Archive for Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Class for commercial crops

July 16, 2008

This fall in Lawrence, Johnson County Community College is offering a new class called Commercial Crop Production, at the Lawrence Centennial School, 2145 Louisiana St.

The three-hour credit class is designed to teach prospective, beginning and experienced market farmers how to be more productive and ecological. Consumer demand for locally grown food is growing, spurred by concerns about food quality, safety and sustainability of the U.S. food system, according to Stu Shafer, Lawrence, JCCC professor of sociology, who will teach the class.

"There is a need for more people to grow fruits and vegetables for local markets," Shafer said. "The number of farmers markets has grown exponentially, and there is a huge demand by grocery stores to find local growers."

Shafer, who has been a market gardener for more than 20 years and a grower member of the community-supported agriculture group, Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance, for 10 years, is passionate about helping people produce food for local markets.

The class will take participants from the planning stages of a garden through the seasonal cycles of harvest and marketing. Topics covered include concepts of sustainability; development of fresh market, commercial agriculture and organic crop production; soil, weed, water, insect and disease management; extension of the growing season; harvesting, handling market preparation, packaging and storage techniques; and requirements for growth of commonly grown vegetables, herbs and small fruits.

For more information about these classes, call (785) 842-1157 or (913) 469-8500, ext. 2750, or enroll online at www.jccc.edu, where students can search for credit classes by location (LCS for Lawrence Centennial School).

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