Following a consistent theme for farm shows this year, the 2020 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, Farm Market and Greenhouse Expo will be an all-virtual event — but with a twist. It will also include more than 100 vendors with virtual booths — of which attendees can virtually visit.Michigan Vegetable Council Executive Director Greg Bird said the 2020 Expo, scheduled Dec. 8-10, will include 83 educational sessions on fruit crops, vegetable crops, other specialty crops, greenhouse crop production and marketing, farm marketing ideas and operations, farmers markets and organic production and marketing.
Michigan Farm Bureau, along with Great Lakes Ag Labor Services, Michigan Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Association and Farm Bureau Insurance, will sponsor a “Genius Session” in conjunction with a labor educational workshop. Staff will be available to answer specific questions related to labor and the H-2A Seasonal Guestworker Program.
Farm Bureau Insurance will also be offering additional staff resource expertise to answer questions regarding crop insurance-related questions, with a number of the company’s Crop Insurance Specialist on-hand during the live session.
“There will also be sessions covering a diversity of general interest topics, including food safety and labor,” Bird said. “Presentations will be also made by researchers and Extension educators from Michigan State University, other land-grant universities and industry.”
Many of the hour-long educational sessions will offer credits for Michigan and Ohio private and commercial pesticide applicators and certified crop advisors, Bird said.
Several new topic areas were also added to this year’s session roster — most notably, a stand-alone workshop on industrial hemp covering licensing, regulations, irrigation, and a panel discussion. An organic and a beginning farmer evening series are also offered.
Considered the premiere trade show for fruit and vegetable growers, greenhouse growers and farm marketers, Bird said the 2020 Virtual Expo Trade Show will still offer its participants access to one of the largest trade shows in North America, with the ability to have a live on-line discussion with each vendor.
“Even though the 2020 trade show will be virtual, exhibitors will be showing a variety of products and services for growers, greenhouse and farm marketers,” Bird added. “Committed exhibitors include farm equipment companies, seed companies, nurseries, fertilizer and farm chemical manufacturers and suppliers, packaging equipment and container companies, and greenhouse-specific suppliers.”
The virtual trade show will also include an area for exhibitors offering products specifically for farm markets, as well as state and federal agencies updating attendees on current programs and regulations.
Expo registration is now open and requires a $40 per attendee fee, which can be paid online.
While Bird said everyone would obviously prefer an in-person event, the virtual format will still allow producers access to one of the largest annual gatherings of fruit and vegetable growers and farm marketers in North America.
“The Michigan State Horticultural Society and the Michigan Vegetable Council combined their annual conventions, starting in December 2001, initiating the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO,” Bird said, adding that the Michigan Greenhouse Growers EXPO has been held concurrently with the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO since 2009.
“This expanded the overall program to include education sessions and trade show exhibitors for greenhouse growers and is sponsored by the Metropolitan Detroit Flower Growers Association and the Western Michigan Greenhouse Association,” Bird said. “One registration fee covers both conferences.”