Publication Date

Fall 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

John Khouryieh (Director), Martine Stone, and Douglas Chelson

Degree Program

Department of Architectural and Manufacturing Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Farmers’ markets have increasingly become a popular venue for purchase of fresh, locally-grown produce, with the number of farmers’ markets in Kentucky reaching an all-time high of 159 in 2016. Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) is a program created by the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service to function as a food safety audit for small-scale fresh produce growers, such as those who sell fresh produce at local farmers’ markets. However, under the provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, small-scale farmers who sell an average of $25,000 in annual fresh produce sales across the span of three years are exempt from mandatory food safety certification. Many smallscale farmers in Kentucky fall below this threshold, and do not hold food safety certification.

This study had two objectives: to investigate the practices, perceptions, and implementation of GAPs among small-scale Kentucky farmers who sell at farmers’ markets; and to create and evaluate the effectiveness of commodity-specific informational factsheets to disseminate food safety knowledge among small-scale Kentucky farmers. Data from the perceptions, practices, and implementation survey were analyzed from 160 completed surveys of small-scale fresh produce growers on-site at farmers’ markets in 21 counties across the state of Kentucky (see Appendix A). The results were mixed, with 90% of participants indicated familiarity with GAPs, but only 47% opting to practice water quality GAPs and 55% choosing to observe soil amendment GAPs. Participants did report slightly higher compliance with field sanitation (71%) and sanitary facilities (73%) GAPs, but indicated that cost (67%) and time (68%) were significant perceived barriers to completing a GAPs audit on their farm. Participants also failed to identify many sources of potential microbiological contamination, with soil only being identified as a source of pathogenic contamination by 41% of participants and irrigation water identified by 51% of participants. Even fewer participants believed that contamination could result from ice (26%) or refrigeration and cooling (28%). However, most respondents indicated a desire to undergo further GAPs education, and the factsheet evaluation data indicated that the factsheets were highly effective and had resulted in significant GAPs knowledge increases for participants.


Agriculture | Food Microbiology | Food Science | Microbiology