Fort Worth urban farming workshops set April 12 and April 24

Training tomatoes in a greenhouse

A worker at Proximity Farms, an organic produce company at Azle, north of Fort Worth, trains tomatoes. Urban businesses like Proximity Farms that grow high-quality produce can usually sell it all locally — if they know how to market, said Laura Miller, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Tarrant County. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Laura Miller)

AgriLife Extension agent: Demand for locally grown produce is high

Writer: Robert Burns, 903-834-6191, rd-burns@tamu.edu

FORT WORTH – The demand is much greater than the supply for locally produced agricultural products in the Fort Worth/Dallas area, according to Laura Miller, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Tarrant County.

To help people take advantage of this opportunity, Miller has scheduled two workshops for small-acreage farmers, “Starting Your Urban Farm,” set April 12, and the “Market Ready Training Program,” April 24.

Both programs will be held in the Lone Star room of the Tarrant County Plaza Building at 200 Taylor St., Fort Worth.

Registration for either program is $35, includes lunch, and can be done online by going to https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/ and selecting Fort Worth as the location from the drop-down menu.

Miller noted that participants may register at the door the day of either training, but encouraged them to preregister online to help with meal planning.

Starting Your Urban Farm is more appropriate for someone who is just considering starting a new endeavor, while the Market Ready training is for those already growing products, Miller said.

“That high demand part makes it all sound real easy, but it’s not,” she said. “It’s not easy to grow things, and it’s not easy to connect with the market.”

In urban areas, land for farming is limited, which means higher production costs, she explained. These higher costs usually necessitate selling to specialty markets.

“That’s what the Market Ready training is about: how to connect with specialty grocery store and restaurants that can pay a premium for local products,” she said.

Registration for the morning session of Starting Your Urban Farm will be at 8:30 a.m. Dr. Joe Masabni, AgriLife Extension vegetable specialist, College Station, will head the classroom instruction via an interactive webinar. Masabni will give a two-hour detailed review of what to expect starting a new urban farm. After Masabni, Miller will give an overview of Tarrant County agriculture.

Following a catered lunch, the workshop will travel to Gnismer Farms in Arlington, a 6-acre operation growing strawberries, asparagus, carrots and other spring vegetables. The tour will conclude at 3:30 p.m.

The April 24 Market Ready training will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3 p.m., with a break for a catered lunch.

Miller said the workshop will cover the “risks small farmers and ranchers must manage as they seek to develop relationships with restaurants, groceries, and wholesale and foodservice buyers.”

Dr. Marco Palma and Francisco Abello, both AgriLife Extension agricultural economists from College Station, will conduct the training, Miller said.

All aspects of successful marketing will be discussed, including communications, packaging, labeling, pricing, delivery, quality assurance, temperature control, storage, invoicing, insurance, satisfaction guarantee and more.

For more information, contact Miller at 817-884-1945, lmmiller@ag.tamu.edu.

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