Louisiana small farmers attend March conference _lowres

Photo provided by Ahmad Robertson -- Local small farmers gathered March 19 at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center for the fifth annual Louisiana Small Farmers Conference. Participating in the conference, in front row from left, are Warner Hall, Larry Freeman and Herman Henry; and second row, Hank Schumacher, Willie Washington and Ahmad Robertson.

Small farmers from across Louisiana gathered March 19 at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center for the fifth annual Louisiana Small Farmers Conference.

The event kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Sustainable Urban Agricultural Demonstration Farm, a “show-and-tell garden,” said Assistant Area Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent Ahmad Robertson.

The three-day conference, themed “Showcasing Louisiana’s Small Family Farms,” is designed to provide awareness of educational opportunities, USDA programs and services and other resources to help small farmers stay in business, Robertson said.

The conference included a presentation on the 2014 farm bill and the opportunities it provides to small farmers; the Louisiana Living Legends Banquet, which honors people who have made significant contributions to Southern University in the area of agriculture and family and consumer sciences; and ended with the graduation ceremony on March 21 of the Louisiana Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute.

Farmers from St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes attended the small farmers conference.

“It was a great opportunity for them to network and diversify their farming operation,” Robertson said. The agricultural business leaders shared resources on conventional and urban farming with other citizens of Louisiana.

Tangipahoa Parish attendees were Hank Schumacher, Willie Washington, Alfred Gross and Edith Gross. The Grosses have a small farming operation in Tangipahoa Parish with beef cattle, a vegetable garden and orchard trees.