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Sustainable Agriculture Workshop Slated for Sunland Park

LAS CRUCES - New Mexico growers can learn about organic certification and environmentally friendly agricultural techniques Dec. 13 at a Western Sustainable Agriculture Workshop in Sunland Park.

The event is aimed at producers interested in entering the nation's surging organic food market and those who want to try sustainable techniques, said Stephanie Walker, vegetable specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

"Organic produce is becoming increasingly popular with consumers," she said. "But many people don't fully understand what it takes to become a certified organic grower. It's a lot more than simply not using chemical fertilizers and pesticides."

In addition, growers can use a number of specific procedures to make their operation more environmentally friendly, said John White, Doņa Ana County horticulture agent with NMSU Extension.

The daylong program begins at 8 a.m. at Ardovino's Desert Crossing restaurant, located 1 mile south of Sunland Park Racetrack. The cost, which includes a luncheon, is $25. Registration deadline is Dec. 6.

NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service and WSARE, which is short for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education - Western Region, are co-sponsoring the event.

A featured speaker will be Jim Freeburn, a WSARE training coordinator, who will talk about research grants for small farms. Joanie Quinn, education coordinator with the New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission, will discuss specialty crop marketing and organic certification.

Joran Viers, Bernalillo County Extension horticulture agent, will cover organic soil fertility and management, while Denise Miller, executive director of the New Mexico Farmers Market Association, will report on farmers markets that support local agriculture.

Rob Call, a horticulture agent with University of Arizona Extension, will discuss developments in organic fruit production. George Dickerson, an NMSU Extension horticulture specialist, will provide an update on plant growth enhancement.

For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting, please contact Mary Curtis at (505) 646-1715 or mcurtis@nmsu.edu before the event.