Oct. 26, 2023
|Media contact: Rod Greder, sustainable agriculture agent, firstname.lastname@example.org or 941-861-9810.|
SARASOTA COUNTY – Get a first-hand look at key agricultural operations in Sarasota County and learn directly from area farmers, ranchers and other growers about their accomplishments and challenges, on a day-long bus tour hosted by UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County. The Nov. 17 event, which runs 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., will showcase an industry that continues to be a driving force in the area, responsible for producing upward of $23 million in goods annually, but which faces challenges in the years ahead.
|“The number of farms and acreage has been declining for decades, and the trend will likely continue given the many pressures they face,” said Dr. Rod Greder, sustainable agriculture agent at UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County. “If we want to maintain a vibrant ag community, then we need to tell their stories and provide support to help remove barriers and address challenges.” Like much of the country, Sarasota County has seen the number and scope of agricultural operations dip through the years, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Around 300 active farms in the county now work about 15 percent of the total land in the county, well down from the 30-40 percent of county land farmed just three decades back. While the total land farmed has fallen—around 71,000 acres, at the last USDA count—the array of products remains substantial, including citrus, blueberries, kale, tomatoes, honey, and a wide range of nursery plants. Also important in that output are livestock—including 17,000 head of cattle—poultry and eggs, and aquaculture products. Showcasing all that in one day would be impossible. Rather, the Nov. 17 tour will focus on highlights, including:A sustainable cattle ranch;A thriving native plant nursery;An organic vegetable farm; andThe Mote Aquaculture Research Park. The tour also will include information about a beginning farm incubator initiative launched by UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County and efforts to create a support system for aspiring farmers, to help fill the pipeline for continued agriculture in the county. Speakers also will discuss the agricultural practices of Florida’s indigenous peoples and ongoing measures to preserve land through conservation easements. This is the second tour held this year; a March tour visited a different set of local farms and covered different topics. Cost for the event is $69 per person, and includes a seat on an air-conditioned bus, breakfast snacks, a grilled lunch at the Sarasota County Farm Bureau, a guided tour at each stop, and informational handouts. Learn more and reserve one of the limited spots for the tour by visiting www.eventbrite.com/e/577714598917. The March tour sold out, so reserve your spot today and don’t miss out. In addition to UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, event sponsors include Sarasota County Farm Bureau, Sarasota County Cattlemen’s Association, and the Sarasota County Soil and Water Conservation District.|