Continuing Education a Plus for Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard
2011 North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association Conference a Success!
Baltimore, MD – Learning was made easy for the Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard this year during the North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association’s (NAFDMA) 26th Annual Conference and Tour held February 4 – 10 in Philadelphia and Baltimore. This year’s theme of “still a whole lot more to learn” lived up to the expectations of over 600 direct farm marketers attending from across North America and Great Britain.
The “still more to learn” emphasis followed the Association’s effective program staged a year ago in Lancaster, PA. They returned to the same region for its abundance of quality direct marketers available for touring and learning. Co-Owner of the Mill, Bill Michaels, praises the entire learning experience gaining invaluable knowledge from the tour, educational sessions and most importantly, networking and sharing ideas with colleagues. “This was our 15th year attending the Conference and Tour. I can’t begin to describe the value in knowledge and insight we gain to benefit the Mill operation and serving our visitors. “Talking shop” with old friends and meeting new members all while sharing ideas that work in our own operations continues to be a prime asset,” says Bill.
The Motorcoach tour showcased NAFDMA member farms and markets straddling the Mason-Dixon Line within close proximity to urban populations, as opposed to last year’s tour of more rural Pennsylvania. Tour highlights included fruit growers such as Catoctin Mountain Orchard, Milburn Orchards, Terhune Orchards, Linvilla Orchards and Weber’s Farm and Cider Mill. They have taken their farms from a strictly wholesale operation to almost 100% direct-to-consumer sales with their own on-farm markets, pick-your-own operations and agritainment. Farm Market Tour discussion highlights centered on connecting with customers through new social media, merchandising successes, and distinguishing their markets from larger nearby grocery operations. A major conclusion was the need for farm direct marketers to better distinguish themselves through promoting more their locally sourced and produced products. This was made evident at many tour stops where the local focus was reinforced through signage proclaiming the proximity in mileage from the farm where the products were grown and produced. Product signage and displays also featured more information on the growers themselves.
On the production side, tour participants witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of the invasive marmorated stink bug. Growers exchanged their frustrations with the pest and ways to combat its effects without damaging the beneficial controls that have been developed for other growing concerns.
Back in Baltimore the conference kicked into gear featuring workshops led by industry notables including retail guru John Stanley, Dr. Richard George and Brad Montgomery. Innovation Day followed with educational sessions on tracks such as agritourism, social media, food service, pick-your-own and management training. Participation Day featured an extensive trade show with vendor presentations and numerous member marketing contests. The Fly Creek Cider Mill won “Best Brochure” a second time for its full-color, five-fold brochure.
“We are now compiling all the ideas from the conference in preparation to reopen the Mill April 1st for our 155th season. Visitors will be pleasantly surprised by new flavorful delights yet pleased to find their stand-by favorites such as cider, extra-sharp cheese and creamy Mill-made fudge,” says Bill.
The Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard is located 3 miles north of Cooperstown and 24 miles south of Herkimer just off State Route 28. For more information visit the Mill’s website at www.flycreekcidermill.com
. For more information about NAFMDA and next year’s tour and conference visit www.NAFDMA.com