NMSU hosts farmers’ market workshop in Los Lunas

January 30, 2010

LOS LUNAS – How does a grower take advantage of direct marketing at a farmers’ market? That question and many more will be answered at a free workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus Learning Resource Center, 280 La Entrada Road, Los Lunas. Admission is $10, which includes lunch and workshop materials.

The event is jointly sponsored by the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service, the New Mexico Farmers’ Market Association and Farm to Table.

“With 58 farmers’ markets now in New Mexico, there is more demand than ever for locally grown food. Gross sales have been on the rise, but in many cases farmers can use some outside assistance to help make their operations more profitable. These workshops connect farmers to new ideas and good resources for working into the future,” said Denise Miller, executive director of the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association.

With the increased opportunities to market their produce through farmers’ markets, growers can get help from NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service to increase their profits through the sale of high-value crops and value-added products.

“Farmers’ markets are a growing direct-marketing arena where the business transaction occurs between the grower and the consumer. Through these workshops we want to help producers reduce their risk and increase their profits,” said Michael Patrick, NMSU Extension community resource and economic development specialist, who is coordinating the program, which is funded by a Western Center for Risk Management Education grant.

Growers attending the workshop will learn from NMSU Extension specialists Stephanie Walker and Ron Walser about specialty crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, apricots, nectarines, peaches and berries. Nancy Flores, Extension food technology specialist, will show attendees how to create value-added products, such as jams and jellies.

The business side of direct marketing – producing for profit by selecting specialty crops and products, evaluating costs and returns, developing a business plan, and merchandizing and marketing – will be presented by Michael Patrick and Anil Rupasingha, Extension community resource and economic development specialists; Carlos Mayen Solorzano, assistant professor of agricultural economics and agricultural business; and Laura Bittner, Valencia County Extension home economist.

The program will also feature presentations on the following topics:

•Understanding state regulations regarding producing value-added products in home kitchens and commercial kitchens, presented by Nancy Flores.

•Preserving agricultural land, presented by Cecilia McCord, Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust, executive director.

•Direct marketing of beef, presented by McCord.

•Small-scale cheese production, presented by Donna Lockridge of South Mountain Dairy.

•Organic production and organic certification will be presented by Joanie Quinn, New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission, education and marketing coordinator.

To register call the Valencia County Extension Office at (505) 565-3002.

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