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Living Greens Farm Responds to COVID-19 With New Procedures

Living Greens Farm

Last updated on August 25th, 2022 at 10:14 am

Faribault, Minnesota-based Living Greens Farm, the largest vertical, indoor aeroponic farm in the U.S. that provides year-round fresh salads, microgreens and herbs, has added steps and procedures to its standards to block COVID-19 from its operation. 

The company says because it grows crops indoors the health risks most traditional farms face are virtually eliminated, resulting in the highest standards in food safety. Beyond that, Living Greens Farm follows GAP (Good Agriculture Practices) and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) guidelines to ensure that all vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of food safety hazards. 

GAPs and GMPs are sets of rules and guidelines that cover everything from a building structure itself to personal hygiene and clothing standards for employees. These practices are enforced by the FDA, USDA and Primus, Living Greens Farm’s third-party certification body. LGF voluntarily commits to an annual audit by Primus as well as the possibility of a surprise audit at any time. This is done to show that LGF is always following GAP and GMP guidelines.

Specific GAP and GMP rules and guidelines that impact Living Greens Farm:

• Cleanliness and Clothing: Hygiene, hand washing, uniform program, captive boot program, hair nets, beard nets and glove use are all followed.

• Foreign Material Control: No jewelry, no pockets above the waist on uniforms, no utensils or objects made from wood or glass are allowed in growing, processing and packing areas.

• Facilities: The building is secure from intruders and pests; water that comes into contact with food or food contact surfaces must be potable and from a sanitary source; and air used for food handling must be filtered.

• Sanitation: Equipment must be cleaned regularly, and cleaning compounds must be approved for use in the food industry. Surface swabs are taken after cleaning to ensure sufficiency. Environmental swabs are done all over the building to ensure cleanliness and the absence of any food safety hazards.

• Storage: Strict temperature requirements are upheld to ensure quality and safety in all products. Temperatures of storage areas are continuously monitored and recorded.

• Written Food Safety Program: All processes are documented and signed off on daily to ensure all products leaving the building have complied with all internal and external regulations and are as safe as possible.

Before COVID-19 existed, Living Greens Farm already had strict food safety processes in place: All employees who enter the farm are required to attend regular food safety trainings, scrub hands, wear sanitized lab jackets (these are cleaned and sanitized each night), wear hair nets, wear beard nets, remove jewelry, wear new latex gloves, and wash the bottoms of their shoes in a sanitizing solution before entering the farm and in key areas throughout the farm. All employees follow all GAP and GMP food-safe practices.

Now that COVID concerns are top of mind, Living Greens Farm has added extra precautions:

• All common areas often touched are being sanitized three times a day (doorknobs, desk surfaces, chair arms, coffee pot handles, refrigerator handles, dishwasher handles and buttons, vending machine buttons, etc.).

• All non-farm essential employees have been encouraged to work from home. This reduces the amount of people at the farm and reduces risk.

• If an employee feels ill, they’ve been asked to not come to work until feeling better (CDC guidelines).

• If an employee has been in direct contact with someone who has COVID-19, they get tested and do not come to work for 14 days or as instructed under CDC guidelines.

• If an employee has been in contact with someone who has been exposed to COVID-19, they do not come to work for seven days or as instructed under CDC guidelines.

• All farm tours except virtual tours have been suspended until early summer.

Living Greens Farm’s farming methods and business model already provided the environment and consumer the benefits of less water usage, less space used, higher food nutrition/quality, and the elimination of pesticides and herbicides. 

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