KRC’s 2018 Specialty Crop Workshops
The Kansas Rural Center (KRC) will host five specialty crop workshops during March to provide information and education necessary for beginning specialty crop growers to establish a successful specialty crop enterprise in Kansas. The workshops will focus on conservation, production and marketing practices for specialty crop growers, and will provide an excellent opportunity for beginning growers to connect with and learn from experienced growers.
The workshops are part of KRC’s “Linking Experienced and Beginning Kansas Specialty Crop Farmers to Share Information for Establishing Successful Specialty Crop Enterprises Project,” which was funded last fall by the Kansas Department of Agriculture through the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant program. KRC is one of five projects approved in Kansas. The aim of KRC’s project is to link experienced and beginning specialty crop farmers and provide information and networking opportunities to help beginning farmers lower production costs, increase profitability, and create successful specialty crop enterprises in Kansas.
Saturday, March 3, in Scandia – Agenda, Register for Scandia workshop
Friday, March 9, in Leavenworth – Agenda, Register for Leavenworth workshop
Tuesday, March 20, in South Hutchinson
Wednesday, March 21, in Dighton
Saturday, March 31, in Erie.
Experienced specialty crop growers and experts from partnering institutions and agencies will provide information on conservation practices and soil health, high tunnel construction and management, cold storage, marketing strategies, and basic economics of specialty crops. Conservation and management practices (such as cover crops, crop rotations, pest and weed management strategies, beneficial insects, etc.) can dramatically impact the bottom line of farms through improving system productivity and profitability. Better understanding of the costs and benefits of these practices and the potential revenues from key vegetables and fruits well-suited to Kansas can help specialty crop farmers succeed.
In addition to providing valuable information education, the workshops will offer beginning farmers the chance to connect with experienced growers to provide for continued access to information and advice.
For information on each workshop, please click on the dates/locations above.
In addition to the regional workshops, KRC will work with beginning specialty crop growers to pair them with experienced specialty crop growers to facilitate farmer to farmer transfer of knowledge and information. KRC will facilitate a learning circle meeting of ten farmers to determine further educational and resource needs , to share information, and to serve as case study subjects for farm profiles for publication statewide.
To learn more about the workshops, please contact David Coltrain at 620-330-3951 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or email email@example.com. For questions about the project as a whole, please contact Mary Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-579-5469.
At the Scandia workshop, Mark Stadler, manager of Dan Kuhn’s farm in Republic County, one of the state’s largest wholesale growers of fruits and vegetables, will talk about lay flat blackberries. Wade Hambright, who was introduced to wine grapes at age five when his dad planted his first grape vines in 2002, will talk about establishing a vineyard on your farm. Hambright is a manager at a vineyard management company in Manhattan, Kansas, and continues to grow and manage his family’s vineyard and other vineyards in the area.
Tom Buller, K-State Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Douglas County, will discuss efficient vegetable production system that help farmers scale up their operation. Buller is an organic specialty crop grower and part of a Fresh Farm HQ, a regional food hub that serves the KC metro area and includes several members from near Clay Center.
The Scandia workshop will include a farm tour of C & C High Tunnels, owned and operated by Chris and Christi Janssen. The Janssens have three high tunnels, each measuring 30 x 150 feet and will be finishing up production of winter salad greens at the time of the farm tour.
The Janssens have been growing and marketing locally grown fresh produce year-round since 2009. Their major summer crops are tomatoes and cantaloupe, but they grow a variety of other vegetables and fruits as well. During the winter months they raise fresh spinach, baby kale and a mix of spring salad greens. They follow natural practices in the nurturing, cultivation and harvesting of their plants, including an integrated pest management program and lots of hands on labor.
In addition to the state of specialty crops overview from David Coltrain and information on resources available to specialty crop growers, the Leavenworth workshop will include a presentation by Stu Shafer, chair of Johnson County Community College’s Sustainable Agriculture Program. Shafer will discuss building bridges for sustainable agriculture education from a specialty crop base. The JCCC Sustainable Agriculture Department was recently awarded a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, for work on this issue.
Shafer is also an experienced specialty crop grower and a founding farmer of Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance, the longest running Community Supported Agriculture operation in the Midwest. Shafer will talk about this experience in his presentation “Grower Cooperatives: Strength in Numbers”.