Good Fruit Grower

December 2013

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5 The Top Five FIVE REASONS TO GO to a winter meeting It's more than just a way to get out of the cold. ost fruit growers across the nation will attend one or more winter horticultural educational events and trade shows, fitting them in with their orchard pruning work and packing house duties. The early shows are in December, in Washington and Michigan, but in most states where specialty crops are grown, the land grant university will partner with fruit and vegetable producer groups to host one or more multiday events during the winter months. Why should growers attend these? Good Fruit Grower put that question to Allyn Anthony, executive director of the Michigan State Horticultural Society (one of the groups that organizes the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo in Grand Rapids, MichThe venue is one thing that attracts growers to winter igan) and to Stephanie Chance, communications director horticulture shows. The DeVos Convention Center in Grand for the Washington State Horticultural Association. Rapids is considered one of the best in the nation for space for It's a social event. large numbers of exhibitors, plenty of rooms for educational "It's a great place to get reconnected with neighbors —Stephanie Chance meetings, and proximity to places to stay and eat. and fellow growers," Anthony said. "Everybody is so busy during the growing and harvesting season. So the show is both a business and a social time." This model—making horticulture shows about both fruit and vegetables and Growers come together to keep the network working, compare notes on their expeincluding a large direct-marketing component—is now used in most eastern and midriences during the growing season, and keep the bonds of the shared industry strong. western states—Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin— With prospects for specialty crops looking bright, a whole new generation of young and in Ontario, Canada. people has taken an interest in the family farm and all that goes into running it, Anthony Chance said the Washington meeting program this year focuses on "hoe and grow" said. They are increasingly visible at the shows, coming for the education and the nettopics that are always popular. "It's very horticultural," she said, explaining that it is working. What better way to integrate a young son or daughter into the world of fruit designed to help growers be proactive in preparing their orchards for the future and will growers? feature a full lineup of renowned horticulturists. "We're bringing a lot of people from Chance said the Hort Convention is the only time of the year when Washington tree around the country and a couple from New Zealand," she said. A great venue. fruit growers and tree fruit industry people have an opportunity to get together in one Great Lakes Expo's trade show is in DeVos Hall, a four-acre, tall, air-conditioned place. As a result, businesses and individuals organize many social events that take place room. Nearby, a dozen meeting rooms are each able to seat a hundred peoalongside the educational program. ple and more, allowing simultaneous presentations on the many commodities and "Everybody's in town together," she said. "There are meetings, breakfasts, lunches…. aspects that encompass fruit, vegetables, and direct marketing. It's a great opportunity for networking." This year, the Washington State Horticultural Association meets at the Wenatchee This year, registered attendees in Washington who are 21 or older are invited to a Convention Center. In 2014, it will add the Tri-Cities to its traditional Yakima-Wenatchee social event at the trade show from 7 to 9 p.m. on December 2. The event is sponsored rotation, with the meeting held at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick by Domex Marketing. and the trade show next door in the Toyota Center. The new venue has the advantage Bud Hover, Washington State Department of Agriculture director, will speak at the of having a large trade show area located right next to the meeting venue. There will be association's Leadership Lunch on December 2, and Scott Marboe, marketing director room for about 250 vendors, twice the number in Wenatchee. There will also be plenty with Oneonta Trading Corporation, will be master of ceremonies for the awards banof onsite parking for the 1,500 or more people who generally attend. quet on the evening of December 3. (Good Fruit Grower's annual Grower of the Year The equipment. award is presented at the banquet.) Having a huge hall to exhibit in allows exhibitors to bring their biggest equipIt's an educational event. "Growers need to be up on what's going on. If you don't keep up, you fall ment and show several machines from a complete line. They can't demonstrate it indoors, but there is space to show it. behind," Anthony said. The Great Lakes Expo is put together by a planning committee that includes both "What farmer doesn't like to see a new piece of equipment?" Anthony asked. Grower interest in equipment could be heightened by the relatively good apple prices growers and educators. "Working with Michigan State University, we're able to put on a great educational program," Anthony said. that they are receiving this season as well as fears that seasonal labor may not be available in quantity in the future. Growers are turning to machines that make remaining A big part of the reason for the success of the Expo started with the decision nearly 15 years ago by leaders of the Michigan Vegetable Council and the Michigan State Hortilaborers more efficient as they build trellis, thin fruit, prune trees, and harvest. .A subsidized vacation. cultural Society to merge their two educational events. The cost of attending educational meetings is a business expense, written off "We both needed support from the same exhibitors, and they really liked the idea of against income on Schedule F, so many growers use the event as time for a setting up one time to reach both groups of producers," Anthony said. Anthony works reduced-cost family vacation. closely with Dave Smith at the Michigan Vegetable Council to attract exhibitors and to "Just look at the exhibition hall floor," Anthony said. "It's amazing how many families provide programming on subjects important to both groups—subjects like seasonal come, growers bringing their spouses and their kids." labor, crop pollination, and farm marketing. M 1 "Everybody's in town together. There are meetings, breakfasts, lunches…. It's a great opportunity for networking." 3 2 4 5 • 12 DECEMBER 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER PHOTO BY RICHARD LEHNERT by Richard Lehnert

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