Nov 1, 2021
Looking ahead to Succotash Session at 2021 Great Lakes EXPO

With a return to an in-person event in December, the 2021 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO and Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo is excited to welcome growers back with their lineup of signature educational sessions.

In the Succotash Session, Ben Phillips, an Extension educator at Michigan State University, and James DeDecker, the director of the MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center, will offer an overview of different pest complexes that affect sweet corn, snap peas and green beans.

“Within those crops, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at what kind of damage two-legged and four-legged pests, birds and other vertebrates can do,” DeDecker said. “We’ll be diving into that type of damage, sharing other approaches to management and detailing different mitigation that growers can use.”

Phillips added that the Succotash session will be a “fun and different” session, broken down by how many legs the specific pests have, from zero (diseases) to six (insects).

“(The session) is COVID-influenced and will be based on the live podcast format we experimented with during the pandemic for getting interesting information out to growers,” Phillips said. “It will take the form of a talk show with a host and special guests, ad spots and live music.”

Other sessions that Phillips is helping organize include the Unique Upicks Farm Marketing session, which will focus on the marketing success of Blake’s Farm, a u-pick farm with three large Michigan locations; the Vine Crops Session, which will feature a full hour of “how-to” info for new growers; and the Greens & Herbs Session, where Chris Currey, of Iowa State University, will share production tips for hydroponically-grown herbs and large-leaf greens.

“I spend a lot of time fielding calls and visiting growers who are trying something new for the first time,” Phillips said. “So I’ve chosen to organize these sessions with beginning growers in mind, or growers interested in trying a new crop or style, in addition to the season pros who want some deeper info on product-limiting issues.”

For DeDecker, returning to an in-person EXPO means the opportunity to get back to what the EXPO does best — uniting the worlds of academia and industry.

“I’ve always thought that the Great Lakes EXPO was definitely the premier event for specialty crop growers in the midwest and beyond,” DeDecker said. “But what’s really special is that it brings together really good representation from academia and the industry — a good collection of folks in the industry, alongside research-based information from the universities and partners.”

It’s that same uniting representation, along with the networking, that Phillips adds makes the EXPO special.

“The networking opportunities (between growers) are second to none between the sessions and trade shows,” Phillips said.

The Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO and Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo is excited to welcome attendees back to Grand Rapids 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.

The 2021 EXPO is set for Dec. 7-9, 2021, and registration is open now. For information on the 2021 EXPO, registration and educational session details and more, visit

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VGN December 2021 issue

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