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Frequent information updates for agricultural audiences

Specialty Crop, Organic, and Agri-Tourism Conference

Posted by John Fulton -

Illinois Specialty Crop, Agritourism, and Organic conference Jan. 5 to 7

URBANA – The Illinois Specialty Crop, Agritourism, and Organic Conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield January 5 through 7, this year with the addition of a newly created organic growers association. The Illinois Organic Growers Association will have its first official meeting on Thursday, Jan. 6 at 4 p.m.

"The new organic growers association will give farmers an opportunity to network, find out about resources and work with other farmers who are interested in advancing organic farming and marketing methods in Illinois agriculture," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, small farms specialist and the organic track chair.

Cavanaugh-Grant said the organic sessions will kick off with a presentation from Lisa Kivirist who is a Kellogg Food & Society Policy Fellow and author. "Lisa is an entrepreneur herself as she owns Inn Serendipity Farm and Bed and Breakfast in Browntown, WI, so she brings a lot of practical knowledge and experience to the table."

The conference will also provide organic growers (as well as those interested in organics) with two concurrent tracts of educational programming focusing on the following areas: integrated organic vegetable production systems, grain and livestock systems, fruit production, and cultural practices.

The remainder of the conference will include the traditional concurrent breakout sessions on fruits, vegetables, herbs, irrigation, agritourism/marketing, and business management. On Thursday evening there will be a banquet followed by the announcement of the annual cider contest winners and comments from Ken and Barb Hall from Edwards Orchard in Poplar Grove.

The conference will also include four pre-conference, concurrent workshops on Wednesday, January 5 the titles of which are: Pumpkin Production and Pest Management; High Tunnels - Tomatoes and More; Good Ag Practices - Making a Farm Plan and Becoming GAP Certified; and Expanding Farmers' Market Opportunities.

On Thursday and Friday, January 6-7, the conference feature an opening session entitled "Is Your Operation Market Ready? Understanding the Expanding Market for Local Foods" by Julie Fox from The Ohio State University.

The trade show portion of the conference has spaces for over 60 exhibitors with time between sessions for attendees to visit with exhibitors. Space is still available for those wishing to exhibit their specialty crop products or services.

For exhibitor information or to register, contact Diane Handley at 309-557-2107 or For a detailed conference agenda, visit

Contact the Crowne Plaza Hotel directly at 217-529-7777 to reserve a room at the conference rate.

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