GL EXPO Highlights

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! Last year, a record 458 companies and organizations exhibited products and services in the trade show. This year’s show is expected to be even bigger! There will again be an additional exhibit area featuring farm market vendors, other product vendors and information booths.

Trade show hours will be 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, December5.  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, December 5, 2017, 9:00 -10:00 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, December 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, December 7, 2017, 9:00 - 11:00 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.


Prayer Breakfast

Wednesday, December 6, 7 a.m.

Pantlind Ballroom, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

Pastor Doug Cuthbert of Sister Lakes Community Church is the Prayer Breakfast speaker for 2017. Doug was born and raised in Southwest Michigan. He has been in the ministry for thirty-five years. After graduating from Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana, he was pastor at the People’s Bible Church, in Goshen, Indiana for six years. Then he moved to Anchorage, Alaska as a Family Life Counselor for three years. In 1994, he accepted a call to be pastor of his home church, where he now serves. He and his wife, Marilyn have four grown children and eight grandchildren.

Doug has used his pastor’s heart and counseling skills to travel extensively leading seminars in the following countries; Peru, Mexico, Russia, Soloman Island, China, and Namibia and Zambia in Africa. Some of his seminar topics are “Soul Care”, “Art of Leadership”, and “Healing the Heart of the Wounded”. Pastor Doug has a unique way of relating a loving God to a hurting world.

Tickets are $19 and should be purchased through pre-registration or on Tuesday at registration.

EXPO Banquet

Wednesday, December 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.