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Purdue Extension: Expert Resources for COVID-19
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From Farm to Table - Enjoy Fresh Produce Safely this Summer

June 4, 2021
Purdue Extension offers this advice about how to enjoy fresh produce while maintaining safety for yo

The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruption to Indiana’s local production cycles that bring food, fiber, flowers and more to our restaurants, farmers’ markets and communities. As more people are vaccinated and restrictions are lifted, Purdue Extension offers this advice about how to enjoy fresh produce while maintaining safety for yourself and your community.

Extension specialists advise that you stay knowledgeable and follow the current Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 guidance along with federal, state and local health guidelines. Everyone who is eligible should receive a COVID-19 vaccine, which has been proven safe and effective. Those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask and social distance. To find a vaccine clinic in Indiana, visit ourshot.in.gov

General Guidelines

Produce growers may have new methods of selling products such as online or in a reduced capacity or they may return to methods used prior to the pandemic. No matter how you decide to purchase or sell products, it is important to follow best practices in food safety and food handling. Standard guidelines for washing produce with clean water before eating still apply. You should also undertake additional measures including:

Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ Markets are a summer tradition for many to get outside, interact with others and purchase fresh produce directly from growers. To minimize the spread of COVID-19, Purdue Extension recommends:

U-Pick / Agritourism Operations

Summer brings many wonderful experiences – including the opportunity for local consumers to pick farm-fresh produce onsite, learn more from local outlets through agritourism and enjoy time outdoors. When visiting a U-Pick or thinking about how to manage your agritourism operation, consider:

On-Farm Pickups or Roadside Stands

On-farm pickups or roadside stands are another great way for consumers to personally choose their produce while enjoying time outdoors. Additional considerations for these methods include:

Community Gardens

Community gardens offer many benefits — gardening knowledge, social bonding and, most importantly, the increased production and consumption of nutritious, fresh and locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Garden management should implement and post the following practices for any garden visitors, volunteers or maintenance groups.

Online Markets

Online sales allow customers to purchase products from their residence. This is a great method for consumers who are concerned about their health and / or looking for more convenient purchasing options for fresh produce.

Growers looking to sell products online can explore the following methods:

Indiana has existing online sales platforms to help you connect with customers, manage orders and coordinate delivery locations.

Market Wagon is an online grocery store/farmers’ market that sells hundreds of locally produced goods from hubs of local producers across the Midwest. You can sign up as a vendor to sell in this space.

Hoosier Harvest Market (HHM) is a farmer-owned online farmer cooperative featuring locally grown and produced goods in central Indiana. Northern or southern Indiana producers may want to contact them to gauge how to start another regional cooperative or coordinate new HHM areas of operation.

Indiana Grown is an Indiana State Department of Agriculture initiative featuring over 1,700 members and 50+ business partners that aims to designate products that were grown in Indiana. You can find Indiana Grown products in grocery stores, farmers’ markets, wineries, breweries and more.

The past year has been challenging for everyone, more so for farmers who have had to contend with not just the pandemic but unpredictable weather patterns and local marketplaces. Now is the time for you to reconnect with your local farmer, wherever you prefer to find them.

 

Authors:

Tamara Benjamin, Assistant Program Leader and Diversified Agriculture Specialist – Purdue Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources

Abby Leeds, Communications Specialist – Agricultural Communications, Purdue University College of Agriculture

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