The Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference will be held January 6 to 8, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. The conference, which features nearly 100 speakers and 60 trade show exhibitors, will host four concurrent preconference workshops, general sessions and breakout sessions aimed at helping Illinois specialty growers cultivate their operations.

On January 6, participants may attend one of the preconference workshops, including Pumpkins and Ornamental Vegetables, Small Fruits, Social Media, and Legal Issues for Small Farmers. On January 7, keynote speaker, Tom Turpin, professor of entomology at Purdue University, will stress the importance of insects as pollinators, what role they play, and how growers can promote their success.

Participants also are invited to attend breakout sessions Thursday, Jan. 7, and Friday, Jan. 8, featuring:

  • Agritourism and Marketing
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Herbs
  • Organic Foods
  • Emerging Issues and Opportunities

Following Thursday’s breakout sessions, the annual banquet will include a keynote speech titled, “How Social Media Has Revolutionized and How We Drive Traffic to our Farm,” by Chris Eckert, Eckert’s Orchard, Belleville. The 27th annual Apple Cider Contest and 14th annual Hard Cider Contest will again be held in conjunction with the conference, with winners being announced during Thursday evening’s festivities.

To receive registration materials or to obtain exhibitor information, contact Diane Handley at 309-557-2107 or dhandley@ilfb.org.