Purdue offers resources for small and specialty farms

September 13th, 2017

By John Woodmansee | KPC News - Northwest News

According to the last U.S. Census of Agriculture (2012), almost half (46.6 percent) of the farms in Indiana are less than 50 acres. That small farm statistic is over half of all farms in Whitley County and in Noble County.

As a significant part of the overall agricultural picture, Purdue also recognizes this segment of agriculture. In an effort to coordinate several recent initiatives of Purdue Extension to serve this audience, we have now consolidated these efforts under one website “umbrella,” so to speak, so that visitors can access information in a one-stop-shop.

Purdue Extension has coined the name “Diversified Food and Farming Systems” for this over-arching umbrella of initiatives. Access the new website at purdue.edu/dffs. The site features six initiatives: local foods, organic agriculture, urban agriculture, beginning farmers, small farms team and the student farm at Purdue.

The “Local Food Program” can be accessed directly at purdue.edu/dffs/localfood. Local Foods Extension programs include: rebuilding your local food system, economic viability of shared-use kitchens, food council development, urban agriculture certificate, food summits, Market Basket 360 and Indiana Harvest (farm to school).

The organic agriculture resources may be accessed at purdue.edu/dffs/organicag. Its resources are concentrated on insect, weed and disease management, along with related organic agriculture news and information.

Urban agriculture is at purdue.edu/dffs/urbanag. Urban agriculture involves utilizing urban sites for food production to help meet the growing demand for local food. It improves food access in some food insecure areas and helps boost fruit and vegetable consumption. Community gardens are just one example of urban agriculture.

Beginning farmers may find information at purdue.edu/dffs/beginningfarmers. Of course, beginning farmers are just as the name implies — farmers just starting out with little or no experience. Facing a steep learning curve, this audience benefits from many types of resources — farmer-to-farmer contacts, farm tours, agency contacts, extension programs and resource libraries.

And, resources for small farms are at purdue.edu/dffs/smallfarms. The Purdue Small Farm Team organizes the annual Indiana Small Farm Conference, has business management resources, and crop and animal production resources for smaller-scale production methods.

The 6th Annual Indiana Small Farm Conference is scheduled for March 1-3, 2018, at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds and Conference Complex, Danville. Full-day workshops are typically scheduled on the first day, March 1. On Friday and Saturday, the conference features concurrent sessions on topics related to small farms. The trade show is also open Friday and Saturday. Find more information about the Small Farm Conference at the website referenced above. Save the date now and find out complete information in coming months.

Lastly, you can keep up with happenings at the Purdue Student Farm at purdue.edu/dffs/studentfarm. The Student Farm is a working small farm managed by Purdue students on the western edge of the Purdue University campus. A farm manager and faculty advisor also provide facilitation and oversight. They grow vegetables, herbs and cut flowers using the principles that naturally govern balanced ecosystems, including emphasis on diversity, healthy soil, healthy plants and healthy people.

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