Midwest Aronia Association To Meet April 4-6 In Des Moines

Midwest Aronia Association To Meet April 4-6 In Des Moines

Your chance to learn more about this value-added sustainably grown crop that offers numerous health benefits.

The Midwest Aronia Association will hold its 2013 conference, open to both members and non-members, in Des Moines, Iowa on April 4-6. This annual Midwest event is the largest gathering of aronia growers in the nation, drawing speakers and attendees from across the United States, as well as internationally. People attend the conference to network, learn from each other and from the speakers, and to share information about producing, marketing and using the aronia berry.

VALUE-ADDED CROP: There is renewed interest in growing aronia in Iowa and other Midwest states as a specialty crop. The berries grow on bushes and have health benefits for consumers. Research has shown aronia has more antioxidant power than other fruits including grapes, elderberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, prunes, cherries, bananas, oranges, apples and pears. Studies have shown antioxidants help reduce risk for cancer, heart disease, inflammation, diabetes, bacterial infections and neurological diseases in humans. Antioxidants also slow the aging process.

Aronia has been introduced to the Midwest in recent years as a value-added sustainably grown crop, and researchers are discovering numerous health benefits that are contained in the dark purple berry. The Midwest Aronia Association is excited to announce the lineup and schedule of knowledgeable speakers and interesting topics for the 2013 annual conference.

The keynote speaker at this year's event will be John R. Whitaker, executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Iowa. He will talk about value-added opportunities and the family farm.  

Midwest Aronia Association 3rd Annual Conference will present information for established growers as well as would-be growers

The Midwest Aronia Association is a non-profit group whose focus is education concerning all facets of aronia. Main goals of the association include assisting growers, and re-establishing aronia as a healthy staple in modern diets by introducing aronia berries to consumers. Many of the producers who grow aronia have more questions than answers, and this year's conference will try to inform attendees about the growing basics and advanced growing techniques.

Researchers will also attend and share their knowledge and insight in a number of presentations during the three-day conference. Breakout sessions this year will allow attendees to choose topics that have the most impact on their operation.

Speakers to present timely topics on aronia management and marketing

The speakers at the conference will address topics including best management practices, cultivar varieties, frost protection, legal perspectives of cooperatives and formation of the North America Aronia Cooperative. Also, there will be information presented regarding a processing update, research on the benefits of anthocyanins on cancer, and the formation of a National Aronia Council.

Thursday's events will include an aronia overview and an open discussion with growers to promote one-on-one networking. The annual business meeting and election of board members will be held on Friday, April 5, followed by an awards ceremony that will recap advancements made in the aronia industry in 2012.

Of particular note, will be the "Aronia Promoter of the Year" award, which will be given out to a young 4-Her, Stacey Rosener, for her talented efforts and achievements in using aronia in exhibits at the Crawford County Fair and also at  the Iowa State Fair. A banquet will be held and the keynote speaker, John Whitaker, will conclude Friday's events. The conference will wrap up on Saturday afternoon. For more information about this once-a-year opportunity, or to register to attend, please visit the website.

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