Help Rendleman Orchards win grant money - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Help Rendleman Orchards win grant money

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ALTO PASS, Ill. -- The trees at Rendleman Orchards might be bare in January, but there's still lots of work to do around the farm. Much of that work is getting compliant with the new Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) standards. 

Michelle Sirles, a fifth-generation family member and vice president, says they will be making changes over the winter and spring months, "We already have those processes in place, we just need to tweak them a little bit." 

Sirles says it's an expensive and time-consuming task, which is why the farm applied for a grant for up to $10,000 from Cultivating Change. 

The first step is reorganizing binders that document the farm's food safety standards since it will now be audited on seven different food safety categories, up from three. 

"We document our water quality. We document how much waste we have. We document all kinds of things about when folks are on break," Sirles explains. "Washing hands, that’s the biggest part of food safety." 

She says the farm will also be updating some aspects of its harvesting and packing processes, "Another huge component to that is the training, so we may have to buy some new training equipment." 

However, a bulk of the money would go paying a consultant who is specifically trained with the food safety and modernization standards. 

Rendleman is competing against 142 other farms across the country and would appreciate the region's help, so by summer, neighbors can enjoy the fruits of its labor. "We love to tout that we are globally food safety certified, and we love to keep improving that process," Sirles says. 

If you want to help the farm get the money, all you have to do is vote for it by clicking here. You can cast a vote each day until the end of January and winners will be announced on February 4. 

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