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Small farms focus of upcoming conference By Stephanie Schupska

“Making every acre count” is the theme of this year’s small farm conference March 31 through April 1 in Athens, Ga. The sessions, held at the Foundry Park Inn and Spa, are designed to help farmers interested in making the most of their land.

The conference will cover marketing, insurance and liability concerns, certifications in organic and naturally grown, state and federal programs and benefits, Georgia’s Farm to School program, pastureland management, safe food handling techniques, grass-fed beef and taking products to farmers markets.

Georgia Department of Agriculture commissioner Gary Black will be the keynote speaker. The conference will include small farm tours to Plow Point Farms in Monroe, which raises chickens and grass-fed beef, and Whippoorwill Hollow Farm in Walnut Grove, a certified organic farm specializing in sustainable fruit, vegetable and flower production.

To register for the 2011 Georgia Small Farm Conference, go to www.areg.caes.uga.edu. Producer scholarships will be awarded as funds are available. The deadline for scholarship application is March 24. Registration is $100 before March 24.

Participating partners for the conference include the University of Georgia, UGA Cooperative Extension, UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, Fort Valley State University, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA, Georgia RC&D Council, Georgia Association of Conservation District Supervisors, Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, Georgia Organics, Team Agriculture Georgia, Georgia Department of Agriculture, Oconee River Soil and Water Conservation District, Georgia Agritourism Association, Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission and the Walton County Soil and Water Conservation District.

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)

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