USDA official to speak at UAPB conference in Marianna

Kathie Klass, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Senior Outreach manager, will be the speaker at the Cultivating Edible Gardens Conference.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Agriculture Demonstration Outreach Center in Marianna. The theme is “Turning the Rich Soils of the Delta into Edible Gardens in Food Deserts and Underserved Communities.”

Klass works for the USDA Rural Utilities Service and is a member of the department’s StrikeForce Team and its Know Your Farmer; Know Your Food team. The StrikeForce Team seeks to ensure that rural communities have equal access to USDA programs while the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food effort seeks to strengthen local and regional food systems.

Klass has a bachelor’s degree in home economics and a master’s degree in health sciences with an emphasis in consumerism from California State University. She has worked for the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Sponsored by UAPB, the USDA, East Arkansas Enterprise Community and the Arkansas Delta Seeds of Change, the Edible Gardens Conference seeks to encourage the development of community gardens. The event will feature tours and presentations on various topics including organic gardening and hoop houses.

To confirm attendance at the Cultivating Edible Gardens Conference, call 870-630-2005, 870-295-3199 or 870-575-8825. The UAPB Agriculture Demonstration Outreach Center is located at 330 Lee County Road 407 in Marianna.

Bobbie Handcock is with the Communications Office of the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.