops for years to come. An improved produce handling facility will also play an important role as we expand into year-round vegetable production."

According to a press release from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, New Leaf CSA received $9,500 to upgrade the wash-and-pack area of a covered facility, add a cold storage unit, and install stainless steel counters and a sink for produce washing and handling. Harlow Farm received $6,200 to update its root vegetable wash-and-pack line with materials that can be easily cleaned and sanitized.

In total, VAAFM awarded $74,000 to nine Vermont produce growers. This is the second disbursement in response to a high demand by farmers for help in growing food safely, efficiently and economically. Funds were granted on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible farms that grow, harvest, pack or hold "covered produce" as defined by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule. In the first round, eight farms received $74,029 to assist with on-farm food safety improvements. In total, the program has awarded $148,029 to 17 Vermont produce farms. In both rounds, applications exceeded the total available funds within minutes; a total of 44 applicants requested $353,470 in produce safety improvement grant funds.

"Our farms are working hard to go above and beyond produce safety standards. The number of farms seeking funds to implement produce safety practices is truly remarkable. We encourage farmers to work with our Produce Safety Team to learn about additional funding opportunities in the future," said Vermont Agriculture Secretary, Anson Tebbetts.

Other recipients in the second round included Ananda Gardens in Montpelier; Bear Roots Farm in Barre; Chapin Orchard in Essex Junction; Naked Acre Farm in Waterbury Center; Shelburne Orchards; Singing Cedars Farmstead in Orwell; and Red Wagon Plants in Hinesburg.

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 http://agriculture.vermont.gov/produceprogram. More information about New Leaf and how to join for the coming growing season is available at www.NewLeafCSA.com or by calling 802-254-2531.



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