Lots of us have dreamed about living on a farm. Working with animals, always having fresh food, and doing an honest day's work in the sunshine? Sounds pretty sweet.
Well, as much as we might love the idea of farms, the 2016 Arizona Food and Farm Finance Forum is here to remind us how much we need them.
The 2016 Food and Farm Finance Forum — also known as the FFFF — will be held at the Desert Botanical Garden on Thursday, May 19, and Friday, May 20. Tickets, which range from $59 to $109, are on sale now and include access to a number of workshops and training events for farmers, food producers, students, nonprofit professionals, policy makers, and consumers with an interest in everything from marketing and food safety to nutrition, permaculture, sustainability, and more.
The event kicks off with two days of hands-on workshops titled, “Turning Dreams into Reality: Starting a Farm in Arizona.” Held before the start of the forum on Tuesday, May 17, and Wednesday, May 18, these workshops are ideal for beginning and potential farmers and are hosted by the University of Arizona’s Agriculture Extension.
Day one will cover the vision, mission, and values of attendees’ new and prospective farms and will touch on land and water accommodations, marketing for farmers' markets, and building inventory. Day two will address connecting with community resources, as participants actually tour various urban farms throughout Maricopa County in order to meet local farmers and get a sense of their operations.
Which leads us to the main event. This year's FFFF will be supported by funds awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2015 Risk Management Education Partnerships Program and will include a presentation from Family Farmed, a nonprofit organization based out of Chicago, about wholesale marketing, in addition to other speakers and panel discussions.
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A new feature of the 2016 FFFF will be the Food Education Agriculture Solutions Together – or FEAST — program.
Established by the Oregon Food Bank, FEAST comes to Arizona and “allows participants to engage in an informed and facilitated discussion about food, education, and agriculture in their community and begin to work toward solutions together to help build a healthier, more equitable, and more resilient local food system.”