Campus News

New Partnership Aimed at Growing Kentucky's Specialty Crop Sector

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 26, 2017) — The Food Connection at the University of Kentucky recently announced a new program, Cultivate Kentucky Partnership, that will engage in education and outreach to specialty crop producers across the state about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and related on-farm food safety issues.

Funded in part by UK Dining, the Kentucky Horticultural Council and a United States Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture Food Safety Outreach Program grant, the Cultivate Kentucky Partnership (CKYP) serves small and mid-sized specialty crop producers across the Commonwealth. CKYP will develop an innovative network of food safety technical assistance and education that will increase adoption of on-farm food safety practices — thus increasing FSMA compliance by small and mid-sized farmers — and grow the specialty crop and local food economy in Kentucky.

CKYP provides approachable and understandable food safety education tools that support and encourage growers while mitigating against fear or intimidation related to food safety regulation and implementation.

Building upon pilot efforts, the CKYP will:

  • provide tools to facilitate farmer understanding of how FSMA and key food safety principles and practices apply to their farm enterprise;
  • develop technical assistance materials and trainings focused on on-farm water safety; and
  • develop culturally appropriate technical assistance and education for plain community growers (e.g. Amish, Mennonite).

Through the project, partners will develop classroom trainings and field days to emphasize farmer-driven food safety solutions, as well as multimedia educational materials that address key foundational food safety issues as well as farm and crop type specific considerations.

Additionally, by placing specific attention on the needs of plain community growers, partners address an overlooked sector of the farm community that is also a significant supplier to the local specialty crop market. These resources will assist farmers, extension, other educators and key government and nongovernmental stakeholders in developing knowledge, skills and support systems for on-farm food safety in Kentucky.

With ready access to this food safety support system, growers can be confident in continuing to develop their specialty crop enterprise, and ensure a safe supply of specialty crops to growing markets.

“The Cultivate Kentucky Partnership is a great example of how public-private partnerships can support innovative and timely solutions to growing our local food system,” said Lilian Brislen, executive director of The Food Connection. “The Food Safety Outreach Program grant will allow us to expand the partnership’s important work ensuring that our Kentucky growers are ready and able to take advantage of expanding market opportunities for local food across the Commonwealth.”