YARD & GARDEN FOOD PRODUCTION FOR BEGINNERS
M. Bailey, UF/IFAS Extension, Marion County, Ocala, FL
Situation: Florida’s climate and pests create a challenge for growing food crops. The target audience are Marion County residents with little or no experience who want to produce food in their yard or garden.
Objective/Purpose: Participants will gain knowledge about how to provide for essential crop needs and about specific crops that are well-adapted for the North Central Florida region. They will adopt practices which will allow them to easily and sustainably produce their own food with fruits and vegetables.
Methods: The program has been offered five times and consists of a two hour presentation that is followed by a tour of a demonstration garden. A step-by-step process was detailed about how to select the most productive and well-adapted crops for each participant’s situation. Each fruit and vegetable crop was provided with a profile that covered the key crop production information. Locally produced fruit and vegetables were available for taste sampling. Fruit and vegetables featured in the program were available for purchase or free after the program.
Results: Programs are well attended (n=90). Evaluations indicated that all participants gained knowledge and 72% specifically stated at least one aspect of the program they intended to implement. After the program more than half of program participants purchased or were given at least one plant.
Conclusion: This program successfully helps participants who have little to no prior knowledge to begin fruit and vegetable production that will provide a reliable source of food. By having plants available immediately after each program it eliminates the barrier of locating the UF-recommended plants & varieties. Due to the high demand and enthusiastic feedback by participants, this program will help grow the local food system.