Aug 6, 2019
New Educational Sessions Highlight the 2019 GLEXPO

The upcoming Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO promises to bring the latest must-see sessions to the industry. While the EXPO offers many educational sessions by crop, the organizers also bring general information that pertains to all growers regardless of what they’ll be growing in the spring.

These sessions include a keynote on consumer trends, a discussion of business management practices and how online pre-sale of produce can boost total sales. All three sessions are a must-attend, especially for growers who sell at farm markets.

A cattle rancher with a message of advocacy for agriculture, sparked by a family-fostered love of farming, keynote speaker Paige Pratt is thrilled to be a part of the EXPO for the first time. Pratt will discuss consumer trends, as things shift from the practicality of the baby boomer generation to the new values millennials and Generation Z bring to the table.

“There is a shift in climate happening,” Pratt said. “When people purchase products, they are purchasing things that will line up more with values rather than just purchasing products.”

The keynote also promises to provide marketing insights and ways growers can embrace positivity in their messaging. Pratt encourages growers and farm marketers interested in having a seat at the agriculture industry table of the future to attend. Even if they are not directly marketing, growers can learn from Pratt about how to influence buyers, whether they have commercial interests or purchasing produce or flora at a farm market.

Rusty Rumley of the National Agricultural Law Center will also speak at several sessions. The Business Management Session is about types of businesses growers can have and will outline legal entities and their pros and cons for growers and farm marketers.

Many growers do not realize they are automatically considered a sole proprietorship or a partnership. Besides these two traditional entities, growers have several other options: LLC, S Corporation, etc. Rumley will speak specifically for growers and Extension agents who work with farm operations and share reasons why specific business types are better for growers.

Ruth Ann Roney will lead the marketing session “Selling More Produce Through On-Line Sales.” The session, geared toward anyone who utilizes a farm market or sells produce in a retail setting, will share tips on utilizing pre-ordering to bolster event attendance and sell more produce.

For example, pre-selling flowers for a wedding party would give farm marketers a chance to bring people to the market who wouldn’t normally attend, and offer additional items when they pick up their bouquets.

Roney has attended the EXPO for years, and encourages growers to make the trip to Michigan for the show. “As a farmer, it has always been a place to get great information and network with a lot of other growers, and it is one of the best shows to attend in the Midwest — and even outside the Midwest.”

“With farming and its razor-thin margins, it is important that people seize every opportunity they have, about entering new markets or cutting costs on what they are already doing,” Rumley added. “Going to events such as EXPO is a great way to further develop those skills.”

To learn more about this year’s Great Lakes EXPO, visit To check out the other educational opportunities at the 2019 EXPO, click here.

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