Do you have a budding entrepreneur who likes to tend plants? This conference covers what it takes for a small-scale farmer to sell locally. Ticket prices vary.
For inspiration, I recommend viewing this brief tour of a 1/5-acre farm in Pasadena: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4AcmaGbldU. The Dervae family are pioneers at living the farm life in an urban setting.
Officials hope conference plants seeds for local farms
Though acres of concrete and buildings outnumber farms and citrus groves in the Inland area today, farmers and local officials want to get back to the area’s agricultural roots.
A conference scheduled in Riverside for Wednesday, March 19, and Thursday, March 20, aims to explain the value of locally-grown food, show there’s a market for it, and help people navigate the challenges of setting up a small farm.
Grow Riverside will include speakers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Riverside Unified schools’ nutrition program, agricultural lending bankers, Southern California urban farmers and citrus growers, and agricultural policy advocates.
“Our goal is really to create a robust local food system,” said Robert Puro, co-founder of Seedstock, a Los Angeles-based consultant that Riverside hired to organize the conference.
“It’s sort of following this trend of reintegrating agriculture into the urban landscape.”
That includes everything from teaching people to grow food on small parcels, to expanding the market for local produce at stores and restaurants, to helping elected officials craft policies that support local agriculture.
A buyer from Whole foods, which will open a new store this year in Palm Desert, and the owner of Riverside restaurant The Salted Pig will speak on a panel about challenges in buying and selling local food.
“If you’ve got a farm that’s five minutes away from a restaurant or a supermarket, why isn’t that produce in the supermarket?” Puro asked. “The growers in the audience are potential customers.”
In Riverside, Puro said, there are plenty of agricultural assets lying dormant, including about 7.5 square miles of usable farmland. The Gage canal also provides water that’s among the cheapest in the region.
But with the scarcity and cost of water from other sources, increased development, and the threat of citrus-killing disease, Riverside’s citrus acreage has shrunk by about half in the past 40 years.
For Riverside City Councilman Chris Mac Arthur, who also will speak at the conference, keeping the city’s citrus heritage alive is a personal matter.
Mac Arthur’s father bought the family’s first groves more than 60 years ago, and the councilman lives in a house built in 1897 amid a four-acre grove near the corner of Adams Street and Dufferin Avenue.
“This is really what made Riverside famous,” Mac Arthur said in February while watching workers climb ladders to pick his oranges, place them in canvas bags, and then empty the full bags into four-foot-square crates.
“We’d love to continue to grow navels the rest of our lives, but I think we need to diversify too.”
For example, farmers used to grow walnuts in Riverside, he said. Avocados do well and the city’s greenbelt area also has a pomegranate grove, Mac Arthur said. The conference will help work through potential clashes between greenbelt farmers and residents, like odor complaints from manure spreading, he said.
Farmers such as Gabriel Ruiz have advice to share on running a small farm.
He and his brother started Unity Farm four years ago on 12 acres they lease from Riverside County in Rancho Jurupa Park in Jurupa Valley.
The USDA-certified organic farm grows seasonal vegetables such as cabbage, kale, artichokes, carrots and herbs and sells them to Inland and Orange County restaurants and stores.
The venture was self-sufficient after two years, Ruiz said, but it required him to learn to be a salesman. Now, he’s looking to lease more land or possibly buy some to increase the farm’s size.
“I’m a living example that anybody can do this,” Ruiz said. “You just have to commit to yourself that this is what you want to do.”
Contact Alicia Robinson at 951-368-9461 or email@example.com
A conference will offer tips on starting a small farm, buying and selling local produce and other parts of a local food system.
WHAT: Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond
WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, and Thursday, March 20
WHERE: Riverside Convention Center, 3637 Fifth St., Riverside
DETAILS: About 330 people are expected. Ticket prices vary. Registration or see a list of speakers at http://www.seedstock.com
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The following is from http://www.seedstock.com:
Seedstock in partnership with the City and Community of Riverside will be hosting Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond!, a two-day, outcomes-based conference to examine and develop solutions that will enable cities, Riverside in this particular case, to reconnect to their agricultural roots and galvanize citizens, growers, advocates, government officials and other major stakeholders around the economic opportunities that can result from employing sustainable agriculture.
Event Date: March 19 – 20
Location: Riverside Convention Center
Website and Additional Information: http://growriverside.com
Conference Program Information: http://growriverside.com/program
To inquire about scholarship tickets, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Conference Focus Areas:
The conference will explore the following topic areas through keynote presentations and panels:
Building a Local Agriculture Future
Developing Economically Viable Small-scale Farming Solutions
Health and Community Benefits of Local Food
Funding the Future of Farming in Riverside
Citrus and Beyond: Riverside’s Agriculture future
Riverside Grown: The Local Food Landscape
Urban Farming in Riverside
Forming a Local Food Alliance