BEES Spearheads Organic Short Course

Tennessee producers recently took advantage of an Organic Production Short Course organized by Jim Wills of the Biosystems Engineering & Environmental Science Department. Held on February 24, the short course covered USDA certification requirements, good agricultural practices, insect and disease control, irrigation, varieties, and fertilizers. It concluded with a field trip to the UT Plant Sciences Unit to view greenhouse tomatoes/crops and Shitake mushroom production.

Commenting on the course, Jim says he was pleased that more than 80 people turned out for the all-day course, and was encouraged by the number of research and extension workers that were willing to provide content. When asked about future plans, Jim indicated that they may try to repeat the course in other parts of the state later in the year. They are also considering follow-up courses in Knoxville focused on specific crops of local interest.

Whatever its final form, this effort meshes well with increasing consumer interest in organic produce and crops, and may compliment a multi-state proposal being considered to establish university-based organic research facilities, perhaps on an existing experiment station.

Joel Lown
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