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Ag-related classes, conferences start soon in South Texas


Several agriculture-related meetings and events of interest to a wide variety of people are slated for the coming days, according to personnel at Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

"There's something for almost everybody coming up fairly quickly," said Juan Anciso, Ph.D., an AgriLife Extension vegetable specialist in Hidalgo County.

One event is a very popular gardening class, Texas Master Gardener, that starts Jan. 27 in Cameron County and on Feb. 18 in Hidalgo County, according to Enrique Perez, Ph.D., an AgriLife Extension agent in Cameron County.

"Those who sign up for the Texas Master Gardener classes will increase their knowledge and skills in urban horticulture, specifically vegetable gardening and landscape gardening," he said. "Students will learn about the different plant materials and vegetable varieties that do well in the Rio Grande Valley."

The Cameron County class will meet on the third Wednesday of every month through July from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., beginning Jan. 27 at the Cameron County annex office at 1390 W. Expressway 83 in San Benito.

Cost of the class is $140. For more information, call 956-361-8236.

A Texas Master Gardener class in Hidalgo County will meet from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., every Thursday through April beginning Feb. 18, according to Barbara Storz, an AgriLife Extension agent in Hidalgo County.

Depending on activities, the class will meet at the AgriLife Extension office in Edinburg at 100 E. Cano St., or at North San Juan Park, 511 E. Earling (the Nolana extension) between Raul Longoria and Cesar Chavez roads, some two miles east of U.S. 281.

"The cost of the class is $150. The deadline to apply is Feb. 12, and I'd encourage folks to sign up soon because these classes, whether in Cameron on Hidalgo counties, are very popular," Storz said. Contact Storz at 956-383-1026 for more information.

The next large event, of interest to consumers and professionals alike, is the ninth Sustainable Ag and Organic Gardening Conference to be held at 8 a.m., Feb. 4 to 6 at the Echo Hotel in Edinburg, 1903 S. Closner Blvd., Storz said.

"We've confirmed so many fascinating speakers for this one," Storz said. "It's a must-attend event. This conference is a unique opportunity for Valleyites to learn so much interesting and beneficial information about nutrition, food quality and food production."

Authors and experts among the speakers will discuss the link between the health of food and humans, organic vegetable farming in Austin, producing high-value crops on two to five acres, high-tech organic production and funding for organic producers.

The cost of the conference depends on activities selected, including tours and a trade show, Storz said.

For more information, call the AgriLife Extension office in Edinburg at 956-383-1026, or visit the conference website at www.sustainableagrgv.org.

Finally, Anciso will host a produce quality assurance conference beginning at 8 a.m., Feb. 18 and 19 at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Weslaco, 2401 E. Highway 83.

"This conference will be an effort to harmonize on-farm food safety practices," he said. "The idea is to come up with one set of rules that everybody can agree to in order to reduce the likelihood of food-borne pathogens at the farm level."

The conference is expected to attract some 60 buyers from throughout the country who buy produce for large supermarket and restaurant chains, Anciso said.

For more information, contact Anciso at 956-968-5581.

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