Jul 21, 2021
Great Lakes EXPO returns to in-person

Signature education program, farm marketing sessions welcome attendees back

With a return to an in-person event in December, the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO and Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo are welcoming growers back with their signature educational sessions.

A focal point of every EXPO, the “Farm Marketing” keynote sessions are always a highlight for attendees. This year, part of the sessions will be presented by Lonnie Decker, the farms manager for Blake Farms, a network of orchards, markets, tasting rooms and more, in Armada, Michigan.

“I developed a love for nurturing plants and watching something grow from seed to spectacular food that others can enjoy when I was young,” Decker said. “Over the years, I have gained skills in farming, management and horticulture, with a passion for bringing new and innovative ideas to our establishment … I enjoy finding new ways to draw customers in and give them a memorable experience (at Blake farms).”

It’s this same love of finding new ways to enhance the customer experience that Decker hopes to share with attendees in the “Farm Marketing” sessions — which will include picking what to grow based on demographics, viewing your market as an attraction (instead of a chore), and marketing your offerings in a proper way.

“Seeing our produce as an attraction has led to exponential growth for our u-pick program,” Decker said. “We choose items based on many facets, not just what’s cheap and easy to grow … we select fruits and vegetables based on what’s trending to the masses, not just a single demographic.”

Decker says the session is geared toward anyone and everyone who is looking to expand their offerings and, in turn, driving more traffic to their property.

With the rapid changes and trends in the industry, it’s imperative that farm marketers and agritourism destinations stay relevant by capitalizing on what consumers want to experience. “The masses now see picking their own produce as an experience, not a burden,” Decker said. “There’s a great opportunity for farmers to capitalize on this.”

When it comes to the Great Lakes EXPO, Decker adds that she’s excited to return, and that she feels the experience overall can be incredibly beneficial for growers and attendees of all kinds.

“One size doesn’t fit all, but all farmers have a great opportunity to expand their business in these unique times (at the EXPO),” Decker said. “There are hundreds of ways to improve your guest experience, educate your customers and increase revenue!”

The Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO and Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo has announced a return to in-person events in December.

After shifting to a fully virtual format in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EXPO is planning a fully in-person event, with every aspect of the event that attendees and exhibitors have come to know and love — from the trade show floor to the signature educational sessions.

While details are still being finalized for the educational sessions and schedule of events, the dates for the 2021 EXPO are set for Dec. 7-9, 2021. For information on the 2021 EXPO, registration and educational session details and more, visit www.glexpo.com.


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