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Urban Agriculture Forum Provides Opportunity for Information, Networking

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)  Texas in partnership with Prairie View A&M University Small Farm Institute and the San Antonio Food Bank, hosted an Urban Agriculture Forum Sept. 6 in San Antonio.

The event featured 18 speakers for 16 separate sessions as well as 20 vendors, all covering information related to urban and small acre agriculture.

With more than 100 people in attendance, the event was a success.

“The number of attendees and partners that joined us simply blew me away,” said Wilma Tichelaar, state urban conservationist for NRCS Texas. “The amount of support that I witnessed really shows the spirit of our Texas farmers.”

The San Antonio Food Bank served as the backdrop for the event, but also as a resource and educational center for the area. Aside from providing 100,000 people a week with food, they also have programs that teach food preparation and production, along with healthy eating patterns and lifestyles for the urban population that it serves. 

Those in attendance were able to find and share information all falling within the scope of urban agriculture.

Demonstrations were given on small farm tools, soil health and function, and a variety of different urban agriculture production avenues.

Workshops included topics such as aquaponics, backyard chickens, as well as fruit and vegetable production. Government agencies also provided information on programs and resources available to urban agriculture. These activities were planned to not only engage and educate, but to also facilitate networking and discussion.

“NRCS Texas, Prairie View A&M (Small Farm Institute) and the San Antonio Food Bank collaborated to bring in local urban/small acre farmers with a variety of expertise,” said Tichelaar. “We really wanted to highlight the amazing work small acre farmers are doing in the San Antonio area and create a meeting space where farmers and partners alike from all over Texas could come and network, share and learn new ideas.”

NRCS Texas is committed to working with farms of all sizes and in all locations, including those in urban areas. With the population of Texas ever growing, especially in urban areas, the application of urban agriculture will be a necessary and important topic. Urban farmers and gardeners work among diverse populations to expand access to nutritious foods, foster community engagement, provide jobs and educate communities about farming. NRCS Texas has programs and personnel dedicated to assist urban producers and farms.

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