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US (FL): UF/IFAS brings back urban food production short course

Communities are hungry for urban food production.

Engagement continues at an all-time high when there is an opportunity to grow food in containers, hydroponic systems, rooftops, community gardens, and any available green space. Why? Urban food production, also called urban agriculture, provides an avenue to grow food locally, fight food insecurity, and reduce food deserts.

But wait, there is more. The benefits of urban farming go beyond creating community cohesion and providing green space. It could also increase biodiversity by encouraging pollinator habitats and developing educational and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth and adults.

That’s why leading scientists from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and Extension faculty are offering the popular, award-winning Sustainable Urban Food Production Short Course to South Florida communities for the fourth consecutive year.

Classes start on October 16. Participants can choose from in-person and virtual formats. Please use this link to register:

“Urban agriculture has gained increasing public and private interests as nature-based solutions, improving ecosystem services, and achieving urban sustainability,” said Jiangxiao Qiu, an associate professor of landscape ecology at UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center (FLREC) and course co-organizer. “This program covers many aspects of urban agriculture from regulation and marketing to production systems and much more.”

Participants meet on Mondays from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for six weeks through November 20. The course features an easy-to-follow curriculum for all audiences, including homeowners, educators, community gardeners, urban farmers, and entrepreneurs interested in this developing industry. Scheduled in-person sessions include materials, site visits to urban farms, and classroom instruction at FLREC, located at 3205 College Ave., Davie, Fla.

Participants will receive continuing education units (CEUs) and a certification after completing this short course.

Class dates and topics covered include:

  • October 16, 2023: Introduction to Sustainable Urban Agriculture & Regulations
  • October 23, 2023: Business and Marketing Plan and Financial Resources
  • October 30, 2023: Urban Food Production Systems
  • November 6, 2023: Best Management Practices
  • November 13, 2023: Technology Integration in Urban Agriculture
  • November 20, 2023: Post Harvesting & Food Handling

“Our course was recognized with the 2023 Excellence Award in Sustainable Agriculture by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents as a successful program that increased adoption of sustainable agriculture practices among local farmers,” said Lorna Bravo, program co-organizer and director at UF/IFAS Extension Broward. “The knowledge gained from the short course will help participants start, manage, and expand their operations in local food production in urban and peri-urban settings.”

Organizers also hope participants walk away with an understanding of the diverse opportunities available for involvement in urban agriculture. There are many different types of urban agriculture. Some are commercial, and some are non-profit.

“Different types of urban agriculture will have different benefits or functions,” said Qiu. “For example, highly commercial ones may prioritize food production, but non-profit community gardens may focus on the efforts of building communities, delivering food to disadvantaged neighborhoods.”


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