Saturday, October 22, 2011

Learning New Things!

        Since Lee was busy at the CASA Garden this morning, I went to the 1st Annual Ethnic Food Security Network Conference by myself.  Sponsored by ACES Urban Affairs and New Nontraditional Programs, Alabama Farmers Cooperative and 2733 Ranch, the conference covered grass fed beef, specialty vegetables and pastured poultry which are opportunities for farm diversification in the area.   
       I missed the welcome by Dr. Jannie Carter and Dr. Julio Correa due to a wrong turn (no GPS in my old Honda!) but got there in time to hear Miles Albright of 2733 Ranch speak on grass fed beef.  He's passionate about the taste of his beef and carrying on the 9 generation stockman's heritage of his family.  We'll never have cattle, but it's fun to learn little snippets.  For instance, Miles' natural methods require the cattle to fertilize the pastures as they are rotated from field to field grazing.  In the heat of summer, they like to gather in the shade of the trees at the edges of the pasture leading to very healthy trees, but perhaps not enough of the 'good stuff' being deposited around the middle of the pasture.  He's beginning to breed for lighter colored cattle that will spend more time in the sun grazing than the black ones he's currently got.  More grazing means more growth on the cattle and more 'growth stimulant' on the ground. 

     Dr. Rao Mentreddy spoke next on "Vegetable Production for Ethnic Markets".  He outlined several niche markets that may exist around the area for exotic vegetables and herbs that seem to grow well here.  After his talk, we got to go walk around his demonstration plot.  The indian eggplants were still thriving in spite of the light frost.  The basil had sadly succumbed to the frost but he was able to show some of the details of the variety of leaf shapes and scents.  The odd little squash and melons were still trying to produce that last seed before the really cold weather hits. 

Edible Red Amaranth, Ethnic Vegetable Research Project at the Upper Marlboro
Research and Education Center, University of Maryland. (Photo: Stephan Tubene)

      Dr. Ken Macklin from Auburn/ACES spoke on Profiting from a Small Poultry Flock.  Lots of  good information there.  Tho he comes from a commercial production background, he's full of great information on small scale production and had lots of slides on the interesting variety of 'chicken houses' found around the state.  He showed everything from PVC pipe 'tractors' to houses that looked good enough for humans to live in.  He shared several tips and tricks and things to keep in mind as you customize your production model on everything from feed to watering to 'doctoring'. 

   Overall a very informative day!

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Sounds interesting. I never knew we had this sort of thing in Alabama