On Dec 19, 2016, the VVBGAs Community Accreditation for Produce Safety (CAPS) Program successfully concluded its first official year! Thanks to all the farmers that helped craft this practical and cost-effective approach to on-farm food safety education and risk reduction. Here are the highlights:
- 61 Farms (90% of original 68) successfully completed CAPS –See list of farms below.
- eBadges (certificates) of the CAPS farms have been posted in personal farms folders. CAPS farms are free to share their personal farm folder urls with anyone they choose.
- As a benefit, the program-exclusive CAPS Share Page allows farmers to learn from each other by perusing produce safety photos and procedures on other farms.
- Hannaford Supermarkets, accepted CAPS instead of USDA GAP for 5 farms this year (a pilot project), and GOOD NEWS—They will accept CAPS from any farm for 2017. But don’t get too excited, yet. Because the Hannaford CAPS requires an additional on-site CAPS verification, we (Extension and VAAFM) are not actually sure how many farms WE can handle! We should know more on this by the annual meeting.
- To maintain CAPS accreditation beyond 2017 (with official certificate) renewing farms will pay the $100 fee** and revise their 2016 CAPS plan by April 1, 2017 (financial aid available as needed, like in 2016). All farms wanting 2017 CAPS will need to meet this April 1 deadline, regardless of their CAPS status or history.
- VVBGA Farms can also use the CAPS platform for free, self-serve. But only farms in the enrolled in CAPS will be reviewed, scored and be eligible for the 2017/18 CAPS certificate. Without renewal, a farms 2016 certificate will automatically expire at the end of 2017.
Below is a list of the 2016 CAPS Farms, and more details:
|Final list of 2016 VVBGA CAPS Farms|
|2||Bella Farm, LLC|
|3||Berry Creek Farm|
|4||Boyd Family Farm|
|5||Burnt Rock Farm|
|7||Cedar Circle Farm|
|9||Clay Brook Farm|
|10||Covered Bridge Berry Patch|
|11||Crandalls Corners Farm|
|13||Deep Meadow Farm|
|15||Dutton Berry Farm|
|16||Eastview Farm LLC|
|18||Foggy Meadow Produce|
|19||Foote Brook Farm|
|22||Harvest hill farm|
|23||Heron Pond Farm|
|24||High Meadows farm|
|25||Intervale Community Farm|
|26||Jericho Settlers Farm, Inc.|
|27||Joe’s Brook Farm|
|28||Lester Farm & Market|
|29||Lewis Creek Farm|
|30||Luna Bleu Farm|
|31||Maple Star Farm|
|32||Maple Wind Farm|
|34||Mighty Food Farm|
|35||New Leaf CSA|
|36||Newfield Herb Farm|
|37||Old Athens Farm|
|40||Red Sky Farm, LLC|
|41||Red Wagon Plants|
|42||River Berry Farm|
|43||Rockville Market Farm|
|44||Root 5 Farm|
|45||Roots Too Farm|
|46||Screamin’ Ridge Farm, Inc|
|47||Shadow Creek Farm|
|48||Shelburne farms market garden|
|49||Singing Cedars Farmstead|
|50||Spring Ledge Farm|
|51||Stout Oak Farm|
|53||The Last Resort Farm|
|54||The Tutorial Center’s YAP Farm|
|55||Trillium Hill Farm|
|56||True Love Farm|
|57||University of Vermont Catamount Farm|
|58||Vermont Cranberry Company|
|60||Willow Brook Farm|
|61||Wood’s Market Garden|
Want to know more?….
- Early in 2016 a total of 85 farms created individual farm folders in the CAPS on-line platform and used the system to write produce safety plans.
- By the end of May, 68 farms took the next step and paid a $100 fee to participate in the CAPS accreditation process. These farms reported having 1,304 acres in crop production plus 715,442 square feet in greenhouse crop production. Based on 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture data for field vegetables and greenhouse tomatoes in Vermont, these farms have annual produce sales of $12.44 million.
- The 17 farms that used the CAPS platform only to write produce safety plans, without seeking accreditation, did not have to pay a fee. All VVBGA member farms were offered scholarships to overcome financial barriers to participation in CAPS, and 5 farms paid a reduced fee of $50.
- All required documentation was due from farms by the first of November; 64 of the 68 farms met this deadline. Two farms dropped out in July and two in November, for personal reasons.
- Teams of two reviewers then scored each of the 64 on-line farm folders for completeness, using pass/fail for each required section, with comments required when a failing grade was given. There were 12 reviewers including the CAPS coordinator; 7 reviewers were farmers from the CAPS advisory board and 5 were service providers (3 from Extension and 2 from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.)
- Forty farms submitted complete documentation by the Nov. 1 deadline, with no changes needed. Reviewers found corrections or additions needed by 23 other farms. Most were minor issues, such as a missing photo or lack of detail in a description of a standard operating procedure. Two farms submitted little documentation and did not end up earning accreditation. Farms had until Dec. 19 to complete or correct their farm folders.
- A total of 61 farms ended up earning CAPS accreditation, out of the 68 farms that enrolled initially (90%). Accreditation is signified by receipt of a CAPS e-badge. This can be used on farm marketing materials through 2017. Farms must complete the process each year to maintain accreditation, though plans will ‘roll over’ so it will be easy to make minor changes as needed.