Your local food system wants you to grow

Today more and more consumers are looking for local, fresh, nutritious and organic foods to buy for their home cooking, eating at restaurants and at their school lunches.  A 2014 UF/IFAS study reported over 20% of Florida food purchasers are purchasing locally-grown foods.  That’s approximately a contribution of $8.3 billion to the state’s economy (see http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wc175).  A 2015 Sarasota County Extension study of the total economic impact of 2 out of the 8 farmers markets in Sarasota County was approximately $28 million (Kluson and Dominguez, 2015).

While these statistics are impressive, the truth of the matter is that the demand for local and organic foods is much greater than the supply.  So if you have ever wondered if you have what it takes to become a local produce producer and develop a satisfying and profitable livelihood, there’s an upcoming course for you ! . . .

MARKET GARDENING 101

Course Description:    Market gardening is the commercial production of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and other plants, on a scale larger than a home garden, yet small enough that many of the principles of horticulture can be applied. It can be done at both urban and rural locations.  It is oriented toward local direct marketing, such as farmers markets, CSAs, restaurants, etc. This series of 7 classes offers a comprehensive introduction to the different aspects of the scope, startup and operations of a successful, sustainable market gardening business.

Class structure:     •     3.0 hours length;  5:30-8:30 pm

Class Schedule:

  • Monday, May 16, 2016 – Introduction and Holistic Management
  • Wednesday, May 18, 2016 – Business Planning and Marketing
  • Monday, May 23, 2016 – Production Systems and Planning
  • Wednesday, May 25, 2016 – Equipment and Tools; Post-harvest
  • Wednesday, June 1, 2016 – Food Safety; Regulations
  • Monday, June 6, 2016 – Direct Marketing
  • Wednesday, June 8, 2016 – Financial Resources & Management

Location:  Sarasota County Extension, 6700 Clark Road, Twin Lakes Park, Sarasota, FL

Registrations: website at http://sarasota.ifas.ufl.edu/ (Go to Education Calendar link and then May 16, 2016). Registration is required. Class size is limited to 25 persons.

Cost:    $40 (for entire series) – Pay online. Alternatively, pay with cash or check at Sarasota County Extension office before first class.   Checks payable to Sarasota County Board of Commissioners

Have we piqued your interest?  If so, then watch the video of farmers Kate and Kathy in Sarasota County who are growing successfully for local direct markets – see https://vimeo.com/user33446249

 

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