Sarah Lindblom and Josh Reinitz join Dirt Rich to talk about how they’ve been growing food for their communities with food safety in mind–through the pandemic, and always.
Sarah runs Solar Fresh Produce, a three acre 40-member CSA farm outside of Buffalo, Minn. and has a small flock of laying hens. An hour south, Josh has farmed with his family for 12 years on East Henderson Farm. They primarily grow vegetables and also have laying hens. They recently moved from the CSA model to wholesale accounts with restaurants, co-ops, and schools, as well as some agrotourism ventures.
Unsurprisingly, food safety is a cornerstone for successful farms. With more of an eye on health this growing season, farmers have been “bringing their food safety A-game” to ensure that they continue to keep their customers safe. For Josh and Sarah, that has meant maintaining safe COVID habits among themselves, staff, and buyers, as well as adding focus to their usual food safety practices during day-to-day tasks.
And it’s working! As they see sales pick up, they also see the public perception of the health and safety of locally grown foods continuing to trend towards trust in smaller-scale operations. Providing a high-quality and clean-looking product has been valuable in that it catches customers’ attention and opens the door for conversation. Even noting “triple-washed” on salad greens suggests the amount of work that went in before it reached the hands of the eater.
“I can safely say that there’s not a thing I can grow right now that I can’t sell,” says Josh. Sarah sold out of her CSA shares this season sooner than ever before. There’s momentum in buying local, and the two agree that small-scale farmers continuing to prioritize food safety practices will build trust in the broader local foods movement.
Listen in for how they weave food safety into their daily tasks, how their practices are part of wholesale account relationships, and some training resources: