Hey everyone- Maria here in Williamson, WV. It’s hard to put everything that happens in one week here in Williamson into one blog. As I mentioned in the last blog, we are currently hosting an AmeriCorps NCCC team, and a lot has been accomplished both in the office and at the gardens. I have included some pictures to highlight some of the work, but decided to share the take a ways from our most recent workshop.

Last Thursday we held a Food Safety 101 Workshop that catered to our market gardeners. John Porter from WVU Extension traveled to Williamson to host the workshop. Williamson Farmer’s Market will open for its third business year this Saturday. For the last two years it has averaged between 6-8 vendors, which is obviously pretty small. In general, our vendors sold fresh produce, jams, jellies, bread and some plants.

food safety101

This year, our vendors are really trying to branch out and selling things like eggs, non-acidic canned products (we are in the process of getting our community kitchen up and running!). They also want to do food demos, sampling and a juicing bar.

There were a few things in particular that our vendors learned that I wanted to share.

  1. Small egg producers (less than 150 dozen a week) in WV can sell eggs without paying for a permit and after submitting a very simple form. Our vendors have been reluctant to sell eggs because they weren’t really aware of the rules and regulations, and now know that once they are an approved vendor, they simply need to wash, lable and then keep their eggs at the appropriate temperature once at the market in order to sell them.
  2. In order to sell items such as green beans, pickles and other non acified products, the recipe must be approved by the WVDA and the item must be made in a certified kitchen. Additionally, someone that has been to Better Process Control School must be present during the canning process.
  3. In Mingo County, in order to conduct cooking demonstrations the individual must have their food handlers permit and the health department must first approve it. In some situations, we must also obtain a temporary food establishment permit. Once a fruit or vegetable is cut it is no longer considered a “safe” food.
  4. You cannot sell wild mushrooms at the farmers market. We actually had a mushroom workshop last week and some of our growers learned how to inoculate logs with Shittake Mushrooms. While it takes up to 8 months for them to grow, they are interested in selling them next year. We learned that if you are selling mushrooms at the market, if it is inspected by the health department, they have a right to ask where your mushroom spawn came from, so they were advised to have proof on them at all times (just in case!)