UHD hosting Houston Urban Food Conference
By Mark Kramer
The University of Houston-Downtown’s Center for Urban Agriculture & Sustainability (CUAS) will host the Houston Urban Food Conference from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, June 21 in the Special Events Center (A300) of the One Main Building.
The event is being held in collaboration with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Prairie View A&M Cooperative Extension Program.
Breakout sessions covering sustainable food production issues, backyard gardening, community gardens, and food policy and health will be spotlighted during the day.
“The conference aims to provide a platform for urban food growers and experts of agriculture and horticulture to share knowledge and exchange ideas on urban food production. We hope the participants will be able to learn how growing your own food plays a big role in not just in improving health, but also in strengthening communities,” said Roshani Malla, UHD’s sustainability coordinator.
Dr. Susan Ballabina, deputy vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, will serve as the keynote speaker at the conference. She oversees the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. Ballabina also leads critical initiatives and partnerships for AgriLife and the Texas A&M University System including Healthy Texas and AgriLife’s work for the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas.
The commercial workshops will include discussion on mushroom production, developing markets for vegetables, cut flower production and Asian vegetable production. Featured in these workshops are discussions about fruit trees, local varieties of vegetables and composting. In the community gardens section, neighborhood and holistic gardens for mind and body wellness will be discussed.
In the food policy and health workshops, the main topics include challenges and opportunities in eating healthy in urban communities, city food policy, systemic approach for food security, and food systems/food insecurity as predictors of health.
“We strongly believe that strengthening urban food production systems is significant for a sustainable future,” Malla said. “Industrial agriculture is very resource intensive and additionally, global food demand is set to increase by at least 60 percent by 2050. Urban farming can be a solution to mitigate resource constraints and to meet the demand for food. We hope after attending this conference, participants can see how simple it is to grow their own food and how growing your own food, even if it is in a small space, can actually help strive towards sustainability.”
Room is still available for students to attend the conference and Malla said funds are available to cover their conference fee. For details, students should e-mail Malla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 50,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its First Time in College student population by 11 percent and transfer students by 14 percent.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The University is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.