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UW-Madison offers school for beginning fresh-market vegetable growers

There’s good news for aspiring fresh-market vegetable growers: local
and organic food is in demand like never before. Farmers’ markets,
restaurants, groceries and schools are all eager to feature Wisconsin-
grown foods.

If you’re wondering what it takes to raise fresh produce for these
expanding markets, consider attending the 2008 Wisconsin School for
Beginning Market Growers. Now in its tenth year, the school will be
held January 18-20 on the UW-Madison campus. Registration for the
intensive three-day program costs $275.

“This school has evolved over its ten-year history,” notes
coordinator John Hendrickson. “At first it was challenging to find
materials appropriate for beginning, smaller-scale growers. Today, we
have more resources and an experienced team of grower-instructors.
Another difference is that we now have broader and deeper
opportunities in the marketplace.”

The school will be taught by three experienced organic growers:
Michael Racette of Barron County, Tricia Bross of Columbia County,
and Scott Williams of Dane County. These growers sell their products
through farmers” markets, community-supported agriculture,
restaurants and retail stores. Additional speakers will cover topics
such as insects and economics.

The school emphasizes organic production methods and direct
marketing, as well as fertility management, greenhouses, season
extension, pest and disease management, equipment needs and labor.
There will also be show-and-tell tables featuring small tools and
equipment.

“The greatest thing about this workshop is that it is based in
reality. The instructors are actual growers from working farms with
true experience,” noted a past participant. “Their honesty and
generosity with detailed information is invaluable.”

In addition to the School for Beginning Market Growers, a separate
Cut Flower Growers School is being offered on the UW-Madison campus
on February 9 and 10, at a cost of $195.

The School for Beginning Market Growers is sponsored by the UW-
Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and is open to the
public. Enrollment is limited to 35, so those interested are
encouraged to sign up soon. For more information about the school or
the cut flower growers’ workshop, contact John Hendrickson at (608)
265-3704 or jhendric@wisc.edu, or visit the CIAS web site:
www.cias.wisc.edu.