Oct 27, 2022
Mid-Atlantic convention features Growing Farmers leader

The keynote speaker for the 2023 Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention will be a grower entrepreneur who has taught other farmers how to be successful. The show has also released information on its grower-oriented educational sessions.

Michael Kilpatrick, who runs the online farmer education platform Growing Farmers, is the keynote speaker scheduled for the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 convention and trade show at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“The program covers nearly every aspect of fruit, vegetable, potato and berry production,” show organizers stated in a news release. “Commercial growers should not pass up this terrific educational opportunity. Just as important, however, is the opportunity to network with fellow growers and others in the industry. Many growers feel that is the most important part of the convention.

Kilpatrick, who will speak on “Thriving in Uncertain Times,” is a farmer,


presenter, host and inventor who helps entrepreneurs by applying business principles and practical solutions to grow their businesses and simplify their lives.

Normally, more than 2,200 fruit, vegetable and berry growers and other industry people from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond participate in what has become one of the East Coast’s premier grower meetings, according to the release. Sessions are being planned on a wide range of topics in tree fruit, vegetables, small fruit and potato production.

On Jan. 30, preceding the main convention’s official opening, a bus tour of Adams County area horticultural businesses and pre-convention workshops are scheduled. Workshops include greenhouse vegetables, fruit tree pruning, soil fertility and health, managing a profitable farm market bakery, farm transition, FSMA grower training, spotted lanternfly permit training, and Pennsylvania pesticide applicator license training.

The bus tour is scheduled to visit the Hollabaugh Brothers farm market, Musselman’s Greenhouse, Rice Fruit Co., and Adams County Nursery with lunch at Hickory Bridge Farm.

The opening day’s production sessions include high tunnels, soil health/cover crops, urban agriculture, phytophthora management, bio-controls, snap beans, garlic, farm market staff training, achieving success at farmers markets as well as wholesale marketing.

Second day sessions include tomatoes, stone fruit, small fruit, organic vegetable production, marketing 101, diversification in agritourism marketing, two labor/farm management sessions with one focusing on using H-2A workers, plus a session on greenhouse ornamentals.

The third days’ sessions also include sweet corn, pumpkins, pollinators, equipment technology, growing and marketing high-value niche crops for direct marketing and digital and social media marketing. Other sessions cover urban agriculture, greenhouse ornamental and retail. One evening discussion will focus on commercializing ideas. Organizers plan to release a more detailed event schedule soon.

Since 1978, the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association, the Maryland State Horticultural Society and the New Jersey State Horticultural Society have sponsored the convention. In 2014, the Virginia State Horticultural Society began meeting at the site. Extension personnel from Penn State, University of Maryland, Rutgers and Virginia Tech assist in organizing educational sessions.

At the trade show, specialized horticultural equipment, farm market merchandise and packaging will be displayed along with information on the latest seed and fruit varieties, pesticides and supplies and services for commercial growers.

Pesticide applicator update training credits will be available to Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia growers attending the sessions. Arrangements are also being made to offer respirator-fits tests for pesticide applicators.

The yearly Fruit and Vegetable Growers awards and recognitions banquet along with an ice cream social plus an apple growers reception are scheduled. Special sessions will be offered in Spanish, including “Técnicas de Producción de Frutas y Hortalizas” for Spanish- speaking workers in the fruit and vegetable industries.

Registration is required for all attending the trade show and educational sessions. Registration with any of the five sponsoring organizations allows one to attend any of the sessions, though additional charges for workshops and meals apply. For more information, visit www.mafvc.org or phone 717-677-4184 or 717-694-3596.

Kilpatrick, who also hosts podcasts, has managed large farms and businesses and is a worldwide consultant. Kilpatrick believes anyone can build a profitable farm by following the proprietary RIPEN system that he teaches in the Small Farm University, his company’s educational platform and community for thriving farmers, according to the release.


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