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US (MI): Specialty cut flowers a highlight of 2023 Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo

The Michigan State University Extension floriculture team is excited to announce an educational program for specialty cut flower growers at the 2023 Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo, which will take place at the Devos Place Conference Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dec. 5 – 7. The education schedule features a healthy balance of production and business management topics, including Anemone and Ranunculus production, recruiting and retaining local labor, weed management, and a primer on agricultural cooperatives. This program has been designed to help growers of all experience levels and is presented by a combination of commercial flower growers, university researchers, and industry specialists.

Program highlights
The following sessions will all take place on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

Producing High-Quality Anemone and Ranunculus in Michigan
Lindsay Daschner, Forget Me Not Farms

Lindsay Daschner and Tater (bottom center) from Forget Me Not Farms.

Anemone and Ranunculus are sought after by florists and consumers alike, but producing high-quality stems can be a challenging prospect due to their specific environmental requirements. Join us as Lindsay Daschner from Forget Me Not Farms walks us through her Anemone and Ranunculus production process and shares some tips for growing consistently gorgeous stems.

Speaker bio: Lindsay Daschner is the owner and operator of Forget Me Not Farms, a supplier of fresh-cut, sustainably grown flowers in Ottawa Lake, Michigan. After graduating from Michigan State University in 2016, she immediately went to work starting her flower farm and began building her first greenhouse in January 2017. From that point forward, Forget Me Not Farms has enjoyed consistent growth and now has a combined half-acre of protected growing space and 2 acres of outdoor production fields to provide Michigan and Ohio florists with seasonally relevant fresh cut flowers nine months out of the year.

Recruiting and Retaining Workers from Select Sources of the Local Labor Market
It's no secret that finding and retaining high-quality employees is challenging. In this session, Lindsay Daschner from Forget Me Not Flowers and Nikki Deming from Kalamazoo Specialty Plants share their experiences in working successfully with younger generations (high school and college students) and the Amish community. Attraction and retention efforts, as well as company culture, will also be discussed.

Weed Management Recommendations for Specialty Cut Flower Production
Managing weeds in specialty cut flower production can be challenging due to low damage thresholds, labeling limitations, and high labor costs. In this session, our speakers will discuss major non-chemical weed control techniques, possible herbicide programs, and how to control some specific problematic weed species. A short presentation will be followed by a facilitated Q&A session.

The Ins and Outs of Cooperatives and Collectives
Have you wondered what it would be like to form (or join) a cut flower cooperative? Join us as we explore the fundamentals of agricultural cooperatives and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of joining forces with your fellow growers. Bill Knudson from Michigan State University will start us out by providing an overview of agricultural cooperatives. We'll then hear from members of three Michigan flower cooperatives/collectives as they take turns telling their stories and sharing what they have learned. Note: Due to the complex nature of the subject matter, this session may run longer than usual.

Speaker bio: Bill Knudson is an agricultural economist at the Michigan State University Product Center. His primary areas of work are in field crops, livestock products, and cooperatives of all types. Prior to joining the Product Center in 2003, he was a policy advisor for the Michigan Senate Majority Policy Office, where he covered agriculture, higher education, and appropriations.


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