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Organic strawberry production workshop


February 14, 2012
By Canadian Organic Growers

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strawberries02January 25, 2012, Ottawa, Ont – Canadian Organic Growers
(COG) has developed an innovative new workshop on growing organic strawberries
commercially.

January 25, 2012, Ottawa, Ont – Canadian Organic Growers
(COG)
has developed an innovative new workshop on growing organic strawberries
commercially.

The
day-long workshop is based on, and a companion to, COG’s newly released
Practical Skills Handbook Growing Strawberries Organically. Two workshops are
being offered by COG Ottawa and COG Perth-Waterloo-Wellington in early 2012.
Funding for the workshop development and delivery is thanks in part to the
Agricultural Management Institute (AMI) and the Rural Association Partnership
Program (RAPP)
of the City of Ottawa.

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The
Growing Strawberries Organically workshop is developed and delivered by Rob
Wallbridge of Songberry Organic Farm in Bristol, QC. Wallbridge is one of very
few certified organic commercial strawberry growers in Ontario/West Quebec.
Over the past eight years, he has experimented with many of the growing
techniques described in the book. A former organic inspector with over a decade
of experience in the organic sector, from production to organic standards
development, Wallbridge also served as contributing editor to COG’s Growing
Strawberries Organically
handbook.

“We
know that the demand for local organic strawberries is there and that they
command a premium price,” states Wallbridge. “We just need a lot more of them
in the marketplace.”

COG’s
new organic strawberry book and workshop will help farmers tap into this
important niche market opportunity.

“Strawberries
are available from grocery stores year-round now, but the public still gets
excited at the beginning of the local strawberry season,” notes Colin Lundy,
farmer outreach coordinator at COG Ottawa. “As one of the first crops of the
local growing season, strawberries are a symbol for the fresh seasonal local
food of summer.” However, Lundy continues, “strawberries also come under
scrutiny for their high level of pesticide residues, and the public is
routinely encouraged to seek organic sources.”

Organic
strawberry production relies on a management-intensive approach that
incorporates a number of strategies designed to build and maintain soil
fertility and plant health. Growers who employ these techniques experience
significantly fewer pest and disease outbreaks and weed control issues. At the same
time, organic growers do still have a number of tools available to deal with
problems when they do occur. The Growing Strawberries Organically workshop will
discuss these strategies and tools, in addition to the other management
practices that are key to successful organic strawberry production.

“Through
detailed discussions and a variety of hands-on exercises, participants will be
able to develop a set of tools and techniques for growing organic strawberries
suited to their own operation,” promises Wallbridge.

The
Growing Strawberries Organically workshop will be attractive to any berry
growers interested in this niche market, whether they are organic growers
wanting to diversify their farm or improve the quality and quantity of their
organic strawberries, or conventional growers wanting to explore organic
strawberries as an option or simply to reduce their pesticide usage while still
raising quality berries.

The
one-day Growing Strawberries Organically workshops will be delivered in Ottawa
on February 11, 2012 and in Bloomingdale on March 3, 2012. Registration
includes lunch and a copy of the COG publication, Growing Strawberries
Organically
.

For more information of to register, visit the Canadian Organic Growers website www.cog.ca/shop and click Events or contact COG Ottawa's or COG PWW's respective Farmer Outreach coordinators: Colin Lundy, colin@cog.ca, 613-493-0020 and Tegan Renner, outreach@cogwaterloo.ca, 226-251-3012.


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