Field Day offers safety tips for produce growers

by | Sep 24, 2023

North Carolina produce growers looking for information on produce safety regulations and tips on how to follow those regulations, will benefit from an upcoming Produce Safety Field Day. The N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Tack Force is hosting the field day in Salisbury on Tuesday, Sept. 26. The Produce Safety Program within the N.C. Department of Agriculture is an active member of the task force and employees have helped plan the day.

“It’s a great way to learn more about produce safety and observe demonstrations and engage with produce safety experts,” said Sarah Cope, the outreach coordinator for the NCDA&CS Produce Safety Program.

The field day will cover regulations specifically in the Produce Safety Rule. Some farms are required to follow mandates in that rule, while others are eligible for exemptions. The field day will help growers understand where they stand in regards to the rule, but regardless, the information and tips will apply to any grower.

“Either way, we encourage everyone growing produce to do so as safely as possible to try to prevent any foodborne illness pathogen contamination,” Cope said. “Whether they have to follow the rule or just want to be as safe as possible, anyone growing produce in the state of North Carolina, on any size farm or even in a personal garden, is welcome to attend,” Cope said. “We also welcome anyone who works with produce growers and would like to learn more about produce safety.”

The video below shows a few images from previous Produce Safety Field Days.

2023 Produce Safety Field Day
Date: Tuesday, Sept. 26
Time: 1-5 p.m.
Location: NCDA&CS Piedmont Research Station, 8350 Sherrills Ford Rd., Salisbury, NC
Register to attend at:
[$5 to register. An optional dinner at 5 p.m. has reached capacity, and registration for the dinner is no longer available.]

“The topics for the Field Day presentations come from the results of a survey that the task force sent out to a wide variety of produce growers in North Carolina,” Cope said. “So hopefully there will be some information relevant to everyone in attendance.”

The field day will include a shuttle around the research station to cover various topics including:
⦁ Conducting water source risk assessments
⦁ Analyzing safe harvest practices
⦁ Reviewing harvest and post-harvest water requirements
⦁ Conducting wild animal risk assessments
⦁ Observing cleaning and sanitation practices
⦁ Discussing information surrounding safely applying and storing soil amendments
Many of the presenters will have resources and information that they will share with attendee to help them continue learning after the Field Day has concluded. Additionally, there will be a wide array of exhibitors to mingle with throughout the Produce Safety Field Day. Breaks will allow time for water and snacks also.

“It’s important for produce growers to stay up to date so they can focus on preventing the spread of foodborne-illness-causing pathogens in fresh fruit and vegetable production,” Cope said. “With education and training for produce growers, harvesters and packers, we can provide these folks with the knowledge and skills they need to provide fruit and vegetable consumers with safe, delicious, local North Carolina grown produce.”

Interested produce growers who can’t attend the field day can do any of the following to learn more about Produce Safety Rule guidelines:
a. Reach out to the Produce Safety Program within NCDA&CS:
b. Reach out to the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Team through N.C. State Extension:
c. Attend a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course hosted by N.C. State Extension and NCDA&CS. When these are scheduled, they are advertised on the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Website:
d. Request an On-Farm Readiness Review or Educational Farm Visit conducted by N.C. State Extension and NCDA&CS. Call or email Sarah Cope, Produce Safety Program Outreach Coordinator, 919-219-4716 or
e. Attend a N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Task Force Meeting the second Thursday of every month at 9 a.m., to hear from a variety of produce safety educators and industry supporters regarding current events and research.