Small-scale vegetable production workshops offered in Flint and Novi

Pilot program develops curriculum aimed at small scale vegetable producers in urban communities. These programs will provide a comprehensive look at vegetable production to hone current skills, develop new strategies and better understand pests.

In small-scale urban vegetable production there are a number of young, new and transitioning primary growers in high-risk and high-value fresh market crops. Producers with a city-dwelling background are also looking for additional income, or to grow their own food with friends and family. People in these communities tend to farm in a diversified fashion, with limited equipment, and often with an organic ethos. This can create a unique learning curve about vegetable production involving the use of alternative management tools, such as cover crops, composts, season extension techniques and biological controls.

In order to address these needs, Michigan State University Extension educators have planned two Urban Farmer Tune Up workshops to provide the help and education desired to grow produce efficiently, profitably, and sustainably; in Flint on March 20 and repeated in Novi on March 21. Practical information will be presented that would impact the bottom line of a small scale, urban farming operation. The intent of the workshop is to provide urban vegetable growers with tips to improve their yields this season.

Topics covered include:

  • Urban soils and preparing a new site for planting
  • Extending the season with low tunnels
  • Cover crops to build the soil
  • Food safety & post-harvest handling
  • Learn to interpret vegetable insect signs and symptoms
  • Tactics for disease management
  • Organic weed management practices for urban and peri-urban vegetable growers
  • A year in a managed honey bee colony

The cultural practice sessions about soil health, cover crops, season extension and food safety will meet in the morning, followed by afternoon pest and pollination management sessions. The workshops will be held March 20 in Flint at the Flint Farmers Market and in Novi at the MSU Extension Tollgate Education Center on March 21. You can choose to attend the full day for $35 (lunch is included), or just the morning or afternoon sessions for $20. For more information, and to register, please go to: http://events.anr.msu.edu/urbantuneup/.

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