Ag in the Foothills offers free workshops on backyard agriculture
The free workshops will be at UT’s East Tennessee AgResearch & Education Center.
LOUISVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -Explore backyard hens, composting, fruit tree planting and direct-from-farm beef sales at a free workshop offered by the University of Tennessee on Thursday.
Ag in the Foothills is set for 7:30 am until noon on October 14 at East Tennessee AgResearch & Education Center. This is located at 4341 UT Farm Road in Louisville.
Two sets of workshops will run simultaneously in different tents on the research farm, with one focused on backyard agriculture and the other on beef and forage production.
“It doesn’t take a lot of room to be a chicken farmer,” said UT Extension Agent John Goddard from Loudon County.
He will be teaching the first session of the morning on backyard poultry that begins at 9:05 am. Goddard said 99 percent of the calls he receives about chickens are from people wanting to raise hens in their yards. He said this is possible, with proper shelter and basic care for the hens. He also cautioned that folks do not need a rooster as part of their backyard project aimed at small-scale egg production.
Extension Agent Shannon DeWitt from Union County will be leading a workshop on retail meat sales for beef producers wondering how to properly sell beef directly from their farms.
“We let Tennessee Department of Agriculture handle those rules and regulations. What we try to focus on is getting a quality product that a person will return for,” said DeWitt. She said farm equipment will be on display Thursday that beef cattle producers may be interested in seeing.
Anyone interested in raising fresh fruit in their own backyards can learn from specialist David Lockwood at the University of Tennessee. He plans on teaching a workshop on home fruit production at 11:10 am during the Thursday event.
“Apples are the most consistently successful tree fruit that we’ve got for East Tennessee,” said Lockwood, who said late winter or early spring is the best time to plant those trees.
As for good berry ideas for East Tennessee, Lockwood suggests, “Blackberries are probably the easiest crop to grow, the quickest return and there are many good varieties. Blueberries are a good option. Once you get the soils right they are relatively easy to grow and last a long time. And then we’ve got a lot of new varieties of grapes that are well-suited to this area.”
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