More than 2,100 fruit, vegetable and berry growers, and others from the industry are expected to attend the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention Jan. 28-30 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, Pa.
Included will be several pre-convention workshops and a trade show.
Steven Wiley with the Lincoln Leadership Institute in Gettysburg will be the keynote speaker at 11 a.m. Jan. 28. He is the founder of two international franchise organizations and a national chain of fleet management centers and has been featured in Venture Magazine, USA Today and Entrepreneur Magazine.
The day before the main convention opens, the Young Growers Alliance will sponsor a workshop titled “Opportunities for a New Generation of Specialty Crop Growers,” which will focus on entrepreneurship, team-building, innovation and market diversification.
Other pre-convention workshops will include beginning and advanced raspberries and blackberry production, greenhouse short course, good agricultural practices, getting started in vegetable production, creating outstanding gift baskets and employee etiquette.
On Jan. 29, the session “Técnicas de Producción de Frutas y Hortalizas” will be presented for Spanish-speaking workers in the fruit and vegetable industries.
The convention has been jointly sponsored by the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association, the Maryland State Horticultural Society and the New Jersey State Horticultural Society for the past 36 years.
The North American Raspberry and Blackberry Growers Association, and the Virginia State Horticultural Society will be joining the convention this year.
Penn State University, University of Maryland and Rutgers University Cooperative Extension, and the National Peach Council assist in organizing the educational sessions.
Pesticide applicator update training credits will be available to Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia growers.
Eight concurrent educational sessions will be offered all three days of the convention. The opening day will feature sessions on tree fruit, vine crops, pumpkins, emerging trends in CSAs, wholesale marketing, organic vegetables, greenhouse ornamentals, greenhouse vegetables, asparagus, herbs, new vegetable equipment and labor/farm management.
On the second day, there will be sessions on direct marketing, agritainment, raspberries/blackberries, tomatoes, tree fruit, peaches, potatoes, general vegetables and GMOs.
The third and final day will offer sessions on tree fruit, sweet corn, regulatory issues, strawberries, blueberries, food trends, digital marketing, high tunnels, season extension, cut flowers, cole crops, soil health, peppers/eggplant and value-added products.
Also included will be the eighth annual Mid-Atlantic Cider Contest to determine the best tasting cider produced in the region. The annual Fruit and Vegetable Growers Banquet will be on Jan. 28.
Registration is required and can be done through any of the four sponsoring organizations. There are additional charges for some workshops and meals. For more information, visit www.mafvc.org, or call 717-677-4184 or 717-694-3596.