Farm Safety – National and Local Resources

The issue of health and safety on farms and agricultural businesses is one where many farmers and operatives often need to seek help.

This can apply to practical issues, local or national legislation, as well as immediate emergencies. Running a farm or related industry can be quite an isolated business, and it is important that whoever is running it is aware of the help that is available, and makes use of the wide resources available, both in real-time and online.

Safety Resources

It is important to identify firstly what help is needed, before deciding who to approach. This is likely to start with a risk analysis of the farm and its environment, and understanding of how the risks can be managed and which need to be insured, and what training may be needed for any or all operatives.

Safety training is a big issue on farms and related environments.

Historically most training was seen as being done on the job, but that has changed significantly in recent years, in large part due to the Internet.

Many local colleges and universities also offer degrees and programs in all types of farm management and safety, and they are often an ideal source for first contact

Universities and colleges often have specific dedicated units dealing with health and safety relating to agricultural matters, either that they teach as part of their course or which are required by local statute.

In addition to these, many colleges of health training for nurses and doctors are also an excellent resource as well as veterinary medicine colleges.

Universities and colleges can sometimes seem a bit remote, but in this area are genuinely keen to help where ever possible.

They are often able to advise on risk management, and the best type of training available. Many colleges also offer online training, and may even be able to devise specific programs for a particular branch of forming if required.

If they are unable to help with a specific requirement, they are likely to be able to recommend another resource or safety experts may be able to be more help.

Other sources of help

The other areas of help tend to fall into two categories of Public and Private.

The areas they may be able to help and will depend upon the specific need identified by the farm management, who can then either approach the relevant body or company to see if they can assist.

As a general guide, the public sources of help relate to areas such as traffic laws and road hazards, where the local police department is possibly the first place to call.

Alternatively local state legislature may be able to help get some reason the local police or fire department are unable.

In the event of any fatality that may occur in relation to farm or agricultural activity, the local county coroner will be involved and may be able to offer guidance in specific areas.

The other public sources of help generally relate to local or national government.

They will have specific departments relating to agriculture and health, as well as many others. These two departments in particular should have a wealth of experience and materials available specifically to help in these areas.

This can include training as well as all types of risk management tools that are available.

Many local governments also have specific teams dedicated to helping small businesses, as well as large ones. A lot of farm management practices could well find succour sources invaluable.

The sources of help available that are private tend to be companies or businesses who work in the agricultural industry.

They can be helpful either by way of providing advice or information, or by helping in the event of a problem emergency.

In terms of health and safety management and training, businesses who work in the electrical service industry, machinery and equipment dealers and private business safety consultants are often willing to provide details of programs and training regarding their services or the industry more generally.

Sales representatives of all products especially pesticides are often willing to provide safety information and training either as part of their sales program, or as an additional benefit in order to try and secure a sales lead.

It is always worth being aware of the fact that if an accident or emergency happens on a farm, it is highly likely that it will take a while for any emergency services to rise, given the remote nature of most farms and their distance from local communities.

It is highly important to recognise the need for on-site training regarding first aid and manual handling, including CPR. First aid training should be as extensive as possible to include items such as to how to deal with burns, electric shocks etc.

It is also important that the former management should have lists of all local emergency contacts with phone numbers, e-mail and websites readily available this should include all local doctors and nurses, emergency poison helplines, volunteer fire departments, and all types of emergency services such as ambulances etc.

Southside CSA in Brooklyn – Supporting Local Farmers Through Community Shared Agriculture

With more and more New Yorkers clamoring for the freshest greens green can buy, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) pickups are sprouting up around the five boroughs. Southside CSA is one of the trend’s latest offshoots opening just this year and serving the Greenpoint and Williamsburg areas of Brooklyn.

Just as with the NYC Greenmarkets, the ubiquitous citywide farmer’s market, CSA shares-veggies, fruits, eggs, and wine-hail from Hudson Valley farmlands. However, there is one key distinction between the systems.

“You don’t get to choose your produce, but you’re sharing in the farmer’s bounty,” said CSA core group member, Esther Giangrande. Ms. Giangrande teamed up with the other founding group members through the Greenpoint-Williamsburg CSA low-income fundraising committee. She had been using the CSA’s current pickup location, Bridget Urban Wine Bar in Williamsburg, as a venue for fundraisers to benefit Greenpoint Soup Kitchen.

The way a CSA works is that before the harvest season begins, (for Southside CSA’s produce, the season runs for 20 weeks, from June 22 through November 2), members decide whether they would like to purchase a full share or half share. All CSAs are based on a similar concept. Share prices are literally seed money for the farmer, based on what is needed to grow the crops promised for the season. For greens only, full shares cost $400 per season, and members pick up their weekly veggie supply every Monday at night Bridget. With half-shares, which cost $200, the pick-up is only every other week. Over the course of the 20 weeks however, the different shares amount to $20 worth per week, roughly the amount that the farmer would receive at market for his goods. Because full shares are so large, it is not uncommon for three or four locals to divide the produce. Before each pickup, a list of arriving vegetables is posted on the Southside CSA blog, leaving time for members to find suitable recipes or organize impromptu dinner parties.

Southside CSA is unique in that the share has a spicy twist: in keeping with the neighborhood’s Latin tradition, the vegetables include several staple ingredients for Mexican meals such as sweet corn, cilantro, and quelites from the Mexican-influenced MimoMex Farm, alongside produce characteristic of the Hudson Valley.

For some, the appeal of Southside lies in the uncertainty of the outcome of the harvest season. While with the payment of the share money there is an expectation that the promised produce will be delivered, nothing is definite. In that way, CSAs offer more than just fresh vegetables, they offer an insight into the farming experience.

Another unique aspect of the CSA system is that there is no set staff aside from the few founding members; instead, it depends on the dedication of its members to volunteer to help with organizing the pick-ups (much like a food co-op). A member-base workforce is what makes Southside so sustainable: by taking care of the distribution and marketing of the incoming goods, the CSA saves busy farmers the burden of worrying about storage and shipping. Standard shift duties include meeting and unloading the produce truck, setting up for fruit and vegetable pickup, and helping distribute the produce to fellow members.

Southside CSA is more than just artichoke heart; it’s core members are committed to local outreach and uphold their pledge to fresh food for all by donating leftover pickup vegetables to soup kitchens. Southside CSA has partnered with Craig’s Kitchen, a local community action group, that supplies soup kitchens around Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and other Brooklyn neighborhoods. The organization shares the CSA’s belief in healthy, organic, and fresh meals for all.

The CSA movement has had incredible momentum, with more than 18 new distribution centers opening just this year in addition to Southside (there were about 50 CSAs in 2008); compared to the NYC Greenmarket, which has 46 locations throughout the boroughs, it seems that the CSA are becoming a favored local destination for fresh food. Not only does a CSA membership provide you with more beets for your buck, but it’s also more convenient because chances are there is one right in your neighborhood.

[The Bridge Wine Share, wines exclusively from the Bridge Vineyard of North Fork, Long Island, are $360 full/$180 half. The NY Wine Share, a mix of reds and whites from the various wine-producing regions of the state from Long Island to the Finger Lakes to the Hudson Valley, are $400 full/$200 half. Like the produce and egg shares, wine shares are also distributed Monday evenings at Bridget. The vegetable and fruit shares complement weekly wine offerings.]