; Helping Fruit and Vegetable Producers to Proactively Manage Risk | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Helping Fruit and Vegetable Producers to Proactively Manage Risk

Winifred McGee, Lynn Kime, and Litha Sivanandan


Specialty crop farmers invest years, establishing their orchards, bushes, and brambles, facing the production risk that there will be demand for the apples, cherries, peaches and berries when they are ready for harvest; other producers raise substantial crops of vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, and corn, without guarantee that they will “sell it all.” A common way to deal with this risk is for farmers to add value – making jams and jellies, salsa and relishes. However, this activity introduces market risk, as there are many competitors who also sell “jarred” items, and legal risk, because new food law requires access to commercial kitchens, laboratory testing of products, and “Preventative Controls for Human Foods.” The NE Risk Management Education grant project, “Reducing Marketing, Legal and Production Risk for Specialty Crop Producers by Adding Value,” encourages farmers to consider mitigating the risks described above by beginning to dry (dehydrate) their excess – creating shelf-stable items like dried apples, strawberry fruit leather and zucchini chips. Through hands-on sessions, farmers learn to assess the financial feasibility of dehydrating their “seconds,” as well as given the chance to test out commercial preparation, production and packaging methods that comply with food safety regulations. This presentation will provide an overview of the activities, tools and strategies that Pennsylvania and West Virginia farmers use, to explore commercial drying. Also addressed will be a pilot shared kitchen at the Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center, where “Successful Seconds” enables farmers and culinary students to work side-by-side to commercially dry agricultural excess.