The 2012 Great Plains Growers Conference is set for Jan. 5-7 at the Fulkerson Center on the campus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.
Among the highlights will be an all-day track on urban farming and community gardens. That track will kick off with a presentation by Katherine Kelly, executive director and co-founder of Cultivate KC, a nonprofit that encourages people in Kansas City neighborhoods to grow and eat healthy, high-quality food.
"I've witnessed this agriculture niche develop into a dynamic and vital urban scene in less than 10 years," Kelly says. "City residents are beginning to see how city-grown food can be a real contributor to the local food supply."
The annual conference, organized by a partnership of growers associations and extension services in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, draws hundreds of fruit and vegetable producers each year from the five-state region and beyond, said James Quinn, University of Missouri Extension horticulture specialist.
The first day of the conference will feature five all-day workshops: high tunnels, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), Good Agricultural Practices/food safety, tree fruit growing and beekeeping. The remaining two days offer more than 50 sessions organized into concurrent tracks on subjects such as organic and conventional vegetable production, farmers markets, marketing/agritourism, and integrated pest management.
"Interesting and useful information will be presented on production and marketing of vegetables, cut flowers, tree fruit and berries," says Tom Fowler, MU Extension horticulture specialist in Buchanan County. "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."
On Jan. 6, keynote speakers Paul and Sandy Arnold of Pleasant Valley Farms in upstate New York will talk about "Farming and Profitability."
The conference will also feature a trade show with more than 50 exhibitors with the latest seeds, supplies, equipment and grower information.
Registration for the Jan. 5 all-day workshops is $50-$60, depending on which workshop you plan to attend. Registration for the second and third days is $35 per day. Registration fees include lunch and break refreshments.
Headquarters hotels for the conference are the Ramada Inn, 4016 Frederick Blvd., 816-233-6192; and the Stoney Creek Inn, 1201 N. Woodbine, 816-901-9600.
A full program, driving instructions and conference updates are available at www.greatplainsgrowers.org
Source: MU Cooperative Media Group