Tri-State Fruit and Vegetable Conference
Agriculture and Food Systems Agent
Objectives: The Florida Panhandle and surrounding areas have the necessary chill hours in the winter months that allow for diversification in specialty crops that require chill hours. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture the number of vegetable and melon farms increased 6 % on 9,000 acres (a 68% increase) and blueberry and strawberry farms increased 37%. With the growth of this area this conference became necessary to provide education on a variety of topics for small to medium sized, diversified cucurbit and vegetable producers in the Tri-State region including the counties in the Panhandle, Alabama, and Georgia. This area has many established farmers and residents growing specialty vegetables and fruit crops.
Methods: This annual event is designed to engage beginner and advanced level farmers and residents through presentations at different levels of experience. All these presentations highlight the latest research-based management practices by a mix of specialists from Auburn University, University of Georgia, and the University of Florida. A full morning with educational sessions with lunch to follow is scheduled at the beginning of each year. Examples of the learning objectives were drip irrigation and fertigation, specialty vegetable and fruit crops on blackberries, carrots and potatoes, hydroponics, cucurbit updates, cover crops and soil health, and budgeting and marketing a farm. There was also door prizes and a tradeshow with regional vendors that supported the program through sponsorships.
Results: There were 144 attendees at the last two conferences and 107 (74%) that completed the post survey. A sample of the survey results concluded that 70% of respondents plan to make management or practice change to their operation, 98% gained knowledge on trap and cover crops, and 19 individuals indicated that they made changes as a direct result of ideas discussed in last year’s Tri State conference. Attendees represented 16 counties across the Tri-State area.
Conclusion: This annual conference and tradeshow provides a learning experience for the Tri-State area with valuable continued education. This education event is the forum of the latest information that can improve farm management and practices for the future of Agriculture.
Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC
This poster is being submitted only for display at AM/PIC. Poster is not to be judged, but the abstract will be published in the proceedings.
A poster file has not been provided
Authors: Ashley Stonecipher
Stonecipher, A. Environmental and Commercial Horticulture Agent, University of Florida, Florida, 32446