The California Small Farm Conference (CSFC) began March 6th with field courses taking attendees out to local farms, markets and businesses to discover Sacramento County’s best agricultural opportunities and practices. Despite the rain, the bright spots of the 2016 field courses included tours of: Natomas Unified School District’s food service program, Yisrael Family Urban Farm, and Sacramento Farmers’ Market at 8th and W. Sacramento is widely acknowledged as America’s Farm-To-Fork Capital.
This conference is the state’s premier gathering for small-scale farmers, ranchers, and farmers’ market managers. The goal is to promote the success and viability of small farming operations and certified farmers’ markets through short courses, tours and workshops, and this year’s conference gave a lot of focus to Farmers Markets, Farm-to-Fork initiatives, Farmer Veteran Coalition and Homegrown by Heroes programs, and developing technologies to assist farms.
As of August 2015, 8,476 farmers markets were listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, a 2.5 percent increase from 2014. This growth has been sustained for years now, as more and more people choose to purchase their produce directly from the farms growing them.
Manage My Market, an online tool for farmers markets, helps by eliminating paperwork, streamlining management tasks, and includes unique features for helping to grow the sales aspect.
With the release of a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance which states that children’s vegetable consumption is at a measly 4%, this conference provided a way forward to help young Americans get in the know about nutrition, where their food comes from, and hopefully introduce some to a very rewarding future alongside agriculture.