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Urban Farming Series continues with workshop on high-value fruit production

New Mexico

Fruit trees and berry bushes are a good urban agricultural crop. They can provide beauty in the spring, shade in the summer and fruit to eat or sell.

To give local growers, those currently growing fruit and berries and those contemplating such production, some good basic information, the New Mexico State University's Bernalillo County Extension Service is hosting the third part of its Urban Farming Series, "High Value Fruit Production on Small Acreages," from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 21, at the historic Hubbell House, 6029 Isleta Blvd. SW. It is a property belonging to Bernalillo County Open Space Division who is supporting the event.

"We have four presenters who will discuss everything from species and varieties to planting and fertilizing, and from pollinating to pest control," said Joran Viers, Bernalillo County Extension horticulturalist.

Joining Viers will be researchers from NMSU's Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center Ron Walser, who is an urban small farm specialist and fruit horticulturalist, and Tessa Grasswitz, who is an integrated pest management specialist. Beekeeper and orchard owner Ken Hays of Hays Honey and Apple Farm in Bosque Farms will also be on the program.

In the Middle Rio Grande Valley there are a lot of homeowners with small acreage that could produce additional income by raising fruits or berries.

"You can produce revenue from a third to half an acre," said Walser. "With blackberries, raspberries, and even strawberries, a person can earn $10,000 to $15,000 on a third of an acre by selling the produce at a farmer's market or to local retail stores. It could be additional revenue during retirement or a summer job for teens."

During the program, Walser will share information about which varieties of fruit and berries will do well in the Middle Rio Grande Valley. "If someone has decided to invest their time and money into this, we want to get them going in the right direction with the right varieties, which is key to their success," he said.

Another way to get high value from fruit production is to establish the crop as organic and to use integrated pest control methods that will reduce the uses of chemical pesticides. Grasswitz will share her expertise in this area.

Walser will also give a demonstration on pruning techniques, Viers will focus on soil issues such as fertilization and irrigation, and Hays will discuss pollination and the role of bees in fruit production.

Continuing education credits will also be offered for licensed pesticide applicators, 2 hours, and certified crop advisers, 4 hours.

Cost of the workshop will be $10, which will include lunch. Pre-registration is requested for accurate lunch count. Call 505-243-1386 to reserve your place in the workshop. The admission fee will be collected at the door.



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