Mock farm food safety audits to rehearse good agricultural practices

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State Extension and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will host three Mock Farm Food Safety Audits this summer to promote the safety of fresh produce.

These events, to be held on working farms, are designed to help small-scale produce growers gain a better understanding of what to expect from a third-party audit of Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPs, according to Luke LaBorde, professor of food science in the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.

The first event will be held in Berks County; the next two will be held in Lancaster County.

"Participants will experience a walk-through tour with a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture inspector to review the types of things an auditor looks for," said LaBorde. "The tour will examine several areas: documentation, water sources, employee policies, behaviors and conditions that increase contamination risks, use and storage of chemicals, and harvest operations."

The Berks County event also will include a no-till vegetable production field walk to review a tomato trial in partnership with Rodale Institute. The trial has been set up to study the viability and implementation of no-till, vegetable-production systems.

The field walk will showcase new rolled cover crop vegetable-production techniques being evaluated. They can be viewed side-by-side with black plastic production at this and other regional farms.

"This is an opportunity to learn from one another as we explore ways to improve food production and safety at the farm level," LaBorde said.

A question-and-answer session follows each workshop, along with a light snack.

Information about the sessions follows:

Berks County

-- 6-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug.10, at Weaver's Meadow View Farm, 371 Bowers Road, Kutztown.

Lancaster County

-- 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at the Nelson Nolt Farm, 35 Brethren Church Road,

-- 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Moses B. Sensenig Farm, 1255 Weaverland Road, East Earl.

For more information, visit the Web at or contact Peggy Fogarty-Harnish in the Lancaster County office of Penn State Extension at 717-394-6851 or by email at

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Last Updated August 10, 2012