Aug 14, 2019
New educational sessions at the 2019 GLEXPO

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

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

The keynote speaker this year is a cattle rancher with a message of advocacy for agriculture, sparked by the love of farming her family fostered in her at a young age. Paige Pratt is thrilled to be part of the EXPO for the first time, and she hopes to bring relevant information to all attendees.

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. She will help growers realize these changes and learn to reach a span of consumers to whom they’ve never been able to market before.

“There is a shift in climate happening. When people purchase products, they are purchasing things that will line up more with values rather than just purchasing products. They are concerned with value and cost, but also if the company they are buying from has values that match theirs,” said Pratt.

The keynote session promises to provide marketing insights and ways growers can embrace positivity in their messaging. Pratt recommends that any growers or farm marketers interested in having a seat at the agriculture industry table into the future should attend. Even if they are not doing direct marketing, growers can glean information from Pratt about how to influence the buyers of the present and future, whether those buyers are large commercial interests or directly purchasing produce at a farm market.

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

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

Ruth Ann Roney will lead a marketing session called “Selling More Produce Through On-Line Sales.” The session is geared toward anyone who utilizes a farm market or who is selling produce in a retail setting. Roney will share tips on utilizing pre-ordering to bolster event attendance and sell more produce, especially to people who usually shop online – which is increasingly becoming a trend impacting farm marketers. For example, pre-selling bushels of sweet corn will give farm marketers a chance to bring people to the market who wouldn’t normally attend and offer additional produce to them when they pick up their sweet corn at the market.

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 go 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, and going to events such as EXPO is a great way to further develop those skills,” Rumley added.

To learn more about this year’s Great Lakes EXPO, visit


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