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Small Farms

Fruit and vegetable updates for local producers

Illinois GAPs Audit Cost-share given to Montalbano Farms


Becoming Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Certified is a step being taken by many Illinois growers. Montalbano Farms is the first Illinois Farm to receive a GAPs Audit Cost-shareTo assist others in understanding the steps to GAPs certification, Rob and Christina will be opening their farm for a tour and to share their experiences in writing a Food Safety Plan and seeking a 3rd party audit on December 3 from 10am to noon. Ellen Phillips and James Theuri, Local food systems and small farm educators will share about GAPs and the Audit cost share opportunities.

talbano Farms

Montalbano Farms is a small farm producing an amazing variety of fresh, locally grown produce for the Chicago land area. www.montalbanofarms.com Farmers Rob and Christina grow over 12 acres of specialty vegetables, fruit, and herbs on family land in Sandwich, Illinois. They have a CSA, sell at farmers markets as well as direct sales. "We decided to write a food safety plan when we started reading the food safety plans of some other farms. We realized that we were following a lot of similar practices. We wanted to be able to tell our customers how we handle their food to ensure that they are receiving a safe product. " said Christina.

 They attended a University of Illinois Extension GAPs training and began writing their farms Food Safety Plan (FSP), seeking help from university educators. James Theuri and Ellen Phillips visited the farm in August to conduct a mock audit. They toured the production fields and packing house with Christina while reviewing their FSP.

 "We decided to get an audit to prove to our customers that we have Good Agricultural Practices. A third party has been to our farm and verified that we are following our food safety plan. One of our goals this year was to sell more produce through wholesale distribution. Many distributors require an audit," shared Christina. In September, a USDA inspector visited their farm and Montalbano Farms became GAPs certified.

 Although GAPs audits can be expensive, farms are finding it beneficial in opening up new markets. "Our hope is that the GAP certification will help to open more wholesale opportunities for our farm. The cost-share benefit allowed us to see if the certification is worth-while by making it much more affordable, " said Christina.

There is no registration fee for this farm tour but you are asked to pre-register by Wednesday, December 2, 2013. For more information or to register please call University of Illinois Extension,Cook County at 708-449-4320 or visit us online at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cook/


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