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School for Market Growers offered Jan. 15-17

The Wisconsin School for Beginning Market Growers, a three-day workshop for people wanting to start a fresh market vegetable farm, will be offered January 15-17 on the UW-Madison campus.

While the increasing demand for local food creates opportunities for aspiring fresh market vegetable growers, it does not ensure a profitable or enduring business, says John Hendrickson, the school”s coordinator.

“That”s where the School for Beginning Market Growers comes in,” he says. “Our intensive workshop provides a holistic and detailed look at what it takes to start and operate a fresh market vegetable business. We want people to not only learn how to grow food, but also how to make smart decisions about marketing, pricing, capitalization and labor.”

Now in its 12th year, the school emphasizes organic production methods and direct marketing. Participants will learn about fertility management, greenhouse use, season extension, pest management, equipment needs, planning and budgeting. They will have opportunities to network and learn from others who wish to grow and sell fresh produce.
There will also be a show-and-tell table featuring small tools and gadgets.

Three experienced organic growers will serve as instructors: Michael Racette of Spring Hill Community Farm, Tricia Bross of Luna Circle Farm and Jenny Bonde of Shooting Star Farm. The three are experienced in marketing through farmers markets, community-supported agriculture and restaurant sales. Additional speakers will cover topics such as insects and economics.

The School for Beginning Market Growers is sponsored by the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. The fee is $275. Enrollment is limited, so early sign-ups are advised. For more information, contact John Hendrickson at (608) 265-3704 or jhendric@wisc.edu, or visit the CIAS web site: www.cias.wisc.edu.