Nov 15, 2018
New topics abound at EXPO farm market program

If you enjoyed the pre-conference farm market tour in past years, you’ll be glad to know it’s back at this year’s Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO on Dec. 3, the day before the EXPO kicks off.

The EXPO will also be offering new farm market education sessions this year. These sessions will occur during the main show dates from Dec. 4-6.

We sat down with the masterminds behind this year’s farm marketing education sessions, Ron Goldy and Bob Tritten of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, to learn about this year’s offerings.

The farm marketing keynote on Tuesday morning will feature Zingerman’s. They’ll bring their experience with small start-ups and businesses. From them, you’ll hear how to formulate a vision of greatness for the leadership of your company and learn how to translate that vision into something your employees can incorporate into all they do. If you can’t make it to the keynote – or even if you can – you won’t want to miss the three-hour workshop on Thursday led by Zingerman’s.

“At ‘Better Self-Management Makes Better Business,’ a number of farm marketers from around the country will tell their stories. They’ll bring and share parts of their businesses,” said Tritten, district fruit educator at MSU Extension. All aspects of the farm market business will be discussed, including baking, season passes and more.

Besides the Zingerman’s offerings, Tritten also recommends farm marketers don’t miss out on the off-site trip to Ann Arbor for a baking class and behind-the scenes training on how to offer classes at your farm. “This one-day experience will teach people how they can use their kitchen to share their baking expertise with the public,” said Tritten. The catch is that the trip is limited to only 24 registrants.

Look for Workshop D on Thursday. If you enjoy the science part of jam and jelly-making, then Elizabeth Andress of University of Georgia has sessions you’ll want to attend. “Dr. Andress is a specialist in smaller commercial production facilities. She’ll do a presentation on pectin and why it works sometimes and not others,” said Goldy, senior vegetable educator at MSU Extension. This is the first jam and jelly expert presenting at EXPO, so her presentation is one you won’t want to miss. She will present on Wednesday afternoon and also lead Workshop A.

A hot-button issue for farm marketers is safety. When agritourists are entering the farm, there are things farm marketers have to consider, especially when there are large groups visiting the farm. Marcia Salzwedal will lead Workshop B on farm safety Wednesday morning and also speak at the general session on Tuesday afternoon.

Goldy is also excited about some of the smaller sessions. Many farm marketers don’t realize the impact lighting can have on their success. George Kruggel and Kelly Sloan will talk about LED lighting and why farm marketers should make the switch from incandescent or fluorescent lighting to LED. They’ll also discuss how different colors of LED lighting can be used in farm market situations on Wednesday morning.

Timothy Young from Food for Thought will lead another session on batching up. “Take a recipe like grandma’s pickles. You can’t just multiply it and get a good product.” Young will discuss adjustments that need to be made to get a large-batch product that tastes just like grandma’s small batches. You can listen to Young on Wednesday afternoon.

The good news is that this is not an exhaustive list of the education that EXPO is bringing to the show this year. The full schedule is available on Registration opened Oct. 1 for this year’s EXPO. Register at https://glexpo.

— Jess Schmidt, contributing writer

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