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VOL. 126 | NO. 24 | Friday, February 04, 2011

Farm to Table Conference Slated for Monday

By Bill Dries

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Farmers, other food producers and chefs gather Monday for a half-day session to discuss emerging issues as the number of farmers markets in the city grows.

The Urban Farms organization is hosting the Farm to Table Conference from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Service Over Self, 2505 Poplar Ave.

Registration for the conference is at www.urbanfarmsmemphis.org with a cost of $20 to attend for those registering in advance or $25 on the day of the conference.

Urban Farms is a Binghampton group promoting urban gardening, farmers markets and access to locally grown food.

“Before 2006, there was only one farmers market,” said Urban Farms general manager Mary Phillips. “Now there are over 14 in the city of Memphis.”

Certain to be discussed is how many markets is enough and when the Memphis area will reach a saturation point.

Farm to Table Conference
Monday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Service Over Self, 2505 Poplar Ave.
What: Urban Farms, a Binghampton group promoting urban gardening, farmers markets and access to locally grown food, is host.
Advance registration is $20 at www.urbanfarmsmemphis.org

“That will be a hot topic for sure,” Phillips said. “Some of our topics will be decided in advance and some of them will not be decided upon until that very day by conference-goers. We’ve asked people attending the conference to bring what their most important issues are.”

Urban Farms recently announced the long-planned opening of its Urban Farms Market at Sam Cooper Boulevard and Tillman Street. The market will be open during the afternoon to evening rush hour three times a week

A similar conference in 2007 focused on chefs who use locally grown food. The planned topics for Monday’s conference include new or recent health department regulations for farmers markets and the use of social media.

The organization’s Twitter account, @UrbanFarmsMEM, is an example of how simple that can be for those growing food in an urban environment or who are new to the relationship between farming and weather. At times it can sound like an updated Old Farmer’s Almanac.

When the weather turned turbulent earlier this week in the city, the organization tweeted, “Lesson learned the hard way: keep a generator handy for power outages. The tilapia didn’t fare so well during the high winds today.”

A spokesman for West Wind Farms will discuss using social media to market products and there will be another session on wholesale marketing techniques.

“We realize the most valuable asset that farmers have is other farmers,” Phillips said of other parts of the conference that will be for networking.

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