The Great Lakes Expo and Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo will be held at the Devos Place Conference Center and the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, MI, Dec. 5-7.
Trade Show
The EXPO’s trade show is one of the largest shows for fruit and vegetable growers, greenhouse growers and farm marketers in North America. The EXPO offers one of the largest trade shows for fruit and vegetable growers, greenhouse growers and farm marketers in North America! It is the show that starts the season for both growers and exhibitors. This is the show you don’t want to miss.
The 2017 trade show will welcome over 450 exhibitors showing a variety of products and services for growers, greenhouse and farm marketers. Exhibitors include farm equipment companies, seed companies, nurseries, fertilizer and farm chemical manufacturers and suppliers, packaging equipment and container companies, and greenhouse-specific suppliers. The trade show also includes an area for exhibitors offering products specifically for Farm Markets. Many state and federal agencies also exhibit, updating attendees on current programs and regulations.
Trade show hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday. Be sure to plan enough time to see all the exhibits.
Education Program
The education sessions start at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Over three days, the program includes sessions on fruit crops, vegetable crops, other specialty crops, greenhouse crop production and marketing, farm marketing ideas and operations, farmers markets and organic production and marketing.
The farm marketing program includes a Wednesday morning sweet cider session and a Thursday morning hard cider session. There will also be sessions covering a diversity of general interest topics including accession new markets, coping with back pain on the job, food safety, hoop houses, farm labor, farm to institution, MAEAP verification, agricultural technology, and managing wildlife damage.
On Wednesday morning there will be a session on large-scale organic transition and additional organic sessions will be held on Thursday.
Presentations will be made by researchers and extension educators from Michigan State University, other Land Grant universities and industry, including speakers from Canada. There will also be presentations by farm marketers and several grower panels. Many of the education sessions will offer credits for Michigan and Ohio Private and Commercial Pesticide Applicators and Certified Crop Advisors.
Featured Speaker
Dr. Val Farmer will be the keynote speaker in the opening farm marketing session on Tuesday, Dec. 5.  He will speak again in the farm marketing session on Wednesday morning and in a morning workshop on Thursday.  Although Dr. Farmer is speaking as a part of the program for farm marketers, his presentations will be pertinent for anyone in a farm or greenhouse business.
Val Farmer has been a strong voice and presence in agriculture since the early 80s. He has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Arizona. He practiced clinical psychologyin North and South Dakota for 31 years prior to moving to the St. Louis area in 2006 where he enjoys semi-retirement. He has been married for 51 years and has seven children and 28 grandchildren.
He was a newspaper columnist for 28 years from 1984 -2012. He specialized in rural mental health topics and his column was carried in the major agricultural papers throughout the Midwest. His archived columns are accessed on his website, He was a weekly guest on a radio call-in show, Agri-Talk, from 1994-2002.
Dr. Farmer’s column and public speaking helped farmers cope during the farm crisis of the 1980s. His book “Honey, I Shrunk the Farm – a Guide to Rural Stress” is a compilation of his most pertinent articles on farm stress.
Dr. Farmer has also specialized in helping farm families in their personal relationships. He has written a marriage book, “To Have and To Hold. Currently he continues to provide consultation and mediation services for multi-farm families experiencing conflict and communication difficulties.
Dr. Farmer will make these presentations and lead a workshop during the following times:
Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, 9 – 10 a.m.
Being Strong During Tough Times: How Farmers Weather the Storm
Dr. Farmer will discuss positive coping strategies for farm families while facing the threat of loss of livelihood and the family farm because of economic pressures. He will also discuss common pitfalls and behaviors that contribute to unhappiness and poor decision-making. Listen to his advice and blueprint for not only surviving tough times but thriving as well.
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, 9:45 – 10:30 a.m.
Advice for Farm Family Businesses, Operate Like a Business!: Key Business Practices for Family Farmers
The transition to managing people is a tough one for farmers who are used to hands on control of their operation. The transition to a two- or three-generation farm is complex and requires new skills and ways of communicating with adult children and their families.
Business needs conflict to grow and become better while families want love and harmony. Dr. Farmer will delve into family business practices and structure that facilitate teamwork, organization and cooperation among family members and employees. Among these practices, Dr. Farmer will discuss succession planning, well-run family business meetings, meaningful delegation, inclusion of in-laws, and team-building.
He will also discuss how to handle difficult family members whose personal behavior hurts the morale of others and detracts from the success of the farm.
Thursday, Dec. 7, 9 – 11 a.m.
Managing with HEART: Making Caring Communication the Heart of Your Farm
H – Hear and understand me
E – Even if I am wrong, don’t make me wrong
A – Appreciate the greatness within me
R – Recognize my positive intent
T – Tell me the truth with compassion
This is a workshop designed to teach listening, speaking, team-building and conflict resolution skills to bring out the best in family members and employees.
In this workshop, Dr. Farmer will help farmers understand and practice key communication skills such as listening, understanding, softening up communication, showing appreciation, handling both giving and taking criticism, negotiating, giving apologies and forgiveness, building trust by making clear agreements. Thorny issues such as how to deal with anger, resentments and past hurts will also be addressed.
EXPO Banquet
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 6:30 p.m.
Ambassador Ballroom, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
The banquet will feature a serving of Michigan foods and wines. The program features recognition of people for outstanding service to our fruit and vegetable industries. This year’s recipients of the Fruit and Vegetable Industry Scholarships and Jordan Tatter Scholarships will be recognized as well. And the winning entries in this year’s Cider Contest will be announced.
Tickets are $40. Advance purchase through registration is recommended. A limited number of tickets will be available at registration until noon on Wednesday.
For more information on the EXPO or to register, visit