Organic Crop Field Day

Today was the Field Day at the University of Tennessee Organic & Sustainable Crop Production Research Farm. For free, growers from all over the state are invited to come listen to 9 presentations given by UT Agriculture researchers and professors, meet with various organization representatives, sample some local food, tour the organic gardens, and see an equipment demonstration. This year’s presentations were:

  • Extending your Production Season with High Tunnels
  • Growing Small Fruits Organically
  • Natural Alternatives for Disease Control
  • Organic Production: A Systems Approach
  • Solving the Mysteries of Marketing
  • UT Market Garden Project and Internship Program
  • Reduced-till Broccoli Research
  • Utilizing Cover Crops in Organic Systems
  • Composting 101
  • and “Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat,” a talk given by special speaker Jeff Ross, Garden Manager at Blackberry Farm (and the president of my Farmers’ Market)

The information was really good. Especially informative were the presentations on cover crops and composting, two things that I’ve been doing, but doing pretty blindly. I’m in love with the high tunnels but I just don’t think they are practical for us, at least not at this point. Instead, I really want to get some movable hoop houses, which are basically the same theory, just smaller and, most importantly, cheaper.

The vendor tent was really informative too. I picked up literature from

  • The Weston A. Price Foundation– The Foundation is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism. (Got lots of info on their raw milk campaign.)
  • Tennessee Farm Fresh– A specialized program in cooperation with the Tennessee Farm Bureau and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture that offers both producers and consumers the chance to support their local economy.
  • Center for Profitable Agriculture– Committed to the mission of increasing the value of Tennessee’s economy through new, expanded and improved processing and marketing of agricultural, aquacultural and forestry products in Tennessee.
  • UT Extension– Working with farmers, families, youth, and communities, Extension helps improve people’s lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state, and national levels. (Picked up info on organic certification, building healthy soils, and increasing farm biodiversity)
  • Maryville Farmers’ Market– Picked up my application for a booth!

All that and lunch was free! Well, it was all free. It was a great day. Met several local people who share my interests, found out a lady up the road from me has dairy goats and is involved with Weston A. Price, and got to drool over some seriously beautiful produce. Can’t wait til Field Day next year!

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