Jefferson City Event Offers Help for Growing Fruits and Vegetables in the Winter

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Learn to grow produce in winter Feb. 11-12 at the Midwest Winter Production Conference at Lincoln University’s Carver Farm in Jefferson City.

Robert Balek, University of Missouri Extension horticulture specialist, and Shon Bishop, Lincoln University farm outreach worker, give the basics of high tunnels. They talk about site selection, equipment, costs and best crops. Patrick Byers, MU Extension horticulture specialist, and David Middleton, LU farm outreach worker, team up to offer maintenance and rehab tips for high tunnels. They also give methods for supplemental heat.

Growers Paul and Sandy Arnold tell how root crops can boost sales by 50 percent or more. The Arnolds share their post-harvest handling and storage system for alliums, root crops, brassicas, winter squash and greens. They spell out the conditions that maintain good-quality produce for many months to create a one-stop shop for buyers. In a second session, the Arnolds will show slides of their high tunnel operation in upstate New York and share what they learned in the past 30 years.

Matthew Kleinhenz of Ohio State University shares research on high tunnels and microenvironments that affect yield and quality of leafy vegetable crops. Liz Graznak presents “Setting a Table That Sells.” She owns Happy Hollow Farm and sells through a 65-member Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and Columbia Farmers Market, as well as directly to Columbia restaurants and grocers.

On Tuesday, the Arnolds discuss record-keeping and other business practices that drive success. Other presenters include Touria Eaton of LU and Jason Hirtz of Box Turtle Farm, Mount Vernon, which sells salad greens year-round to area restaurants and grocers.

A tour of Pierpont Farms, Columbia, features unheated high tunnels, a greenhouse, Haygrove tunnels for three-season growing and a packing shed with a walk-in cooler.

Happy Hollow Farm supplies local ingredients for session lunches.

MU Extension, LU Cooperative Extension, the Missouri Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and Webb City Farmers Market sponsor the conference.

Call Eileen Nichols at 417-483-8139 for more information. Register online by Feb. 5 at webbcityfarmersmarket.com/grower-training.html.

Timely registrants receive the book “The Year-Round Hoophouse: Polytunnels for All Seasons and All Climates,” by Pam Dawling.