With the danger of foodborne illnesses and the potential for litigation, farmers market managers and vendors should pay close attention to State and local health department rules and use some common sense practices.

For the past few years, Virginia Cooperative Extension and VDACS have been cooperatively working to train small farmers in implementing food safety practices on the farm. VDACS provides the audits. These are not mandatory, but make good sense and will help the farmers to market to customers other than farmers markets and local fruit/veggie stands. The training covers agricultural water quality, biological soil amendments (of animal origin), health & hygiene of workers (especially those that are harvesting or physically touching the food), the presence of domestic and wild animals in the growing and packing areas and the sanitation of tools, equipment and buildings used to harvest and store the food.

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