Upcoming Programs for Urban Farmers

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Tarrant County Commercial Horticulture will be offering two great programs for urban farmers and those who are considering an urban farming enterprise in April.

Friday, April 12, 2013:
This program will feature an interactive webinar session with Dr. Joe Masabni, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Vegetable Specialist, entitled “Starting an Urban Farm.” After we discuss some of the challenges of our local resources, we’ll visit Gnismer Farm to see strawberry, asparagus and other spring vegetable production. Lynn and Cynthia Remsing will tell us about how they market their produce on and off the farm and show us some of the innovative ways they grow a lot on a few acres with limited man and woman power.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013:
Drs. Marco Palma and Francisco Abello, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Ag Economists, will be in town to offer their MarketReady program. This class addresses the market development risks and relationships small farmers and ranchers must manage as they seek to make supplier relationships with restaurants, grocery, wholesale and foodservice buyers. While significant opportunity exists to build on the demand for local products in local markets, many farmers are hesitant or unprepared to meet the transactional requirements required by these buyers to manage their own food safety, insurance, product quality, and traceability risks. MarketReady addresses these issues and seeks to educate and help our fabulous food suppliers succeed in today’s markets and continue to be profitable, in order to keep farming. The training is based around best business practices identified by buyers in these markets that are actively seeking to engage local suppliers. MarketReady will help farm vendors selling dairy, fruits, meats and vegetables design a better business strategy to succeed.

Urban Farming continues to grow in popularity around the country and in Tarrant County, demand for locally produced food is definitely great than supply. PennEnvironment has released a new study that outlines how sustainable farming benefits the environment, economy, and public health–and offers a blueprint of state policies to improve the food system. The report, Healthy Farms, Healthy Environment: State and Local Policies to Improve Pennsylvania’s Food System and Protect Our Land and Water (pdf) explains the myriad benefits of sustainable farming and offers policy solutions to take advantage of the growing consumer market for locally grown and organic products. The report identifies successful programs in other states and urges Pennsylvania’s legislators to bring their success to the Commonwealth, as well as calling on state officials to renew funding for and expand successful sustainable agriculture programs. Some of the finding of the report include: Organic growing methods have been shown to reduce polluted runoff and energy consumption in agriculture, while boosting the carbon content of soils, according to experiments at the Rodale Institute organic farm laboratory in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Consumption of fresh, local food – as opposed to processed food or produce from halfway around the globe – can reduce the amount of energy used in preserving and transporting food. For example, farmers can grow and market fresh peas with 60 percent less energy than frozen peas, and 75 percent less energy than packaging peas in an aluminum can. Sustainable farming can also help farmers keep farmland in production, despite development pressure, by increasing farm income – thereby protecting open land and the valuable ecosystem services it provides.

Register online at https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu
Location Search: Fort Worth
Register by phone: 979-845-2604

About Laura Miller

Laura M. Miller is the Texas AgriLife Commercial Horticulture Extension Agent for Tarrrant County. She provides informal educational programs and problem solving services to all aspects of the commercial horticulture industry, from green industry professionals to fruit, vegetable, and ornamental plant growers. Prior to taking on her present position in March 2008, she was a University of Florida/IFAS Extension Agent for seven years. A sixth generation Texan, she’s a graduate of Eagle Pass High School who earned a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture and a Master of Education in Agricultural Education from Texas A&M University in College Station.
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