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UF/IFAS conference to help growers and those who hope to farm

2011 Small Farms Conference.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Please see caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Farmers or those who aspire to grow fruits and vegetables crops can attend the third UF/IFAS Regional Small Farms Conference on April 1-2 in Fort Myers, Florida.

The UF/IFAS Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Extension Team will host the conference at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Fort Myers, Florida.

This event provides an opportunity to share practical farming knowledge that can help growers across the region, said Jose Perez, small farms Extension coordinator for UF/IFAS. In addition, networking and activities with consumer stakeholders will promote local food systems in southwest Florida.

The event promises lots of learning opportunities for everyone, from prospective and beginner farmers to veteran growers, and from rural to urban settings, said Roy Beckford, director of UF/IFAS Extension Lee County.

Starting April 1, activities include tours of four local farms. Alternatively, the conference offers four field workshops at the ECHO farm.

On the evening of April 1, participants may partake in a farm-to-table banquet at Buckingham Farms. There, keynote speakers Karen Dakin from Dakin Dairy Farms, Mike Greenwell from 31 Produce and Gabriele Marewski from Paradise Farms will share their perspectives on agritourism and on strengthening the local food system with diversity. You can also taste of beverages from local breweries and wineries.

On April 2, the conference moves to the Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center, for the bulk of educational sessions. Topics include urban farming systems, agroforestry-based integrated farms, financing the farm, cottage and value-added foods to food policies and local food systems.

In addition, participants can network with vendors and educational organizations at the trade show.

Check out the conference program and register online at www.smallfarmsconf.eventbrite.com. Early bird registration fee is $90 until March 21, and $100 after that, $125 for full conference plus farm-to-table banquet at Buckingham Farms. Registration includes refreshments, lunch, and educational materials.

For more information, contact your UF/IFAS County Extension or call Perez at 352-294-1692. Partial support for this event is provided by a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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Caption: Farmers or those who aspire to grow fruits and vegetables crops can attend the third UF/IFAS Regional Small Farms Conference on April 1-2 in Fort Myers, Florida. Check out the conference program and register online at www.smallfarmsconf.eventbrite.com.

Credit: UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Source: Jose Perez, 352-294-1692, joseperezoro@ufl.edu