Writer: Rod Santa Ana, 956-878-8317, email@example.com
Contact: Dr. Samuel Zapata, 956-968-5581, Samuel.Zapata@ag.tamu.edu
WESLACO — The second and third workshop in a series designed to help new, small acreage South Texas agricultural producers will be held Oct. 26 and Oct. 27, according to organizers.
Both free workshops will be held at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, 2401 E. U.S. Highway 83, near the intersection of Farm-to-Market 1015. The target audience includes local farmers, small-acreage growers, beginning farmers and veterans.
The first, Organic Production for Local Growers, will be held from 1-5 p.m. Oct. 26. The second, Aquaponics Training for Local Growers, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 27.
Dr. Samuel Zapata, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist in Weslaco, said the objective of the workshop series is to train local growers in alternative and sustainable production systems.
“These workshops will provide valuable technical information in the areas of organic production, pest management, marketing and regulations,” he said. “We have lots of important and interesting information to share to help growers improve their current production methods as well as their marketing.”
Zapata said Rio Grande Valley producers should be ready to satisfy a niche market that is growing nationwide.
“Consumers today are concerned about their relationship to food production, food quality and environmental sustainability,” he said. “Several studies have shown that consumers are willing to pay a premium for food they consider healthier, more nutritious and produced using environmentally friendly methods such as organics and aquaponics.”
Speakers and their topics at the organic production workshop include:
— Dr. Joe Masabni, AgriLife Extension horticulturist, Overton: organic production methods and integrated pest management.
— Zapata, organic marketing trends.
— Barbara Storz, retired AgriLife Extension horticulturist and gardening radio show host, Edinburg: selling at farmers markets.
— Michael Euler, Texas Department of Agriculture, Austin: organic certification.
Masabni will be the only speaker at the Oct. 27 workshop. His topic will be an introduction to aquaponics.
For more information, contact Zapata at 956-968-5581 or email Samuel.Zapata@ag.tamu.edu.