If you grow fruits and vegetables in Alabama, make plans to attend the Alabama Fruit & Vegetable Conference and join your partners who feed Alabama.

The Alabama Fruit & Vegetable Conference will be Friday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 12 at Auburn University’s Student Activity Center.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association are sponsoring this conference. The two organizations have collaborated for more than 30 years to provide educational opportunities to the state’s fruit and vegetable growers. Each year grower meetings are held around the state covering topics on specific fruits and vegetables being produced and marketed.

Bobby Boozer, an Extension professional who specializes in fruit production, says demand for locally grown produce continues to increase.

“Increasingly consumers are getting the message that meals including fresh fruits and vegetables are important to good health,” says Boozer. “Also they are hearing the message that purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables can mean better quality. As a result of the increased demand for buying local across the nation and in Alabama, we are seeing more individuals involved in the production of the fruits and vegetables that can be purchased locally.”

Both new and experienced growers will find topics beneficial to their operations at the two day event. Topics include “Food Safety and Good Agricultural Practices,” “Greenhouse and Hydroponic Production,” “Improving Soils Using Cover Crops and Proper Fertilization,” “High Tunnel Production of Fruits and Vegetables,” “Pest Management Updates” and “Fruit and Vegetable Variety Updates.”

On Friday afternoon, participants will tour Jordan-Hare Stadium facilities and hear from athletic turf management for the national champion Auburn University Tigers football team. A barbecue supper will be provided so growers and sponsors can visit together Friday evening.

Cost for the two-day conference is $40 if received before Friday, Feb. 11 and includes your 2011 membership fees to AFVGA. The registration fee also includes lunch on Saturday, Feb. 12. For additional information and the registration form visit the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association website at www.aces.edu/department/associations/afvga.