Author and educator Atina Diffley of Chicago-based Family Farmed will offer the following hands-on workshops on produce safety at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association‘s Common Ground Education Center, 294 Crosby Brook Road in Unity, according to a MOFGA release.

• Food Safety Workshop, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 31 to Feb. 1. Farmers can assess risks to identify potential hazards; discuss all areas of food safety on the farm and ways to implement cost-effective strategies related to food safety; and discuss record-keeping systems that support decision making and maximize profitability while also meeting food safety requirements. Participants receive a food safety plan template and a copy of their choice of the books “Wholesale Success” or “Direct Market Success.”

This workshop may satisfy staff training requirements as described in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, but since no equivalency evaluation process exists yet, it does not currently satisfy supervisor training described in the rule. Registration will cost $30, and space is limited.

This training is funded by USDA Risk Management Education. For more information and to register, visit mofga.org.

• Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 8 (snow date Feb. 15). Maine residents can learn about, share experiences and ask questions about produce safety best practices and key parts of the produce safety rule requirements.

Offered in collaboration with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and AgMatters LLC, this training currently is the only option that satisfies the supervisor training requirement of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. Registration will cost $20 and the registration deadline is Feb. 1.

To register, visit extension.umaine.edu.

• Postharvest Handling is set for March 4 and Pack Shed Design is scheduled for March 5, both workshops will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Day 1 will focus on postharvest handling; the cold chain and efficiency of systems; and quality and safety throughout harvest, cleaning, cooling, packing, storing and transport.

On Day 2 attendees will use their postharvest handout from Day 1 to design a packing house. Participants will receive a copy of “Direct Market Success” or “Wholesale Market Success.”

This training will place farmers in an excellent position to implement efficient post-harvest practices and a food safety plan for their farm. Attend either or both workshops, but registration priority will be given to those attending both.

Registration (includes lunch) will cost $30 for both days or $15 for one day. To register, visit mofga.org. This training was made possible by USDA Risk Management Education funds.

Diffley is an organic farmer, author of the critically acclaimed book “Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works,” and an expert in food safety, marketing and quality of life on the farm. She is renowned for her hands-on training style and capacity to break daunting issues into manageable pieces. She has been a keynote speaker at MOFGA’s Farmer to Farmer Conference, according to the release.

Her trainings make the USDA Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule accessible and actionable for diversified family farmers by exploring risk assessment and record keeping, postharvest handling, and wash and pack shed design.

Farmers who attend the food safety workshop could then attend the February grower training with a strong background and practical understanding of the topic, followed by opportunities in March to apply their understanding at the postharvest handling and the wash and pack shed design workshops.

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, formed in 1971, is the oldest and largest state organic organization in the country.

MOFGA is a broad-based community that educates about and advocates for organic agriculture, illuminating its interdependence with a healthy environment, local food production and thriving communities.

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