Meet the Food Safety Professional - Kami Weddle, Rousseau Farming Company
What do you grow on your farm?
We grow a wide variety of nutritious produce including iceberg, broccoli, cilantro, kale, chard, spinach, cabbage, watermelons and the sweetest carrots in Arizona! What is your family’s favorite Leafy Green vegetables?
A fresh head of Iceberg –you really can’t go wrong with a classic wedge salad! Working at Rousseau Farming Company makes it hard to pick just one favorite though. It’s great to take home all the veggies and try new recipes or just enjoy a slice of a melon on these hot days! What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I feel fortunate enough to contribute to Arizona’s breakfast, lunch and dinner! Knowing that my profession shows up on the dinner plates of families everywhere is extremely rewarding.
I also love that my responsibilities as a Food Safety Professional vary each day. Whether I’m visiting the processing plant to check water quality, overseeing quality during packaging, or in the field doing a harvest crew inspection, I know that my involvement in the process guarantees people enjoy safe and delicious vegetables from our farm.
What is the biggest challenge you face every day?
I would say one of our challenges is implementing and adapting to increasing regulations. Whether the topic is labor, healthcare, transportation or food safety, it’s important that we incorporate the standards into our farming practices and our operations in an effective and efficient way.
We’ve recently been focused on selecting the right water treatment and finding the most effective process for our farm. It’s a time-consuming process and the technical aspects can be challenging at times. Working with Arizona Leafy Greens, we’ve been able to take their suggestions and research and bring it back to the farm to select the right treatment, the right application, and monitor the treatment so it occurs as intended.
What is something most people don't know about the process of growing leafy greens?
Farmers and food safety professionals are planning months before a seed is planted. We assess land and water sources prior to planting to ensure the area we have chosen is adequate for the safe production of leafy greens. Our professionals will look at the crop hundreds of times during growing to ensure it has the nutrients the plant needs, and the area has no signs of potential contamination. Our harvesting employees also go through extensive training, very similar to the training food handlers would receive at restaurants. We’ve taken the research and tools from the Department of Agriculture, University of Arizona, and Arizona Leafy Greens and implemented them on our farm to ensure safety and success. We continue to work diligently to ensure everyone follows sound food safety practices during growing and harvesting.