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Market Gardening School to help producers

Oklahoma

There is nothing better than fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the garden. Fresh market producers are continuing to see an increase in demand for produce as Oklahomans seek out the freshest foods available.

In an effort to provide fresh market producers with the most up-to-date information on management, production and marketing techniques, Oklahoma State University is teaming up with the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, to host the 2009 Oklahoma Market Garden School.

The eight-week course will begin Sept. 22 and meet weekly through Nov. 10 in the Kruse Auditorium at the Noble Foundation in Ardmore. Classes will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Registration is $70 per individual or $85 per couple.

Lynn Brandenberger, OSU Cooperative Extension horticulture food crops specialist, said the school is geared toward those who are established in the business as well as those who are interested in exploring a new enterprise.

"We continue to see the public's interest grow for locally grown fresh produce. In addition, there are some schools around the state who want to purchase fresh produce from local producers for their lunch programs," Brandenberger said. "Produce that is grown, picked and sold in the same area has many benefits, including freshness, food safety due to a localized food production system and lower costs due to lack of transportation expenses."

Each week's session will focus on a different area related to gardening, such as getting organized, soils and fertilizer management, crop establishment and irrigation, guidelines for producing vegetable crops, season extension, pest management, food safety and marketing and fruit and nut production guidelines.

"We have a great bunch of specialists from the three groups hosting this event who will share their expertise during the eight sessions," he said. "Whether you're already established in your business or just starting out, we'll be offering something for everyone."

The class is limited to 60 participants, so those interested are encouraged to apply early. Online registration is available at http://orangehub.okstate.edu/ustores/web/index.jsp. Click on Horticulture/Landscape once you are at the website. To register by mail, send the registration form from the OSU's department of horticulture and landscape architecture website at http://www.hortla.okstate.edu/, along with the payment to Oklahoma Market Gardening Course, attn: Stephanie Larimer, 358 Ag Hall, Stillwater, OK 74078-6027 or call Stephanie at 405-744-5404.



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