GroupGAP Auditor Shadow Training Opportunities 

As producers look to scale up from farmer’s markets and CSAs into intermediary markets such as retail grocery, institutions and restaurants many are running into the same barrier: third-party food safety certification. Increasingly, wholesale and institutional buyers want to see proof that farms are practicing on-farm food safety practices that ensure that the people holding the forks aren’t going to get sick from the food on their plates. But food safety training, implementation and certification can require a considerable input of time, money and effort. What’s a small farmer to do?

In April of 2016 USDA made GroupGAP available to the public. GroupGAP is a collaborative approach to food safety that shares financial and technical resources between a group of producers and a central food hub, cooperative, grower support organization, or other organizing entity. These hubs support farmers by providing grower training, managing the implementation of on-farm food safety SOPs, and receiving training from USDA to become internal auditors.

The credibility of an internal audit is central to the value of GroupGAP, and Wallace Center is working to make more training and professional development opportunities available for food safety professionals that want to build their auditing acumen. This year, Wallace is partnering with ALBA Organics, Michigan GroupGAP Network, and Chesapeake Harvest to bring provide three opportunities food safety auditors to attend and shadow an on-farm GroupGAP internal audit

These one and a half day trainings will consist of on-farm food safety audits, guided by local and national food safety experts, followed by a debriefing session to discuss best practices and lessons learned. Participants will be able to see real-world scenarios requiring problem solving and interpretation, witness the on-farm auditing process, pose questions and learn from peers.

The 2017 workshop schedule will be:

·        May 17 - 18: ALBA Organics - Salinas, California

·        June 5 - 6: Chesapeake Harvest - Rising Sun, Maryland

·        June 22 - 23: Michigan GroupGAP Network - Lansing, Michigan

A limited number of travel scholarships are available to fund travel to and from the workshop sites.

If you are interested in attending, please fill out this google form before April 5. Workshop participation is capped, and only a limited number of scholarships are available, so please take a moment to complete the form if you would like to attend.

In the meantime, please send any questions to Elizabeth.Atwell@winrock.org.

Thanks!

The Wallace Team