Oct 15, 2019
Social Media and Sampling Highlight 2019 Great Lakes EXPO Sessions

At the 2019 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO and Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo, utilizing social media to build consumer relationships and learning how to diagnose common problems through sampling are just a couple of the highlights on the upcoming educational schedule.

In the “Ten Social Media Best Practices to Win More Customers” session, Ariana Torres, an assistant professor and agricultural economist at Purdue University, will help greenhouse growers learn more about some of the latest transitions happening in the agricultural industry, and how to help businesses capitalize on them through social media.

“Markets and demographics are changing; cities are becoming bigger, operations and farms are also becoming bigger,” Torres said. “And whether you’re a bigger or smaller operation, we’ll be looking at the best way to reach consumers right now.”

The session will focus on various characteristics of a social media plan for greenhouse growers and how businesses of all sizes can utilize the wealth of data that can be harvested by different social media platforms and tools to develop a strategy.

An educational session at the 2018 Great Lakes EXPO.

“[Social media] is the best way to develop relationships,” Torres added. “Being able to take these tools and apply them directly to greenhouse operations and operations in the green industry — I really want to give these operations something they can take and implement that same day or the next day.”

In the “A Sampler on Sampling” session, a panel from the Michigan State University Extension will be talking about how growers can learn to diagnose common plant problems by properly sampling for things like insect and disease presence, ethylene damage, water quality and leaf tissue analysis.

Jeremy Jubenville, a floriculture and greenhouse educator with MSU Extension, will specifically be educating growers on insect sampling and the different ways you can capture insects for diagnostic tests before preparing them for shipping — whether through private couriers or delivery services, like FedEx and the USPS.

“Diagnostics is a big part of trying to understand what’s going on in a greenhouse, especially if you’re running into production problems,” Jubenville said. “Usually, people [sending insects] into a diagnostic lab, they’re sending those in for identification — and what we don’t want to do is send a smashed insect or one that has decomposed.”

As for the EXPO itself, Jubenville says the annual event and trade floor are two of the highlights of his year.

“You get to meet a lot of different people,” Jubenville added. “You will get a lot of pest management updates, disease updates … you learn a lot of different things that are going to be able to help you do your job better.”

It’s the “ever-changing agricultural and horticultural landscapes,” Torres says, that make attending the annual EXPO incredibly important for growers.

“Markets are changing tremendously,” Torres said. “The best way that growers can update their business practices, either growing, selling or in customer service, is to learn from what others are doing — and the EXPO has an amazing program with an amazing schedule.”

The 2019 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO and Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo will take place Dec. 10-12, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Registration is now open! For more information and to learn more about other educational opportunities, visit glexpo.com.

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