March 3, 2020
Local Conversations event connects producers with buyers
By Tracy Courage
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Share Grounds site in McCrory to host Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s first Local Conversations event of 2020
- Event connects farmers and producers with consumers
(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
McCRORY, Ark. — The Arkansas Department of Agriculture will host its first Local Conversations of the year on Thursday, March 5, to help connect Arkansas farmers and producers with the buying community.
The free event will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the new Share Grounds certified kitchen and distribution center at the Three County Fair Ground in McCrory in collaboration with the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Registration and a light breakfast will be available at 7:30 a.m., and the program begins at 8:30 a.m.
“Our Local Conversations events have been well-received in the past, and we are pleased to partner with Extension this year to highlight the new Share Grounds program,” Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said. “These collaborative events are designed to bring producers and consumers together to learn from each other so consumers can ultimately have more access to locally produced food and products.”
Representatives from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Cooperative Extension Service will provide an overview of local foods in Arkansas.
Speakers include Sarah Lane, the Farm to School coordinator for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, and Karen Reynolds, who will speak about the Department’s Arkansas Grown/Arkansas Made program that connects producers and consumers.
Representatives from Extension have been invited to share information about food-related programs including the following:
- Ron Rainey, an economist at the Division of Agriculture’s Center for Agriculture and Rural Sustainability, will discuss the MarketMaker program that connects growers with outlets such as restaurants, retailers and schools.
- Amanda Philyaw Perez, assistant professor and food systems and safety extension specialist, and Angela Gardner, Share Grounds project manager, will discuss the network of certified kitchens and aggregation sites for food entrepreneurs and producers in Searcy, Woodruff and Cleveland counties.
- Julia Fryer, program associate, will share information about produce safety workshops for fruit and vegetable producers.
A buyer’s panel of representatives from farmers markets, retail businesses, and school nutrition experts will provide insight and answer questions regarding local procurement. Training on the Farm to School program will follow the panel discussion, and participants will tour the certified kitchen and distribution center.
Lunch will be provided by Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. Seating is limited and required. For more information and to register, go to https://bit.ly/39hCbML
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Tracy Courage
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service