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ECHO to host international conference

Representatives from more than 30 nations expected to attend

November 27, 2013
By CHUCK BALLARO ( ) , Pine Island Eagle

It will be a week to teach and be taught on the ways to eliminate hunger in the world.

That is what will happen Dec. 10-12 as ECHO will host the 20th annual ECHO International AG Conference, which will bring together the most influential voices from more than 30 nations, dedicated to eradicating hunger and improving lives worldwide.

Danielle Flood, public relations manager at ECHO, said it will be one of many things the organization will do over the course of the holidays and winter season, on top of what it did over the summer.

"More than 250 delegates worldwide converge here. It is the bringing together of great minds in agriculture and sustainability in meeting the needs of the poor," Flood said. "We will have speakers from around the country and the world."

The conference will include morning plenary sessions, where speakers discuss broad topics that impact everyone, and focus on practical ideas that have proven successful in around the world.

Afternoon workshop sessions provide hands-on demonstrations and small group interactions about topics of interest to particular groups. There will also be times for delegates to network and have round-table discussions, Flood said.

Evening sessions are brief reports on techniques, plants, projects, or approaches, and there will be several hour-long discussion topics for delegates to take part in.

"People come and they take ideas and implement them where they're working and save lives," Flood said. "They learn from us, we learn from them and they learn from each other."

The cooler weather will bring more offerings in the food cart, where visitors can buy fresh produce, and the book store will be selling how-to books for those who want to plant gardens.

ECHO also has a Christmas catalog where people can buy real or representative gifts, where a donation can be made in someone's honor.

And there will be several events ECHO will sponsor this winter, including a 10K run and cross-fit event in January, a Taste the World food festival at the Gulf Coast Town Center in February, and the signature Farm Day event in March, Flood said.

Of course, ECHO will sharply increase its farm tours from Tuesday through Friday, three times a day, and two more on Saturday, up from one a day, three days a week in the summer.

"Summer is an exciting time because our tropical plants are in their element. We coordinate with tropical growers worldwide," Flood said. "The winter residents come and it ups our numbers for tours, and the beautiful weather makes tours great."

Come learn the basic steps of proper canning with University of Florida/IFAS agent Celia Hill at the Matlacha Community Center Wednesday, Jan. 29. Class starts at 10 a.m. and runs till 3 p.m. The cost is $30 per person / $40 per couple (cash or check only). Class is limited to nine participants. All participants must be registered by Friday, Jan. 24.

Registration includes one canning cookbook "So Easy To Preserve" from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

Items to bring: 1) Apron 2) Potholders 3) Kitchen hand towels (please bring 2-3 towels to use during class and to wrap your canning jar to take home.)

You can also bring a lunch if you would like, we do have refrigeration if needed. Time will be available during some of the processing.

To pay by check: Make payable to LCOEAB (Lee County Overall Extension Advisory Board), and mail it to Lee County Extension, 3410 Palm Beach Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33916 - Attn. CELIA

You can also pay by check at the Matlacha Community Center. Any questions, please call 239-283-4110.



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