Organizers say the inaugural organic expo took place in January 2023, drawing 30 exhibitors and more than 300 attendees.
“The expo is the first of its kind in the Thumb of Michigan,” the expo website states.
For the first expo, the team at Clearwater Farms pulled the open house-style event together with less than two months of planning.
“This year, we’ve already sold out all of our booths – over 50 – and we added a speaking day which will have market updates,” said Tiffany Stephens, food safety and quality coordinator at Harvest Ridge Processing near Caro.
“There will be a lot of information that will appeal to all of our area farmers.”
The expo will include a day featuring guest speakers as well as a day for the original open house-style expo. Speakers will address the current commodity markets, organic farming techniques, and more. The expo’s exhibitors include about 15 from Tuscola County, ranging from commodity buyers and processors, to seed and equipment dealers, to soil health experts, lenders and others.
Angela Daily is a sales representative for Harvest Ridge Processing and is helping plan the expo.
“Having this expo last year was our way of announcing our dealership,” she said. “I wanted to get to know local organic farmers. We had such a great kick-off that we wanted to do it again.”
Clearwater Farms is the parent company of Harvest Ridge Processing, Findlay’s Organics and Finn Flyer Transport. Clearwater Farms is owned by Mike, Kevin, and Jon Findlay.
“They have organic farmland, so we do organic dry beans, grain, soybeans, and corn,” Stephens said.
Harvest Ridge, which is a Safe Quality Food certified processing facility, will be a vendor at the expo. Vendors will be on hand who sell equipment, products and services to farmers who grow crops organically, without the use of pesticides and chemicals.
“This area of Michigan has shifted to organic commodities, which is really healthy,” Stephens said. “Having an expo like this lets people know there are all these tools and resources available to them. We saw that there wasn’t really an outlet to local farmers for an expo like this before.”
Daily said a goal of the expo is to receive feedback from area farmers and to benefit them.
“We want to inform them of businesses in the area,” she said.
The schedule for Jan. 18 includes lunch, registration, and guest speakers. Lunch and registration is from 11 a.m. to noon; an introduction of the expo takes place from noon to 12:30 p.m.
The speaking schedule for Jan. 18 features a representative from Morgan Composting from 12:30-1 p.m.; Sahr Crop Insurance from 1-1:30 p.m.; Field Watch from 1:30-2:15 p.m.; keynote remarks from Alexander Schultz of agriculture company Mercaris from 2:45-3:45 p.m.; Agricultural Solutions from 3:45-4:15 p.m.; The Andersons from 4:15-4:45 p.m.; and expo closing remarks from 4:45-5 p.m.
The following day, Jan. 19, the expo floor is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with food trucks such as Farm 2 You, On The Run, and Union Station on site that day. Lunch will be provided to those attending the speaking event on Jan. 18.
Early-bird ticket sales wrapped up on Dec. 15. Regular ticket sales run through the day of the event. Regular tickets cost $15 per person for Jan. 18, and $15 per person for the expo the day after.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit cwforganicexpo.com.