Maps make a difference in fresh produce safety

Without a clearly drawn map with fields outlined, full trace back of a farm’s fresh produce is virtually impossible. This article sheds a little more light on what to include in a map for your food safety manual.

MapAccurate maps of fresh produce farms are a foundation piece in food safety manuals. Without a clearly drawn map with fields delineated, it will be difficult to provide a full trace back of that farm’s produce. In addition, potential risks might come to light in the creation of the farm map that might have been overlooked before.

Produce field maps should contain the name, address and contact information of your farm as well as the fields outlined and labeled with the current year’s crop. If you put together a field map in Microsoft Word, updating information from year-to-year is easy.      

Be as detailed and specific as you can. Pay particular attention to where livestock operations are in relation to the food production areas. Include areas that can harbor wildlife, such as forested and riparian areas. If the ground is prone to flooding from creek overflows, note that on the map.

Be sure to indicate where pesticides and equipment are stored. Any septic fields on the property should also be included on the map. An example map can be seen in the accompanying picture. It is also important to enumerate any septic leach fields, chemical storage and mixing and loading pads that might be relatively close to the fresh produce fields.

Some growers find Google Maps to be helpful in visualizing the area around their farms. They may forget that there’s a feedlot less than a mile from one of their far flung fields. The creek running near their low muck ground may not have entered into consideration, but with an aerial photo, it becomes hard to miss.

If you would like more information on making a map using Google Maps, contact the Michigan State University Extension Agrifood Safety Workgroup at 517-788-4292 or and request guidance document AFSM001-01. 

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