Nov 3, 2017
Speakers, schedule released for Illinois specialty crop conference

A schedule and speakers have been set for the 2018 Illinois Specialty Crop, Agritourism, and Organics Conference.

The conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield, Illinois, Wednesday through Friday, Jan. 10-12, 2018.

The schedule starts with pre-conference workshops and trade show on Wednesday.

Small Farm Central founder Simon Huntley, a former columnist for Fruit Growers News, will deliver the keynote address on theme “Cultivating Customers: Are They Your Focus?”

“We have a strong line-up of more than 60 workshops featuring four separate tracks:  herbs, fruits, organics, and emerging issues,” said Illinois Specialty Growers Association Manager Jim Fraley. “The Wednesday pre-conference workshops also have a lot to offer.  They feature on workshops on high tunnels, social media and marketing, growing and marketing pumpkins, and legal and labor issues on the specialty crop industry.

“It also creates a wonderful opportunity to network with other growers in your industry,” Fraley continued. “We consider this meeting to be the premier specialty crop conference in the Midwest. We also have a trade show that hosts more than 60 booths.”

In addition to a packed schedule of presentations, a cider contest will be held Thursday morning, Jan. 11. For more details or an application, contact Ken Johnson, University of Illinois Extension, (217) 243-7424; [email protected] or download at 

Friday, Jan. 12, will be mostly filled with presentations, but the day will also include association meetings for the Illinois Herb Association, The Illinois Vegetable Growers Association, the Illinois State Horticulture Society, Illinois Irrigation and Illinois Organic Growers Association.

The conference will be capped Thursday night with a cash bar and banquet. Marty and Will Spence of Spence in Fairbury, Illinois will speak on “What works at our farm.”

Presentations will continue during the morning and afternoon of Friday, Jan. 12.


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