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April 9, 2008

Farm sustainability tour to focus on season-extending techniques

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The 2008 Indiana Farm Sustainability Tour will stop in Lafayette on April 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Along with teaching attendees how to increase farm sustainability and profitability with season-extending tools, the presentations will address ways to market Indiana products through specialty retail outlets.

"Extending the growing season allows farmers to take advantage of the prices that are higher before and after the regular production season," said Roy Ballard, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service educator. "This extended season also makes it easier for consumers to purchase local produce, sometimes resulting in consumer loyalty for the remainder of the season."

Ballard said farmers using season-extension techniques are often better able to meet the needs of their customers who value the ability to buy their produce fresh and from a local vendor.

The tour will begin at the Cooley Family Farm, where attendees will tour the facilities and learn how the operation provides products on a year-round basis. Representatives from two specialty food stores will provide insight on what kinds of food customers demand and how they work with farmers to meet those needs. 

"We really hope that farmers will further explore these techniques for their own farms," Ballard said.

Featured presentations include:

* Season extension and its role in successful community supported agriculture, Kevin Cooley, owner of Cooley Family Farm.

* How to extend the season with winter community supported agriculture and high tunnels, John Ferree, owner of Seldom Seen Farm.

* Retailing specialty foods year-round, Kim Robinson and Kristi Rensberger, owners of Two Cookin' Sisters specialty food shop.

* Providing farmers with a retail urban outlet for sales of seasonal local products, Kevin Edwards and Anthony Lineberry, owners of Edibles Natural Food Market.

Lunch will be catered by The Juniper Spoon restaurant, and a representative will share observations about the importance of buying local.

Registration is $15, which covers lunch and materials, and the deadline to register is April 10. To register online, visit http://www.conf.purdue.edu/farmtours. For more information or to register by phone, contact Jerry Nelson at (812) 886-9582, jnelson@purdue.edu, or Ballard at (317) 462-1113, rballard@purdue.edu. The Cooley Family Farm is located at 24 N. 900 E. in Lafayette and will be the meeting place for the tour.

Writer: Hannah Brescher, (765) 494-8402, hbresche@purdue.edu

Sources:  Jerry Nelson, (812) 886-9582, jnelson@purdue.edu

Roy Ballard, (317) 463-1113, rballard@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
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