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Back to News Release ArchiveJuly 20, 2011
AMES, Iowa – The Fruit and Vegetable Working Group, a community of practice within the Value Chain Partnerships program, has developed a new online tool to help vegetable growers construct efficient wash stations. The detailed designs, based on wash stations used at One Step at a Time Gardens near Kanawha, offer a low-cost option for small farmers to improve the safety and quality of their produce.
Tim Landgraf and Jan Libbey, owners of One Step at a Time Gardens, recently hosted a field day to show how they use an open-air packing and processing system to prepare produce for their 128-member Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) enterprise. A simple system of sinks and drying stations beneath an overhead roof allows them to process eight acres of vegetables for sale.
Tim Landgraf developed design plans to help other vegetable growers build this system, with illustrations by Andrew Landgraf of GenX7 Design. Food safety precautions are built into the design, such as separate sinks for hand washing and vegetable washing. Materials to build the open-air wash station can be purchased for a little under $1,000.
The document also presents design plans for a second, upgraded wash station enclosed in a commercially available hoophouse with a poured cement floor. The hoophouse design offers higher throughputs of vegetables and, if heated, allows a longer season of operation. However, it requires more labor and skill to construct, and materials cost roughly $20,000.
Detailed instructions, material lists and 3-D drawings for both wash stations are available on the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s website at www.leopold.iastate.edu/cool_tools/wash_stations.
The Fruit and Vegetable Working group, which began in 2007, also funded another web-based tool to help producers address growing interest in food safety. The Post-Harvest Handling Decision Tool offers information to help producers with food-handling decisions for all types of vegetable crops. It was developed by Chris Blanchard, who operates a successful produce farm near Decorah. The tool is available at www.leopold.iastate.edu/cool_tools/post_harvest_handling_decision_tool
Craig Chase, Marketing Initiative, (319) 238-2997 firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Miller, Communications, (515) 294-5272, email@example.com
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