This blog was written by Connie Fisk, Ph.D. and was originally published on her blog, “Food Adventures with Connie“.* Fisk traveled to Washington State with the National Young Farmers Coalition as a part of a series of food safety workshops and trainings. She shares her experience with travel, food and and food safety education for farmers below.

The National Young Farmers Coalition and Tilth Alliance are active partners and subrecipients of the Local Food Safety Collaborative (LFSC). The educational activities mentioned in this blog were partially funded by LFSC.

For those who don’t know, I am the Northwest Regional Extension Associate for the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA). I teach produce growers about Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and teach trainers how to present the PSA Grower Training curriculum on those topics. I am also trained to provide On-Farm Readiness Reviews (OFRR), a program of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture to give produce growers an individualized on-farm walk-through and discussion of Produce Safety Rule requirements in preparation for a Produce Safety Rule inspection from the FDA or the state’s department of agriculture (inspections start in 2019 for covered farms selling >$500,000 of produce annually).

Last week I had the opportunity to travel across the state of Washington with Cara Fraver and Maggie Kaiser of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) delivering the PSA Grower Training Course and participating in on-farm discussions about Produce Safety Rule requirements (similar to, but less formal than, an OFRR). Along the way I met some great people and ate some great food. This is a photo summary of that adventure.

Day 1

Big Sage Organics tour and produce safety conversation: they grow and sell certified organic produce in Washington State’s Columbia Basin and the greater Pacific Northwest.

The Produce Safety Rule allows growers to use surface water, but, as with GAPs certification, in the future it will need to be tested for generic E. coli and how and when it is used may need to change depending on those test results.

Day 2

PSA Grower Training in Spokane with Anna Kestell of Washington State University – Spokane County Extension. Here Maggie is getting attendees to practice handwashing for 20 seconds.

We made a quick stop at Palouse Falls State Park as we drove to Walla Walla.

Day 3

PSA Grower Training in Walla Walla. I didn’t get any pictures from our packed training room, but look at the great training weather we had (it was raining, so growers couldn’t be in the field anyway 😉).

Hands down the best training lunch I’ve ever had – local, colorful, and delicious!

Hayshaker Farm tour and produce safety conversation: as their website states, it is “8 acres of vegetables, fruit and herbs, powered by a few horses and some humans.”

Day 4

Welcome Table Farm tour and produce safety conversation: their commitment to food safety was apparent and we enjoyed hearing the details of their farm’s policies for producing certified organic fresh food and fine flowers from the owners and their knowledgeable workers.

After the farm visit we drove to the Olympic Peninsula!

We stayed at an Airbnb in Nordland. Check out this panoramic view!

Day 5

PSA Grower Training in Port Hadlock with Erin Murphy of Tilth Alliance and Karen Ullman of Washington State Department of Agriculture. Again, I failed to get a decent picture of our packed training room, but here are some sights from Port Townsend that evening.

Day 6

I slowly made my way to the airport: enjoyed some tide pooling before leaving the Airbnb, participated in two conference calls around more sightseeing in Port Townsend, rode the ferry to Seattle, and wrapped it all up with dinner at the Walrus and the Carpenter.

That was my first time eating a raw oyster!

I suck at taking selfies, but here I am with Maggie and Cara right before they dropped me off at the airport. I’m glad I had the opportunity to hang out and get to know them this week.

Thank you to the Washington Young Farmers Coalition for their hospitality, lining up training locations, great local food, and farms willing to host the on-farm discussions with trainers and course attendees (and thank you to their member farm owners and workers for participating!). To connect with a state chapter near you, visit NYFC’s Chapters webpage.

Find a PSA Grower Training Course near you by visiting PSA’s Upcoming Grower Trainings webpage.

*Connie Fisk, Ph.D., is the Northwest Regional Extension Associate for the Produce Safety Alliance and a blogger whose work can be found at Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Produce Safety Alliance or the complete requirements of the Produce Safety Rule.