Aronia Growers To Gather In Des Moines

Aronia Growers To Gather In Des Moines

If you're interested in growing this value-added crop, plan to attend the Midwest Aronia Association's 2nd annual conference March 29-31 in Des Moines.

The Midwest Aronia Association's 2nd Annual Conference, with the theme "Aronia In Motion," is coming up March 29, 30 and 31 in Des Moines. The MAA board of directors have put together an interesting lineup of timely topics and knowledgeable speakers. The conference is for people who are beginners and want to learn more about aronia, as well as for established growers who are already producing this berry crop and who also are continuing to learn more about it.

Aronia Growers To Gather In Des Moines

Last year there were over 300 people who attended the first ever conference of MAA, which was also held in Des Moines. Below is the agenda and schedule. For more information contact: Melissa Ehrman Johnson, Midwest Aronia Association, public relations chairperson at (712) 243-2517 or [email protected] or visit the organization's new and improved website

Program schedule, dates, times, topics and speakers on the agenda

Thursday 3-29 Vendor set up will take place. Also the horticulture workshop will get started with a presentation titled "Getting started, going through harvest."

Speaker will be Dr. Andrew Ristvey of the University of Maryland. He will discuss why grow aronia and produce the berries? He'll discuss cultivar selection, how to assess your land, organic vs. conventional farming techniques, understanding soil test reports, field preparation, planting systems, fertilizers, insect and weed control, irrigation and watering systems, pruning, growth enhancement and seasonal protection.

12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. Lunch and vendor time

2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Member panel:  Round table or table exhibits. Photos of producers' Aronia fields and 15 minute presentation of personal experience and plans. Attendees can visit with existing growers to learn local information.

4:00 to 5:30 p.m. Social time, cash bar. Dinner on your own or chef's dinner (special ticket sale with limited attendance). Chef will demonstrate preparation of gourmet meals using Aronia in recipes.

Medical research is theme of the workshop presentations on Friday

Friday: 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Dr. Monica Giusti PhD, assistant professor, Ohio State University, will talk about Aronia effect on colon cancer cells. This is a presentation of research results with questions and answers.

10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Jan Mills, Artemis International, will discuss Meta-Analysis of Aronia in Medical research. A survey and summary of promising medical advancement using Aronia and Aronia components.

11:00 to 12 noon Question and answer time for speakers

12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Marketing and product sales. Stephanie Clark, Professor Food Science ISU, National food product competition and steps to establish our own competition for food products using Aronia. Mike Mathiasen, marketing committee chairman of MAA, will give a progress report on marketing activities and contacts. Also,  a presentation of MAA sponsorship for a Food Product Competition, and alignment with other berry and fruit grower associations

3:00 to 4:00 p.m. Dr. Andrew Ristvey, University of Maryland; Kevin Bailey, president of Midwest Aronia Association presentation of a National Aronia Association formation.

4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Cash bar social time

5:00 p.m. Annual Banquet and Business Meeting

Types of harvesting equipment and labor will be covered, along with other aronia berry harvest-related topics

Dr. Angela Laury, assistant professor ISU Food Science will talk about Understanding food safety and the new government laws effecting Aronia growers, such as understanding S510.

Melissa O'Rourke, an attorney with ISU Extension, will discuss labor laws effecting hiring of migrant workers, and nonprofit fund raising groups (4H, church groups, etc.).

Georgeanne Artz, ISU Extension economist, will discuss harvest economics, labor vs. mechanical harvest. How to justify harvester purchase and economic formulas to aid in capital equipment purchase decisions. There will also be a speaker on setting up a co-op or joining an existing marketing organization.

Mechanical harvesters will be discussed and a processor workshop will also be held. The speakers will talk about purchase and intake procedures for the berries, other requirements, grading, products and future product plans.
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