What is GAP?

Producers in the Upper Peninsula will have two opportunities to learn how they can incorporate Good Agricultural Practices into their farming processes.

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) is a third party auditing program for the fresh produce industry verifying that certain food safety practices are in place on the farm. During the last year, there has been increasing interest among restaurants and institutions to purchase locally. Depending on the circumstance, some of these entities require third party certification of food safety practices on the farm. Some of these practices include ensuring clean harvest equipment, healthy workers and appropriate use of pesticides. Good Agricultural Practices audits are how buyers confirm agrifood safety on the farm. Many small farmers either don’t know a lot about GAP Certification or feel that the program is not designed for or too costly for small farms. Irrespective of size, there are things every grower can do that can enhance the safety and quality of the food they produce, but have little additional cost to the farm.

Upper Peninsula producers can learn more about GAP certification and how small farms can prepare for this at one of two workshops. The program will include a workshop portion in the morning and then an on-farm mock audit in the afternoon. Michigan State University Extension is partnering with the Marquette Food Coop for these workshops which allows for helping to keep the costs for this program to only $10.

Each workshop begins with a classroom session from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Lunch, your own expense, and travel to the farm will take place from 12:30-2 p.m. Then there will be a mock farm audit from 2-4 p.m. The Marquette workshop will start at the Peter White Library Marquette Arts and Culture Center on Wednesday, March 28. The farm mock audit will be at Seeds and Spores Family Farm. Thursday, March 29 the workshop will be in the Sault Sainte Marie, Mich. area with the classroom session in the Bayliss Public Library community room. The farm mock audit location is at Beaver Meadow Creek Farms.

The registration deadline for these workshops is Friday, March 23. Registration for the workshops is available at the Marquette food co-op website. For more information, contact Natasha Lance, Marquette food co-op community liaison, at 906-225-0671 ext. 11 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Michelle Walk, Michigan State University Extension educator, at 906-635-6368 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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