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K-State Today

February 4, 2020

Global Food Systems to host Small and Urban Farming Workshop

Submitted by Erin Pennington

Global Food Systems will present a workshop on small and urban farming from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, in the Bluemont Room at the K-State Student Union.

This workshop, designed with input from a diverse group of faculty at K-State, is the first offering on this topic through Global Food Systems. The intent of the workshop will be to promote discussion and identify areas of possible synergistic interest in social, political and technical challenges of this important part of the Kansas economy. 

The workshop will provide information on maintaining financial integrity of agricultural operations as well as the importance of diversity in cropping systems on soils and the environment. 

Join us to learn about the impact that small farming and plant diversification have on disease and insect control as well as water and nutrient use, and how this affects the economy both in Kansas and nationally. This workshop will provide a venue to interact with local and regional leaders in the field as well as provide an opportunity to identify fields of research at K-State that intersect with this focus. Faculty in all disciplines should consider attending as many areas of study are integrated into this topic.

The workshop will begin with a discussion about the importance of these farming practices, including a diverse foundation for information on the teaching, research and extension efforts of faculty in the College of Agriculture who are supporting small and urban food systems. The opening discussion will include broad plans for the future of this activity at K-State.

Next, Ebony Murrell from The Land Institute will discuss the role of diverse crop rotations for maintaining soil and crop health, the importance of landscape diversity in maintaining beneficial crop insects and the challenges of maintaining diversity in perennial versus annual agricultural systems.

Certainly, the financial integrity of any agricultural operation is dependent upon numerous factors, but access to well-paying markets is critical. Marlin Bates from K-State Research and Extension will discuss how farms of any size may be able to increase market access, but none are more fitted to nimbly capitalizing on marketing opportunities than small farms. Bates will also cover why access to diversified, stable, off-farm employment opportunities also bolsters farm viability.

Included in the workshop will be a round table discussion with Cary Rivard from K-State Olathe, and Andrea Dejesus, Nat and Alison Bjerke-Harvey, local growers from A&H Farm and Piccalilli. The panelists will discuss their philosophies and challenges in the small farming enterprise.

The workshop will conclude with Kelsey Olson, Kansas Department of Agriculture, who will share success stories and challenges of specialty crops in Kansas as well as information from a recent survey on specialty crops production.

There will be plenty of time for discussion during and following the presentations. As with all Global Foods Systems activities, the intent of this workshop is to convene a diverse group with interest in the area, to learn more about work done in the area and find ways where synergies exist whether it is in social sciences, fundamental sciences or applied research. 

Please register to attend by Wednesday, Feb. 12.

Email molewnik@k-state.eduwith any questions about the event.