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Organic workshop and field day slated July 14

Oklahoma

Oklahoma farmers and gardeners who want to learn more about organic production should plan to attend the 2009 Organic Workshop and Field Day at Lane.

The event will take place July 14 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Lane Agriculture Center is located 10 miles east of Atoka on State Highway 3.

This educational event is sponsored by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, the Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture. A meal will be provided following the program to those who attend. Registration is free, but attendees are asked to register by calling 918-647-9123 to ensure an accurate count for food.

While many growers have wondered if organic farming methods can be profitable in Oklahoma, research conducted at the Lane facility has begun to provide results that can help farmers make a sound decision on using organic practices, said Jim Shrefler, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension area horticulture specialist. This research has been underway for seven years and has addressed tomato, southern pea, sweetcorn, watermelon, squash, pepper and herbs, to name a few of the crops.

"Organic production offers growers new possibilities in terms of how their crops can be marketed," Shrefler said. "For whatever the reason, an increasing number of consumers believe that the use of organically grown food is a good choice. This translates into a potential new market for producers."

However, there is a lot to be learned and understood to grow vegetables organically and make a profit. This workshop and field day will provide attendees with some baseline information on what to expect when they try to grow organic produce.

Shrefler said the afternoon program will address some key concerns of organic fruit and vegetable growing. Part of the workshop will address the use of manures as a fertilizer source. Josh Payne, Extension area waste management specialist, will discuss the proper handling of manures. Warren Roberts, horticulturist and soil scientist, will share his expertise about the value of manure as a fertilizer in an organic vegetable production system.

The second part of the workshop will address food safety, an area of concern to all. William McGlynn, Extension horticultural food specialist, will discuss why farmers need to be concerned with food safety. Lynn Brandenberger, food crops specialist, will discuss what farmers can do to prevent food safety hazards.

Following the evening meal there will be a field tour of current projects including cover crop and vegetable rotation systems, the use of mulches to improve produce quality, alternative plant disease management studies and research on weed control for organic vegetable farming.



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