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GUEST COLUMN: Fruit and veggie conference adds innovation contest

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By Bryce Roberts

The 2011 Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference and Trade Show will have something for anyone interested in fruit and vegetable production. This year’s event convenes Jan. 3 in Lexington at Embassy Suites Hotel, and concludes around 5 p.m. Jan. 4.

A new component to the conference this time around is the Agricultural Innovations Contest for Market Growers. Central Kentucky Ag Credit is sponsoring the event that will highlight two categories of laborsaving designs and modifications growers have made to handle the unique aspects of field production. The two categories are Market Grower Mechanization Activities and Famers Market Marketing Activities. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 23.

“We have many excellent sessions and speakers again this year,” said John Strang, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture horticulture specialist. “Success with fruit and vegetables is most always based on a producer’s management skills, especially being able to do things on time. This conference is for beginners and experienced growers alike.

We believe we have something to share with everyone, no matter how steep their learning curve.”

Mainstays of the conference include pre-conference sessions Jan. 2, on record-keeping training, winemaking techniques, Kentucky FarmStart, Kentucky Farmers Market Association annual meeting, and fruit and vegetable round-table discussions. Concurrent sessions cover many topics related to commercial tree fruit, organic farming and gardening, vegetable production, small fruit production, marketing, wholesale marketing, home-based produce microprocessing and tree fruit.

The conference is a joint meeting of the Kentucky State Horticulture Society, the Kentucky Vegetable Growers Association, the Kentucky Farmers’ Market Association, the Organic Association of Kentucky, the Kentucky Winery and Vineyard Association and the Kentucky Vineyard Society.

The Kentucky Vineyard Society will offer an optional Celebration of Kentucky Wines, which will be open to the public, prior to the conference banquet Jan. 3. At the banquet, Jimmy Henning, associate dean of extension and director of the UK College of Agriculture will speak on “The Changing Role for Extension” and Susan Reigler, adjunct lecturer at Indiana University Southeast and Spalding University and resident consulting biologist will speak on “Food Ways of The Kentucky Frontier.”

Participants will have an opportunity to use a Trading Post bulletin board to sell used equipment.

Conference registration is $30 and includes a one-year membership in the Kentucky Vegetable Growers Association, Kentucky State Horticulture Society or the Organic Association of Kentucky and entry to the Grape and Wine Short Course. Banquet and luncheon tickets are only available with advanced registration by Dec. 20. The conference is jointly sponsored by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Kentucky State University and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

For more information about the conference, or to request registration materials, contact Mary Ann Kelley at 270-365-7541, ext. 216. The conference program, Agriculture Innovations Contest entry form and registration sheet are available online http://www.uky.edu/Ag/ Horticulture/ meetings.html. We also have registration packets here at our office.

Feel free to contact me at your Spencer County Cooperative Extension Service at 477-2217 or you can email me at broberts@uky.edu. You can visit the Spencer County Extension Services’ website at www.spencerextension.com.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.