Small-scale growers of specialty crops are invited to attend the 2007 Specialty Crops Conference, hosted by the UC Small Farm Program. Information about new markets, new tools and new crops will be presented at the event, Dec. 12 at UC Davis.

“Finding a niche is how many small-scale farmers survive and thrive,” said Shermain Hardesty, director of the UC Small Farm Program. “Whether that means differentiating themselves by growing a unique type of fruit, or finding new ways to sell their products, we want to provide farmers of specialty crops the best tools available to make profitable decisions.”

Conference presentations by farm advisors and staff of the Small Farm Program will include discussions of enterprise screening tools, alternative marketing channels, planting based on market outlooks and consumer preferences for colors and flavors. Josef Brinckmann of Traditional Medicinals will share his insight on the market for American-grown botanicals, and UC researchers will showcase their latest field research on blueberries, pitahaya fruit and other specialty fruits and vegetables. Devon Zagory, interim director of the new Center for Produce Safety at UC Davis, will address the critical topics of food safety and postharvest handling.

The conference runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center, Rooms A and B. Registration is $20, including lunch and parking. The deadline to register is Dec. 5.

The registration form and agenda are at http://www.sfc.ucdavis.edu/register.pdf. For more information or to register, call 530-752-8136 or e-mail sfcenter@ucdavis.edu.