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Alternative agriculture workshop crosses state line, addresses small farm needs

Alternative agriculture workshop crosses state line, addresses small farm needs

Alternative agriculture workshop crosses state line, addresses small farm needs

The second alternative agriculture workshop scheduled for March 20 in McCreary County may look like an improbable situation, but it is very appropriate response to Kentucky and Tennessee's agricultural needs.

The workshop is being presented by the Cooperative Extension Service offices of McCreary County, Kentucky and Scott County, Tennessee and has nothing to do with a fiercely contested sports contest.

The daylong event deals with farm enterprises. It was requested by landowners in a spot of the country where only one family in both counties fulfills the government's standardized description of a full-time farming enterprise.

Despite official descriptions, this is farm country -- eastern Kentucky style. "Our residents own farmland, but much of it is increments of five to ten acres." said Greg Whitis, county Extension agent with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

The geography of McCreary and Scott counties is typical of many parts of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee where flat, workable land is limited to a few acres of tillable soil on ridge tops and bottom land. In essence, there is no room for "big time" farming.

"Our people want to do more than cut back the grass on their acreage," said Whitis.

"They pay taxes on this land and they are willing to work on small farm enterprises that fit our

geographical situation."

Whitis and his Tennessee counterpart, Bob Melhorn, Extension agent for agriculture with the University of Tennessee, came up with the idea for an Alternative Agriculture workshop from feedback they received from a joint "cow college" training course that their counties have conducted over the past five years.

The workshop features 23 different talks and demonstrations. A trade show related to these enterprises is also planned.

It will focus on information needed to choose appropriate crops and ways to process and market what is harvested.

Some subjects will address raising specific crops such as pumpkins, honey, sheep and goats. Others will highlight small woodlot management, speciality forest crops, aquaculture and organic vegetable production.

Participants will learn how to make finished products from their raw produce through workshops on setting up certified kitchens and learning the steps in food preservation.

Marketing your crops and finished products is essential. Topics such as "Making it on 20 Acres" and "Finding Your Market" will help explain the pitfalls and successes related to small farm enterprises.

The workshop starts Saturday at 9 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m. "We are having it on Saturday so everyone interested can attend," said Whitis. "Because most of our clients work off the farm during the daytime, all our meetings must be held at night or on the weekend."

The workshop is slated for the Somerset Community College's McCreary Center. Take

highway 27 south out of Somerset to Whitley City. The McCreary Center is located on the right about a half mile past the first stoplight.

"We had about thirty participants last year," said Whitis. "The word has spread and we are expecting over two hundred participants from all over the region and even a couple of families from Indiana are planning on attending. I have no idea if they are big hoops fans."

For additional information contact Greg Whitis at (606)-376-2524 or send an e-mail inquiry by way of

Contact Information

Scovell Hall Lexington, KY 40546-0064