Meeting focuses on safe produce production

A program on preventing microbial contamination on fruit and vegetable farms takes place in northern Ohio on Feb. 20. Hours are 1-4 p.m. at the Homerville Auction, 9430 Spencer Road, in Homerville in Medina County.

Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPS, for fruit and vegetable production are the focus.

“The Food and Drug Administration will be releasing draft standards for safe production of fruits and vegetables later this year,” said Ashley Kulhanek of Ohio State University’s Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team, the program’s sponsor. “So it’s a good time to learn about GAPS.”

Participants will receive a resource workbook, paper handouts and certificate of participation. The program is tailored to members of the Amish and Mennonite communities but is open to the general public as well, whether or not they sell at the Homerville Auction.

Kulhanek said attendees won’t actually become “certified in GAPS” by taking the course. That certification comes only through a farm audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or a third-party company.

“The program can help prepare you for an audit,” she said, “but find out if your customers are asking for education in GAPs or if they actually want an audit certificate, or both.”

No pre-registration is required. Payment is at the door. The cost is $25 per person, payable by cash or check, with checks made out to “OSP.”

The cost to attend is lower than it was for similar programs last year, Kulhanek said, thanks to a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

For more information, call 330-202-3555, ext. 2918.

A similar program is set for Burton in Geauga County on March 30.

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