Taste 360

Janet Laminack

It used to be that people had gardens and traded vegetables for eggs. Neighbors knew that the beef they had for dinner ate the grass from that pasture “right over there.”

Today, many kids think food comes from the grocery store, period. Some kids know more than that. Adults aren’t always much better. I’ve had people get a bit squeamish when they learn that lettuce grows out of the dirt. I don’t even tell them about carrots or the other vegetables growing IN the dirt.

Something as necessary and precious as food is worth knowing about. Perhaps you are interested in learning more about the path of your food from farm to table. Or are you interested in trying your hand at growing or raising your own food? Maybe you’ve even thought about starting an agricultural enterprise.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Horticulture Team has created a new educational program “Taste 360° – Freshness Meets Table” to answer these questions. This inaugural conference will be held March 20-21 in College Station.

Friday night kicks off with a wine and appetizer pairing at The Gardens of Texas A&M University, followed by a farm-to-table dinner at Ronin Farm & Restaurant. Saturday is packed with learning opportunities. Topics range from current coffee research to backyard chickens — and those are just your choices for the first session.

Fellow horticulture agents and horticulture specialists across the state will be sharing their area of expertise and their unique passions. While focused on food, other topics include cut flower production, native bees and how to begin selling at a farmer’s market. If you are interested in fruits and nuts, you can choose from fruit for small spaces, pecan trees, olives or patio citrus.

Vegetable fans will enjoy several opportunities, including how to grow microgreens, how to produce and market vegetables from a large garden or micro-farm or how to grow vegetables for your own enjoyment. There will be a session on canning, drying and other methods of food preservation.

Last, but certainly not least, we will cover the booming wine industry of Texas. You can visit the enology lab and learn about the science of wine and wine-making. Seriously, it’s a science. Or how about learning about the science of corn breeding for making better whiskey? With all the focus on local, growing hops for beer is a hot topic. Learn about how to source hops, when and how to plant and what to expect.

Yours truly will be there on hand for the “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” session. I will be sharing information on garden-inspired mocktails and cocktails. I dare say your friends will think you are so fancy for cultivating your own craft cocktails (or mocktails if you must). For more information about this conference, visit https://taste360.tamu.edu/.

Here in Denton County, we provide opportunities to learn more about getting started in agriculture as well as a focus on the “Path to the Plate.” You can keep up to date on those offerings by visiting denton.agrilife.org.

We have active Facebook pages that you can follow: Denton County Healthy Happenings, Denton County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Elm Fork Chapter Texas Master Naturalists, Denton County Master Gardener Association and Denton County 4-H & Youth Development. We also have e-newsletters about gardening and agriculture.

We are here to help improve the lives of all Texans through educational offerings, so give us a call at 940-349-2882 or email us at denton-tx@tamu.edu.

JANET LAMINACK is the horticulture county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2883 or via email at jelaminack@ag.tamu.edu.

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