May 5, 2008
Bus Tour to Board in Iowa for Education, Networking and Fun

If you want to make over your farm market marketing strategy, network with other farm marketers, learn from seasoned vintners and hear the latest in agricultural research, then you won’t want to miss the Southwest Iowa Agri-Tourism Bus Tour June 17-18. This tour will highlight a diverse cross-section of southwest Iowa’s farm marketing and agri-tourism locations.

The Iowa State University Extension, The Vegetable Growers News and The Fruit Growers News have partnered to host an educational and fun networking opportunity for farm marketers, vintners and those involved with agri-tourism – and anyone else looking to add new features to their farm.

Attendees will be chauffeured via motor coach bus to visit five diverse southwest Iowa farm markets, wineries, greenhouses and research testing locations. They will have the opportunity to experience the operations in action, learn about product marketing and explore ideas of collaboration to benefit the entire industry.

The event will kick off June 17 in Council Bluffs with an evening reception at Ditmars Orchard. After dinner, attendees will enjoy a tour of the orchard and farm market operation, which includes a cider mill, a country kitchen, retail market, family play area and an entertainment stage. Learn how Ditmars Orchard blossomed from 300 fruit trees to more than 4,000 trees plus a pumpkin patch.

The second day of the bus tour will include visits to a variety of farm markets, greenhouses and wineries. Tour stops include:

•Hodge Greenhouse raises fruits and vegetables of all varieties to sell in their retail store and to use in their scrumptious goods found in their bakery. Learn how to maximize production with variety on a smaller farm market operation.

•Breezy Hills Winery with its vineyard planted on the western Loess slopes and hilltops provides a spectacular panoramic view from the farmstead. Enjoy a tour of the vineyard, winery and party room. Then wrap the tour up in the tasting room and whet your palette with unique handcrafted fruit and grape wines.

•Brickyard Orchard uses high tunnels to extend their growing season and maximize production. See how Brickyard Orchard trims their tomatoes for higher yields and how they’ve planted their berry patches, then discuss how they cater to their buyers with pre-picked produce.

•Lewis Research Station of Iowa State University will provide a wealth of information on the most recent agricultural research in relation to crop production, soil management and fertility, weed management and other issues that growers face on a regular basis.

Malinda Geisler, specialist, Value Added Agriculture Program, Iowa State University Extension, is actively involved in the planning process to guarantee an enlightening and diverse tour. “Local foods are growing in popularity. This bus tour is a great, convenient way for growers and others interested in agri-tourism to network, share ideas and to see how Iowa businesses are direct marketing and capitalizing on the local foods movement,” Geisler said.

To maximize the learning experience, there also will be interactive sessions and discussions on the bus tailored to farm marketers.

The cost for the tour is $149, which includes the welcome reception on June 17, transportation to all farm markets on June 18, as well as lunch and snacks on June 18.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to network with other farm marketers, see operations in full production and makeover your marketing strategy. For more information or to register, call 616-887-9008 or click here.

75 Applewood Drive, Suite A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
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