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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.

Illinois Specialty Crop Growers Conference

In the dead of winter there is still much that can be done to prepare for the coming season. Supplemental education is one thing growers can do to help improve the success of their farm operations. This January, the Illinois Specialty Growers Association and its partners, including University of Illinois Extension will host The Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference Jan. 9-11 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield, Ill.

The conference, which features more than 100 speakers and 50 trade show exhibitors, will again host four concurrent preconference workshops, general sessions, and breakout sessions aimed at helping Illinois specialty growers cultivate their operations. Preconference workshops include: Cover Crops, High Tunnels, Basics of Orchard Establishment/Tree Fruit Production, and Sweet Corn.

The conference opens Thursday, Jan. 10, with a general session highlighting the Illinois specialty crops industry and its partners and addressing a range of issues. The remaining days are devoted to breakout sessions, divided into 6 different tracks, including: Agritourism; Fruits; Vegetables; Herbs; Organic Foods; and Emerging Issues and Opportunities. Presenters this year include experienced growers, industry representatives, USDA staff, and research specialists from the University of Illinois and others throughout the country.

Following Thursday's breakout sessions, the annual banquet will include a keynote speech titled, "A Family and a Farm" by Holly Spangler, farm wife and associate editor at Prairie Farmer Magazine. The 24th Annual Apple Cider Contest and 11th Annual Hard Cider Contest will again be held in conjunction with the conference, with winners being announced during Thursday evening's festivities. Please visit for more information including a complete agenda, registration, and hotel reservation information.

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