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New Mexico State University

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NMSU hosts free farmers' market workshop in Farmington

FARMINGTON, N.M.-- How does a grower take advantage of direct marketing at a farmers' market? That question and many more will be answered at a free workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 20, at McGee Park Multi-use Building, 41 Bloomfield Highway, Bloomfield.


The event is sponsored by the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service, the New Mexico Farmers' Market Association and Farm to Table.

"With 58 farmers' markets now in New Mexico, there is more demand than ever for locally grown food. Gross sales have been on the rise, but in many cases farmers can use some outside assistance to help make their operations more profitable. These workshops connect farmers to new ideas and good resources for working into the future," said Denise Miller, executive director of the New Mexico Farmers' Marketing Association.

With the increased opportunities to market their produce through farmers' markets, growers can get help from NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service to increase their profits through the sale of high-value crops and value-added products.

"Farmers' markets are a growing direct-marketing arena where the business transaction occurs between the grower and the consumer. Through these workshops we want to help producers reduce their risk and increase their profits," said Michael Patrick, NMSU Extension community resource and economic development specialist and coordinator of the program, which is funded by a Western Center for Risk Management Education grant.

Growers attending the workshop will learn from NMSU Extension specialists Stephanie Walker and Ron Walser about specialty crops such as spinach, lettuce, carrots, garlic, berries and melons.

Nancy Flores, Extension food technology specialist, will discuss value-added products, such as jams and jellies, and techniques for processing and preserving vegetables and fruits. She will also present information on the new state regulations regarding producing value-added products in home and commercial kitchens.

The business side of direct marketing - producing for profit by selecting specialty crops and products, evaluating costs and returns, developing a business plan, and merchandizing and marketing - will be presented by Patrick; Carlos Mayen Solorzano, assistant professor of agricultural economics and agricultural business; and Pauline Pao, Aztec Farmers' Market manager.

The program will also feature presentations on the following topics:

•Weed control, presented by Beth LaSchell, Fort Lewis College in Colorado.

•Insect pest control, presented by Tessa Grasswitz, NMSU integrated pest management specialist at Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center.

While the workshop is free, registration before March 17 would be appreciated. To register call the San Juan County Extension Office at (505) 334-9496.