Thursday, December 1, 2011

Urban Farming and Community Gardens to be featured at Great Plains Vegetable Growers Conference

The 16th Annual Great Plains Growers Conference is set for Jan. 5-7, 2012, at the Fulkerson Center at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo.

Among the highlights at the 2012 conference is an all-day track focusing on Urban Farming and Community Gardens in the sponsoring states of IA, KS, NE, MO & SD .

Urban farming will be the initial focus with the lead off presenter Katherine Kelly of the non-profit Cultivate KC, which helps people grow and eat healthy, quality food in city neighborhoods. Katherine has been a vegetable grower in the Midwest and active with local foods, urban farming and nonprofits in Kansas City since 1996. “I’ve witnessed this agriculture niche develop into a dynamic and vital urban scene in less than 10 years.” says Katherine, “ City residents are beginning to see how city-grown food can be a real contributor to the local food supply.”

“We are always looking for interesting topics for the Great Plains Vegetable Growers Conference,” said James Quinn, University of Missouri Extension regional horticulture specialist. “By putting these presentations on Saturday, I’m hoping individuals in this new aspect of agriculture will find it more convenient to attend; some may have regular full-time jobs.” There are 9 other presenters in the track, with other areas of focus being youth gardening and techniques associated with growing edibles in community gardens. Complete information can be found here.

The conference and trade show is a collaboration of growers associations and extension services from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota. Each year the event draws hundreds of producers from the region and beyond.

Five concurrent sessions on Friday, and Saturday allow for more than 50 presentations on subjects related to organic and conventional vegetable crop production, operating a U-pick, selling at farmers’ markets, growing table grapes, and floral crafts.

“Interesting and useful information will be presented on production and marketing of vegetables, cut flowers, tree fruit and berries,” said Tom Fowler, MU Extension horticulture specialist in Buchanan County. “It doesn't matter if you are an experienced commercial vegetable grower or someone with just a dream about starting to grow and sell produce, there will be something for you.”

Registration for the workshops on the first day is $50-$60; included in the registration is lunch and break refreshments. The workshops on the 5th include: High Tunnels, Community Supported Agriculture mini-school, Beekeeping, Fruit Growers, GAP/Food Safety . Registration for the second and third day of the conference is $35 each and includes lunch and break refreshments.

Headquarter hotels are the Ramada Inn, 4016 Frederick Blvd., St. Joseph. Room rate is $72 per night plus tax. For reservations call 800-748-0036. Or Stoney Creek Inn, 1201 N Woodbine, St. Joseph. Room rate is $77 per night plus tax, call (816) 901-9600 for reservations.

For more information about the program and a registration form, contact Katie Cook at 816-279-1691.

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