Food Storage Curriculum for Farmers and Processors

2013 Annual Report for ONE13-176

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2013: $14,952.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Christopher Callahan
University of Vermont Extension

Food Storage Curriculum for Farmers and Processors

Summary

A workshop series on food storage was developed and delivered in five locations and one webinar attracting 102 participants. The workshops were full day events (6.5 contact hours) and covered topics including: the growing importance of long-term crop storage, principles of energy and heat transfer, basic heating and refrigeration, construction for utility and efficiency, maintaining temperature, airflow and humidity, biological processes of crops in storage, storage characteristics of various crops, and sizing and design of storage systems. The webinar was a 1 hour condensed version of the workshop. A food storage resources web page has been developed to house references collected and produced during the course of the workshop series (http://blog.uvm.edu/cwcallah/crop-storage-resources/). The project team has collected evaluations and is working to revise the workshop content and delivery process to improve quality and relevance based on the first year participants’ feedback. Participant feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and affirms the demand for this type of workshop and collection of resources. Initial one-on-one consultations and evaluation of student practice has begun in the 2013/2014 storage season and will continue.

Objectives/Performance Targets

– The project team reviewed existing inventory and practices related to food storage and developed core workshop content to address common questions and observed gaps.
– Five workshops were delivered in the in the live classroom setting based on survey feedback requesting this.
– One webinar was delivered with a condensed version of the workshop (1 hour) in collaboration with the UVM Extension New Farmer Program (https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/launch/nativeplayback.jnlp?sid=2009421&psid=2013-10-17.0807.M.56B782F2B88A60A6510288F8AED64A.vcr).
– A crop resource page was developed to house workshop specific content and also resources allowing continued learning and application of knowledge. (http://blog.uvm.edu/cwcallah/crop-storage-resources/)
– Seven producers received direct one-on-one consultation regarding their storage plans in the Fall of 2013 following initial contact at the workshops.Another condensed version of the workshop is scheduled to be part of the 2014 NOFA-VT Winter Conference in February 2014.

Accomplishments/Milestones

Curriculum Development (April 1, 2013 – July 31, 2013) – The course was outlined and module content was built based on existing resources and by developing resources in areas not already addressed. Review of materials was done using the farmer/processor partners on the team. Workbooks and web-resources were be developed and finalized so they remain available following the classroom sessions. A webinar version of the workshop was recorded in the midst of the workshop series.

Year 1 Courses (August 1, 2013 – October 31, 2013) – We enrolled 72 students in the day long workshops and 30 in the webinar for a total of 102 compared to a target of 100 students in the first year at five (5) sites throughout Vermont to ensure relatively easy access to the course for producer and processors. Despite pre-project survey results indicating this was the best time of year for the course, it seems a relatively late growing season and a relatively warm Fall season prevented maximum attendance at the day-long workshops. Winter sessions are being considered. Pre-course surveys took the form of in-situ interview and student sharing at the start of the workshops. Post course surveys were done using email surveys.

Curriculum Refinement (November 1, 2013 – July 31, 2014) – We have reviewed student feedback and are in the process of revising course materials, delivery methods, and scheduling as needed to improve the curriculum for the coming year. Again, team partners will be used to review the revisions and ensure they have improved accuracy, currency, relevance and clarity. We are also receiving inquiries for delivery of the workshop in other areas (outside Vermont) as well as in different forms (shorter version, etc.) and are considering how to best achieve this.

Year 1 Student Practice Evaluation (January 1, 2014 – March 31, 2014) – We have already begun to interact with students regarding their storage practices following the first round of workshops. We have started to assess how the course has impacted their practice. Specific on-farm practices which have high relevance or impact are being documented including video and photography for inclusion in the second year’s course.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Interim student feedback:

“I thought the practice exercises in small groups were a huge practical piece of the program. It allowed us to understand how to use the tools you gave us. This was one of the best workshops I have been to and found the material to be current and applicable. ….” – Student, Shelburne, VT 2013

“Since I am very new to all this it was very valuable to me. I use part of a cooler at a neighboring farm and was able to share all the info with them. There was so much I did not know about storage!” – Student, Shelburne, VT 2013

“Great assessment tool. Looking into what we have, and planning for future growth of farm.” – Student, Shelburne, VT 2013

“I plan to pay more attention to relative humidity monitoring and to calculate the load we’re putting in our cooler at one time.” – Student, Shelburne, VT 2013

“The pre-cooler is a new idea that we will implement. We’ve also learned separation of apple varieties in the cooler is crucial for our storage. The hand outs are very much appreciated and are great for quick reference.” – Student, Shelburne, VT 2013

“The information provided gave me a deeper understanding of current technology options and principles of food storage. My focus has been more on energy generation in the past, so this was helpful in balancing and broadening my perspective.” – Student – St. Johnsbury, VT 2013

“We are building a new storage facility with many different conditions and all the info I learned will be very useful, particularly handbook 66, and figuring out what goes together, as well as the info given on refrigeration and humidification options.” – Student, White River Junction, VT 2013

Collaborators:

Andrew Knafel

andrew@clearbrookfarm.com
Farmer
Clear Brook Farm
47 Hidden Valley Rd
Shaftsbury, VT 05262
Office Phone: 8024424273
Website: www.clearbrookfarm.com
David Marchant

riverberryfarm@comcast.net
Farmer
River Berry Farm
191 Goose Pond Road
Fairfax , VT 05454
Office Phone: 8028496853
Robin Morris

admin@madriverfoodhub.com
Owner/Manager
Mad River Food Hub
151-1 Mad River Canoe Road
Waitsfield, VT 05673
Office Phone: 8024987379
Website: www.madriverfoodhub.com
Jon Satz

woodsmarketgarden@msn.com
Farmer
Wood’s Market Garden
93 Wood Lane
Brandon, VT 05733
Office Phone: 8022476630
Website: www.woodsmarketgarden.com