Vegetable & Small Fruit Growers’ Conference draws a crowd

By UConn Extension
South Windsor - posted Wed., Jan. 29, 2014
- Contributed Photo

UConn Extension’s Connecticut Vegetable & Small Fruit Growers’ Conference was held at Maneeley’s in South Windsor on Thursday, Jan. 16. The annual event is co-sponsored by UConn Extension, UConn’s Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) and USDA. More than 260 vegetable and small fruit growers from throughout New England attended, and 30 vendors were on-hand at the trade show.

Participants praised the conference, and 98 percent stated they learned something to improve their crop production and marketing. Vegetable and small fruit growers also gained insight to improve their farms’ environmental quality and profitability through new practices introduced at the conference. Growers in attendance also earned 4.5 hours of pesticide re-certification credits.

Nine different speakers presented on various topics from recirculating hydroponics systems, to weed-free fields, and deep zone tillage. Speakers included Jamie Jones from The Jones Family Farms in Shelton, Jude Boucher from UConn Extension, Tom Giammattei, Jr. of the Flower Farm in Prospect, Michele Collins from Fair Weather Acres in Rocky Hill, Mary Concklin of UConn, Wade Elmer from CAES, Charles Bornt of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Mark Parlee of Parlee Farms in Tyngsboro, Mass., and Tom Morris of UConn. Several growers provided comments at the end of the day, and these included: “Excellent assembly of topics and speakers,” and, “Hard to choose the two best talks.”

Agriculture in Connecticut is a $4.6 billion industry that creates 26,744 jobs, according to a 2012 report by Farm Credit East. Vegetables represent 10 percent of this, with fruit production accounting for another 7 percent. The fruit and vegetable industries combined create 1,000 on-farm jobs in Connecticut.

Next year’s conference will be held at Maneeley’s on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. The committee from UConn Extension is already working to secure speakers and pesticide re-certification credits for attendees. This is a great educational event for growers, and will continue to expand in the future. For more information on the vegetable and small fruit programs at UConn, visit

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