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Skaggs: Fruit, veggie conference gathering in Savannah
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Over the last several years, interest in and production of local fruits and vegetables has steadily grown. In particular, the enthusiasm surrounding farmers markets and buying local has been a welcome site to those in the produce business.

Farmers and growers from across the Southeast will gather Jan. 7-10 in Savannah for the annual Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference. The conference has become one of the best production-oriented conferences in the nation and the largest educational conference and trade show of its kind in the Southeast.

Of particular interest to many in North Georgia, the conference will include programs featuring roadside markets and organic production techniques and trends. Drew Echols of Jaemor Farm Market is one of the featured speakers and will be discussing Jaemor’s agritourism activities.

Whether discovering new products and services on the trade show floor, learning about the latest produce trends at one of the educational programs or attending one of the special events throughout the weekend, participants will be in the midst of some of the best in the Southeast.

The 2010 trade show will allow participants to compare products, talk with industry representatives, observe demonstrations, learn about the latest in fresh produce technology, and network with other growers.

Specialized educational programs will include information on blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, muscadines, pecans, peaches, strawberries, Vidalia onions and a program on vegetables.

Special events also will be held throughout the weekend, including a silent auction running throughout the conference weekend. Friday features a welcome reception and live auction on the trade show floor before a crisis management forum featuring speakers prepared to discuss product recalls and coordinating with the Food and Drug Administration.

The general session on Saturday will have several special guests and speakers, including several members of the U.S. Congress. In addition to the legislative updates, individuals and groups will be recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to the fruit and vegetable industry.

The Southeast Regional Conference is sponsored by the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and the Georgia Peach Council. For more information, visit the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association online at

Billy Skaggs is a Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at 770-531-6988. His column appears biweekly and at