Monday, November 23, 2015

Midwest Winter Production Conference

The Midwest Winter Production Conference will be held Thursday and Friday, January 21 and 22, 2016.  A link will be provided on the market web site -

Cost - $50 fee for the first registration includes materials, programming and lunches; $35 for additional registrations from the same farm or family includes programming and lunches but no materials. The conference will be limited to no more than 100 attendees.

(Lunches feature the fabulous cooking of Granny Shaffers and includes local produce from the farmers of the Webb City Winter Market. We’ll be eating well!)

Location - same as the last two conferences - Continental Banquet Center, 2802 North Rangeline, Joplin, MO - just south of Webb City

Housing - Comfort Inn, Joplin - ask for the Webb City Farmers Market rate of $75 plus tax or email Eileen to sign up for a home stay at $50 per room (for up to two people), plus $5 per breakfast if desired. All home stay fees go to Webb City Cares, the school district's support program for kids in need.

Materials included with $50 registration: New Seed Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel and the 2016 Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers.

A sampling of the presentations:

If you grow it, will they buy it and will you make money doing it?
Economics and marketing for winter grow leafy greens. (Adam Montri) High tunnels and hoophouses have allowed for winter production of leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, but just because we can grow these crops doesn’t mean we can sell them. If we can sell them that also doesn’t mean we are making money on them. This session will focus on production and planning for winter leafy crops, selling and marketing them, and determining prices to make sure you are making money on these leafy greens.

Winter Storage Crop Production and Economics (Adam Montri) Winter storage crops such as beets and specialty turnips add to a farm’s product list but are not always the most economically viable crops to grow in a winter high tunnel. In this session we will focus on summer and fall production of root crops for winter storage. Plant spacing, weeding and cultivation options, when to harvest, winter storage requirements and options, labor needs, packaging and pricing will all be discussed along with how the storage crops help to sell other winter high tunnel grown products.

Integrated Pest Control in Tunnels - a panel discussion including Dr. Jaime Pinero and case studies presented by local high tunnel farmers.

Farmer Symposium - top winter producers from Missouri’s winter markets discuss their favorite winter production tools, crops and techniques. Patrice Gross of Arkansas and Adam Montri of Michigan will join in.

Track choices:

Beginning High Tunnel Production - Shon Bishop and Patrice Gross team up to guide beginners through the basics of choosing and implementing a high tunnel system.

Value added and marketing track:

Marketing Strategies for Winter Sales (Dru Montri) Marketing your product during the winter can require a strategy different from your peak season approach. Learn more about planning, target marketing, building relationships with your customers and communicating with them regularly. After a review of lessons learned from other winter markets, you’ll leave this session thinking about ways to increase your profits and make your winter market more successful.

Adding profit centers to your winter sales:
Tammy Sellmyer - Adding value and expanding your profit through storage crops and dried products. Turn your surplus summer produce into extra winter sales through drying. Make your stand the go-to place for storage crops.

Dan Kuebler - Dan spoke at our first conference about his moveable high tunnel. This year he shares his extensive knowledge about fermenting and pickling and the profit it can add to your winter market sales.

Crops Track:

Garlic, a favorite through the centuries, only seems to get more popular every year - Patrick Byers and Tammy Sellmeyer will discuss the history, background and classification of garlic, as well as production and post-harvest handling of this crop which can add sales during fall and winter.

Jennifer Morganthaler and Marilyn Odneal of Missouri State University - Raspberry Production in High Tunnels - an on-going research project examining the cost benefits and challenges of high tunnel raspberry production, including bag growing.

Farm visit - (Friday afternoon) - The Braker Berry Farm. Greg and Wendy Braker have been winter producers for 3 years with extended season field plantings, a heated high tunnel, as well as an unheated tunnel. In fall of 2015 they added a hydroponic lettuce tunnel. The Brakers sell at three farmers markets and operate a small CSA.

Presenters include
Adam Montri spoke at our 2013 Winter Production Conference. He is an outreach specialist in the Michigan State University Department of Horticulture where he works with farmer throughout the state on high tunnel funding, construction, year-round production, marketing, and economics. He and his wife Dru (see below) own and operate Ten Hens Farm in Bath, Michigan, where they farm outdoors in-season and year-round in 17,900 sqft of high tunnels. They sell their products through a variety of outlets including restaurants, food trucks, an on-farm stand, a year-round farmers market, other farms, a specialty grocery store and a medium-sized distributor.

Dru Montri, who holds a Ph.D. in horticulture, has been director of the Michigan Farmers Market Association since its inception in 2006. Now a 400 member organization, the association gives Dru contacts with farmers markets throughout the state. As a board member of the Farmers Market Coalition board she also has experience with some of the best markets in the country. With her husband Adam, Dru has extensive experience in winter production and winter sales.

Patrice Gros has been a passionate organic farmer since 1995. In 2006,
Patrice started Foundation Farm, a 5-acre USDA certified organic farm in Northwest Arkansas. Foundation Farm follows a no-till/no-machine, low-input system which provides high yields in a beautiful natural setting. On an average year, 20,000 poundss of produce are harvested and sold within a 50-mile radius. Foundation Farm welcomes season-long trainees in its farming school program as well as day-volunteers from nearby communities. Patrice is the author of 3 books describing the essential components of his system, with one focused on winter techniques. Patrice is a founder and board member of the Eureka Springs Farmers Market.

Tammy Sellmyer, with her husband Greg, operate a 25-acres farm just south of Fulton, Missouri. In addition to field crops, the Sellmyers, operate several high tunnels. They sell at the Columbia and the Fulton Farmers Markets, and have a CSA. Their winter sales include a wide variety of storage crops and dried products from produce raised on their farm.

Dr. Jaime Pinero is the Integrated Pest Management Specialist for Lincoln University Cooperative Extension.

Patrick Byers is Regional Horticulture Specialist with the Greene County office of University of Missouri Extension. Patrick has provided educational and hands-on training in all aspect of high tunnel design, construction, and management.  His background includes degrees in horticulture from the Universities of Nebraska, Missouri, and Arkansas. Over his career of 25+ years he has provided outreach education for producers of fruits and vegetables commercially grown in the Midwest. In recent years he has focused on challenges facing high tunnel producers, particularly those related to long term production in fixed high tunnels.  Patrick has a specific interest in promoting fruit production in high tunnels.

Shon Bishop has been working for Lincoln University Cooperative Extension in the Southwest Region of Missouri since 2011. Currently, he is the Small Farm Specialist for the Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program (ISFOP) which serves Barry, Lawrence, McDonald, Newton, Jasper, and Greene counties. Over the past 5 years Shon has helped many farmers construct their high tunnels while holding workshops open to the public at their farms in Southwest Missouri. Shon implemented the high tunnel construction took kit program of the Webb City Farmers Market recently expanded to kits in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas, as well as southwest Missouri. The kits were underwritten by the Missouri Department of Agriculture through a Local Foods Matching Grant, the Missouri Farmers Market Association and the Missouri Vegetables Growers Association. They are available on loan at no charge. Shon also owns and operates Bishop Gardens L.L.C. which sells early season tomatoes and strawberries to the public.

Final details will be available on at on November 1.

The 2016 Midwest Winter Production Conference is underwritten by a Specialty Crops grant from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.  Sponsors include Lincoln University Cooperative Extension and University of Missouri Extension.

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