Berries are a great option because the fruits are extremely popular with consumers and can be produced on small parcels of land, says Eric Richer, an Ohio State University Extension educator. "Because berries are full of nutrients and are best purchased locally, they make a great option for growers looking to generate extra income."
To help berry growers - new and experienced - learn how to extend their growing season and how to recognize spotted wing drosophila, a relatively new-to-the-region winged pest that negatively impacts berry crops, horticulture and viticulture experts from the college will host the Northwest Ohio Berry Production and Marketing School March 19. The workshop will offer insight into these issues as well as other key concerns facing small fruit growers, he said.
The program is 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Robert Fulton Agriculture Center, 8770 State Route 108, in Wauseon.
The workshop will focus primarily on issues surrounding production, management, and food and community, Richer said. That includes offering information on how to grow plasticulture strawberries, information on wine grape production, and guidance on how growers can get started in blackberry, raspberry and other alternative berry production, as well as legal and food safety concerns, he said.
"This berry school will provide both small and niche farmers with various ideas on how to diversify their operations while increasing their revenues," Richer says.
Workshop topics include blackberry, wine grape and raspberry production; alternative berries; direct marketing; business plans; legal considerations; safety; blanching and freezing; local foods and berry preservation.
Registration for the workshop is $40 and includes the program, a growers panel, handouts and lunch. Payment can be sent in the form of a check made payable to OSU Extension and mailed to: OSU Extension, Fulton County, 8770 State Route 108, Suite A, Wauseon, Ohio, 43567. The deadline to register is March 14.
For more information, including detailed planting and production details, contact Richer at 419-337-9210 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the workshop can be found at www.fulton.osu.edu.