DSC00065It was a record crowd attending the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah, Georgia earlier this month. The annual event, held at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, is one of the most notable events in the country with exhibitors that ranged from commercial growing and seed providers as well as shippers, packaging companies and insurance businesses.

The regional show also recognized area producers and their impact in the environment. Tifton, Georgia-based Lewis Taylor Farms, Inc. was awarded the Environmental Impact Award for its recycling efforts in 2015.

One of the largest privately owned vegetable and greenhouse operations in the the Southeast region, Lewis Taylor Farms specializes in fresh market vegetables such as broccoli, squash and various melons. Read more about Lewis Taylor Farms’ produce division, Spring Hill Produce and  in the upcoming February issue of Growing.

Aside from the array of exhibitors and educational sessions for regional growers, there were plenty of causes that brought attention to showgoers. For instance, Protect The People, an organization that helps people in areas of conflict and disaster, promoted awareness of its many programs including the Haiti H-2A program that assists Haitian workers in finding seasonal or temporary work in the agricultural field.

According to Executive Director Sarah Williamson and Haiti H-2A Program Officer Grace Armstrong, H-2A workers in Haiti make approximately $10/hour in a 6-day work week. The amount is more than enough for migrant workers to send their earnings back home.

Williamson said the group was at the Southeast Regional show to bring awareness to their cause as well as promote agricultural projects that would connect Haiti with the U.S agricultural community.

The conference was also graced with the presence of the reigning Miss America Betty Cantrell—a native of Warner Robins, Georgia—who was available for autographs and photos with the attending trade show crowds and to bring more awareness to her platform, Healthy Children, Strong America, an initiative that promotes healthy lifestyles.

The next Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference will be held January 5-8, 2017 once again in Savannah.