Building Capacity via Peer-to-Peer Food Safety Education with Hmong-American Fruit and Vegetable Farmers

Project Overview

ONC16-016
Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2016: $29,897.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2017
Grant Recipient: University of Minnesota
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:

Annual Reports

Information Products

Commodities

  • Vegetables: broccoli, cucurbits, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes

Practices

  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, local and regional food systems, partnerships

    Abstract:

    This goal of this project was to work in collaboration with Hmong farmers in the North Central region to pilot an innovative train-the-trainer model of engagement to build capacity around on-farm food safety or GAPs. While many farmers sell vegetables at farmers’ markets, these markets are becoming more saturated and many farmers seek to enter new wholesale markets. These markets often require food safety training, audits or a written food safety plan. Some of these concepts or requirements are new to many Hmong farmers, and a peer-to-peer educational model is an effective way to provide this information. 

    This project sought to work with a small group of Hmong farmers to provide in-depth education around farm food safety principals, help them implement these evidence-based food safety practices on their farm and then provide a platform to share these ideas with peers. As a result, farmers will have more confidence and understanding about farm food safety concepts, will have practice acting as leaders in their community, and will access new markets and improved farm profitability as they adopt GAPs principals.

    A Hmong farmer advisory board of farmers lead activities, planning, and deliverables of this project. Farmers received stipends for their participation in the advisory board, and to attend field days and educational opportunities throughout the project, building capacity and leadership skills. 

    In year 1, the advisory board identified topics for deeper education needed by farmers relating to food safety, as well as the best methods to give that information. Hmong American Partnership was a key partner, and identified the farmers and workshop ideas along with the advisory board. It was determined that basic handwashing, vegetable washing techniques, and cleaning and sanitizing routines were all key concepts that we would focus on through workshops and outreach. A goal was to have some farmers begin to develop a farm food safety plan in addition. In year 2, Hmong farmers trained in year 1 took on more responsibility and would begin leading workshops, field days and education to their peer and community.  

    4 Hmong language videos were also created on food safety concepts, with Hmong actors. This was in conjunction with another project that involved WI, so 2 of the videos were shot with Hmong actors in WI but dubbed with Hmong language by MN Hmong actors as a part of their work for this project. 

    As a result of the workshops, attendance at field days, leading workshops and presentations, and taking part in the videos, the Hmong farmer participants reported that they were much more comfortable with food safety concepts and practices on the farm. 2 started, and 1 finished a food safety plan, which is a good outcome. 2 built a handwashing stand on the farm. 

    Project objectives:

    Year 1:

    • Project team (UMN and HAP) meet with Hmong farmer leaders to develop project goals and outcomes
    • Project team hosts 3 food safety workshops with 3 Hmong farm leader families focusing on specific food safety topics, to be determined in conjunction with farmers, to be held in classroom and on farm.
    • Project team works closely with Hmong farmer leaders to answer their GAPs questions and help them develop their own farm GAPs food safety plan
    • Hmong farmer leader attend field days, conferences and workshops across Minnesota, enhancing farming skills, knowledge and leadership capacity of farmer leaders.

    Year 2

    • Hmong leader farmers use the curriculum developed in year one to provide food safety information and assistance via at least 2 on-farm field days, farm visits, on-farm workshops and other culturally appropriate methods as determined by the leaders. Hmong farmers lead recruitment, content development and workshop design ideas with guidance and input as needed from project team.
    • Project team and Hmong farmers work together to produce 4 Hmong-language videos on food safety topics
    • Presentation at Emerging Farmers Conference by project team and Hmong leader farmers  (Feb 2018)
    • Presentation at MOSES Organic Conference (Feb 2018)
    • Project team shares training curriculum and train the trainer best practices with Extension and other agricultural non-profits in the region and nationally via conferences, website, press release and partners
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.