We deliver apples to a few Hannaford supermarkets and a few years ago they required all farms selling produce to them to have one crop certified in the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program. Our crop happens to be apples. These new practices and rules came about when fruits and vegetables hit the top of the “most likely to cause a foodborne illness” charts. Outbreaks associated with fresh produce are making more people sick than seafood, hamburger, or chicken. The new federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule, adopted due to this increase in association with outbreaks, will result in food safety inspections and more attention will be given to domesticated animals.
Animal feces can be the source of Salmonella, E. coli and other disease causing microbes associated with foodborne illness. Of course, this is not limited to domesticated animals. Wildlife must be carefully monitored, and, when possible, managed with fences or repellents. Sometimes this means chasing wild turkeys around the orchard until they take flight into the woods. We also grow pumpkins and winter squashes which could be contaminated. We do not use drops (apples fallen from the tree and on the ground) for cider due to the possibility of contamination.
While food safety is one concern, customer safety can certainly be another reason for the “NO DOGS ALLOWED” signs. Dogs will be dogs, and no matter how well trained, dog bites, dog fights and other unpleasant contacts with other customers can sometimes be problematic. Some folks may be allergic to your dog. Years ago we did allow leashed dogs, only during the week, not weekends. Not all owners kept them on a leash as requested.
We own two dogs that walk the trails with us whenever we get the chance. During the harvest season, just before 5:00 PM, Jack will walk them down to the Main Orchard to close and lock the gate. We do have trail maps if you want to walk your dog while here.
Thank you for understanding.