By Kira Zimmerman, National Farmers Union Intern
National Farmers Union and the Local Food Safety Collaborative are working with family farmers across the country to help keep our food safe. In our “From the Farm” blog series, we’re bringing you food safety stories, opinions, and lessons learned from family farmers across the country!
Meet farmer Sean Pessarra who specializes in natural beekeeping and raw honey and honeycomb production as an Organic Farm Consultant for Heifer International – USA in Perryville, Arkansas. Heifer International is dedicated to promoting food security and nutrition across the world. Heifer Ranch offers activities and programs for folks to learn more about agriculture and how food is produced.
We asked Sean a few questions about how Heifer Ranch considers food safety in its daily operations.
Q: What kind of operation do you have and how long have you been farming?
A: I have been managing the farm at Heifer Ranch for a year and a half now. We have four certified organic acres in mixed specialty crops. We are in Zone 7 in Central Arkansas and utilize season extension to produce crops year-round.
Q: Why do you take food safety seriously on your farm?
A: We not only want to offer a safe and high-quality product to our customers, but we also want to be a resource to train other farmers in the south about farm food safety.
Heifer Ranch provides daily tours and programs for visitors. You can schedule a visit or learn more at www.heifer.org
Q: What has been your greatest obstacle in improving food safety on your farm and how have you overcome it?
A: Because Heifer Ranch is a nonprofit educational center, we have had to figure out creative ways to reduce contact between people, animals and plants without compromising the impact of our educational programming. An additional challenge has been all the record keeping. To help ensure we are consistent with our records, I’ve hung up all of our logs at eye level next to whatever tool, system or piece of infrastructure we are to record data on.
Q: What has been the most positive thing about improving food safety on your farm?
A: It has made me a better farmer and I am thinking about systems and efficiencies more. I am more conscientious of how food and people move through the farm. Also, with GAP and our Food Manufacturing Permit we will be able to access new intermediated markets.
We’d like to thank Mr. Pessarra and Heifer Ranch for sharing their food safety commitment with us!
“Bee” sure to follow Sean @mindful_honey on Instagram