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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU Extension co-sponsors Rio Arriba County food, agriculture conference

ESPANOLA, N.M. ? Buying food from local producers is gaining in popularity as more consumers take an interest in who raises their food. Agricultural producers across the state and nation are answering the demand of this trend.

The Rio Arriba County Food & Agriculture Council has been established to help promote local producers? products to the expanding marketplace. During its third annual conference on Saturday, March 15, at the San Pedro Community Center in Espanola, the council will focus on local food supply issues.

The conference, titled ?Increasing New Mexico Small Farm Production, and Food Hub Crop Aggregation for Local Markets,? is devoted to increasing the supply of locally grown foods in Rio Arriba County by aiding and supporting farms and farmers in the region.

Registration for the free conference will begin at 7:30 a.m., with the program beginning at 8:30 a.m. A lunch will be provided.

New Mexico State University?s Rio Arriba County Extension office is a member of the food and agriculture council. The county office is co-sponsor of the conference, along with council members Rio Arriba County Government, New Mexico Acequia Association, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Siete del Norte Economics Development Corporation and the Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute.

?The end result of the council and the conference is to promote the producers? product, whether it is through a farmers market or making connections with retail businesses and restaurants,? said Don Martinez, NMSU Rio Arriba Extension agricultural agent.

Aaron Parry, founder and CEO of Source Local Foods in Boulder, Colo., will open the conference as keynote speaker with a talk on successful transitions to wholesale markets.

Following Parry?s speech, discussion panels will feature commercial and institutional buyers of locally grown, fresh produce and buyers for ranch, dairy and other livestock products.

Presentations will be made on farm and crop planning for fruit and vegetable farmers; facing the need to increase farm production with insufficient numbers of qualified workers by building a spirit of cooperation; and current development of the Espanola Food Hub Project.

Following the presentations, a tour will be held at a winter greenhouse operation in Sombrillo.

For more information, email foodcouncil@lifeboatfoods.com or call 541-337-8595.