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2018 Farm Tour and Workshop Series Gives Public Opportunity to Experience Life on the Farm

For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2018
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Contact:
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
Eric Pawlowski, Sustainable Agriculture Educator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 209, eric@oeffa.org

 

Columbus, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and its partners invite you to stroll through organic fields, learn about pastured livestock production and forest farming, consider a career in farming, discover how to grow and prepare nutrient-dense food, learn how to scale up vegetable production and improve marketing strategies, or take advantage of other learning opportunities during the 2018 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.

In addition to OEFFA’s 20 summer farm tours, workshops, and special events, five urban agriculture-focused farm tours, presented by Central State University Extension, will showcase ideas for how to farm in the city and address community food security.
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“This series allows farmers and gardeners to share production know-how with each other, build connections among our farming community, and strengthen our food system,” said Eric Pawlowski, Sustainable Agriculture Educator at OEFFA. “It also helps the public learn how sustainably produced food is grown from farmers ready to share their knowledge.”
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Tour guests can experience sustainable agriculture up close during these OEFFA farm tours:

  • Thursday, June 7: Cultivation and Weed Control in Organic Systems Field Day—University of Kentucky Horticulture Research Farm, Kentucky
  • Wednesday, June 13: Mechanical Weed Control Farm Tour—Venture Heritage Farm, Wayne Co.
  • Saturday, June 16: Poultry Processing Tour—King and Sons Poultry Services, Darke Co.
  • Sunday, July 22: Diversified Direct Marketing Farm Tour—Thistle Rock Farm, Indiana
  • Friday, August 3: Organic Cash Grain Farm Tour—Kauffman Farms, Madison Co.
  • Saturday, August 11: Transitional Orchard Farm Tour—Honey Blossom Orchard, Henry Co.
  • Tuesday, August 14: Pastured Beef, Hay, and Grain Farm Tour—Mound View Farms, Adams Co.
  • Saturday, August 25: Pastured Beef and Conservation Easement Farm Tour—Marshy Meadows Farm, Ashtabula Co.
  • Thursday, August 30: Organic Grain Trials and Transition Farm Tour—Sonlight Acres/Morning Sun Farm, Preble Co.
  • Saturday, September 22: Native Medicinal Plant Conservation Forest Farming Tour—United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary, Meigs Co.

The public can tour urban agriculture projects during these Central State University Extension farm tours:

  • Saturday, July 7: Non-Profit Urban Educational Farm Tour—Project Aquastar at St. Stephens Community House Franklin Co.
  • Saturday, July 21: Value-Added Urban Production Farm Tour—Hooper Farm, Cuyahoga Co.
  • Saturday, August 18: Changing the Landscape of Urban Agriculture Tour—Urban Agriculture Alliance at Jackson Industries, Lucas Co.
  • Saturday, August 25: Urban Farm Collective Farm Tour—Urban Earth Farms, Hamilton Co.
  • Sunday, September 23: Regenerative, Year-Round Urban Market Farm Tour—Dayton Urban Grown Training Farm/Mission of Mary Farm, Montgomery Co.

Attendees can develop their production and marketing skills, explore a dream to farm, learn how to select farmland, and more during these OEFFA workshops:

  • Saturday, June 23: Listening to the Land: Tools and Strategies for Land Assessment Workshop—Agraria, Greene Co.
  • Sunday, July 22: Growing and Preparing Nutrient-Dense Food for Better Health and Resilient Communities Workshop—Wyatt Run Farm and Ecology Center, Athens Co.
  • Sunday, August 5: Farm Vision Workshop—OEFFA, Franklin Co.
  • Saturdays, October 13-February 2: Heartland Farm Beginnings® Training Course—OEFFA, Franklin Co.
  • Friday, November 30-Saturday, December 1: Scale Your Farm Production and Marketing Strategies So You Can Grow Profits Workshop—Mustard Seed Market & Cafe at Highland Square, Summit Co.
Other opportunities include these OEFFA member open houses and special events:
  • Saturday, June 9: Snowville Creamery Open House, Meigs Co.
  • Sunday, July 15: Foraged & Sown Open House, Franklin Co.
  • Sunday, August 19: 4th Annual Dinner Celebration at Maplestar Farm—Maplestar Farm, Geauga Co.
  • Sunday, September 9: Carriage House Farm Open House, Hamilton Co.
  • Saturday, October 27: Pastured Providence Farmstead Open House, Ross Co.

“OEFFA has offered annual farm tours for nearly four decades; farmers sharing knowledge with other farmers has always been at the core of our work. This series provides unique on-farm opportunities for growers, educators, and conscientious eaters to learn about sustainable agriculture and local foods from growers and producers with years of practical experience,” Pawlowski said.

This series, which features 31 total events, is also promoted in cooperation with the Clintonville Farmers’ Market and the Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance, who are sponsoring additional tours.

All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise indicated in the series brochure.

For more information and complete details for all workshops and farm tours, click here.

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The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters who committed to work together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

Draft Farm Bill Needs Significant Improvement to Address the Needs of Today’s Farmers

For Immediate Release:
April 16, 2018

Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, lauren@oeffa.org
 
COLUMBUS, OH—The draft farm bill released last week by House Agriculture Chairman Conaway (R-TX) does not adequately address farmers’ needs or protect natural resources, according to the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA).

While the 2014 Farm Bill included mandatory funding for the Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program, the current House draft eliminates all mandatory funding, necessitating a yearly battle to secure resources for programs that provide local communities with healthy food and provide high value markets for many beginning and organic farmers. These farmers will also be hurt by the total elimination of funding for the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, which helps offset the annual costs of U.S. Department of Agriculture organic certification.

“OEFFA vehemently opposes cutting the cost-share program. We have more demand for organic food than farmers are able to supply, and this program helps beginning and transitioning farmers enter what is a real bright spot in American agriculture,” said OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator Amalie Lipstreu.
    
“The draft farm bill also leaves out many other important provisions critical for beginning farmers at a time when they are needed most,” continued Lipstreu.

The House draft eliminates the Risk Management Education Partnership Program, which helps ensure that beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers better understand and use risk management tools. It also fails to include an innovative proposal within the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (HR 4316) that would make it easier for new farmers to access revenue-based crop insurance policies.

“As the next farm bill is implemented, due to an aging farmer population, almost 100 million acres will change hands,” said Lipstreu. “It is important that we equip the next generation of farmers with the tools they need for success.”

According to an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office released Friday, funding for working lands programs would be cut by about $5 billion. The largest conservation program for working agricultural land, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), would be totally eliminated, withlimited aspects of the program rolled into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
  
“Cherry picking a few components of CSP to be included in the EQIP program is detrimental to comprehensive conservation planning and a disincentive to farmers who choose to implement advanced conservation practices on an ongoing basis,” said Lipstreu. “These programs have a small budget footprint but they deliver high value to our communities, including local economic development, job creation and retention, and quality of life.”

Lipstreu said OEFFA is pleased to see some positive provisions in this bill, but they are overshadowed by the elimination of tools and resources to help farmers and communities become more sustainable.
  
“We urge members of the House and Senate to recognize the value of these programs and work toward a bill that fully supports beginning farmers, local and regional food systems, and community health,” Lipstreu concluded.
 
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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.

OEFFA Announces 2018 Award Recipients: Larry and Cynthia Ringer and Sean McGovern Recognized

For Immediate Release:
February 19, 2018
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Contact:
Carol Goland, OEFFA Executive Director—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 202, cgoland@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
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Press Release
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COLUMBUS, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2018 recipients for the Stewardship and Service awards.
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Larry and Cynthia Ringer of Stark County received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community, and Sean McGovern of Franklin County received the Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary service in support of sustainable agriculture.
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The announcements were made on Saturday, February 17 in Dayton as part of OEFFA’s 39th annual conference, A Taste for Change.
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2018 Stewardship Award Winner—Larry and Cynthia Ringer
Larry and Cynthia Ringer founded Ohio Earth Food in 1972 with Cynthia’s family, in the midst of the chemical agriculture boom. At the time, they were working on the vegetable farm of Cynthia’s dad and early organic farmer, Glenn Graber. After observing the benefits of kelp and concerned about the effects of conventional farming on the environment and human health, they realized there could be an emergent market for organic fertilizers, and started selling kelp products and rock phosphate.
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“We were in the organic business before organic was the buzzword it is today,” Larry said. “If we work with nature, nature responds better than we expect it to.”Larry and Cynthia started the company on the Graber farm in Hartville, where they’ve lived for more than 70 years. Today, Ohio Earth Food has expanded to sell custom fertilizer blends, feed supplements, natural pesticides, potting soils, and other products to customers throughout the U.S. They retired in 2010, but remain involved in the business as consultants.“We really didn’t know what we were doing. We just knew that we had a desire and we believed in it,” said Larry. “If we hadn’t believed in it, we never would have stuck it out. Because it wasn’t an easy thing to do.”

They have been active in OEFFA since its beginning. Larry served seven years on the OEFFA certification committee and has taught conference workshops, and Ohio Earth Food has been a fixture at every OEFFA conference trade show for nearly 40 years.

“In many ways, Larry, Cynthia, and Ohio Earth Food helped support a quickly evolving organic movement in Ohio, at a time that farmers were first beginning to look for alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” said OEFFA Executive Director Carol Goland.

2018 Service Award Winner—Sean McGovern
Sean McGovern has been the National Outreach Manager at the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program since 2004. There, he helps to educate farmers and agricultural professionals about the results of SARE-funded farmer-led research projects; develop educational partnerships between organizations, educators, and producers; evaluate the impact of programs, and develop and improve SARE communications and database tools.

Sean has worked at OEFFA since 1994, continuing as an OEFFA employee in his capacity with SARE. He was first hired by OEFFA as a part-time secretary, about a year after graduating from Ohio State University. As OEFFA grew, Sean’s title shifted to Executive Administrator and eventually to Executive Director. He worked to develop productive partnerships with Ohio State University Extension and advocated for the creation of a new Organic Food and Farming Education and Research (OFFER) program, leading to the first organic production research at OSU. He focused on providing affordable educational programs that OEFFA’s members wanted, growing the membership base, and putting administrative systems in place that facilitated future growth.

“I will tell you that I am blessed to have learned so much from the OEFFA family,” Sean said. “What an opportunity it was for a young, impressionable young man like myself to be invited into a community of people wrestling with the practical issues of building a more sustainable world. I will forever be thankful to all of the OEFFA members who are living proof that leading a kind and mindful life is a choice, not a pipe-dream.” He received a standing ovation from the audience following his remarks.

“We at OEFFA are grateful to Sean McGovern for his nearly 25 years of service to OEFFA and to the sustainable agriculture community. His early leadership was instrumental to OEFFA and to the development of today’s local food movement in Ohio,” said Goland.

“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 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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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.

For photos of the award recipients, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 947-1643 or lauren@oeffa.org. Please provide photo credit to Ed Chen.

Senator Sherrod Brown Honored for Promoting Investments in Local Agriculture

For Immediate Release:  February 17, 2018

Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 947-1607, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator, (614) 947-1643, lauren@oeffa.org

Dayton, OH—At a gathering of more than 1,100 farmers and local food advocates, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) received the Food and Farm Champion Award from the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). The announcement was made in Dayton on Friday, February 16 as part of OEFFA’s 39th annual conference, A Taste for Change.

The award recognizes Senator Brown’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and his leadership in making positive investments in local food systems, community economic development, and public health.
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“Senator Brown has consistently supported investments in local and regional food systems that contribute to farmer viability, create jobs, and improve public health,” said OEFFA’s Policy Program Coordinator Amalie Lipstreu, who presented the award.

“Through his introduction of the Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act (S. 1947), we can fully develop the policies and programs that spur economic development in communities in Ohio and throughout the nation.”
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“Local farmers feed Ohio families and grow Ohio’s economy. I’m proud to work with partners like OEFFA to help connect family farms with their communities, grow their bottom lines, and create jobs across our state. It’s an honor to receive the Food and Farm Champion award,” said Senator Brown, who provided remarks to the conference’s 1,100 guests.
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Ohio is home to 24 local food councils, a state food policy network, and a growing number of farm to institution programs, food hubs, and direct to consumer outlets. Senator Brown’s farm bill advocacy efforts have supported more than 90 food system projects and resulted in more than $7 million dollars in investments in Ohio’s communities. For example, the Lake to River Food Cooperative established a food hub and a shared retail space, the Youngstown Online Market pick-up site, which helps farmers market their products through a shared online platform.
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Senator Brown serves on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, where he has been instrumental in strengthening the farm safety net and addressing childhood hunger.

“OEFFA is pleased to recognize Senator Brown’s leadership and looks forward to continue working with him in the future,” said Lipstreu.
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Since 1979, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has been working 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. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.
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For high resolution photos of Senator Brown’s appearance at the OEFFA conference, please contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 947-1643 or lauren@oeffa.org. Please provide photo credit: Ed Chen.

Beginning farmers key focus of upcoming Ohio food conference

DAYTON, Ohio — Early-career farmers and those considering an agricultural vocation will get a lot of the information they need during a dedicated “Begin Farming Workshop” that is part of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Assoc.’s (OEFFA) annual conference Feb. 15-17 at the Dayton Convention Center.

This 39th annual conference is titled A Taste for Change.

“Our goal is to help people increase their knowledge and skills, find leads on farmland, and make business and professional connections,” said OEFFA Begin Farming Program Coordinator Kelly Henderson.

On Feb. 16-17, six 90-minute workshops, totaling nine hours of education, will cover a wide range of topics, from organic certification to farming with children. OEFFA sustainable ag educator Julia Barton will address the top 10 organic transition questions most people ask, while Mike Durante of the National Young Farmers Coalition will discuss land access and affordability for the beginning farmer.

Other beginning farming experts will discuss government regulations, how to market your farm produces, health insurance and risk management and much more.

And this annual event is not just for the beginning farmer. Additional workshop sessions on production, marketing, business and green living will be offered, giving attendees nearly 80 workshops from which to choose.

This year’s keynote speakers include Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute and Stacy Malkan of U.S. Right to Know.

“If you look at the food market system in the U.S., ours is the fastest growth of all,” Moyer said. “This is great news for those in the organic industry – not only for the growers, but the impact on the health of the people. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

His talk will focus on the food of the future rather than that of the present or past.

“We want to look at the history only so we don’t make the same mistakes and to see how we got where we are. I will explain what the future holds for organic growers, as this will give us a picture of the changes and how we as farmers can impact that change.”

Moyer is a renowned authority in organic agriculture with expertise in organic crop production systems, weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use and facilities design. He conceptualized and popularized the No-Till Roller Crimper for use in organic agriculture and wrote Organic No-Till Farming, a publication that has become a resource for farmers throughout the world.

Malkan’s keynote address, entitled “Fake News, Fake Food”, will be urging attendees how to stand up for organic foods and their right to know in the era of Big Ag. She is an author, investigative journalist and leading consumer advocate for safer products.

She is also co-founder and co-director of the nonprofit group U.S. Right to Know, whose mission is to educate and inform consumers about the often hidden practices that shape the food system.

Sarah Flack, a consultant, speaker and author of The Art and Science of Grazing, will cover the basic principles of good grazing management systems, as well as soils and management systems that improve pasture quality and productivity.

Dr. Barbara Utendorf, a nutrition and personal wellness expert, will discuss how to incorporate key health-restoring foods and herbs in a cultivated environment. She will review the multiple benefits of plants.

Matt Fout, ODA food safety supervisor, will train fruit and vegetable farmers to meet the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule. He will cover worker health, hygiene and training.

Other topics found among the workshops include lessons in soil biology and soil health; growing organic foods in the face of imports; key principles of well-managed grazing systems; cover crops for small-scale vegetable production; changing customer expectations; planting trees for profit; how to store grain properly; raising pastured turkeys; cool-season vegetable production; underground greenhouse design; inroads into food deserts; and uses for alpaca fibers.

The OEFFA conference also has entertainment opportunities for attending children, with an abundance of arts and crafts.

The Dayton Convention Center is located at 22 E. 5th Street, Dayton, OH 45402. For more information about this event, call OEFFA at 614-421-2022.

A Call To Boost Local Foods in 2018 Farm Bill

By Mary Kuhlman, Ohio Public News Service

2/6/18

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Federal lawmakers are ramping up their work on the 2018 Farm Bill, and some Ohio farm groups and producers say measures to boost local foods should be included.

Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown says the Local FARMS Act he introduced in the Senate can help family farmers and local growers reach new markets and improve access to fresh foods for Ohioans.

That was the exact mission of Betsy Anderson and others in Wooster when they created Local Roots Market and Café eight years ago.

“The connection to the food is just so different when you grow it yourself,” she says. “And our market gives people an opportunity to meet with the farmers and really see exactly where their food’s coming from. People just seem really happy.”

The Local FARMS Act includes investments in programs such as the Local Food Promotion Program, which Local Roots have utilized to enhance the cooperative over the years. The House Committee on Agriculture is holding a hearing on the 2018 Farm Bill today.

Anderson says Local Roots and the area economy have both benefited thanks to funding from the program. She explains the market was able to expand its advertising, and bring in more local shoppers and sellers.

“The producers are from our communities,” she notes. “We had about 200 already selling products, and then we got up to about 284. And sales continue to increase. We saw a bit over half a million dollars a year in local product.”

According to USDA data, more than 167,000 U.S. farms produced and sold food through farmers markets and other similar channels in 2015, generating nearly $9 billion in earnings for local producers. The 2018 Farm Bill could move to the full House by mid-March and be in the Senate in May.

An OEFFA 2018 Conference Preview

By Ty Higgins, Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio AgNet

2/5/18

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 39th annual conference, A Taste for Change, will run Thursday, Feb. 15 through Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton.

“The conference is three days of learning, networking, sharing, and breaking bread with an inspiring and growing community of farmers and local food advocates,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA Program Director. “Each year, we draw more than 1,200 attendees, and our diverse schedule offers something for all tastes.”

Friday keynote speaker is Jeff Moyer, a world renowned authority in organic agriculture. He conceptualized and popularized the No-Till Roller Crimper and wrote Organic No-Till Farming. He is the Executive Director of the Rodale Institute, which helps farmers make the transition from conventional, chemical-based farming to organic methods. He is a past chair of the National Organic Standards Board.

“This country is in the midst of a food fight in both the production world and the consumer world,” Moyer said. “As consumer demand for organic grows, there is a lot of pushing and pulling on the food dollar in the marketplace. Right now the organic food industry is around 5% of the food dollar in the United States, but only about 1.2% of the farmland in this country is being farmed organically.”

Moyer says the result of that data is that a lot of organic product is coming in from international or offshore enterprises. He is working very hard to change that scenario and encourage more farmers to transition to organic to take advantage of an opportunity to be more profitable and at the same time improve the health of the soil and change the way that resources are being managed on the farm.

AUDIO: The Ohio Ag Net’s Ty Higgins visits with Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute about organic agriculture, how it can be a great starting point for beginning farmers and what he hopes attendees will take away from his talk at the upcoming OEFFA Conference.
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Saturday keynote speaker Stacy Malkan is an author, journalist, and leading consumer advocate for safer products. Stacy is co-founder and co-director of the nonprofit group U.S. Right to Know, whose mission is to educate and inform consumers about the often hidden practices that shape the food system. She served as media director for the 2012 ballot initiative in California to label genetically engineered foods.

Ohio State Organic Experts Among OEFFA Conference Speakers

By The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

1/31/18

COLUMBUS, Ohio — How certain natural microbes can help crops grow better and faster.

How to make contaminated soils, sometimes present in cities, healthy for urban farming.

How a new perennial grain could have double uses, as food for people and forage for livestock, and also double benefits, helping soil and water.

Those will be some of the topics when experts from The Ohio State University join the speaker lineup at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 39th annual conference, Feb. 15-17 at the Dayton Convention Center.

Called Ohio’s largest conference on sustainable food and farming, the event offers nearly 80 hour-and-a-half workshops on organic farming and related topics, including 10 with speakers from Ohio State. One track of workshops is especially for beginning farmers.

About 1,200 people — farmers, gardeners, foodies, green living advocates and others — are expected to attend. The conference theme is “A Taste for Change.”

“For 39 years, the OEFFA conference has been the gathering place for sustainable and organic farmers and, more recently, researchers to share information,” said Carol Goland, executive director of OEFFA. And there’s good reason for the sharing.

Fastest-growing sector in U.S. food industry

Organic food is the fastest-growing sector in the U.S. food industry, with double-digit annual sales increases “far outstripping the growth rate for the overall food market,” according to the Washington, D.C.-based Organic Trade Association (OTA). Organic food still represents only a small share of total U.S. food sales, about 5 percent, but the figure now stands at a record high, OTA says.

Ohio alone had 575 certified organic farms in 2016, up 24 percent from 2015 and good for seventh place in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2016 Certified Organic Survey. Those farms reported sales of about $101 million, a 30 percent jump from the year before.

Ohio State program nationally ranked

Ohio State, for its part, “has one of the strongest organic farming research programs in the United States,” said Doug Doohan, interim director of the university’s Organic Food and Farming Education and Research (OFFER) program. Among similar programs, OFFER “consistently ranks in the top 10 percent nationally when it comes to funding and publications,” he said.

Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) started the OFFER program (not to be confused with OEFFA) in 1998. The decision was spurred by requests from Ohio’s growing number of organic farmers, led by OEFFA members, for research to support their industry. More than two dozen CFAES scientists are collaborators in the program.

‘Strong, growing’ relationship

Since then, OFFER and OEFFA have cultivated a “strong and growing” relationship, Doohan said. OFFER scientists increasingly design their research in consultation with OEFFA member farmers, sometimes even conducting experiments on the farmers’ farms, he said.

“That kind of collaborative relationship really helps get at the most pressing issues and addresses them in the most impactful way possible,” Doohan said.

Such efforts “help equip farmers with the information they need” to take advantage of organic farming’s economic opportunities, Goland said. Those opportunities include earning price premiums compared to conventionally produced products, which can boost a farm’s profitability.

Organic farmers, in almost cases, are prohibited from using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Instead they employ a big toolkit of natural inputs, non-chemical methods and biological processes, such as mulch, manure and beneficial insects, to keep their crops healthy and productive. Other practices, such as cover crops and crop rotation, serve to limit soil erosion, improve soil health, cut the risk of water contamination and increase biodiversity.

Keynoting the OEFFA conference will be Jeff Moyer, executive director of the Pennsylvania-based Rodale Institute, and Stacy Malkan, co-director of the food industry watchdog group U.S. Right to Know.

Workshop speakers also will come from farms, businesses, nonprofits, advocacy groups, agencies and elsewhere in higher education, including Ohio’s Central State University.

Buckeyes slated

The speakers from Ohio State, most of whom are collaborators in OFFER, will be:

  • Matt Kleinhenz, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, CFAES, “Microbe-Containing Crop Biostimulants: What We Know, What Is Important to Learn” (Feb. 16, 8:30 a.m.).
  • Douglas Jackson-Smith, School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), CFAES, panel discussion member on “Better On-Farm Research for Better Organic Farming” (Feb. 16, 10:30 a.m.).
  • Steve Culman, SENR, “Dual-Use Perennial Grain Crops: Grain for Humans and Hay for Livestock,” about a new grain variety called Kernza developed by the Kansas-based Land Institute (Feb. 17, 3:30 p.m.).
  • Culman and Kleinhenz, “Base Cation Balance: What Are Crops, Soils, Weeds and People Saying?” (Feb. 16, 2 p.m.).
  • Shoshanah Inwood, SENR, co-speaker on “Health Insurance and Risk Management for Farmers: Tools for Navigating Health Insurance,” part of the workshop track for beginning farmers (Feb. 17, 8:30 a.m.).
  • Alan Sundermeier, Ohio State University Extension, CFAES, “Interpreting Soil Health Information for Organic Producers” (Feb. 17, 8:30 a.m.).
  • Celeste Welty, Department of Entomology, “Organic Approaches to Insect Management on Cucurbit Crops,” cucurbits being such crops as squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers and watermelons (Feb. 17, 8:30 a.m.).
  • Gustavo Schuenemann, College of Veterinary Medicine and OSU Extension, “Designing Health Protocols for Certified Organic Herds” (Feb. 17, 8:30 a.m.).
  • Meredith Krueger, OSU Food Waste Collaborative, CFAES, co-speaker on “Weaving Food Policy Work Statewide: The Development of the Ohio Food Policy Network” (Feb. 17, 8:30 a.m.).
  • Larry Phelan, Department of Entomology, CFAES, “Can Urban Soils Be Made Healthy for Farming?” (Feb. 17, 3:30 p.m.).

Goland said research on organic farming, by OFFER scientists and many others, “is key to supporting this growing industry.”

Find details on the event at oeffa.org/conference2018.php. Online registration has ended, but walk-in registrations are welcome on Feb. 16 and 17.

Writer(s):

Kurt Knebusch
knebusch.1@osu.edu
330-263-3776

Source(s):

Doug Doohan
doohan.1@osu.edu
330-202-3593

Carol Goland
cgoland@oeffa.org

Senator Sherrod Brown to Receive OEFFA Food and Farm Champion Award

Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 947-1607, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator, (614) 947-1643, lauren@oeffa.org

Media Advisory
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What: Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will provide remarks and receive the OEFFA Food and Farm Champion Award from the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, as part of OEFFA’s 39th annual conference, A Taste for Change.

The award will recognize Senator Brown’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and his leadership in making positive investments in local food systems, community economic development, and public health.

When: Friday, February 16—3:45 p.m.

If you would like to attend to see the award presentation and remarks, please contact lauren@oeffa.org by February 9 to request a press pass. Please include your name, outlet, title, address, county, phone number, and when you’d like to attend.

Where: OEFFA’s 39th Annual Conference, Dayton Convention Center, 22 E. 5th St. Dayton, Ohio

The three-day event, running February 15-February 17, is Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, drawing more than 1,200 attendees from around the country each year. It features nearly 80 90-minute workshops, four full-day intensive Food and Farm School classes, keynote speakers Jeff Moyer and Stacy Malkan, a three-day trade show, local meals, children’s activities, and more. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2018.

Who: Senator Brown will provide remarks and receive the OEFFA Food and Farm Champion Award. He serves on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, where he has been instrumental in strengthening the farm safety net and addressing childhood hunger, and has introduced the Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act (HR 3941).

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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

Organic food not perfect, but better than the alternative, says Jeff Moyer

When the Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association holds its annual food conference Feb. 15-17 in Dayton, there will be lots of celebration. More than 1,000 folks interested in growing and supporting sustainable food will meet in 80 skill-building workshops, and they’ll do so knowing that organic-food sales are healthy, too.

In a relatively stagnant growth market for food in general, organic-food sales continue to rise by more than 8 percent a year, according to the country’s Organic Trade Association.

With the good news comes the bad. There aren’t enough young people taking up farming, not enough research to make it easier and more profitable, and still not enough sales to make both of those things happen soon.

We talked about that last week with Jeff Moyer, who will be giving one of the keynote speeches at the OEFFA conference. Moyer, 62, spoke by phone from Kutztown in eastern Pennsylvania. He and his family started farming there organically in the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s.

Until five years ago, he served on the National Organic Standards Board of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a group that came into being in 1990 with the creation of the USDA Organic label. Moyer now heads Rodale Institute, a cornerstone organization in organic agriculture.

From your view, what’s the current state of the organic-food world?

When Robert Rodale was here in 1971, he was frustrated at the slow growth of organic-farming principles. He was concerned about human health, planetary health and wrote about climate change. He saw organic-crop production as a way to mitigate these problems. He saw two reasons for the slow growth. One was that, whether we like it or not, agriculture moves on the back of science, and we don’t have a lot of science on the back of organic agriculture.

He also saw a problem with certification. At that time, anybody could put something on the market and call it organic. He thought the best way was to bring in government certification, which would expand organics, allow people to trust what they purchase and have an understanding for interstate trade which would be converted into research. That part didn’t pan out well, but the labeling did.

Do people understand the label?

I wish everyone had a deep understanding of it. Most don’t have the time, although I think they have the interest. But I think they do trust it.

There were stories last year about missing links in the organic certification of some crops grown overseas. Why should we trust the label?

Because the alternative is far worse. Without the label, you don’t have anything to go by. And you get what you pay for. Yes, there are cheaters out there, but it’s still better than the alternative. Food is one product that we purchase, put it in our mouths and it becomes us. While the seal is less than perfect, it’s the best thing we have that can be verified.

Why does organic food generally cost more?

We’re paying for the quality that the farmer brings to the entire process. Organic farming is more cost-effective than conventional farming. Yet conventional farmers have subsidized crop insurance because their processes are so much more at risk to climate and weather patterns. There’s no way they can afford the insurance.

But consumers, instead of paying for those subsidies through our tax dollars, should really be paying for it at the point of purchase. When people develop [illnesses] that can be attributed to their diet and the way their food is produced, we don’t pay for that in the food but in the cost of health insurance. Not that organic farmers can’t apply for crop insurance, or can’t get into government programs, but they generally don’t need to. They charge what they need to get to a reasonable profit.

So why aren’t there more organic farmers, and how do you get more?

“That’s the $64,000 question. I saw an analysis from Ohio State University that showed you have to spend 10 times more to become a farmer than to become a surgeon, but you make 10 times less money. There are now six times as many farmers over 65 than farmers over 35. Farmers aren’t aging out of the system, and eventually, something drastic has to happen.

At Rodale, we have a dynamic training program for U.S. military veterans. Other folks are doing similar things. Organic Valley is using investor money to get people on the land to transition it over to organic status, and then the land goes to a management company. But we don’t have many other options. We need education in the banking industry to support organic production. It’s not a recipe, and they have to learn to take some risks.”

Are organics at risk in the current political climate?

“If I knew, I’d be a millionaire. We know the GOP wants fewer regulations. Airlines, banks, have all asked to get rid of regulations. But we asked them for regulation, and more of it, because it gives us guidelines to build a business on. Organic certification is completely voluntary. I hope politicians see the difference and leave it alone.”


IF YOU GO

What: A Taste for Change, the 39th annual conference of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association. Includes 80 educational workshops for farmers and consumers with special attention this year to new farmers, urban farming, a trade show and more.

When: Thursday Feb. 15-Saturday Feb. 17.

Where: Dayton Convention Center

Contact: oeffa.org/conference2018, 614-421-2022.