Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Great Plains Growers Conference and Trade Show

The 20th annual Great Plains Growers Conference will attract home gardeners and commercial growers from the Midwest and beyond.

The three-day conference, Jan. 7-9, 2016, in St. Joseph, will feature knowledgeable speakers from across the country.

“There are five states that participate in this conference. The extension services of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota share horticulture expertise with conference attendees,” said Tim Baker, horticulture specialist for University of Missouri Extension and one of the conference organizers.

For the first time, the conference will feature several workshops on mushrooms.

Mark Gleason of Iowa State University will provide morel mushroom certification training. Anyone wishing to sell wild-harvested morels in Missouri must be certified as an inspector by an approved trainer.

“He regularly provides this training in Iowa, and a number of Missourians have traveled up to Iowa to get this training,” Baker said. “We’re bringing him down here so people can get that certification training and be able to legally sell morels in Missouri.”

If you want the state-required certification letter at the completion of the workshop, it will cost an additional $50.

There will also be a class for those interested in harvesting wild mushrooms for personal use. Correct identification is vital because some mushrooms are deadly and making the wrong choice can be life-threatening. Stan Hudson, with the Missouri Mycological Society, will discuss Missouri and Midwest mushroom identification and how to spot dangerous look-alikes.

There are also presentations for those who would like to grow shiitake and other specialty culinary mushrooms.

Other topics at the conference include organic growing, honeybees and scaling up small farm production.

MU Extension’s James Quinn and others will provide workshops on MarketReady, an educational program designed to help small farmers and ranchers build supplier relationships with restaurant, grocery, wholesale and food service buyers.

The keynote speaker will be Anthony Flaccavento, an organic farmer from Abingdon, Va. Flaccavento is a recognized leader in sustainable economic development and the founder of SCALE (Sequestering Carbon, Accelerating Local Economies).

The conference also includes a comprehensive trade show that will provide resources helpful to both home gardeners and commercial growers.

“The cost to attend the all-day Thursday workshop is $55 per person. The cost for Friday and Saturday is $45 per person per day,” Baker said. “The price includes lunch on all three days.”
To register, see a complete conference schedule and for more information, visit www.greatplainsgrowersconference.org.

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