News release: Bees and more at the Great Plains Growers Conference

Tim Baker, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist
102 N. Main, Suite 1, Gallatin, MO 64640
660-663-3232, bakert@missouri.edu

Release Date: November 24, 2016
Headline: Bees and more at the Great Plains Growers Conference

In a little over one month, it will be time for the Great Plains Growers Conference. This is one of the premier conferences for horticulture producers, and it is found right here in northwest Missouri.  Held in St. Joseph, the Great Plains Grower’s Conference is put together every year by Extension educators from four states: Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.  The conference will be held on January 12-14, 2017. This will be our 21st annual conference.

This is an exciting conference for anyone growing horticultural crops, with many new ideas presented from growers, researchers, and Extension specialists. The conference is open to everyone, from backyard gardeners to commercial produce growers.  Topics cover not only vegetables, but also tree fruits, small fruits and flowers.  There are also presentations targeted toward organic growers.

The event begins with workshops on Thursday.  Attendees choose a workshop when they register.  Each workshop explores a topic in-depth.

Workshops this year will include topics such as greenhouse & hydroponic production, soil health, tree fruit, beekeeping, a grower training for the Food Safety Modernization Act, and mushrooms. I will have more details in my next column on the mushroom workshop.

I have helped organize the beekeeping session again this year. The Thursday workshop on beekeeping will bring in Dr. Leo Sharashkin, the founder of HorizontalHive.com. Dr. Sharashkin is the editor of “Keeping Bees with a Smile: A Vision and Practice of Natural Apiculture.” His presentations will include both basic and advanced topics. He specializes in natural beekeeping methods. He will discuss the advantages of different types of bee hives, including horizontal hives.

The main conference occurs on Friday and Saturday. Before starting the concurrent tracks, we will hear from our keynote speaker, Jean-Martin Fortier, author of "The Market Gardener: A Successful Growers Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming.”  You can read more about him on our conference web site, noted below.

After the keynote, there will be five concurrent tracks to choose from. Topics for this year’s tracks include Tree Fruit, Advanced Organic, Vegetable IPM, Farm Mechanization, Farm to School Marketing, and a research update.

On Saturday, concurrent sessions include Small Fruit, Beginning Organic, Vegetable Production, Cut Flowers, Season Extension, and Selling Local Foods.

There will be many exhibitors available to provide information about seeds, irrigation, horticulture equipment, chemicals, and other topics. Meals, break refreshments, and handouts will be included in the registration fee for the main conference.

The conference will be held on the campus of Missouri Western State University.  For more information about the conference and a registration form, call the Buchanan County Extension office at (816) 279-1691.  You may also register on-line and find additional information on our web site at: http://www.greatplainsgrowersconference.org/