Sep 20, 2017
Great Lakes EXPO to offer a variety of activities

In addition to a large trade show with more than 450 exhibitors, this year’s Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO will offer a variety of educational opportunities and special events.

Adding to the educational opportunities will be the Michigan Greenhouse Growers EXPO, which is held in conjunction with the Great Lakes EXPO. One registration fee covers both conferences.

The 2017 EXPO is scheduled for December 5-7 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Besides the two conferences, the 10th annual Farm Market Bus Tour is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 4, the day before the EXPO opens.

Here are some details on the educational opportunities and special events being planned for the 2017 EXPO:

Farm Market Bus Tour (Dec. 4): A pre-expo bus tour of regional farm market operations will again be featured as part of the program planned for farm marketers. The tour provides a great opportunity to learn best practices from successful farm markets, as well as to network with other farm marketers. Last year, 160 participants boarded four buses for the full-day tour. New markets and different areas of Michigan are visited each year. For information on this year’s tour, visit

Education sessions (Dec. 5-7): A variety of education sessions are scheduled for participants to learn more about commodities, farm markets and general interest topics.

As usual, a number of commodity sessions will be offered, including asparagus, pickles, tomato/pepper/eggplant, sweet corn and potatoes on Tuesday. On Wednesday, sessions for onions, vine crops, carrots, celery and leafy greens are on the schedule. Also on Wednesday, a session on large-scale organic transition will be offered. On Thursday, a session on organic vegetable production is planned as part of a full day of sessions for organic growers.

Sessions on a number of general topics of interest are also being planned for the education program. Included will be sessions on food safety and greenhouse vegetable production on Tuesday. On Wednesday, there will be sessions on hoop houses and tunnels, labor, soil health and MAEAP verification. Thursday’s program includes sessions on wildlife damage management and ag technology. In addition, the greenhouse sessions that are part of the Michigan Greenhouse Growers EXPO will be open to everyone attending the Great Lakes EXPO.

For growers with farm markets, morning and afternoon farm marketing sessions will be offered on both Tuesday and Wednesday. These sessions will offer a number of interesting and informative presentations, including “Say Cheese! Establishing Your On-Farm Photography Policy,” by Barb Pachulski and “Processing Jams and Jellies for Your Farm Market,” by Tammi Packer. A farm marketing roundtable to share successful marketing ideas will again be held on Tuesday evening. On Thursday, four in-depth workshops are being planned for farm marketers.

Farm Market keynote presentation (Dec. 5): Val Farmer will make the keynote presentation for farm marketers in the opening farm marketing session at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5. Farmer is a well-known clinical psychologist and syndicated columnist, specializing in rural mental health and family relationships. Besides his work with marital relationships and rural mental health issues, Farmer has developed mediation and conflict resolution consultation services to family businesses, particularly farm and ranch families in business together. Several national farm publications have carried his ideas on how to integrate a business and family perspective into a viable business structure and the communication/organizational skills involved for successful team building.

Midwest Pickle Association special reporting and business program (Dec. 5): Members of the Midwest Pickle Association and the Pickle & Pepper Research Committee for Michigan State University will be invited to attend this program, which will include reporting on research projects and other business.

Meet the Buyers reception (Dec. 5): Michigan Food and Farming Systems will again be hosting the annual Meet the Buyers reception. This event helps in connecting buyers to regional fruit, vegetable and other specialty crop producers looking to sell their products. The reception gives both buyers and growers the opportunity to meet in a relaxed, face-to-face setting to create and grow lasting relationships.

Prayer Breakfast (Dec. 6): This event offers a time for fellowship and prayer for our industry and country. Pastor Doug Cuthbert of Sister Lakes Community Church will present the message at this year’s breakfast program. Cuthbert was born and raised in southwest Michigan. He has used his pastor’s heart and counseling skills to travel extensively leading seminars in Peru, Mexico, Russia, Solomon Island, China Namibia and Zambia. Some of his seminars are: “Soul Care,” “Art of Leadership” and “Healing the Heart of the Wounded.” Pastor Doug has a unique way of relating a loving God to a hurting world.

EXPO Banquet (Dec. 6): The banquet is an enjoyable time for socializing, sharing a good meal, and celebrating the past, present and future of our fruit and vegetable industries.

The program features recognition of this year’s industry-sponsored scholarship recipients and special award presentations to growers and others who have made outstanding contributions to Michigan’s fruit and vegetable industries.

Visit the EXPO’s website,, for more details and registration information. News about the EXPO is also available at and Registration information will be posted on the EXPO website in September.


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