Geoff and his wife, Sharon, manage 913
acres in Fayette County in south central Ohio. The farm has been in Geoff's
family since 1840. Sharon works part-time off the farm and helps with
farming chores when needed. The Mavises have two children, both in college.
The farm has 136 acres that were certified organic in 1995 and another
100 acres in transition to organic. Forty acres have been set aside in
the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) as a wildlife habitat. They
have constructed a wetland of five acres and have planted 6,000 trees
on the farm for conservation purposes. During the 2000 growing season,
Geoff will farm the organic and transitional acres himself and lease
the remaining acres to another farmer who will farm it conventionally.
Geoff hopes to transition more of their farm to organic in the future,
but is unable at this time to find the labor needed to do so.
Jeff is a 35 year old, full-time farmer with 1,000 acres in production
in Sandusky County, north central Ohio. His wife, Theresa, works part-time
off the farm and the couple share in the care of their two small children.
Jeff grew up on the farm that his father and older brother operated
before he took over in the mid 1980's. At that time, Jeff farmed with
conventional chemical inputs in a corn and soybean rotation, but he
did so, admittedly, with limited success. It was during the 1988 drought
that he decided to look for a different farming system. He experimented
with eliminating herbicides as he moved to an organic system. His first
acreage was certified organic in 1995. During 2000, he will have a
total of 520 acres in certified production with additional acreage
in transition. He works with a four-year rotation that includes corn,
soybeans, oats, spelt and clover. Sixty acres of his farm are in permanent
pasture on which he grazes 83 beef cows with their calves.
Byron has retired from a university faculty position and now operates
an 83-acre farm in Logan County in central Ohio. The farm has 63 tillable
acres that his father had farmed since purchasing it in 1943. From
the mid-60's to the mid-80's the farm was leased to a neighbor who
was a chemical-intensive farmer. Bryon and his wife, Barbara, and their
three sons returned to the farm in the late 1980s, at which time he
began an organic program with a three-year stand of alfalfa to make
the transition possible. His fields were first certified in 1991 and
today he grows soybeans, spelt and popcorn.
Nelson and Lynn Wenger
This Wayne County father-and-son team farm a total of 300 acres in
three different tracts. They have a four-year rotation that includes
corn, soybeans, spelt and hay. Until 1997, the Wengers had milked 60
Holsteins, but in that year they sold the herd, rented the dairy facilities
and concentrated on crop production. The farmer who now runs the dairy
buys their hay and provides them with manure. Lynn has a shop on the
farm in which he supplements his family income by repairing cars and
tractors on a half-time basis during the summer and full-time in the
winter. He farms 50 acres on his own and farms another 100 acres with
his father, Nelson. The 100-acre tract is located about seven miles
from the home place. The Wengers have been certified organic growers
for five years.
Steve, a fourth generation farmer, has been farming with his father
since 1972. They farm 1,050 acres in Seneca County. The Berlekamps
own 500 acres and lease the remaining acres on a 50-50, share-cropping
basis. Steve's wife works full time off the farm. The couple have three
grown children. In the years before they began to concentrate their
efforts on grains and beans, the father-and-son team grew processing
tomatoes, sugar beets, and other vegetable crops. They now grow soybeans
and spelt and/or wheat with rye as a winter cover crop. The farm was
first certified organic in 1997.
Ron grew up in the Ashtabula County where he now lives with his wife,
Debra, and their two children. The farm that he grew up on is still
being operated by his father, a conventional farmer. With the exception
of four years at college, Ron has farmed&emdash;at least part-time&emdash;
all his life. At present he has a 220-acre farm on a lease/land contract
basis. He grows soybeans and spelt with red clover as a nitrogen source
and soil builder. Rye is used as a winter cover crop. In the past he
had manure from a 100-head beef herd, but he sold the herd and no longer
has any livestock. When Ron first leased the farm that he now operates,
the owner insisted that he grow his crops without the use of chemicals
so he began an organic rotation. (This farm had been farmed chemical-free
by Neil Pashley since 1968.) Ron's leased fields were first certified
in 1990. In addition to his farm work, Ron owns and operates a part-time
Dean owns and operates a 1,200 acre farm in Wayne County, 700 acres
of which are in tillable cropland. The remainder of the farm is in
woods or Conservation Reserve Program set-aside. Dean began farming
this property in the early 1980s after several years of experience
with conventional farming at a different location in the county. He
uses a soybean and spelt rotation with red clover as a cover crop and
green manure crop. Acreage on the farm was first certified in 1988.
Dean also has on-farm storage, and cleaning and handling facilities
that are used in his brokering and trucking business. Over the years
he has provided an important service by linking organic growers with
buyers of organic grains and soybeans.