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For local farmers, backyard gardeners, winter meetings signal growing season is near

Like professional baseball players spend the off-season training for the next season, farmers spend the winter training for the next growing season.

Conferences, meetings and training seminars begin to fill farmers’ schedules once the majority of farmers’ markets close for the season. There are regional conferences like the Great Plains Growers Conference and statewide conferences such as the Missouri Organic Association’s Annual Conference.

But it’s the hyper local Annual Farmers & Friends Meeting hosted by Cultivate Kansas City on Feb. 1 that really signals a new growing season is upon us.

In its ninth year, the Annual Farmers & Friends Meeting aims to create space for peers to learn through presentations and panels; facilitate opportunities for growers to connect and share solutions and share information about local food resources.

The day-long meeting includes more than 30 sessions designed for farmers, amateur growers and friends in the food community. Session topics range from composting, backyard chickens and foraging, to diversifying a food business, managing pests and beekeeping.

The morning kicks off with pie and presentations on urban farming in east Kansas City, how a local artist is bridging good food and community in Kansas City and how a gardening project is feeding a Kansas City, Kan., neighborhood.

This gathering brings together not just area farmers, but also the doers and dreamers in our local food system. So whether you grow food, cook food or just eat food, the Annual Farmers & Friends Meeting is a great way to learn more about the local food system in Kansas City.

The Annual Farmers & Friends Meeting runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Second Presbyterian Church, 318 E. 55th St. in Kansas City.

For more information, visit Cultivate Kansas City’s website.

Raised by generations of cooks, farmers and green thumbs, Andrea Shores is an enthusiastic eater and curious cook. She loves sharing her passion for local food by telling farmers’ and food purveyors’ stories.