GAP Sessions for fruit and vegetable production

WOOSTER, Ohio -- A program on preventing microbial contamination on fruit and vegetable farms takes place in north-central Ohio on April 27. Hours are 1-4 p.m. in Fisher Auditorium at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster.

Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPS, for fruit and vegetable production are the focus.

"The Food and Drug Administration will be releasing draft standards for safe production of fruits and vegetables later this year," said Ashley Kulhanek of Ohio State University's Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team, the program's sponsor. "So it's a good time to learn about GAPS."

Participants will receive a resource workbook, paper handouts and a certificate of participation.

But Kulhanek said attendees won't actually become certified in GAPS by taking the course. That certification comes only through a farm audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or a third-party company.

"The program can help prepare you for an audit," she said, "but find out if your customers are asking for education in GAPs or if they actually want an audit certificate, or both."

Call 330-202-3555, ext. 2918, or e-mail to reserve a seat.

Registration is $25 per person at the door, payable by cash or check, with checks made out to "OSP."

The registration cost is lower than it was for similar programs last year, Kulhanek said, thanks to a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

For more information, call 330-202-3555, ext. 2918.

The program will also be offered Feb. 20 in Medina County, March 20 in Clayton, March 30 in Geauga County, April 11 in Piketon, April 12 in Morgan County and April 17 in Knox County.

OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and is the largest university agricultural biosciences research center in the U.S.