So, to tell you the truth, I’m still recovering from the 2017 National Association of County Agriculture Agents (NACAA) Conference held July 9th – 13th in Salt Lake City.  Personally I had a large planning role with the conference and now that it is over, I am reconnecting with normal work life – whew, feels great!  We had just under 1,200 people attend from land-grant universities across the nation.  The conference was a huge success which was in no small part due to our Master Gardener volunteers.  Many thanks to everyone that volunteered their time and talents!

As part of the conference, I led the Urban Farming Tour in Salt Lake County.  I was truly inspired by the diversity and innovation of urban agriculture throughout Salt Lake County.  We are really fortunate to be able to take part in and support such wonderful programs and farms!  Thank you to our generous hosts!

Stop #1:  New Roots Farm

International Rescue Committee Micro-Training Farm Program

“The Redwood Road Micro-Training Farm provides refugee farmers with the opportunity to grow and market a variety of crops. Through the direct selling of produce to consumers, the farmers are able to achieve greater economic independence by earning supplemental income for their families. The Redwood Road Micro-Training Farm provides large plots of land for farmers to cultivate, building their capacity to earn more income. Training and technical assistance is given to over 20 farmers from countries as diverse as Sudan, Burma, Bhutan, Chad, Somalia and Burundi.”

Urban Farm Tour Stop - New Roots Farm image

Stop #2:  Green Urban Lunchbox Small Farm Initiative

Green Urban Lunchbox Small Farm Initiative

“The Small Farm Initiative is an urban farmer training program that teaches people how to farm in urban spaces and make money doing so.  There are four courses that make up the Small Farm Initiative; small intensive vegetable production, urban orchards, animal husbandry and aquaponics.  Each course teaches participants a skill set related to urban farming and how to create a business with that skill set.”

Woman standing on bus with Green Urban Lunch Box logo

Stop #3:  Salt Lake County Jail Horticulture Program

Salt Lake County Jail inmates discover their green thumbs –

1.5 acres of pure garden beauty is located just south of the Salt Lake County Jail Adult Detention Center.  Participating prisoners’ plant starts, weed beds, amend soil, and harvest a wide variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs to sell at local farmers’ markets or donate to seniors at Senior Centers and the Meals on Wheels Program.  Prisoners learn valuable life skills and relish in the opportunity to give back to society.  Trained staff and community partners provide prisoners horticulture training at the jail.

Picture of tour participants at jail garden in salt lake city

Stop #4:  Wheeler Historic Farm

Wheeler Historic Farm

“Wheeler Historic Farm is operated by Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation as an agricultural museum and outdoor recreation site.  Throughout the 75-acre site, additional buildings can be viewed including a milking parlor, historic garage with displays and a turn-of-the-century root cellar. Nine of the structures original to the farm are listed on the state and local register of historic places.”  USU Extension partnered with Wheeler Farm in 2013 to develop the USU Extension Demonstration Teaching Garden, the Meals Plus Harvest Garden and the future Demonstration Farmscape.  Wheeler Farm also donates hundreds of pounds of fresh produce which is disseminated to seniors during pop-up farmers’ markets held at Salt Lake County Senior Centers throughout the growing season.

flower and barn at wheeler farm

Stop #5:  Petersen Family Farm

Petersen Family Farm

“We are a family run farm that produces food and offers genuine farm experiences. We have an on-farm market, pumpkin patch, educational program and more.  The Petersen Farm is anchored in growing wholesome food. However, our greatest contribution is not food. It is the naturally rewarding EXPERIENCE of food and agriculture.  Therefore, it is our Mission to be Modern Pioneers in the cultivation of: food, people and community.”

 Inside of a local farm store

Stop # 6:  Frog Bench Farms

Frog Bench Farms

“We grow locally, source locally whenever possible and sell locally to restaurants within a 10 mile radius of the farm. We are thrilled to be a part of a thriving, passionate food community here in beautiful Salt Lake City.  Our operation relies heavily on solar power, water collection, composting, crop rotation, beneficial insects, and cover crops. These are better for the environment and create a better tasting product when it hits your plate!  Sometimes it’s not the quantity produced, but rather the quality of the product. Here at Frog Bench Farms we focus on bringing the most delicious ingredients to our local chefs.”

Grape growing in vineyard