FamilyFarmed is a non-profit organization committed to expanding the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food, in order to enhance the social, economic, and environmental health of our communities.
We also give school garden operators the tools they need to minimize food safety risks in their gardens so they can serve garden-grown produce in school cafeterias!
FamilyFarmed’s On-Farm Food Safety Project gives small to mid-acreage fruit and vegetable farmers the tools to comply with best practices in food safety. Growers have access to a free easy-to-use online tool — developed in partnership with the USDA, FDA, and a wide range of national partners — that guides them through the steps necessary to create a personalized food safety plan.
By implementing their plan, farmers have the foundation in place to get GAP-certified, a key requirement of most wholesale buyers. This tool is available in English and Spanish at onfarmfoodsafety.org. The website is undergoing a major technological update that will include information to help farmers conform with the requirements of recently implemented regulations under the federal Food Safety Modernization Act.
Whole Foods Market is recommending the tool to farmers as a free and easy way to comply with its base standard, and they are hosting a series of trainings with FamilyFarmed to help their growers learn about best practices in food safety. Hundreds of small farmers have used the tool to create a customized food safety plan, and many of these have gone on to become food safety-certified.
Many foodservice companies are reluctant to serve garden produce in cafeterias because of food safety concerns, despite the obvious benefits of having children grow edible organic gardens. This hinders the process of incorporating school garden education into the general curriculum, and makes it harder for students to make the necessary connections between growing and eating healthy food.
To solve this issue, FamilyFarmed created Eat What You Grow! A School Garden Food Safety Manual for Chicago Public Schools, allowing school garden operators to put in place protocols to minimize food safety risks. This resource was completed in partnership with Chicago Public Schools and implemented in pilot school gardens.
The manual contains information, step-by-step instructions, and record-keeping materials to allow school garden operators to make sure their produce meets high food safety standards. This manual will allow gardening, nutrition, food safety, and health to become fully integrated parts of the Chicago Public Schools curriculum. As a result of the project, CPS garden-grown produce has been served in school meals for the very first time!
“USDA believes that a strong farm safety net – including effective, market-based risk solutions for producers of all variety and size – is crucial to sustain the vitality of American agriculture. Effectively managing risk is important to all producers, and having an acceptable food safety program is in the best interest of consumers, buyers, and the farmers themselves. USDA is proud to have worked with private, public, and nonprofit partners to introduce this free tool to farmers seeking to gain certification as a Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) producer.”– Kathleen Merrigan; Former USDA Deputy Secretary
“I would like to thank the On-Farm Food Safety program. If developing a food safety program were easy, everyone would be doing it, but they’re not. Partly because it [developing a food safety program] is difficult, and partly because it’s expensive. If I can do this, anyone can do this. It’s a Socratic process, and this is, it’s a series of questions that lead to an ultimate conclusion. I was able to fill out the tool in half a day. It’s comprehensive, easy to use, you build it yourself, and you have ownership over your food safety plan. Using this tool has saved my farming operation a large amount of money. It means a lot to us. Thank you.” – Steve Murray; Farmer and Owner, Murray Family Farms