Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Get Up, Get Green!" 2013 East Austin Garden Fair

The East Austin Garden Fair will be on April 20th, 9:30am – 1:30pm, at Parque Zaragoza (2608 Gonzales St., 78702).  The fair is free and open to the public.

The 2013 fair,“Get Up, Get Green!", will feature numerous booths, activities, and classes under the areas of Horticulture, Family Health & Nutrition, Greening Your Home, and Kiddos.  This fair will be very fun, hands-on and interactive.  There will be an assortment of DIY and demonstration activities, including make your own container garden station, produce tastings, garden planning, theatrical skits, cooking demonstrations, and free seedlings offered to participants.  Mini-classes will also be held inside the Zaragosa community center throughout the day.  

Do you want:

  •      To learn (and see) how to build a rain barrel for under $20?
  •      A free veggie or herb seedling (and to watch a cooking demo using this produce?)
  •      Easy steps for greening your home, and how to get partially reimbursed for doing so?
  •      To watch a 101- level pickling / food preservation demonstration that you can repeat at home?
  •      To learn very inexpensive, innovative, and EASY (no power tools involved!) ways to create container and raised-bed gardens?
  •      To learn about school gardening, beneficial insects, backyard chickens, organic veggie gardening, citrus, all manners of composting, butterfly gardens, or beekeeping, or get expert advice on many other topics?
  •      To meet a SNAP registration counselor?  and learn how to double your benefits at farmers markets?
  •      Your kids to make cool outdoorsy crafts and have fun learning about the ecology and nutrition?

Then join Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Travis County Master Gardeners, Travis County Master Wellness Volunteers, and many community partners at the 2013 East Austin Garden Fair!

For more information, please email Lindsay Razzaz at lindsay.razzaz@ag.tamu.edu. Or, call 512-854-9616.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Green Thumb Series: What's Eating My Plants seminar

Announcing another class in the Green Thumb Series presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners and Travis County AgriLife Extension:

What's Eating My Plants
Thursday, June 13, 2013, 10am-12pm 
Travis County AgriLife Extension Office
1600 B Smith Rd., Austin TX  78721

Yikes!  What is eating my plant?  Wizzie Brown, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist, will teach you detective skills needed for correctly identifying insects.  Knowing exactly who are the “good bugs” and the “bad bugs” is important because the majority of insects are not “bad”!

Armed with knowledge of insect mouthparts and biology, you can figure out what may be causing damage to plants even when there is not an insect in sight.  Think about what kind of mouth part could have done the damage?  Are there holes in the plant?  Are the holes small or are entire leaves eaten?  Does the plant have yellowing and curling on the foliage?   Knowing the types of damage insects can cause to plants can help reveal what pest you are dealing with and help to make management decision.  Identification of common insects will also be covered along with integrated pest management practices to help reduce pesticide use.  Integrated pest management programs start with non-chemical approaches first and while chemicals are included in the program, they are a last resort strategy.

This class is part of The Green Thumb series.  Must register at: https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu or by phone 979-845-2604.  Keyword Search: Green Thumb.  One class is $15, with price discounts for signing up for 3 or more classes at the same time.  Class is limited to 40 people.

The Green Thumb series concentrates on providing information on gardening tasks which ideally are completed in late winter through early summer. Remaining classes in the series include:  
  • March 14, 2013 - Soils & Soil Amendments
  • April 11, 2013 - When & How to Fertilize
  • May 9, 2013 - How to Build a Home Drip Irrigation System
  • June 13, 2013 - What's Eating My Plants
$15 (1-2 workshops), $40 (3 workshops), $65 (all workshops)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Event announcment: Home Drip Irrigation seminar

The Travis County Master Gardeners announce an upcoming seminar

How to Build a Home Drip Irrigation System
Thursday, May 9, 2013, 10am-12pm
Travis County AgriLife Extension Office
1600 B Smith Rd., Austin TX  78721

Can you conserve water and still keep your plants happy?  Yes!  Drip irrigation slowly distributes water and reduces evaporation and run-off, allowing your soil to absorb the maximum amount of water. Learn about the different types of drip irrigations systems and spray heads which are available to determine the system which will best solve your irrigation needs.  Gain firsthand knowledge of how to plan and assemble a drip irrigation system.  This will include a discussion on layout, parts, tools and specifics on assembly.

This class is part of the Green Thumb series.  Registration required at https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu or by phone 979-845-2604.  Keyword Search: Green Thumb.  One class is $15, with price discounts for signing up for 3 or more classes at the same time.  Class is limited to 40 people. It is presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners, a volunteer arm of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Attention Farmers: Workshop on USDA's New Microloan Program

Farmers' Workshop on USDA's Microloan Program with Central Texas' FSA Loan Manager
Tuesday, March 5th  (10am - Noon)
Travis County's East Service Center ("Blue Bluff"): 6011 Blue Bluff Rd. Austin TX
Register at https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu, keyword "loan"
Registration is $15; light refreshments served.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency are working together to inform Central Texas urban farmers about the new USDA Microloan program.  

A joint Microloan Workshop will be presented from 10 a.m.-noon March 5 at Travis County's East Service Center, located at 6011 Blue Bluff Rd. in Austin.

Coordinators said the new USDA Microloan program was designed with small-scale producers in mind and may be an excellent fit for urban farmers needing capital to launch or expand their operations.

The new Microloan program is administered through the Farm Services Agency and provides various low-interest credit options for small agricultural producers, according to USDA officials. The simplified loan application process and modified eligibility requirements are well-suited to beginning farmers, ranchers, and CSA operators, and for farmers wanting to grow “niche crops” to sell to ethnic markets or farmers markets, it may also provide a means of financing. 

“Last fall, beginning urban farmers came from 11 Central Texas counties to Extension’s three-week Strong Starts: Urban Farming 101 series,” said Daphne Richards, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture in Travis County.  “Extension specialists traveled from across the state to teach everything from farm business planning and budgeting to crop selection and cultivation strategies.”

Richards said the series included presentations from county and state officials involved in food system policy development, as well as representatives of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“At that program, USDA Farm Service Agency loan manager Terri Trevino was among the presenters. She informed beginning urban farmers about USDA’s financing options and began initial development of funder/farmer relationships.

“Feedback was overwhelmingly positive from both the farmer participants and presenters, so when the USDA initiated this Microloan program a month ago, Terri contacted us to see if our agency could help the USDA get the word out through our urban farming program and the Strong Starts initiative.”   

Richards said AgriLife Extension coordinated with the local FSA office to help make Trevino’s presentation on Microloans available to the entire Central Texas farming community, so they decided on a larger venue for an inexpensive “stand-alone” workshop. 

Qualifying farmers and ranchers may apply for a maximum of $35,000 to be used toward initial start-up expenses, USDA officials explained. And as their needs increase, they may apply for an additional operating loan of up to $300,000 -- or seek commercial-lender financing from an institution within its Guaranteed Loan Program.

Officials said farm loans can be used for a variety of purposes, including buying land, delivery vehicles, livestock, seed, feed and supplies, or for farm improvements such as wells, coolers, hoop houses, and irrigation systems. 

“At this event, AgriLife Extension in Travis County also hopes to survey participants about their informational and educational needs, so that we may support their continued growth and success as urban farmers,” Richards noted.

The workshop cost is $15 and those interested may register online at the AgriLife Extension Conference Services website, https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu. Enter “loan” in the keyword search field or “Austin” in the location field.

Producers interested in applying for a microloan should contact their local Farm Service Agency office. For more information about the March 5 workshop, contact Trevino at Terri.Trevino@tx.usda.gov.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Seminar reminder: Easy Rose Gardening

 Always wanted to have roses but think you're not up to the hard work?  Come find out just how easy roses can be with the right planning and choices.  

Easy Rose Gardening
Saturday, February 9, 2013, 10am-12pm
Zilker Botanical Garden, Garden Center
2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin TX  78746

Incorporate user friendly roses into your new or existing garden plans! Cher Groody is a master gardener with 30 years of experience in the use of roses in a landscape. She will teach you methods for proper selection of rose varieties, site prep and maintenance like pruning, pest control and fertilization.   This session is excellent for newbies and experienced gardeners and questions are encouraged. 

This seminar is free; Zilker park entrance fee is $2 per adult, $1 per child or senior.  The seminar is presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners, a volunteer arm of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County. www.tcmastergardeners.org. For information, call (512)477-8672.