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NMSU, NMDA to host organic farm walking tours

A great way to learn about farming techniques is to visit successful operations. With the increased interest in organic farming, an opportunity is being afforded for new and transitioning organic growers to visit farms and observe some of the ways they manage pests and encourage beneficial insects.

New Mexico State University?s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture?s Organic Program are presenting a series of four farm tours hosted by organic growers throughout New Mexico who produce a variety of crops.

?These on-farm workshops provide an opportunity to view both pest and beneficial insects on a variety of crops, and to discuss approaches to their management within organic cropping systems,? said Tessa Grasswitz, NMSU's integrated pest management specialist.

Such methods include the use of ?insectary? plants, hedgerows, cover crops, nest boxes or roosting sites, which can attract and support beneficial organisms such as predatory and parasitic insects, spiders, birds and bats, all of which can help suppress insect pests and/or problem vertebrates such as mice and gophers.

?Each workshop will consist of a farm walk and discussion,? said Joanie Quinn, NMDA?s organic adviser. ?Come and enjoy an opportunity to meet other like-minded growers, view different crops and pests, and learn from each other.?

The first farm tour will be Wednesday, Aug 20, from 1 to 4 p.m. at ARCA Organics in Corrales.

?ARCA Organics has 4.5 acres of mixed vegetables, herbs and berries,? Quinn said. ?Sean Ludden will be our host. Visitors will also have the option of visiting a 6,000 square foot wheatgrass/bedding plant greenhouse operation.?

The second farm tour will be Wednesday, Aug. 27, from 1 to 4 p.m. at NMSU?s Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas, where the visitors will learn about the organic pest management research Grasswitz is conducting.
Grasswitz will discuss farmscaping approaches to organic pest management, pollinator plantings and projects on Bagrada bug, squash bug, peach tree borer and field bindweed.

The third farm tour will be Wednesday, Sept. 3, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Hidden Acres Farm in Hobbs.

?Greg Jungclaus will host the tour of the five acre farm that includes two acres of mixed vegetables under drip irrigation,? said Quinn. ?Hidden Acres Farm?s farmscaping includes a wildlife shelterbelt that might interest the visitors.?

The fourth farm tour will be Wednesday, Sept. 24, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Farside Farm in Mendanales, approximately 12 miles southeast of Abiquiu.

?Lisa Faithorn and Djann Hoffman will host the tour of the six-acre farm where they raise mixed vegetables, grapevines, strawberries, herbs including medicinal species, and flowers,? said Quinn. ?The farm includes hoop-houses and extensive wild areas, including a created wetland.?

There is no charge for attending any of the tours, but numbers are limited. ?So please register only for those events that you plan to attend,? Quinn said. ?A reserve list will be maintained for over-subscribed events.?

Pre-register with Deborah Sandoval by telephone at 505-865-7340 or via email to debosand@nmsu.edu. Directions to each venue will be provided upon receipt of registration details.