The 2017 Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism, and Organic Conference (ISCAOC) will be held January 11-13, 2017, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. The conference, which features nearly 100 speakers and 60 trade show exhibitors including Illinois Stewardship Alliance, will again host four concurrent pre-conference workshops, general sessions and breakout sessions aimed at helping Illinois specialty growers cultivate their operations. Stop by our booth or check out the conference schedule to find Illinois Stewardship Alliance staff participating in a number of workshops and panels. This year’s conference is full of great sessions and knowledgeable food system practitioners. Register today at www.specialtygrowers.org
Wednesday, January 11, participants may attend one of the pre-conference workshops, including Cover Crops, Nutrient Management, and Soil Health, Digital Marketing Strategies for Your Farm, Growing and Marketing Tomatoes and Peppers, and Designing and Operating Irrigation Systems for Illinois Vegetable and Fruit Crops.
A special opportunity for farmers is scheduled for Wednesday. The ISCAOC is hosting the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) Farmers Forum program. This traveling annual event gives farmers, ranchers, and others funded by NCR-SARE grants the chance to share information about their sustainable agriculture research, demonstration, and education projects. The projects highlighted in these presentations and the Farmers Forum are funded by grants from North Central Region-Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCRSARE), a USDA-funded program that supports and promotes sustainable farming and ranching by offering competitive grants and educational opportunities.
Thursday, January 12, the convention’s keynote speaker, Adam Nielsen, Illinois Farm Bureau’s Director of National Legislation will provide insight into the challenges agriculture is faced with in developing national agricultural policies under a new administration. Participants also are invited to attend breakout sessions on Thursday, January 12 and Friday, January 13 featuring:
- Agritourism and Marketing
- Organic Foods
- Emerging Issues and Opportunities
Following Thursday’s breakout sessions, the annual banquet will include a keynote speech titled, “Why Your Story Matters,” by Chris and Audra Wyant, Finding Eminence Farm, Lexington, Illinois. They have a growing number of readers following their weekly blog, and will cover how sharing their story helps drive business to their farm. T
he 28th annual Apple Cider Contest and 15th annual Hard Cider Contest will again be held in conjunction with the conference, with winners being announced during Thursday evening’s banquet. To receive registration materials or to obtain exhibitor information, please contact Charlene Blary at 309-557-2107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the first time, conference registration will be offered online. A detailed conference agenda, registration, and cider contest information can be viewed at www.specialtygrowers.org. A block of rooms has been reserved at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at a rate of $96 per night. Please call the hotel directly at 217-529-7777 and ask for the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference room block to make reservations at the conference rate.