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Sedgwick County

Sedgwick County
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Wichita, KS  67205
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Growing Growers ICT launches programming, apprenticeship opportunities for 2022 growing season

Wednesfday, February 23, 2022

Growing Growers ICT logo

WICHITA – Growing Growers ICT is entering its fourth year programming with an exciting schedule of workshops and farm tours for the spring and summer and new fruit production and season extension learning opportunities in the fall.

Based at K-State Research and Extension – Sedgwick County, the program combines apprenticeships at local farms with workshops and learning events to provide innovative specialty crop education and to help connect new and experienced fruit and vegetable growers.

Core workshops this year will cover essential farming basics such as soil and pest management, and will be held in a hybrid format with in-person and virtual options available. An in-person farm tour will follow each workshop’s classroom portion; these locations are currently being arranged. See a full list of events at ictfoodcircle.org/ggevents.

To stay up to date on workshops and events this season, or to explore apprenticeship opportunities at local farms, submit a brief interest form to get connected.

Growing Growers ICT is expanding in 2022 to include education for existing and emerging growers about fruit production and season extension techniques.

“Many growers want to grow fruit to diversify their operation and fill a critical market need, but growing fruit can be very different than growing vegetables and producers may need extra support with this learning curve,” said Lyndsay Feather, program manager. “On top of this, Kansas weather and pests can make growing fruit just plain difficult in our area!”

Extending production earlier in the spring and later in the fall means learning to manage the challenges of growing in high tunnels and using tools like row covers, which workshops and tours will also cover later this fall, Feather said.

The program also is continuing a hands-on coaching approach with participants to maximize their opportunities. Meeting personally with participants from the start to hear about their dreams and ideas will help the program’s staff better connect them to events and other growers who can help them succeed.

Participants get started with an introductory module that helps them think strategically about their farm dream or idea, considering a set of questions that will help them be successful down the road. It also allows participants to choose the pathway that works best for their stage of life — from attending a handful of workshops to apprenticing all season with an experienced grower.

Michael Pankratz participated in Growing Growers ICT programming in 2019 and 2021, and says he especially enjoyed the farm tours, as “each [one] was unique, with creative solutions to various problems.”

Pankratz apprenticed with Strong Roots Healthy Farming in 2021, an opportunity which helped him feel confident to launch his own farm in Goddard. Of Strong Roots owner Josh Molello, Pankratz says, “I feel like I have made a great friend, and he will be someone I can reach out to if I have questions once I get my operation going.”

Source

Lyndsay Feather
(316) 660-0145
lfeather@ksu.edu