Backyard Basics Expo in San Antonio to offer educational sessions, hands-on demos

Agro-urban expert Edwin Marty special guest speaker at Sept. 14 event

SAN ANTONIO — The Backyard Basics Expo to be held Sept. 14 at the Madison High School Agriscience Magnet Program facility will provide a sampling of information, educational opportunities, hands-on demonstrations and items related to the production, preparation and preservation of homemade and homegrown foods, said coordinators.

Edwin Marty of E.A.T. South will be the special guest speaker at the Backyard Basics Expo to be presented Sept. 14 in San Antonio by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Public Radio. The event will offer numerous educational sessions on homegrown and homemade foods.  (Photo courtesy of Edwin Marty)

Edwin Marty of E.A.T. South will be the special guest speaker at the Backyard Basics Expo Sept. 14 in San Antonio. Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Public Radio, the event will offer numerous educational sessions on homegrown and homemade foods. (Photo courtesy of Edwin Marty)

The expo, presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Public Radio, will take place from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.. The agriscience building is located on 15 acres of the Madison High School campus, located at 5005 Stahl Rd., San Antonio.

“The theme of the expo will be the art of self-reliance and supporting healthy living through homemade and homegrown foods,” said Dr. Connie Sheppard, AgriLife Extension agent for family and consumer sciences for Bexar County. “This is also the thrust of our agency’s growing Backyard Basics program and its many educational sessions available to the public. We’ll be offering a wide sampling of those educational sessions at the event.”

Sheppard said Backyard Basics programs already have been piloted in several South Central Texas counties. The  programs will eventually be offered statewide.

The Sept. 14 expo will have 24 educational sessions with eight to run concurrently – the first sessions to be presented from 9:30 – 10:15 a.m., the second from 10:35 – 11:20 a.m. and the third from 1:30 – 2:15 p.m. The sessions will cover kitchen artistry, backyard gardening, backyard farming, water conservation, food preservation, meat markets, garden basics and build-your-own projects.

Specific home-based instruction and hands-on demonstrations will be presented on making soft cheeses; using herbs in cooking; pickling; making jerky and sausage; vegetable gardening;  growing fruits; small-area gardening; water-bath and pressure canning; composting; hydroponics; aquaponics; drip irrigation and rainwater harvesting; keeping laying hens, rabbits and bees; and building a rain barrel, chicken coop and raised-bed garden.

Edwin Marty, executive director of E.A.T. — Educate, Act, Transform — South, a trade name of The Hampstead Institute, will be the keynote speaker.

Marty will speak about the importance of revitalizing urban areas through urban farming and will address some of the specific considerations for creating an urban garden, such as soil testing, zoning and predators. He also will be available to sign copies of “Breaking Through Concrete: Building an Urban Farm Revival,” a book he co-authored with David Hanson. The book describes urban farming as a force for social and cultural transformation, documents several successful urban farming efforts in various communities throughout the U.S., and provides useful tips for would-be urban farmers.

For more information on E.A.T. South, go to http://www.eatsouth.org.

“With nearly 20 years of historical experience at TPR, I can say with absolute certainty that there is no activity that brings out a more enthusiastic crowd of participants and volunteers than something that involves digging in the dirt,” said Janet Grojean, Texas Public Radio’s director of development. “The public radio listener appreciates nature, is involved in environmental issues and truly appreciates learning about sustainable practices. The Backyard Basics Expo wholly aligns with our members’ interests.”

The Backyard Basics Expo on Sept. 14 will feature numerous educational sessions to include hands-on demonstrations related to producing, preparing and preserving homegrown and homemade foods. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

The Backyard Basics Expo will feature a wide variety of educational sessions with hands-on demonstrations and instruction about producing, preparing and preserving homegrown and homemade foods. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

Registration for the expo is $25 per person until Sept. 6 and $35 thereafter, and covers all educational sessions. Children under 16 are admitted free, as are the first 200 Texas Public Radio members who register. On-site parking is free.

There is no registration for individual sessions, but there may be space limitations for some sessions, so attendees are requested to find a seat at their chosen sessions as quickly as possible.

Lunch is not included in the event cost, but an on-site concession stand and the Wheelie Gourmet food truck will be available.

The expo also will feature area vendors who provide goods and services related to producing and preparing homegrown foods.

To register, members of the general public should go to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Conference Services website at http://agriliferegister.tamu.edu  or call 979-845-2604. Texas Public Radio members should register by calling 210-614-8977 and asking for Elisa, or by emailing elisa@tpr.org.

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