Extension again offering farm market class
Once again the Yuma County Cooperative Extension is offering a training program for people who want to learn how to farm and market the vegetables they grow to the local community in a farmers market.
Buying locally grown food is a trend that is increasing nationwide through direct markets such as farmers markets, said Stacey Bealmear, Extension urban horticulturist.
The majority of Yuma's farmers are large acreage producers, growing vegetables under contract for sale to large distributors, she explained. This means very little locally grown produce is sold directly to consumers in Yuma.
For the second year, the University of Arizona will offer a class to train community members to become farmers who can sell through a farmers market that will provide the local foods so many are looking for, Bealmear said.
This will be achieved through a combination of hands-on and classroom learning. Land at the Yuma Agriculture Center has been set aside to teach participants how to grow produce.
Lectures will include business topics such as marketing, taxes, and how to write a business plan on how to obtain land and capital. Classes will also focus on production-based topics such as soil and water management, food safety and pest management.
Bealmear said the class is designed for small-acreage landowners who would like to make a profit from their land, students interested in becoming farmers, individuals who are able to grow products for sale at the farmers market and anyone who has ever dreamed of being a farmer.
“This is not a class for people who just want to learn about agriculture. It's for those who want to actively participate in agriculture by growing for direct sales to clients. Last year's class participants learned a great deal about farming and business.”
The farmers market they started at the conclusion of their class ran for nine Saturdays and was completely embraced by the Yuma community, she said.
“We look forward to starting both again this year and so is the Yuma community. I've been stopped numerous times this summer by market customers wondering when it will be starting again.”
No dates have been set yet, she said, “but we will have the market again this season.”
The new farmer/farmers market training will start Oct. 4 and be held Thursdays through Nov. 29, with no class Nov. 22. Classes will meet from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Extension office at 2200 W. 28th St.
For more information about taking the class or becoming a vendor for the farmers market, contact Bealmear at 726-3904 or email@example.com.