Successful local foods seminar focuses on link between nutritious food and health

The Clermont Sun 3/2/17

The Buy Local Foods Seminar held in Georgetown on February 19 focused on how the availability of nutritious food keeps people healthy.  Keynote speaker, Dan Remley, Food, Nutrition and Wellness Specialist with the Ohio State University Extension Service, told the fifty people in attendance that the lack of availability of nutritious food contributes to poor health conditions, including diabetes.  The keynote address was followed by workshops about the use of food choice systems in food pantries to promote healthy eating and the formation of community food/hunger councils to coordinate the efforts of food pantries and other agencies to obtain a supply of healthy foods for all.  Those in attendance included producers of food, purchasing and marketing groups, food pantry workers and consumers.

In the course of the day, a number of other topics were presented.  Aubrey and Adam Bolender of the Buckeye Beef Cooperative talked about raising beef cooperatively and sustainably.  Members of the local chapter of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association discussed the growing of Hazelnuts.  Mark Frommeyer from Blue Oven Bakery in Williamsburg talked about his new venture in which he is stone-milling local organic grains. And Christine Tailer of Straight Creek Farm told participants about wild edibles.

The seminar was sponsored by Catholic Rural Life, the OK River Valley Chapter of the Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and the Adams-Brown Diabetes Education Coalition.  For further information, call Julie Kline (937) 392-1543 or Pat Hornschemeier (513) 752-0647.

For further information, call Pat Hornschemeier (513) 752-0647.

Incentivizing Organic Farming

By Andrew Flinn, Brownfield Ag News, 2/13/17

A former USDA official says the upcoming farm bill needs to provide incentives to help conventional farmers who want to shift to organic farming. Jim Riddle is a past chairman of the USDA National Organic Standards Board.

“That allows a conventional farmer just to make a choice based on economics and provides technical assistance so they have people they can go to but also a financial safety net so they’re not risking the farm by going organic,” says Riddle.

He tells Brownfield there are additional rules and regulations for farmers shifting to organic operations before they can be certified as organic.

“You’re signing up to be regulated at a level that a lot of farmers haven’t been in the past but it needs to pencil out,” says Riddle.

Riddle says the certification is necessary for the industry to maintain its relationship with consumers.

“There have been ideas floated like we need to weaken the standards to make it easier to get into organic, and that would kill the market. The consumers demand rigorous standards and that’s what it’s all based on” says Riddle.

Brownfield spoke with Riddle at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s Conference in Dayton Ohio.

Audio: Jim Riddle, Organic Farmer, Former Chair, USDA National Organic Standards Board

Organic farm leader Jim Riddle seeking common ground with Donald Trump, conservatives

By Debbi Snook, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/7/17

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While organic farming groups are moving an arm’s length from President Donald Trump’s views, from immigration to an agriculture secretary nominee, Jim Riddle is leaning in to the new administration with a corn-huskers’ handshake.

Riddle, a 60-year-old who grew up on an Iowa farm and now raises berries in Minnesota, says there’s an unclaimed common ground between organics and conservatives.

His own perspective is certified organic. For 20 years he was an organic inspector, one of those folks who show up at least once a year to determine if certified farms really do merit the federally approved organic label by avoiding harmful pesticides and genetically modified seeds, among many other strictures.

After co-founding a farmers market, he served five years on the National Organic Standards Board of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since then he has been appointed chair of Minnesota’s organic advisory board. This weekend he comes to Dayton as a keynote speaker at the 38th annual conference of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. He’ll talk 3:45 p.m. Friday at the Dayton Convention Center. More information online.

Politics were heavy in the air when we talked to him by phone two weeks ago.

“In part, I want to talk about how organic values are conservative values,” he said. “At its core, organic farming is pro-life. From the ground up, it’s about keeping things alive – the seeds, the soil health, pollinators and wildlife. It embraces all species at all levels of farming.”And I also want to say that organic farming is really free-market farming. It’s farming the land in response to consumer demand. The demand for organic products is skyrocketing by double-digits each year. But because organic crop rotations are more complex methods, there typically aren’t government subsidies. That matches really well with the conservative agenda.

“The organic community went to the government and said it wanted standards that protect the word organic, and it worked really well. We’re really a model for self-regulation with clear, strong, transparent standards and protection of the word organic.”

Riddle believes organic food corresponds to the perceived conservative values of heightened personal responsibility.

“We are what we eat,” he said. “If it’s junk, you have lots of health problems. If you eat clean and live a smart life, your health improves and you’re less of a cost to society.”

Still, Riddle would like to see some changes, especially in what he calls loopholes to the organic trade laws.

In 2014, he said, Minnesota was one of the biggest producers of organic soybeans, selling more than $7.5 million a year. That same year, he said, India sold $75 million in organic soybeans to the United States. India got permission to sell here in a “magical, not transparent,” process during the George Bush administration, Riddle said. “India wanted access to the U.S. organic market, and it was granted as part of a nuclear arms agreement.”

While India has its own certifying groups to grant the use of USDA Organic labels, Riddle says the there’s no U.S. oversight on how they are being certified. In fact, Indocert.org, the site for a national certification body in India, says that because of forged certificates, buyers should double-check with Indocert first.

“Maybe it’s all totally authentic,” said Riddle, “and good for India if that’s true. But we don’t know. There’s no transparency, no U.S. audits, no reviews.”

Right now, he said, we import 70 percent of the organic soybeans we use, and 40-50 percent of organic corn.  Many of those grains are coming not only from India, but also from Turkey, Romania and the Ukraine. Those three, he said, are inspected by a Turkish agency which lost its accreditation to sell in the European Union and Canada two years ago. The USDA tried, but failed, to suspend the Turkish agency’s accreditation. From Riddle’s point of view, this means we are letting in questionable imports.

“Even if they are authentic, we are rewarding farmers in foreign lands rather than supporting organic farmers in America who are protecting water quality, preventing soil erosion, enhancing biodiversity, and growing good clean food. We need to do everything we can to preserve organics here. And, hello, if anything can grow here organically, it’s corn and beans.”

But who will grow it? Riddle admits that while organic food sales have spiked, the number of U.S. organic farmers has not increased. He himself turned from annual to perennial crops after some severe storms.

So, beyond blueberries, who will grow our vegetables? Riddle says produce is still a good, quick-turnover crop for beginning farmers, although he encourages diversification for biodiversity and future profit.

Organic farmers still face “a huge barrier” economically in the required three-year transition period from conventional farming methods to organic certification.

“There’s no safety net to help conventional and beginning farmers convert to organic,” he said. “While a country like Denmark is behind that transition 100 percent.

“As a result, we become more dependent on imports. The farther we get away from our own gardens, community supported agriculture programs, farmers markets, there’s a larger danger of not being authentic.

“There are container ships arriving here with 450,000 tons of “organic” grain at a time. It’s really difficult to think about traceability on that grain.”

Riddle, along with major players in the organic community, also worries about the rise in hydroponically grown products being labeled as organic.

“It’s right in the law that the term organic means it enhances the health of the soil. If there’s no soil, how can you apply the term? It’s misleading to the consumer. It’s fine if they want to label the products as pesticide-free, but hydroponic growers shouldn’t be cashing in on the organic market.”

Riddle worries about the current immigration crackdown, fearing that people will forget the contributions to agriculture made by Hispanics, Somalians, and, in his neck of the woods, the Hmong of Laos.

He’s hoping Ohio will create its own organic advisory board, to help bolster the movement. He may find ways to shake hands with the new administration, but he wants them to feel an organic grip.

“This whole movement toward organic food and farming happened outside the political sphere,” he said. “And it’s not going to go away.”

OEFFA Announces 2017 Award Recipients: Mike Anderson, Holly Harman Fackler, and Alex Dragovich Recognized

For Immediate Release:
February 13, 2017
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Contact:
Carol Goland, OEFFA Executive Director—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 202, cgoland@oeffa.org
Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
   
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2017 recipients for the Stewardship Award and Service Award, as well as the first winner of the Advocate of the Year.
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Mike Anderson of Delaware County received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community, Holly Harman Fackler of Richland County received the Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary service in support of sustainable agriculture, and Alex Dragovich of Stark County was named Advocate of the Year, an award which recognizes exceptional contributions to sustainable agriculture policy advocacy.
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The announcements were made on Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11 in Dayton as part of OEFFA’s 38th annual conference, Growing Today, Transforming Tomorrow.

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2017 Stewardship Award Winner—Mike Anderson

From left: Mike Anderson, Sean McGovern
(Photo: Sara Graca, Palamedes Photography)
For 25 years, Mike Anderson of Delaware County has given his time and energy to Ohio’s organic farming community.
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He began his farming career at the Ohio State University demonstration farm, then housed at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, before managing vegetable production and field research for five years at the Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware. In 2001, he started Sundog Specialty Crops in Sunbury, a certified organic farm specializing in produce and cut flowers. Today, Anderson co-manages Whitebarn Organics, a certified organic farm in New Albany.
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“Patrons of many central Ohio farmers markets might have come for sunflowers, tomatoes or other produce, but they returned to hear his unmistakable and friendly laughter,” said Sean McGovern, outreach manager for the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) program and former OEFFA director, who presented the award to Anderson during the Friday ceremony.
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Throughout his entire career, Anderson has generously shared his time and expertise with other growers and with OEFFA. He served on OEFFA’s Board of Trustees in the 1990s, coordinating procurement of local food for the annual conference and planning farmer training workshops. Later, he served on the board of directors for the Pearl Alley Growers Association, on the administrative council of the NCR-SARE program, and on OEFFA’s staff as a Sustainable Agriculture Educator, helping organic and transitional farmers with their certification, production, and marketing questions.
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Anderson has hosted numerous farm tours and has led many workshops at the OEFFA conference and other events to share what he knows with other farmers and grow Ohio’s sustainable agriculture community.

“I’ve met many extraordinary farmers and sustainable agriculture advocates over the past 25 years and I know for certain that there are countless individuals much more deserving of this recognition then I am. I’m grateful for the people that I’ve met through OEFFA and inspired by their dedication to help us all become better stewards of our farms, families, and communities,” Anderson said.
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2017 Service Award Winner—Holly Harman Fackler
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From left: Holly Harman Fackler, Lauren Ketcham
(Photo: Sara Graca, Palamedes Photography)
Holly Harman Fackler, a Fairfield County native who lived for 30 years in Richland County, was an important influence and leader in the early days of OEFFA, acting as the organization’s first paid newsletter editor and employee.
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During the late 1980s and 1990s, she stepped up to do some of the heavy lifting required to build the then-fledgling organization into the state-wide, 4,325 member educational network it is today. For several years, Harman Fackler’s home in Plymouth, Ohio, was OEFFA’s office and her phone was OEFFA’s phone.
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She wrote, edited, designed, and distributed OEFFA’s newsletter, labeling and bundling newsletters at the dining room table, often with a young one on her knee. “We took pretty seriously the need to get information out, which now is much easier to get ahold of, but which, then, was not,” she said.
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In addition to her work on the newsletter, she built OEFFA’s first electronic membership database from paper files kept on index cards, responded to phone and mail inquiries, and networked with other OEFFA leaders. She served several terms on OEFFA’s Board of Trustees, helped organize OEFFA’s educational events, and took an active role in planning and preparing conference meals that reflected the values of the organization.
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“Holly’s giving and kind spirit infused her efforts to develop OEFFA’s early administrative and communications infrastructure and provided crucial energy and organizing skills at the time when they were needed most,” said McGovern.
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Harman Fackler found her way to OEFFA as a partner in a small diversified grain and livestock farm. “OEFFA was a lifesaver for us, really, and an important part of what we chose to do with farming… I feel like OEFFA really enriched my life, and I’m glad that it has been part of it.”

Harman Fackler worked as a reporter, blogger, editor and online editor, retiring in 2015 from Media Network of Central Ohio. Now she works, gardens, and volunteers in her hometown of Baltimore, Ohio.

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2017 Advocate of the Year Winner—Alex Dragovich
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From left: Alex Dragovich, Steve Maurer
(Photo: Sara Graca, Palamedes Photography)
Alex Dragovich of Mud Run Farm in Stark County has been a strong and guiding presence in OEFFA’s policy work since the program was formed in 2011, serving actively on OEFFA’s grassroots policy work groups and often speaking with the media and decision-makers about the impacts of fracking, climate change, food safety regulations, and genetic engineering on farmers.
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As a member of the fracking work group, which is focused on protecting farmers and our food system from the negative impacts of the oil and gas industry, Dragovich was literally the face of the issue when he agreed to work with a partner organization in representing farmers on a fracking billboard in southeast Ohio. He has experienced the issue first-hand; he has been approached by several companies with fracking lease offers, but has refused to sign a lease.
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“These are large industrial operations and history tells us that industrial accidents can occur, even when regulated,” Dragovich said. “I’m just not willing to sign away my land and water, and jeopardize the health of my chickens and those that I employ for the promise of some quick cash.”
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As a member of OEFFA’s genetic engineering (GE) work group, which works to secure clear and transparent labeling for GE foods and protect farmers from GE contamination, he organized and hosted a showing and discussion of the documentary, GMO OMG, and made calls to Senate candidates about their stance on GE labeling.
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Since 1980, he has owned and operated Mud Run Farm, where he raises free-range chickens and eggs and  grows vegetables, fruit, and small grains for local markets. His farm is powered mostly by horses, in part because he is concerned about climate change and wants to reduce his carbon emissions.

“Even with his tremendously busy schedule, Alex is actively involved in multiple issues, attending meetings and calls. He is known to pick up the phone and call the OEFFA office to ask what he can do help. He is truly dedicated and effective,” said Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA’s Policy Program Coordinator. “Without farmers like Alex engaging in the issues that affect farming and food systems, we will not achieve our goals of moving toward a more sustainable agriculture and ultimately, a more healthy and habitable world.”

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“The sustainable food and farm economy we have today is a reflection of the vision, commitment, and hard work of our thousands of OEFFA members over the course of almost four decades,” said OEFFA executive director Carol Goland. “We are grateful for all of their collective efforts in pioneering organic and sustainable farming in Ohio, but it is a special pleasure to be able to recognize three truly remarkable individuals for their contributions and accomplishments.”
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For a full list of past Stewardship and Service Award winners, click here.
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About OEFFA
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a statewide, grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.
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For high resolution photos of the award recipients, please contact Lauren Ketcham at lauren@oeffa.org. Please provide photo credit: Sara Graca, Palamedes Photography.

Grow Home: 38th Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Conferences moves to Dayton Convention Center

By Tara Pettit, Dayton City Paper, 1/31/17

Collaboration, ideation, and innovation on statewide practices in sustainable food and farming practices will be “homegrown” this year at the 38th annual Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Conference, “Growing Today, Transforming Tomorrow.” For the first time, Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference will be hosted on Dayton soil, transforming the Dayton Convention Center into what will become the new “brainstorming headquarters” of OEFFA’s kick-off food and farming event of the year.

Previously held in Licking County’s Granville school building for 11 years, OEFFA’s continuously growing conference prompted leaders to seek a larger space to accommodate increased participation and diversify programs, speakers, workshops, and banquets. OEFFA is excited that conference attendance continues to increase as a result of the nation’s growing awareness and interest in sustainable farming and food production.

“The local and organic audience is very different than what it was 38 years ago when we first started,” says Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator. “When we first started holding the conference, ‘the O-word’ [‘organic’] was a dirty word. Since then, our work has become much more mainstream and the demand from consumers for organic foods has grown tremendously.”

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As the conference has grown since its inception in the early ’80s, OEFFA has tailored programs for multiple audiences, incorporating a wider variety of workshops and sessions that appeal to both the agriculturalist and the food enthusiast. OEFFA designed many sessions to stimulate public discussion on food and farming issues, policies, and best practices—with current-focus topics at the community and state level. As these legislatures address issues around food production and farming practices, OEFFA has continued to play an influential advocacy role.

Work for the farm, you

Since its establishment in 1979, OEFFA has used education, advocacy, and grassroots organizing to promote local and organic food systems, help farmers and consumers reconnect, and work to build a sustainable food system. The organization aims to bring prosperity to family farmers, meet the growing consumer demand for local food, create economic opportunities for rural communities, and safeguard the environment in Ohio and beyond. The organization also supports several key initiatives that have made a real difference in Ohio’s local and organic food systems: an investment fund to create access to affordable capital for local farmers, direct assistance for small farmers through promotion and support of their businesses and products, diligent state and federal policy advocacy, annual free public farm tours and workshops, and publicly accessible local food and farm resources.

Additionally, OEFFA operates one of the oldest and most respected organic certification programs in the nation. The annual conference serves as the culminating event where results from OEFFA’s past year of activities are featured, directly connecting individuals from the Ohio communities in which it invests.

Family style

Responding to the expanding interest and involvement in food and farm policy, OEFFA has restructured the conference’s programs to accommodate a wide spectrum of agricultural knowledge and expertise, even for the non-farmer.

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“We have really designed this year’s conference to have something for everyone,” Ketcham says. “If you are a farmer, gardener, participate in a community garden, or just like to shop at the local farmer’s market and care about local food, the conference has a lot to offer.”

With Dayton hosting this year, several local OEFFA members and organizations will lead a variety of workshops and sessions to educate the community on innovations and best practices in the sustainable food and farming field. Local workshop and session leaders include Krista Magaw of Tecumseh Land Trust leading “Farmland Access 101: Options for Landowners and Growers”; Lisa Helm of former Garden Station co-op leading “Low-Tech Farm Hacks and DIY Infrastructure”; Mary Lou Shaw of Milk and Honey Farm leading “Chemical-Free Home Orchards”; and Ben Jackle of Mile Creek Farm leading “Old MacGyver Had a Farm: A Forum for Sharing On Farm Innovations.” In addition, OEFFA Stewardship Award winners Doug Seibert and Leslie Garcia of Peach Mountain Organics will engage in a live interview as part of the Ohio Humanities’ newly launched OEFFA multi-media oral history project.

As key players in Dayton’s sustainable food and farming efforts, each local leader involved in this year’s conference will share her or his own expertise and lessons to educate and engage participants on ways they can contribute to a local sustainable movement.

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Shaw points out that OEFFA’s conference “gives attendees the information they need for a changing future… the tools and resiliency to survive a changing climate, weakening global food system, and threatened water sources.” She advocates for personal food production beyond the U.S. population’s 2 percent of industrial farmers, stating, “It is for all of us, wherever we live, including urban areas like Dayton. Nothing is more healthful and satisfying as growing our own food.”

Each workshop leader is excited to be part of this statewide event and to bring OEFFA members from all over Ohio to Dayton for a weekend dedicated to what they are most passionate about and to present a diverse, but united, farming community right here in our city.

“The conference serves as an open community space to allow people with a shared passion for food and sustainable agriculture to come together,” Magaw says. “It will expose more newcomers to OEFFA and the great local food resources we already have in the Dayton region. Our hope is that people leave with a greater connection to the larger community working on these issues that, hopefully, continues beyond the conference to help throughout the year.”

This year, in addition to the traditional lineup of innovative food and farming key note talks, brainstorming sessions, open discussions, and do-it-yourself (DIY) workshops, OEFFA has scheduled several additional special programs to boost the conference’s renown as an intimate setting for networking, learning, and fellowship. With the conference’s new home in Dayton, these events will also allow participants to become more intimate with Dayton’s local food culture.

On Thursday evening, in remembrance of Ohio’s “Contrary Farmer” Gene Logsden, a brand new Contrary Farmers Social will be held at 2nd Street Market for a special, small plate sampling provided by market vendors. The social will also feature a fine assortment of Ohio and other domestic cheeses and craft beer as conference-goers gather to remember Logsden and reflect on where agriculture was in 1995 when his seminal book (“The Contrary Farmer”) was published.

Also new is the Cream of the Crop Banquet, held on Friday evening, a specially prepared meal comprised of local and organic food coupled with a program featuring insights from Ohio Senator Steve Maurer, former Ohio Department of Agriculture director and executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency in Ohio from 2009-2017.

With a greater focus on free events to increase exposure of the conference across the city, this year’s event will introduce morning yoga and Chi Kung exercise, open to the public, as well as free extended trade show hours on Thursday, from 4-7 p.m. and Friday, from 5-6:30 p.m.

“We have been heartened by how welcoming the Greater Dayton community has been to implement some of these community events,” Ketcham says. “We have been lucky to have received such a warm embrace by local organizations and look forward to building on those relationships in the future.”

Each year, OEFFA invites recognized leaders to present lectures on key topics in sustainable agriculture and food. This year, the organization brings two nationally-renowned individuals whose work has transformed standard practices within the larger food and farming industry.

Jim Riddle, former chair of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Standards Board and founding chair of Winona Farmers’ Market in Minnesota, and the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA), will present his lecture titled “Transform Organic Today, Grow with Integrity Tomorrow” on Friday afternoon. Riddle will speak to the group about making “personal, societal, and political transformations during challenging times, in order to preserve human life on earth by transforming our agricultural systems to support life at every level,” as he tells Dayton City Paper. Riddle will focus on the role we all must play to advance sustainability and protect America’s future in farming and agriculture.

“I hope that audience members will hear my wake-up call, combined with suggestions for positive change, and leave with a sense of empowerment and concrete ideas they can incorporate in their daily lives,” Riddle says.

Saturday’s keynote will feature former financial and food industry analyst, Robyn O’Brien, who has been considered “food’s Erin Brockovich” for her work focused on transforming our food system and calling out how our foods have been manipulated with additives that can cause allergies, cancer, and other health problems. Her talk, “Building the 21st Century Food System: Capitalizing on the New Food Economy,” reviews the state of our country in terms of health care costs associated with consumption of unhealthy foods, explores the challenges of the organic industry’s lack of support, and poses the larger question of how we would rebuild our food system to promote smarter consumer decisions.

“Progressing the sustainable food production movement is going to require all hands on deck,” O’Brien says in an interview with Dayton City Paper. “It is initiated at the local level with locally-focused individuals who understand the local issues. To be at an event like this where you not only have access to keynotes, workshops, data, but access to network with the local farming community, is so important. It’s the most valuable information you can gather for yourself and your family.”

As in previous years, this year’s conference will continue to promote family-participation. Child and teen conferences will be held, which engage youth in age-appropriate food and farming activities and programs. Childcare is available for children under the age of 6.

Dayton HQ

With the conference’s expansion comes a need for a larger space and accommodations, which spurred OEFFA’s hunt for a larger, more conference-friendly venue.

“We have actually spent years looking into our site options around the state…” Ketcham says. “Many conference venues were just not going to be a good fit for us.”
Dayton was officially chosen as OEFFA’s appointed gathering grounds for the conference, becoming this year’s epicenter for transformative food and farm ideation.

However, what’s most curious about Dayton’s hosting this statewide food and farming event is that it holds a not-so-remarkable ranking as one of the nation’s top 10 worst cities—and worst city in the state—for food access.

Last year, WHIO reported that since Kroger closed its Gettysburg Avenue store in Dayton eight years ago, thousands in the area now lack access to a full-service grocery store. Nearly every urban area in the Miami Valley contains food deserts (areas where there is limited access to both affordable and nutritious food) and local urban farming initiatives, often with the help of OEFFA, have attempted to fill the gaps with their dedicated work. The issue, however, is far too large for small groups to tackle and requires full-on citywide support.

“Maybe this year OEFFA’s presence can have a greater impact on influencing our local government to take sustainable food production more seriously… the city should be supporting efforts like ours, not undermining them,” Helm says.

Despite the obvious need for improvement in the city’s plan for food and farm sustainability reform, the decision to host in Dayton was strategic, nonetheless. In fact, the reason OEFFA decided on Dayton may point to the city’s growing alignment with the organization’s values, its conference, and the aspirations of those who are a part of it.

It was only in Dayton that OEFFA found a willing partner with the Dayton Convention Center to support its goal—nearly impossible to find elsewhere.

OEFFA “walks the talk,” as Ketcham puts it, ensuring the conference provides quality, made from scratch, all locally-sourced meals for its attendees; Dayton Convention Center rose to the call, agreeing to OEFFA’s request.

“We have worked to make sure our chicken and pork are local, but also even down to the butter and individual ingredients in our carrot cake… and that meals are prepared from scratch,” Ketcham emphasizes. “The Dayton Convention Center has been really generous in working with us to accommodate our needs.”

Sherry Chen of Adelain Fields has donated her free-range, slow-growth, and organic-fed chickens to the OEFFA conference for the past four years. She understands how important providing locally-sourced, made-from-scratch meals is to the organization and the statement it makes about the conference, which is why she readily contributes each year.

“I so believe in this organization… not only what they’re doing, but how they do it,” Chen says.

Helm remains hopeful that community sustainability efforts may be reaffirmed and even increase with OEFFA’s local presence in Dayton this year.

“Hopefully, having the conference in our area will encourage more people who have never attended from our area to make the commitment to go and ramp up their production,” Helm says. “We need more than ever to support local and sustainable food production. I would like to see Dayton’s OEFFA partnership bring more credibility and awareness to the sustainable food production efforts in our area.”

Perhaps the choice to host in Dayton is the motivation our city needs to actively join OEFFA in transforming the state’s food and farming system while addressing food security issues here at home. Regardless, it will be more important than ever, at both the state and local level, to build and support a locally focused system that improves access to wholesome foods t a time when homegrown quality is imperative.

OEFFA’s 38th Annual Conference takes place Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 at Dayton Convention Center, 22 E. Fifth St. in Dayton. The Exhibit Hall is open to the public Thursday, 4-7 p.m. and Friday, 5-6:30 p.m. All other conference events require paid registration. Registration will only be accepted at the door, not online. Thursday’s pre-conferences, as well as all meals, are sold out. Adult member registration weekend tickets cost $165 and non-member registration costs $225. Day passes, student discounts, and teen and kids’ registration will be available at the door. For more information, please visit
OEFFA.org/Conference2017.

Young, urban farmers the focus of OEFFA’s conference in Dayton, Feb. 9-11

By Debbi Snook, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/20/17

Leading organic farmer, Jim Riddle, and a prominent foe of genetically engineered food, Robyn O’Brien, will be keynote speakers at this year’s annual conference of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Feb. 9-11 in Dayton.
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Educating and supporting young farmers and urban farmers is the theme of the conference, which offers a series of workshops specifically geared to beginning farmers or those about to expand their operations. Planting and management of crops, water quality, business planning, safe handling of organic approved pesticides and other topics will be discussed in more than 70 workshops.

Others include organic grain production, on-farm poultry processing, soil fertility, bee health, local meat co-ops, foraged food and combating food waste.

“Urban Agriculture has the ability to transform our urban and blighted communities by becoming a practical solution,” said Clarence Bunch, associate director at Central State University’s Cooperative Extension Service.

The annual meeting dedicates all its programming to sustainable farming – done for the health of the environment, the farmers and consumers.

Riddle, a Minnesota berry farmer, has been an inspector for organic certification and spent several years on the National Organic Standards board of the United States Department of Agriculture. He has also devised ways for farmers to better afford organic certifications.

O’Brien is a former financial and food industry analyst and author of “The Unhealthy Truth,” a popular book about the health effects of food additives and manipulations.

This year’s conference moves to Dayton after many years in Granville. Dayton Convention Center will host most of the events. A trade show, meals, kids’ and teen conferences are part of the weekend.

Registration fees are $90 for the intensive, pre-conference session on Thursday, focused on growing high-nutrient food and working smarter on the farm, and $225 for the Friday and Saturday sessions. Discounted prices are available for OEFFA members, students and children. For more information, and for registration through Jan. 23, go online. The OEFFA offices can be reached at 614-421-2022.

Urban Agriculture Featured at Ohio’s Largest Sustainable Food and Farm Conference: Central State University Cooperative Extension Presents Nine Hour Urban Agriculture Workshop Track

For Immediate Release: January 17, 2017

Contact:
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, lauren@oeffa.org
Sabrina Pritchett, CSU Associate Director of Public Relations and Marketing, (937) 376-6323, spritchett@centralstate.edu
  
Urban agriculture offers exciting opportunities for individuals to make a living farming and gain educational and job training, and provide communities with healthy food.
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Addressing the specific challenges and issues that face urban farmers is the focus of a six-part workshop track sponsored by Ohio’s recently-designated 1890 land-grant institution, Central State University (CSU) Cooperative Extension.
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The workshop track is part of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 38th annual conference, Growing Today, Transforming Tomorrow, which will run Thursday, February 9 through Saturday, February 11 at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton, Ohio.
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“Urban Agriculture has the ability to transform our urban and blighted communities by becoming a practical solution,” said Dr. Clarence Bunch, Associate Director at CSU Cooperative Extension Service. “Food security has been identified as a critical need by Central State University Extension. Our sponsorship of the urban agriculture workshop track and OEFFA Conference provides the support needed to offer practical solutions that benefit families and the local community.”
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Six 90-minute workshops, totaling nine hours of urban agriculture education, will address production practices for small spaces, business planning, and cost-effective technologies for efficient urban production:
  • Safe Handling and Use of Organic Approved Pesticides—Terry Grace, Ohio Central Community Co-op (Friday, February 10, 8:30-10 a.m.)
  • Urban Farm Planting and Management—Milan Karcic, Peace, Love, and Freedom Farm (Friday, February 10, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.)
  • Business Planning for Ag Entrepreneurs—Stephen Washington, Central State University (Friday, February 10, 2-3:30 p.m.)
  • Water Quality’s Role in Sustainability on Small and Urban Farms—Krishnakumar Nedunuri, Central State University (Saturday, February 11, 8:30-10 a.m.)
  • Low-Tech Farm Hacks and DIY Infrastructure—Lisa Helm, Dayton Urban Green (Saturday, February 11, 1:30-3 p.m.)
  • Growing Efficiently Through Technology—Cadance Lowell, Central State University Extension (Saturday, February 11, 3:30-5 p.m.)
In addition to the urban agriculture workshop track, the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference will feature:
For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2017. Online registration will be open until January 23.
Our Sponsors
   
     
 
AgCredit, Agricultural Cooperative Association | Albert Lea Seed Co. | Eban Bakehouse | Edible Cleveland | Edible Columbus | Great River Organics | Green BEAN Delivery | Green Field Farms | Hiland Supply Co. | Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream | Lucky Cat Bakery | Organic Valley | Stauf’s Coffee Roasters | WQTT Ag Today Central Ohio
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Andelain Fields | Curly Tail Organic Farm | DNO Produce | Eden Foods | Kevin Morgan Studio | Palamades Photography | Plant Talk Radio
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Bexley Natural Market | Carriage House Farm | Casa Nueva | D&S Farm & Garden Supply | Dale Filbrun and family, Morning Sun Farm | Great Lakes Organic Feed Mill | Hartzler Dairy Farm | IBA | Jorgensen Farm | Lucky Penny Farm | Lucky’s Market | Northridge Organic Farm | Nourse Farms | Rhinegeist Brewing | Stutzman Farm | Swainway Urban Farm | Tea Hills Farms
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About OEFFA
OEFFA is a state-wide, grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system.
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About Central State University
Central State University, located in Wilberforce, Ohio, is a regionally accredited 1890 land-grant university with a 129-year tradition of preparing students from diverse backgrounds and experiences for leadership, research, and service. The university fosters academic excellence within a nurturing environment and provides a strong liberal arts foundation and STEM-Ag curriculum leading to professional careers and advanced studies globally.

Ohio State Experts to Speak at Sustainable Agriculture Conference

By Kurt Knebusch, 1/13/17, OSU CFAES

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ten experts from The Ohio State University will be among the 100-plus presenters at this year’s annual conference of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.

Organizers call the event, which is Feb. 9-11 in Dayton, the largest sustainable agriculture conference in Ohio.

It will have, for example, nearly 80 hour-and-a-half educational workshops, two keynote speakers, a three-day trade show, four full-day intensive preconference workshops, a banquet featuring Ohio-grown foods and “The Contrary Farmer’s Social” honoring the late Ohio farmer-writer Gene Logsdon.

Now in its 38th year, this is the first time the conference is being held in Dayton.

CFAES well represented

The Buckeye presenters — most of them from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — will speak on topics such as cover crops, local meats, food policy and soil organic matter. They’ll be, for example, from the college’s research and outreach arms — which are the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and Ohio State University Extension, respectively — and programs including the Organic Food and Farming Education and Research program.

The college is one of the conference’s many sponsors.

The presenters from Ohio State will be:

A complete list of all the conference’s speakers is at oeffa.org/conference2017.php. Online registration for the event is available at the same URL and is open until Jan. 23. Onsite registration will also be available. Prices range from $95 to $225 depending on full-conference, one-day, student or adult registrations.

Grassroots coalition

OEFFA, according to its website, is a “grassroots coalition of farmers, backyard gardeners, consumers, retailers, educators, researchers and others who share a desire to build a healthy food system that brings prosperity to family farmers, meets the growing consumer demand for local food, creates economic opportunities for our rural communities and safeguards the environment.” It was founded in 1979.

Ohio State has made transforming food production and agriculture, and improving people’s food security as a result, one of its university-wide areas of focus. Details are at discovery.osu.edu/focus-areas/infact/.

“Generation Rx” and a “Sick” Food System

Robyn O’Brien with the AllergyKids Foundation says it's time to heal the nation's "sick" food system. (OEFFA)
By Mary Kuhlman, Ohio Public News Service, January 12. 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Food allergies, diabetes and cancer are among the growing health concerns for Ohio families, and a best selling author and mother says the nation’s “sick” food system is partly to blame.

Robyn O’Brien, director of the AllergyKids Foundation, is scheduled to speak about the issue at an upcoming event in Ohio. She says rising rates of diseases are increasing health care costs and giving today’s children the reputation of “Generation Rx.”

O’Brien believes it’s all connected to the use of genetically-engineered ingredients in food.

“People are really struggling in a way that we weren’t 50 years ago,” she stresses. “And all families are being impacted – regardless of what side of the aisle we’re on, regardless of where we live – and it’s becoming one of the biggest issues we face as a country.”

One in 13 children in the U.S. has a food allergy; nearly 1 in 4 people under age 20 are estimated to have diabetes; and cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death under age 15.

O’Brien contends that healing the food supply can protect the nation’s health.

She’ll deliver the keynote address Feb. 11 at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association conference in Dayton.

Genetically-engineered ingredients are said to be found in 80 percent of processed foods sold in the U.S. And O’Brien says other parts of the world have placed a higher value on people’s dietary health.

“Other countries tend to exercise precautions,” she states. “They do not allow things into the food system until they have been proven safe where we take an approach and we say, you know, ‘It’s not yet been proven dangerous, so we’ll allow it.'”

O’Brien notes that with growing demand for organic products, many food companies are stepping up and working to eliminate artificial ingredients. But she says the farmer’s role in creating a healthier food system needs to be elevated.

“Our biggest constraint is that about 1 percent of our farmland in the United States is organic, and we have a bottleneck,” she points out. “So, what can we do, how can we have these conversations, how can the farmers’ voices be heard? What can companies do to support the farmers? Because our federal policy is sort of stuck in 1995.”

In-Depth Workshops to Explore Vital Farm Business and Production Practices

For Immediate Release: January 10, 2017

Contact:
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, lauren@oeffa.org
Renee Hunt, OEFFA Program Director, (614) 421-2022, renee@oeffa.org
  
Four full-day pre-conference intensive workshops designed to help farmers develop their production and business skills will be featured as part of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 38th annual conference, Growing Today, Transforming Tomorrow.
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The conference will be held Thursday, February 9 through Saturday, February 11 at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton, Ohio.
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“These day-long workshops allow farmers to delve deep into these topics with experienced presenters who have direct, hands-on experience,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.
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The four pre-conference intensive sessions are:
  • Farming Smarter, Not Harder: Tune Up Your Farm Business and Increase Your Net Profit—This full-day session, led by Richard Wiswall of Cate Farm in Vermont and author of The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, will help farmers plan to increase their net profit, market their products strategically, and meet their long-term business goals. Participants will learn how to efficiently determine the profitability of different enterprises, and about farm office administration, key financial statements, employee management, and more.
  • Growing Bionutrient Rich Food: Applying the Principles of Biological Systems—Dan Kittredge, founder and executive director of the Bionutrient Food Association, will take an in-depth look at soil, crop, and human nutrition and how farmers can improve crop quality by applying the principles of biological systems to their land. With a strong focus on management practices and techniques, this intensive session will cover pest and disease control, soil testing, mineral balancing, cover crops and minimal tillage, plant visual analysis, seed quality, Brix, and other topics.
  • Respect Your Elderberries: Growing and Selling Niche Fruit Crops from Aronia to Service BerriesJim Riddle of Blue Fruit Farm in Minnesota will explore how to grow high value specialty perennial berries, like black currants, elderberries, aronia berries, josta berries, service berries, and honeyberries. He will describe nursery sources, site selection and preparation, fertility, irrigation, pollination, pest management, and marketing challenges and strategies for effectively selling these niche berries.
  • Building a Profitable Pastured Broiler Business—Mike and Christie Badger of Badger’s Millside Farm will take an in-depth look at developing a profitable pastured broiler business. Topics will include breed selection, designing shelters, nutrition, management, marketing, and pricing.
All pre-conference intensive workshops will be held on Thursday, February 9 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Dayton, which is attached to the Dayton Convention Center. Pre-registration is required. The cost is $75 for members and $90 for non-members, and includes lunch.
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Beyond the pre-conference sessions, other Thursday activities include:
  • The Contrary Farmers’ Social from 7-9 p.m. at the nearby 2nd Street Market featuring food, drinks, and a remembrance of Ohio’s Contrary Farmer, Gene Logsdon, led by David Kline of Farming Magazine;
  • Free, public admission to OEFFA’s Exhibit Hall from 4-7 p.m.;
  • A free, public Farm Land of Opportunity reception from 5-6:30 designed to connect farmers looking for land with established farmers with land and farming opportunities;
  • An Old MacGyver Had a Farm meet-up from 5-6:30 where farmers can share on-farm innovations they’ve developed to solve problems on the farm; and
  • An oral history presentation from 5-6:30 p.m. featuring stories, multimedia shorts, and interviews with the founders of Ohio’s organic movement.

In addition, on Friday and Saturday, the conference will feature:

For more information, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2017. Online registration is open until January 23.
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Our Sponsors
    
   
     
 
AgCredit, Agricultural Cooperative Association | Albert Lea Seed Co. | Eban Bakehouse | Edible Cleveland | Edible Columbus | Great River Organics | Green BEAN Delivery | Green Field Farms | Hiland Supply Co. | Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream | Lucky Cat Bakery | Organic Valley | Stauf’s Coffee Roasters | WQTT Ag Today Central Ohio
   .
Andelain Fields | Curly Tail Organic Farm | DNO Produce | Eden Foods | Kevin Morgan Studio | Palamades Photography | Plant Talk Radio
   .
Bexley Natural Market | Carriage House Farm | Casa Nueva | D&S Farm & Garden Supply | Dale Filbrun and family, Morning Sun Farm | Great Lakes Organic Feed Mill | Hartzler Dairy Farm | IBA | Jorgensen Farm | Lucky Penny Farm | Lucky’s Market | Northridge Organic Farm | Nourse Farms | Rhinegeist Brewing | Stutzman Farm | Swainway Urban Farm | Tea Hills Farms
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