Thursday, November 10, 2011

Small Fruit Agent Training in NC

For the past two days, 24 agents from NC, SC, AR, TN, GA and VA attended a 2 day organic small fruit agent training session sponsored by the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium (SRSFC). The SRSFC consists of  Clemson University, the University of Georgia, North Carolina State University, the University of Tennessee, Virginia Tech and the University of Arkansas.  The SRSFC was formed to help disseminate small fruit expertise and information throughout the region. One of the key functions of the Consortium is to hold agent trainings based on aspects of small fruit production. A list of the past agent trainings can be found at:

Yesterday, we had a classroom session that started with a general overview of organic production and certification.  Then a series of one hour sessions on strawberry, blueberry, caneberries, and grape organic production were presented.  There was a similar training in 2005, and most of what was presented was standard practices that help minimize pest pressure and general use of cover crops and composts. Although there are still many unknowns, there were many science based recommendations that will help agents help growers produce berries organically. Today we had a tour of the Vollmer Farm in Bunn NC. John Vollmer is the patriarch of this farm. John was one of the first farmers in the area to produce organic strawberries, and has since added blueberries and blackberries. Agents were able to see organic challenges and practices at this farm.

So, those of you in the states that are a part of the SRSFC should have agents that are better equipped to help you grow organic berries.

The picture above was taken today at the Vollmer Farm. Dr. Gerard Krewer, a retired Horticulture Extension Specialist at UGA, now a current organic blueberry grower shared his experience and expertise with the group.

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