The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is hosting Taste 360, a comprehensive conference teaching individuals about Texas grapes and wines, healthy eating, how to make flower arrangements and how to perfect backyard gardens.

Up close image of wine grapes.
Participants will learn about a variety of topics, including Texas wine production. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Sam Craft)

The conference will be held March 15-16 in Bryan-College Station. Participants will become more confident in planting and growing a vegetable garden as well as creating food and wine pairings.

“We want participants to walk away with the confidence to try at-home gardening or food and wine pairing on their own,” said Jayla Fry, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension horticulture program specialist and assistant professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences, Bryan-College Station.  “Whether you’re interested in wine and spirits or growing fruits and vegetables, we want to connect participants with the resources that the AgriLife Extension has to offer.”

Registration options are: single-day, March 15, $125; single-day, March 16, $200; or $300 for both days. Registration is offered at reduced rates for pairs. Virtual options are available for those who are unable to attend in person. Registration closes on Feb. 28.

The conference will feature local food producers and horticulture experts from throughout the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, giving patrons the opportunity to learn from AgriLife Extension agents, researchers, program specialists and community members on a variety of topics. Participants will learn about crafting the perfect tablescape, microgreens, bees, coffee and many other topics. 

“This conference aims to highlight many of the amazing aspects of horticulture and their importance and relevance in both individuals’ and communities’ lives,” said Andreea Botezatu, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension specialist and associate professor of enology in the Department of Horticultural Sciences and co-organizer of the event.

A full plate and a full schedule

The event will begin March 15 at 5:15 p.m. with a Texas focused wine and appetizer pairings event at The Gardens, followed by a farm-to-table dinner at Messina Hof. Day two will kick off with a conference welcome at 9:15 a.m. 

Breakout choices include: 

  • Your morning perk – Eric Brenner, assistant director at the Center for Coffee Research and Education at the Borlaug Institute, Bryan-College Station.
  • Managing your backyard poultry and your garden – Gregory Archer, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension specialist and associate professor in the Department of Poultry Science, Bryan-College Station.
  • Easy to grow fruit – Stephen Janak, AgriLife Extension program specialist in the Department of Horticultural Sciences, Hallettsville.
  • Vegetable garden setup – Fry.
  • Hive to table, Texas honey production – Lauren Ward, owner of A Bar Beekeeping, College Station.
  • Safe methods of home food preservation – Jenna Anding, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Nutrition.
  • From ground to glass – What’s new with Texas wine? – Michael Cook, AgriLife Extension viticulture specialist, Denton.
  • Texas wine research – Natasha Meehleib, graduate student, Department of Horticultural Sciences. 
  • Growing hops in Texas – Justin Scheiner, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension specialist and associate professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences, Bryan-College Station.
  • Herbs – the spice of life – Stephen Brueggerhoff, AgriLife Extension horticulture agent in Galveston County. 
  • DIY tips to create magazine worthy outdoor entertainment and dining spaces – Lisa Whittlesey, AgriLife Extension program specialist in the Department of Horticultural Sciences, Bryan-College Station. 
  • Everything you have ever wanted to know about pecans – Larry Stein, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension horticulture specialist at Uvalde and a professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences. 
  • Farmers markets from the grower’s perspective – Scooter Langley, horticulturist, Baytown.
  • Sense and sensitivity – Botezatu.
  • Spring vegetable basics – Jay White, owner of Texas Gardener magazine, Brenham.
  • Hush and Whisper Distillery – Aaron Schorsch, master distiller, Bryan. 
  • Backyard fruit production – major fruit crops – Tim Hartmann, AgriLife Extension horticulture specialist and assistant professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences.
  • Microgreens – macroflavor! – James Hinton, owner of Zero Point Organics, Houston.

Three workshops will be offered in addition to breakout choices for an additional cost. These topics include style and function in floral design with Bill McKinley, instructional professor and Endowed Chair of the Benz School of Floral Design in the Department of Horticultural Sciences, eating healthy with Dinner Tonight with Odessa Keenan, program specialist with the Department of Nutrition, and laying out your land for farm to freshness with Mason Marshall, graduate student in the Department of Horticultural Sciences. 

The conference will conclude with a session featuring cocktails and mocktails from The Gardens. 

“We see a growing interest for these topics, and we want to show how AgriLife Extension resources can be a source of information,” Fry said.

Visit Taste 360 agenda for the complete list of sessions and times. 

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