The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District was proud to host our 6th annual Start Farming Panel Discussion and Market on December 7th at the Duval County Agricultural Extension. Each year the event features panelists of local farmers and agency representatives that educate the community on ways in which they can get involved in farming. This year the panel discussion included Charlie Harrold of Charley’s Chicks, Brian Lapinski of Down to Earth Farm, Jon Johnson who is a senior forester with the Florida Forest Service and Tonya Ashworth who is the UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Extension Agent.
In addition to our amazing panelists, we heard from participants in our Start Farming Mentorship program and enjoyed a holiday market where attendees were able to purchase locally grown produce and plants as well as holiday gift items from local makers and artisans. Guests also enjoyed an amazing dinner from Wild Pie, a 100% plant-based pizza food truck.
Each year the Board recognizes a “Conservation Teacher of the Year” who has demonstrated a strong conservation ethic and has put conservation into action in the classroom. At this year’s event, we were pleased to recognize Norah Betancourt of Stanton College Preparatory School. Norah teaches AP Environmental Science, has a background in biology and loves the outdoors, particularly our national parks. Her students have won our annual poster contest and have participated in our Regeneration Park project, which is our community stewardship project in the Urban Core. We recognize her dedication to helping the next generation preserve and protect our natural resources.
The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District has been advocating for voluntary, locally-led conservation for 70 years. We want to thank the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board for making it possible for us to offer this event annually as a free service to our citizens and our agricultural community!