Plan to Attend the Great Plains Growers Conference



AMES, Iowa — The Great Plains Growers Conference will be held Jan. 5-7, 2012, at the Fulkerson Conference Center on the Missouri Western State University Campus in St. Joseph, Mo.

"Interesting and useful information will be presented on production and marketing of vegetables, cut flowers and fruit," said Ajay Nair, assistant professor of horticulture at Iowa State University. "It doesn't matter if you are an experienced commercial vegetable grower or someone with just a dream about starting to grow and sell produce, there will be something for you."

The conference and tradeshow is a collaborative effort of growers associations and extension services from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota, and each year draws hundreds of producers from the region and beyond.

On Thursday, Jan. 5, the conference kicks off with five day-long workshops that attendees can choose from. A workshop on high tunnels features presentations by experienced, nationally recognized grower educators, and research and extension specialists from the region. High tunnels provide critical crop protection and season extension. Come and hear the experiences of seven different high tunnel growers plus an update on high tunnel research at Lincoln University.

Also on Thursday, four experienced growers will present a day-long community supported agriculture (CSA) mini-school, providing detailed information on all aspects of starting and running a CSA for direct marketing of farm products. This year’s conference will feature a Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs)/food safety workshop. Come learn what GAPs is all about from an experienced grower and a USDA program manager who has been very active in the GAPs program. A fourth workshop will be for tree fruit growers. Weed management, new fruit tree varieties, white/bitter rot, and GAPs and tree fruit will be covered. The topic for the fifth workshop is the basics of beekeeping in the Midwest. The instructors will cover the European honeybee, bee equipment, and building, setting up and managing a hive.

Five concurrent sessions on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 6 and 7, provide a total of more than 50 presentations on a wealth of subjects related to organic and conventional crop production, protection, risk management and marketing. In addition to presentations on vegetable production and marketing, there will be tracks on small fruit, tree fruit, cut flowers, beginner and advanced organic, marketing, and agritourism, as well as sessions on urban horticulture and community gardens.

“The tradeshow is a big draw for conference participants” said Tom Fowler, Buchanan County extension specialist, University of Missouri. “We had 50 booth spaces last year that filled the Fulkerson Conference Center and expect the same this year.”

Registration, which includes meals and breaks, for the Thursday workshops is $50 to $60, depending on the workshop selected, and $35 per day for Friday and Saturday sessions.

The conference is going to be held at the Fulkerson Conference Center on the Missouri Western State University campus in St. Joseph, Mo. The headquarter hotels are the Ramada Inn, 4016 Frederick, 816-233-6192; or Stoney Creek Inn, 1201 Woodbine, 816-901-9600.

A full program, registration information and updated details of the conference can be found at the conference website: http://www.greatplainsgrowers.org. For more information about the program and a registration form, contact Katie Cook at cookkm@missouri.edu or phone 816-279-1691.

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