When you begin to tend and harvest in your school garden, it is vitally important to keep food safety in mind. It is important to be intentional with all aspects of the school garden, from site selection to harvesting techniques, to ensure that students can enjoy the garden safely. In addition, when preparing and storing food, it is necessary to follow proper food handling and sanitation practices in the kitchen and classroom.
Keeping up with regulations to ensure your farm and school garden is using best practices can be daunting. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service provides science-based, on-farm food safety knowledge to fresh fruit and vegetable farmers, packers, regulatory personnel, and others interested in the safety of fresh produce in Arkansas. Learn more about their produce safety courses here.
As part of the Arkansas Farm to School Network Conversations, Julia Fryer with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service led a discussion about food safety in the school garden. She shares about how to keep your school garden safe with clean water, wildlife management, soil amending, harvesting, and more. Also, the United States Department of Agriculture has a great resource, Food Safety Tips for School Gardens, that details safe practices regarding site selection, chemical use, composting practices, and more, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has the Make Food Safety a Priority in Your School Garden resource that includes example food safety checklists and harvest logs. View all the resources below.