BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — These days, being a produce farmer involves much more than growing food. For farms that directly market fruits and vegetables to customers, marketing is an ever-present and often time-consuming task that requires creative thinking and problem-solving. In a 2015 survey of local food marketing practices, the USDA found that over 167,000 U.S. farms locally produced and sold food through direct marketing practices. In Michigan, the direct food sales totaled $459 million in that same year.
A new session on marketing for fruit and vegetable farms has been added to the annual Southwest Michigan Horticulture Days event for 2018. This two-day educational program and trade show will be held on Feb. 7 and 8, 2018 at the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center at 1100 Yore Ave, Benton Harbor, MI 49022. Pre-registration for the event is available by mailing in this form. On-site registration is also available beginning at 8:00 a.m. each day.
The marketing session will take place on Thursday, Feb. 8 from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Farmers from across Michigan will present on marketing strategies and successes. The agenda is as follows:
- 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. —Marketing and Retention Strategies to Attract and Keep Great Farm Workers, Presenter: Katie Brant, MSU Student Organic Farm, Groundswell Farm
- 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. —The Pricing Game: What is the true cost of what you produce and what do you need to charge? Presenter: Joannée DeBruhl, Stone Coop Farm
- 11:00 am to noon—Understanding Your Market: Growing and Selling What People Want (Panel Session), Presenters: Ben Martin, Soil Friends Farm; Roger Miller, R&B Miller Farms; Aaron Molter, Molter Family Orchards
Southwest Michigan Horticulture Days is sponsored by the Michigan Grape Society and Michigan State Horticultural Society and is coordinated by the Michigan Grape Society and Michigan State University Extension.
Michigan State University Extension’s Community Food Systems Work Team supports the development of local food systems in Michigan. For more information, connect with your local community food systems educator by visiting http://msue.anr.msu.edu/or calling 1-888-678-3464.
— Mariel Borgman, Michigan State University Extension
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