Ohio fruit, vegetable, tree growers, marketers set winter meet in Toledo

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TOLEDO – The Ohio Fruit Growers Society, the Ohio Vegetable and Potato Growers Association, the Ohio Direct Agricultural Marketing Association and the Ohio Christmas Tree Association, in cooperation with the Ohio State University, are once again sponsoring their annual winter meeting.
The event will be held at the Toledo Seagate Convention Centre and Radisson Hotel Jan. 19-21.
Meeting with vendors. Fruit, vegetable, direct marketers and Christmas tree growers will have an opportunity to attend a trade show with 100 supply and service exhibitors and an education program dealing with production of tree and small fruit, processing vegetables, truck crops, stone fruit, cider, potatoes and Christmas trees.
There will also be education sessions on direct agriculture marketing and general sessions on human resource management, farm and food safety, precision agriculture, legal issues, and more. Sales and service exhibitors will have access to an expected 1,500 participants, especially since many social and education functions will be held right in the trade show.
Protection update. One noteworthy education session Jan. 19 will be a crop protection update that will educate growers about new and existing products as well as details about safe handling and application methods.
There will also be a seed/plant seminar on Jan. 20 of participating trade show vendors. The popular safety training that qualifies attendees for the Ohio Farm Bureau Workers’ Compensation Group Rating Program will be offered Jan. 20 and 21.
Other general session topics deal with human resource performance expectations, precision agriculture, produce auctions, consumer expectations, food safety, labor laws, energy strategies, legal rules for growers and marketers and more.
A number of the general sessions are presented through a partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency and Mid American Ag and Hort Services.
Pesticide recertification. Many of these general sessions, as well as the commodity education sessions, qualify participants for pesticide recertification and Certified Crop Advisors’ Continuing Education Units.
One new venture this year is a New Grower Workshop that will be offered on Jan. 21. The workshop’s goal is to provide people interested in transitioning to a new farm business that will emphasize specialty crops production suitable for wholesale or direct market. These sessions will be of interest to growers who want to diversify their existing farm business or to next generation growers who want to explore new business opportunities.
Non-farmers too. This workshop will also be of great interest to non-farm entrepreneurs who want to get closer to nature and become part of the local farm economy. The keynote session will be that of a non-farm couple who actually achieved their dream of a new, state of the art tree fruit orchard in Marietta, Ohio.
Direct marketers will once again have some great opportunities to learn new marketing techniques. In addition to their Jan. 20-21 sessions, a Direct Marketing Workshop will be offered on Jan. 19 that deals with agri-tourism.
Perspective on tourism. Mark Saunders is a leading agri-tourism advocate in North America and will help define both agri-tourism and the typical ag-tourist. He will also describe his experiences on forming tourism marketing partnerships and new tourism initiatives.
He will even explain why Wal-Mart is good for small farmers! Recently, Saunders Farm was awarded the 2002 Tourism Innovation award and the New Product of the Year awards for the Ottawa Tourism and Convention Authority.
In 2003 Mark Saunders was a finalist for Ottawa Tourism Leader of the Year. Saunders currently sits on various tourism and direct farm marketing boards including North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association, Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association, the Ottawa Tourism and Ontario East Tourism Corporation and is also a founder of the Ottawa Rural Tourism Council and the Tri-County Tourism Partnership.
A special $30 registration fee is required for this workshop.
More information. The Toledo Radisson Hotel is once again a key facility for overnight accommodations and education sessions. See the hotel registration and conference pre-registration forms at www.ohiofruit.org or www.ohiovegetable.org. Discounts are available for members of participating organizations. For more conference information, see the association Web sites at www.ohiofruit.org, www.ohiovegetables.org or www.christmastree.com or call 614-246-8292.

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