Conference on farmers’ market planned for Feb. 23

The Kansas Rural Center will sponsor a statewide Farmers? Market Conference from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23 at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 S.W. 10th Ave., Topeka.

Mercedes Taylor-Puckett, KRC?s farmers? market project coordinator, said the ?bigger and better? 2009 conference is titled ?Growing Together? and is open to all involved with farmers? markets, whether as a producer, market manager, board member or interested citizen.

Charuth and Kevin Loth of ShadowBrook Farm in Lincoln, Neb., will be the conference?s featured speakers. The Loths operate a family-owned, diversified vegetable farm incorporating cattle, dairy goats and flowers into the 34-acre, organic farm?s rotation plan.

The couple participates in three farmers? markets and the Nebraska Food Cooperative, as well as operating community supported agriculture and on-farm market and dairy.

?Shadow Brook is an inspiring example of a new generation of sustainable farms,? Taylor-Puckett said. ?Charuth and Kevin have explored many direct-marketing opportunities over the past 13 years and aren?t shy about sharing what has and hasn?t worked and why.?

Steve Moris, Kansas Department of Agriculture?s food safety program manager, will discuss the recent consolidation of food safety oversight to KDA and review the rules and regulations affecting farmers? market products.

Representatives from Kansas Department of Commerce and Rural Development will present resources to help grow farmers? markets and value-added businesses.

In addition, afternoon breakout sessions will focus on five topics: cut flowers, launching or revitalizing your market, meat and dairy, marketing and display, and managers and boards.

Markets and vendors are encouraged to share their experiences in ?Flew or Flopped? presentations during lunch and to bring examples of their promotional materials.

Registration to cover the conference materials, continental breakfast and lunch is $20 per person. Completed registration forms along with fees made payable to the Kansas Rural Center are due by Friday, Feb. 13, and should be mailed to Kansas Rural Center, PO Box 133, Whiting, KS 66552-0133.

Conference schedule and registration information are available for download at www.kansasruralcenter.org/calendar.html.

For more information, contact Taylor-Puckett by phone at 785-840-6202 or by e-mail at mercedes.taylorpuckett@gmail.com.

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