Growing ‘Better Together’ at the Ohio Produce Network conference

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Every January Ohio’s fruit and vegetable growers, farm managers and agricultural marketers come together to talk trends, share best practices, and learn how to grow better produce. The Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association will kick off the New Year with the 2018 Ohio Produce Network (OPN) conference, January 15-17, at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Sandusky, Ohio.

The theme of the 2018 OPN is ‘Better Together’. The two-and-a-half-day conference offers over 50 breakout sessions covering diverse topics: produce trial research results to pest management to accepting digital payments at your farm. Educators from the Ohio State University Extension Direct Marketing Team will offer ideas and teach techniques proven to grow business and sales revenue.

Farm to Facebook?

2.789 billion people use social media to connect with friends and follow influencers, businesses and organizations.¹ An increasing number of consumers are abandoning search engines and turning to social media to find products and services. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide business owners with a lucrative platform to promote their products. Agricultural producers can use compelling photo and video content to attract new customers and enhance relationships with current customers.

Ohio Produce Network breakout session “How to Take Video with your Smartphone” Session one will provide technical instruction to take videos and discuss consumer video preferences. Growers will learn how to create viral videos and have an opportunity to practice before attending session 2 the following afternoon. Session two will direct attendees to apps and tools to enhance their video content.

“Taking Pictures for your Social Media Site” teaches growers to boost their brands on rapidly growing social photo platforms like Instagram and Twitter, and how to spark clicks and conversations posting photos on Facebook and Twitter.

2018 Ohio Produce Network Highlights

Ohio Produce Network attendees can register to attend Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) training at no additional cost with conference registration fee. PSA training is a standardized national produce safety training program that prepares produce growers to meet the regulatory requirements in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. The curriculum covers food safety, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), and natural resource management. Space is limited, so register today if you are interested in the PSA training.

Keynote speakers include Michele Payn, Cause Matters Corporation, and Melinda Witten, Director of Leadership Programming at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Michele Payn is a speaker, writer and advocate for healthy food and farms. She is the author of two books: No More Food Fights! and Food Truths from Farm to Table. She founded Cause Matters Corporation to de-bunk food myths, develop science communication and connect farm to food. She educates the public through weekly online Twitter conversations, AgChat and Food Chat.

Melinda Witten ignites the next generation of leaders in agriculture, overseeing the Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals and AgriPOWER Leadership Institute programs. She draws from vast experience growing and selling produce direct to consumers. The Witten Family operates a multi-generational farm market and greenhouse in Beverly, Ohio, and 22 satellite farm stands across Ohio and West Virginia.

A new opportunity for producers is a value-added product tasting contest to be held Tuesday morning, January 16th in the tradeshow area from 8 Aa.m. to 10:30 a.m. OPGMA will provide crackers and/or biscuits for sampling. All you need to do is bring a jar or two of your best tasting products to share with attendees. The item voted best tasting will be recognized during Melinda Witten’s presentation in Indigo Bay from 10:45 a.m. to noon on Tuesday. You will receive “bragging rights” among your peers as well as recognition on our social media sites during OPN.

The trade show features exhibitors from business and industry, education and non-profit organizations. Attendees can access experts in supply, marketing, financial and risk management to ask questions and discover solutions.

See you there

The cost to attend the Ohio Produce Network full conference is $130 for members and $180 for non-members. Early bird discounts may apply before Jan. 11, 2018. Visit the Ohio Produce Network website to register for the event,

Questions? Contact OPGMA at or (740) 828-3400.


  1. Kemp, Simon. “Digital in 2017: Global Overview”, (Jan 24, 2017). We are Social.

Related story: Ohio Produce Conference gets new name (Jan. 5, 2018).


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