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Friday, June 21, 2013

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

Mary Campbell,
Extension Director and Community Resource Agent

How much do you know about where your food comes from? Is it important to you whether you are supporting local Florida agriculture? Learning about food and farming in our communities is an important way to understand sustainable living. Local food systems enhance the social relationships between farmers and consumers; support small and family farmers; keep local agricultural economies viable; maintain genetic diversity of food crops; and preserve natural resources, rural land areas, and wildlife spaces.

Floridians are buying more food grown locally or regionally and retail sales are higher here than in other states, according to a University of Florida study. The survey showed that local food represents about 20% of all Florida food purchased for at-home consumption, except restaurant take-out food, said Alan Hodges, an Extension scientist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Consumers realize there are health, quality and economic benefits to locally grown food. Among all Florida households, 62 percent bought local foods at farmers’ markets, 53 percent from retail supermarkets, 28 percent from restaurants, and 5 percent from community-supported agriculture or other direct transactions. Because there is no accepted definition of what constitutes “local” food, Hodges’ survey allowed respondents to define the term – and most often defined it as food produced within 100 miles of the consumer, he said.

To watch an interview with Hodges about the local food study, visit to see Hodges and others from the larger project discuss local food, visit The larger project investigates ways of connecting farmers and consumers. It’s supported by a specialty crops block grant obtained by the UF/IFAS PIE Center. Information about the larger project is available at

A USDA program launched in 2009: Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food supports local food systems and understanding of the benefits of local and regional support for agriculture. There is an interactive map of farmer’s markets and other information on the website.

Resource: UF/IFAS Extension Local Foods

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Free Home Energy Classes This Week

Sign-up today to attend a Pinellas Energy Efficiency Project class.  At this 60 minute PowerPoint presentation, you will learn how much energy is wasted in the home every day, around the clock.  Participants receive free equipment and materials to help cut energy costs, and save money each month. 

Friday June 7, 1:30–2:30 pm
at the Salvation Army at the corner of 4th St. and 14th Ave. South in St. Petersburg.

Saturday June 8, 10:30–11:30am
at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Clearwater
For more information, call (727) 582-2097.

Extension programs are open to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability, religion or national origin.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Introduction to Aquaculture Workshop

Libby Carnahan
UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant Extension Agent

Investing in commercial aquaculture in Florida can be financially rewarding, but it can also be disastrous without the proper research. Aquaculture is one of the most technically demanding and financially risky forms of “agricultural” production that exists. To learn more about the opportunities and potential pitfalls associated with investing in Florida aquaculture, the Pinellas County Extension Office and UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant is offering an Introduction to Aquaculture Workshop on Wednesday, June 12th.

The workshop is open to the public, and is specifically intended for individuals who have an interest in development or growth of aquaculture–related businesses. The workshop will also provide a good overview for educators interested in teaching aquaculture to youth or adults. Aquaculture extension specialists from around the state, and a representative of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Aquaculture, will present current information on the status of aquaculture in Florida, pros and cons of specific business ventures, an overview of state regulations, and a discussion of resources available to support these businesses.

The workshop will be held Wednesday June 12th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg, Florida. Pre-registration is required and can be accessed at . A $10 registration fee includes lunch and materials. For more information, contact Libby Carnahan or (727)453-6522. For more information on aquaculture in Florida visit