Jul 28, 2015
Jolene Brown to keynote farm marketing program at 2015 Great Lakes EXPO

Jolene Brown will make the keynote presentation for the farm marketing program at the 2015 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO, to be held Dec. 8-10 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Brown is a farmer, business consultant, author and professional speaker. She’s from eastern Iowa and is an active partner in her family farm business. She has met with farm audiences throughout North America and beyond. Her audiences appreciate her fun-filled spirit and the valuable information she shares in her presentations. Her keynote presentation on Tuesday, Dec. 8, will be an interactive discussion with farm marketers about looking at your setting, your service and your products through the eyes of a customer. People will laugh at her humor while learning the truth in the statement, “You don’t choose your customers. Your customers choose you!”

Ron Goldy, senior Extension vegetable educator, and Bob Tritten, Extension fruit educator with Michigan State University, are heading up planning for the farm marketing program.

“The number of farm market owners and employees attending the EXPO has grown significantly,” Goldy said. “Last year, 565 farm marketers from 34 states and two Canadian provinces attended the EXPO. Our challenge is to continue offering a program that is interesting and informative to this large group of farm marketers.”

A pre-conference bus tour of innovative farm market operations will be part of the program for farm marketers. The bus tour will be held on Monday, Dec. 7, the day before the EXPO opens. It provides a great opportunity to see and learn about successful farm markets, as well as to network with other farm marketers. Last year, 152 farm marketers traveled on four buses to participate in the tour. Different markets and areas of Michigan are visited each year. For information on this year’s tour, visit www.bustour.greatamericanmediaservices.com.

Morning and afternoon farm market sessions will be offered on Tuesday and Wednesday at the 2015 EXPO. These sessions will offer a number of interesting and informative presentations, including several “show and tell” discussions by successful farm marketers. A farm marketers’ roundtable session to share successful marketing ideas will be held on Tuesday after the trade show closes. This is always a popular session. On Thursday, several in-depth workshops, including a bakery session, are planned for farm marketers. In one of these workshops, Jolene Brown will draw on her experience as a family business consultant to share a list of mistakes that can break up a family business. Brown has consulted with hundreds of farm families to help them create, protect, fix and transition their family businesses.

The Michigan Greenhouse Growers EXPO will again be held in conjunction with the Great Lakes EXPO. For farm marketers who operate greenhouses, this will offer another educational opportunity. Greenhouse education sessions will be open to all attendees. There will also be greenhouse product exhibitors in the trade show.

Many farm marketers will be interested in the crop information provided in the commodity sessions. There will be more than 20 sessions covering major fruit and vegetable commodities on Tuesday and Wednesday. This includes the fruit variety showcase on Tuesday, which will display and discuss some unique apple and other fruit varieties that have been successful at farm markets and u-pick operations. In addition, a number of general interest topics will be covered in other sessions, including food safety, farm labor, hoop houses and low tunnels, hops production, chestnut production, soil health and cover crops, irrigation and biological control of insects and diseases.

Other educational opportunities for farm marketers include a sweet cider session on Wednesday and a hard cider session on Thursday. Thursday’s schedule also includes a full day of programming for organic fruit and vegetable growers and sessions for those interested in farmers’ markets.

As details become available, more information on the farm marketing program will be available at GLEXPO.com. You can also get news about the EXPO at Facebook.com/GLExpo and Twitter.com/GLEXPO. Registration information will be posted on the EXPO website in September.

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