The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and GROWN Locally have developed a "Grower's Manual" to help local food cooperatives improve their handling practices and meet food safety standards. The 24-page manual can be downloaded from www.leopold.iastate.edu/pubs-and-papers/2011-10-growers-manual.
GROWN Locally, a producer cooperative in northeast Iowa, originally developed the manual to establish standards for pre- and post-harvest handling and meet the specifications of local foodservice establishments. The Leopold Center revised and expanded the manual for other cooperatives to use as a model.
"We have already had some inquiries from producer groups regarding this manual," says Craig Chase, Leopold Center Marketing and Food Systems Initiative leader. "It will allow new groups to adapt this resource to their particular needs rather than create one from scratch."
Can adopt manual's recommendations to help them meet standards
Cooperatives can adopt the recommendations to help them meet voluntary standards set by USDA for Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Handling Practices (GHPs). Farms and facilities that pass a GAP or GHP audit and become certified are recognized for food safety practices that minimize risk.
The Grower's Manual describes requirements for personnel procedures, general handling, cleaning, sanitizing, packaging, labeling and transporting, and offers information for planning a mock recall. It also includes detailed tables that describe how to prepare and package a variety of crops.
Joanna Hamilton, a master's degree candidate at Tufts University and summer intern at the Leopold Center, prepared the manual with assistance from the Leopold Center's Marketing and Food Systems Initiative, GROWN Locally and Iowa State University Extension.
LEOPOLD CENTER LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE
The Leopold Center's website launched in late September 2011 has a new look and features designed to better share what's been learned from the Center's many projects and partnerships.
New to the site is a central location for items that showcase results of Leopold Center-supported research, programs and in-house projects. The site has over 150 "Pubs & Papers" including the Leopold Center's widely-quoted "food miles" reports, directories, guides, extension publications, informative presentations and other materials, all related to Leopold Center-supported work. Users also can find more details about the 453 projects that are part of the Center's long-running competitive grants program. In 2004, user-friendly summaries of the findings from competitive grant projects were added to the website. Competitive grants now can be tracked from when they awarded until their completion.
The website, www.leopold.iastate.edu, takes advantage of new technology that offers consistency, more flexibility in maintenance, and the ability to connect content throughout all parts of the site. Pages within the website also are automatically updated when news releases, publications, photos and the Center's popular "On the Ground" videos are added.
Other new features on the re-vamped Leopold Center website include:
• Cool Tools page, with links to online calculators, directories, planners and other websites that have been developed with Leopold Center support;
• Home page photo featuring a different partner or project every week;
• "Share" buttons that allow users to easily bookmark, email or post links for news items on Facebook or Twitter;
• News feeds that will automatically send subscribers links to all news releases and the Center's monthly and quarterly newsletters.The project began in 2009 under the leadership of then Director Jerry DeWitt, who recognized the value of communication and increased use of the World Wide Web for many different purposes. "This new website is a great tool," DeWitt said. "The value of being able to access what others have learned will help many people go forward with their work."