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Learn about Urban Farming at rec center

January 24, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO (news@breezenewspapers.com) , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Here in Lee County, it isn't unusual to see large animals graze in the fields near large buildings and I-75.

While you may not be able to raise large animals on your small property, you can raise chickens and other small livestock and even turn it into a small business.

Starting next week, you can even learn how to do it here in North Fort Myers, home of many small, farmlike properties.

Registration is open now for a class series, "Urban Gardening and Micro-business," to be presented by UF/IFAS Lee County Agriculture/Natural Resources & Consumer Sciences Programs at North Fort Myers Recreation Center.

The class series begins on Jan. 31 and will introduce practical and technical concepts in urban farming and training in how to make valued-added products.

Roy Beckford, University of Florida's Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent in Lee County and instructor, said the idea is to educate people about the concept of urban agriculture and food systems and how to become entrepreneurs in this emerging market.

"This will empower them to not just farm, but to add value to whatever they grow and raise," Beckford said. "Many areas in North Fort Myers and outer Lee County are zoned agriculture, and on these farms they can raise poultry and egg production far better than 4-Hers do it."

Value-added products provide viable means of increasing farm income by creating higher value commodities developed from farm produce.

An example Beckford gave were small malformed strawberries that can be made into jelly that can be fetched at high prices you wouldn't have gotten on their own.

"Non-commercial beekeepers can also produce and sell honey if produced in their home. Any food allowable under the Cottage Food Law will also be examined because some don't know they can produce products in their own kitchen such as bread, cake, cookies and others that don't require temperature controls for safety," said Jennifer Hagen, University of Florida's Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Lee County."

Each session in the course will deliver presentations and hands-on practical applications.

Classroom and workshop instruction classes include:

* Jan. 31- Introduction; Production Systems (Permaculture, hydroponics and raised beds)

* Feb. 1 - Raising Poultry and Small Livestock for Profit

* Feb. 7 - Understanding Value Added Products

* Feb. 8 - Food Safety Regulations, Licenses and Certifications

Course fee of $50 covers all classes and workshops in the series or $20 per class. Registration is limited to 40 participants. Attendees will receive a "Vegetable Pest ID & Control book," as well as samples of value-added products.

The classes will be offered from 6-8:30 p.m. each class day.

Register on Eventbrite by searching for 'Urban Gardening and Micro-business Course' or by going directly to the registration link at: www.eventbrite.com/e/ufifas-lee-county-urban-gardening-and-value-added-short-course-series-tickets-37417989213

North Fort Myers Recreation Center, is at 2000 North Recreation Way, North Fort Myers

For more information, contact Beckford at fbeckford@leegov.com, or Hagen at jhagen@leegov.com.

The mission of the UF/IFAS Lee County Extension is to address Lee County issues and needs through customized education and training in agriculture/natural resources, horticulture, 4-H/youth development, marine education, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods and Family and Consumer Sciences.

 
 

 

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