Category Archives: OEFFA Press Releases

Sustainable Agriculture Author, John Ikerd, to Keynote Ohio’s Largest Food and Farm Conference

For Immediate Release: January 14, 2016

Contact:
Renee Hunt, Program Director, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
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To achieve a truly sustainable food system, we must significantly change our thinking about how we feed ourselves, according to author and passionate small farm advocate John Ikerd, featured speaker at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 37th annual conference, Growing Right by Nature, in Granville, Ohio (Licking County).
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In his Sunday, February 14 keynote address, “Sustainable Agriculture is Growing, Right and by Nature,” Ikerd will explore how growing consumer demand and concerns about the ecological and social integrity of the industrial food system are creating opportunities for the organic and local food movements to create lasting, fundamental change.
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“Any society that can’t meet at least the basic human needs of everyone without leaving equal or better opportunities for those of future generations is simply not sustainable over time. Continual investments in the renewal and regeneration of nature and society are essential for ecological, social, and economic sustainability,” Ikerd writes.

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Ikerd received a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri and spent 30 years in various professorial positions at North Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University, the University of Georgia, and the University of Missouri. From 1989 to 2000, under a cooperative agreement with the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, he provided state and national leadership for research and education programs related to sustainable agriculture.

Ikerd has authored six books on sustainable agriculture and sustainable economics, along with book chapters, journal articles, and other publications. In 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations asked Ikerd to develop the North American report for the International Year of the Family Farm.

“Everywhere we look, we can see the failure of the grand experiment of industrial agriculture. It’s time for fundamental change,” Ikerd writes.

Ikerd will also lead two workshops during the conference: “Deep Sustainability: Deeper than Reducing, Reusing, Recycling, and Renewing,” on Saturday afternoon and “Practical, Radical Ideas for Restructuring Farming and Food Production Systems” on Sunday morning.“
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John Ikerd challenges us to think more deeply about sustainability and sustainable agriculture,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “His vision for the future, deeply rooted in more than 30 years of experience in agricultural science and economics, is inspiring.”
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Ikerd will speak as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, an event which draws more than 1,200 attendees from across Ohio and the country.
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In addition to Ikerd, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Lindsey Lusher Shute on Saturday, February 13; more than 90 educational workshops; three in-depth pre-conference workshops on Friday, February 12; a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally-sourced and from-scratch meals, a raffle, book sales and signings, a seed swap, and Saturday evening entertainment.
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For more information about the conference, or to register, click here.
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Our Sponsors
   
Dickinson Wright PLLC | Granville Village Schools | Greenacres Foundation | Jorgensen Farms | Natural Awakenings Central Ohio, Cincinnati, and Toledo | Organic Valley | Snowville Creamery | Albert Lea Seed Co. | Casa Nueva | Earth Tools | Eban Bakehouse | Edible Cleveland | Great River Organics | Green BEAN Delivery | Green Field Farms | Lucky Cat Bakery | Metro Cuisine | Mustard Seed Market and Cafe | Ohio Hills Biochar | Raisin Rack Natural Food Market | Stauf’s Coffee Roasters | Sunopta | Swainway Urban FarmAg Credit ACA | Andelain Fields | C-TEC of Licking County | Curly Tail Organic Farm | DNO Produce | Eden Foods | Edible Ohio Valley | Hocking College Culinary Arts Program, McClenaghan School of Hospitality | Kevin Morgan Studio | Law Office of David G. Cox | Ohio Environmental Council | WQTT Ag Today Central OhioBexley Natural Market | Carriage House Farm | Fedco Seeds | Glass Rooster Cannery | Hartzler Dairy Farm | The Hills Market | Johnny’s Selected Seeds | Krazy Kraut | Lucky’s Market | Northridge Organic Farm | Nourse Farms | Palamedes Photography | Schmidt Family Farms | Stutzman Farms
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About OEFFA
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (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. For more information, click here.
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Press Pass and Media Inquiries
OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend conference and pre-conference events. We can also help members of the press schedule interviews with keynote speakers and workshop presenters. To arrange an interview, request a press pass, or for other media inquiries, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org.

Beginning Farmer Advocate to Keynote Ohio’s Largest Food and Farm Conference

For Immediate Release: January 7, 2016

Contact: Renee Hunt, Program Director, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org, Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org

How land, equipment, and knowledge is passed on to the next generation will impact the U.S. farm economy, according to farmer and National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) Executive Director Lindsey Lusher Shute, featured keynote speaker at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 37th annual conference, Growing Right by Nature, this February in Granville, Ohio (Licking County).

In her Saturday, February 13 keynote address, “Building Our Collective Strength: An Agenda for the Next Generation,” Shute will discuss the structural obstacles getting in the way of this transition and the opportunities to strengthen family farms through policy change.

“Today’s young farmers and ranchers are…taking tremendous personal and financial risks to feed the country and build a healthy food system,” Shute wrote for whitehouse.gov, where she was named a Future of American Agriculture Champion of Change. We must shape “a country where young people who are willing to work hard, get trained, and be entrepreneurial can support themselves and their families in farming.”

She and her husband, Benjamin, own and manage Hearty Roots Community Farm, a 70 acre farm in New York’s Hudson River Valley. They grow about 25 acres of certified organic vegetables and care for a flock of laying hens and a dozen pigs, which are marketed through a 900 member community support agriculture program.

In a 2013 Tedx Talk, Shute pointed out that there are 28 million fewer farmers in the U.S. than in 1920, and the country has grown by  200 million people.

“If we are going to rebuild American agriculture, provide a pathway of opportunity for people of modest means to become farmers in the United States, and for us all to feel and experience the benefits of all these farmers caring for the land will bring, then we need… to invest in the next generations of farmers,” said Shute, who, as Executive Director and co-founder of NYFC, represents, mobilizes, and engages young farmers to ensure their success.

On Friday, February 12, Shute will facilitate a full-day, in-depth pre-conference event designed for beginning farmers, titled “Answering the Call to Farm.”

On Saturday morning, Shute will also lead a one hour workshop, “Is DC Helping Sustainable Farmers? What’s Happening in Congress That’s Affecting You.”

“We’re excited to welcome Lindsey to this year’s conference, so we can shine a spotlight on the resources, tools, and support these young farmers need to succeed, along with the policy changes that the future of farming requires,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.

Shute will speak as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, an event which draws more than 1,200 attendees from across Ohio and the country.

In addition to Shute, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker John Ikerd on Sunday, February 14; more than 90 educational workshops; three in-depth pre-conference workshops on Friday, February 12; a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally-sourced and from-scratch meals, a raffle, book sales and signings, a seed swap, and Saturday evening entertainment.

For more information about the conference, or to register, click here.

Registration Now Open for Ohio’s Largest Sustainable Food and Farm Conference

For Immediate Release: December 3, 2015
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Contact:
Renee Hunt, Program Director, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
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Registration is now open for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 37th annual conference, Growing Right by Nature. Pre-conference intensives will be held on Friday, February 12 and the two-day conference will take place Saturday, February 13 and Sunday, February 14, 2016 at the Granville Middle and High schools in Granville, Ohio (Licking County).
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As the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, more than 1,200 attendees from across Ohio and the U.S. will come together to enjoy keynote sessions with Lindsey Lusher Shute and John Ikerd; nearly 100 educational workshops; three pre-conference intensives; a trade show; locally-sourced and organic from-scratch meals, and more.
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“This conference is about working with nature, rather than trying to control it,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “Sustainable agriculture is not only a path for growing right by nature, but for doing right by our communities, public health, and our economy, as well.”
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Lindsey Lusher Shute is the Executive Director and co-founder of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC). Shute and her husband, Benjamin, raise two daughters and own and manage Hearty Roots Community Farm, an organic farm in New York’s Hudson River Valley serving 900 community supported agriculture program members. In 2014, Shute was selected as a White House Future of American Agriculture Champion of Change. Read more.
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John Ikerd is one of the nation’s leading experts and speakers on agricultural economics and a well-known, passionate, and insightful sustainable agriculture advocate and speaker. He is the author of six books including Sustainable Capitalism: A Matter of Common Sense, Small Farms are Real Farms: Sustaining People Through Agriculture, and The Essentials of Economic Sustainability—along with book chapters, journal articles, magazine and trade publications, and conference proceedings on various aspects of the sustainable agriculture movement. Read more.
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The conference will offer nearly 100 beginner, intermediate, and advanced workshops across 16 tracks. Taught by experienced OEFFA members, farmers, researchers, and sustainable agriculture leaders from across the country, the workshops cover a range of topics including sustainable farming, gardening, homesteading, cooking, livestock and poultry production, business management, food and farm policy, research, and more. Read more.
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“OEFFA’s conference offers something for everyone. Whether you’re an experienced grower, backyard gardener, or local food enthusiast, this conference has workshops for you,” said Hunt.
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The conference will also feature three full-day pre-conference intensives on Friday, February 12 in Granville.
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Answering the Call to Farm, facilitated by Lindsey Lusher Shute, is designed for beginning farmers and those considering a farming profession. It will cover start-up business planning, accessing land, transition and restoration of new ground, budgeting, and more. Read more.
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The Dirt on Organic Matter, led by Ohio State University soil scientist Rafiq Islam, will explore time tested holistic organic farming practices that can help retain and build soil organic matter. Read more.
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During Marketing Organic Grain: A Farmer’s Guide, OFARM Executive Director John Bobbe, NForganics Field Representative Tim Boortz, and Illinois organic grain farmer Harold Wilken will take a detailed and practical look at successful organic grain marketing. Read more.
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The conference will also feature:
•  Saturday evening entertainment, including a performance by The Back Porch Swing Band and a conversation with OEFFA’s founding members about the history of the organic movement;
•  A trade show featuring dozens of businesses, non-profits, and government agencies offering an array of food, books, farm and garden products, tools, information, and services;
•  A kid’s conference with engaging activities for children ages 6-12;
•  A playroom for young children;
•  A teen conference where teenagers ages 12-15 can create their own personal weekend schedule;
•  Locally-sourced, from-scratch meals; volunteer and scholarship opportunities; a raffle; book table; book signings; seed swap, and much more.
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For more information about the conference, or to register, click here. Past conferences have sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.
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Dickinson Wright PLLC | Granville Village Schools | Greenacres Foundation | Jorgensen Farms | Mustard Seed Market and Café | Natural Awakenings Central Ohio, Cincinnati, and Toledo | Organic Valley | Snowville Creamery
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Albert Lea Seed Co. | Earth Tools | Eban Bakehouse | Edible Cleveland | Great River Organics | Green BEAN Delivery | Green Field Farms | Lucky Cat Bakery | Metro Cuisine | Ohio Hills Biochar | Raisin Rack Natural Food Market | Stauf’s Coffee Roasters | Swainway Urban Farm | Whole Foods Market
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Ag Credit ACA | Andelain Fields | C-TEC of Licking County | Casa Nueva | Curly Tail Organic Farm | DNO Produce | Eden Foods | Edible Ohio Valley | Hocking College Culinary Arts Program, McClenaghan School of Hospitality | Kevin Morgan Studio | Law Office of David G. Cox | Ohio Environmental Council | WQTT Ag Today Central Ohio
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Bad Dog Acres | Bexley Natural Market | Carriage House Farm | Fedco Seeds | Glass Rooster Cannery | Hartzler Dairy Farm | The Hills Market | Krazy Kraut | Lucky’s Market | Northridge Organic Farm | Nourse Farms | Palamedes Photography | Schmidt Family Farms | Storehouse Tea | Stutzman Farms
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About OEFFA
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (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. For more information, click here.
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Press Pass and Media Inquiries
OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend conference and pre-conference events. We can also help members of the press schedule interviews with keynote speakers and workshop presenters. To arrange an interview, request a press pass, or for other media inquiries, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org.

Press Conference to Celebrate 25 Years of Certified Organic Standards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2015

CONTACT:
Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, policy@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org

What:     The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is holding a virtual press conference to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), which was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on November 28, 1990.

A moderated panel of expert speakers will provide statements about the history of the organic movement and standards and the growth of the organic sector. A question and answer session will follow to allow members of the media the opportunity to explore the issues further.

Prior to OFPA, there were no consistent standards or regulations to define organic agriculture. The first certification programs were developed by states and agencies resulting in a patchwork of standards. A grassroots movement grew to develop a national organic standard to help facilitate interstate marketing, which eventually resulted in the passage of OFPA and the creation of the National Organic Program, which established federal regulations defining uniform standards for organic farming practices and labeling and a third-party verification process to ensure compliance, uniformity, and transparency. After years of work and public involvement, final rules were written and implemented in 2002.

Today, there are more than 730 certified organic operations in Ohio and nearly 19,500 in the U.S. Consumer demand for organic food and fiber continues to grow. Organic food sales have increased by an average of 10 percent per year since 2010 and sales of organic products soared to $39.1 billion in 2014.

When:        Monday, November 30, 10 am ET

Please RSVP to lauren@oeffa.org. Include your name and the name of the outlet you represent.

Where:    Members of the media can join this virtual press conference by phone from the convenience of their home or office. Call (712) 432-0390 and then enter access code: 805354.

Who:    Carol Goland, OEFFA Executive Director and event moderator—OEFFA is one of the oldest and largest organic certification agencies in the country. OEFFA certified to state standards prior to OFPA and worked toward the development of a national program.

Liana Hoodes, National Organic Coalition Advisor—Liana is the Co-Chair of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, former director of the National Organic Coalition, and previous Organic Policy Coordinator for the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture.

Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of Sustainability, George Washington University—From 2009-2013, Dr. Merrigan was U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she created and led the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative to support local food systems. She previously worked as senior staff to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry where she wrote the law establishing national standards for organic food.

Mike Laughlin, certified organic specialty crop farmer—Northridge Organic Farm in Johnstown, Ohio was one of Ohio’s first certified organic farms under the federal standards.

Abby Youngblood, National Organic Coalition Executive Director—Abby previously served as the Food and Environment Program Officer at the North Star Fund, co-owned and operated a vegetable farm in New York, and advocated for a strong organic standard in 2001.

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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. OEFFA operates one of the oldest and largest organic certification agencies in the country, and offers educational programming and support to organic farmers and businesses, and those looking to transition to organic. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

New Study Highlights Opportunities for Organic Agriculture

For Immediate Release:
September 18, 2015
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Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
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Columbus, OH—A government survey of U.S. organic farms shows Ohio’s growth in organic sales follow the national trend,  and while the number of organic farms in Ohio fell slightly over the past five years, Ohio farmland in organic production has increased by more than 10,000 acres since 2008.
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The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (USDA NASS) released results from the 2014 Organic Production Survey this week, revealing a 72 percent increase in organic sales since 2008, as well as a slight decrease in the number of organic farmers and total organic acreage in the U.S.
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“While the decrease in the number of organic farms nationally and in Ohio is a concern, Ohio remains in the top 10 of states in the number of organic farms in operation,” said Amalie Lipstreu, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Policy Program Coordinator.
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More than 40 percent of Ohio organic farmers earn between 75 and 100 percent of their income from organic farming. “The data show that organic farming provides a full time occupation for many farmers and there is a future in organic production as demand outpaces supply for organic food in the U.S.,” said Lipstreu.
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These results also show a strong commitment to the organic market as more than 40 percent of Ohio’s organic farmers plan to increase organic production. In 2015, OEFFA has also seen an increase in the number of farmers seeking certification for the first time.
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While 78 percent of organic sales are to wholesale markets, the first point of sale for 80 percent of all U.S. organic products was less than 500 miles from the farm. “The growth of local and regional food systems as well as access to large wholesale markets provide huge growth opportunities for organic farmers,” said Lipstreu.
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This study represents the second comprehensive survey of organic agriculture in the U.S. “The ability to have trend data and analysis of organic agriculture in Ohio and the U.S. provides information critical to the organic industry and the farming community,” said Lipstreu. “Continuing to collect and analyze this information will help current producers as well as those considering a transition to organic agriculture understand the growing demand, price premiums, and production challenges.”
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OEFFA is one of the oldest and largest organic certification agencies in the country, and offers educational programming and support to organic farmers and businesses, and those looking to transition to organic. For more information, click here.
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The complete report can be accessed at the USDA Census of Agriculture website.

Farm to Table Dinner Comes to Northeast Ohio: The Farmers’ Table Celebrates Ohio Farms and Flavors

For Immediate Release:
July 14, 2015

Contact:
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
Milo Petruziello, Program Associate, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 206, milo@oeffa.org

Fresh, local, summer ingredients from northeast Ohio will be the inspiration for a unique farm to table culinary experience this August that celebrates Ohio farms and flavors.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is partnering with Maplestar Farm and The Driftwood Group for The Farmers’ Table on Sunday, August 30 at 4 p.m. The event will take place in western Geauga County at Maplestar Farm in Auburn Township.

“OEFFA’s mission is to help farmers and consumers reconnect and together build a sustainable food system, one meal at time,” said OEFFA Program Associate Milo Petruziello, who is organizing the event. “This dinner is a natural extension of that work, designed to showcase the amazing farmers and chefs of northeast Ohio and the fresh, seasonal ingredients of Ohio’s farms. It also gives us all a chance to celebrate our farmers, our food, and the local flavors which will be thoughtfully woven into every aspect of this event.”

Guests will take a guided tour of Maplestar Farm’s organic fields, sample carefully crafted hors d’oeuvres, and enjoy beer, wine, and tea before sitting down to an exciting four course meal prepared by Erik Martinez, Executive Chef at Cibréo Italian Kitchen, featuring wine pairings.

The event will also feature special guest Alan Guebert, award-winning syndicated agricultural journalist and OEFFA 2015 conference keynote speaker, who will offer a hearty toast to local food. Following the dinner, he’ll be signing his new book, The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey, and sharing stories. The book was recently included on Bon Appetit Magazine‘s 20 Food Books to Read This Summer, LA Magazine‘s Top 10 Summer Books for Foodies, and Food Tank’s Summer Reading List.

“We’re pleased and honored to be hosting the Farmers’ Table,” said organic farmer Jake Trethewey who owns and operates Maplestar Farm with his wife Dawn. “Holding an event where people can share a meal on the farm, from the farm, reminds me of growing up here. Quite often on the weekend, people would drop by to visit or help out and my grandmother and great grandmother would cook dinner for 12 or more folks on short notice and, of course, a lot of what was on the table was grown here. As small farms and farming communities have disappeared over the last 50 years, fewer people today have the opportunity to experience the friendship and community of sharing a meal on the farm.”

The Tretheweys have been certified organic for seven years and sell their organic produce at the farm’s roadside stand, at the Geauga Fresh Farmers’ Market, through a small community supported agriculture (CSA) program, and to restaurants.

The dinner will be rooted in certified organic vegetables from Maplestar Farm, and include an heirloom tomato salad, a modern take on a traditional fish fry featuring fresh Lake Erie perch, and a main course pork trio showcasing a pastured Berkshire/Chester White cross hog from Tea Hills Farms. Dessert will feature an Auburn sweet corn custard tart.

“We have a great relationship with Maplestar Farms. What’s important to the farm is important to us, and OEFFA and this event are very important to Jake and Dawn. This is a way we can help the farm bring OEFFA and a farm to table experience to their backyard and show all of Ohio what Geauga County and northeast Ohio have to offer,” said Chris Johnson, Corporate Chef for The Driftwood Group, one of Ohio’s premier restaurant and catering companies.

Erik Martinez is the Executive Chef of downtown Cleveland’s Cibreo Italian Kitchen, which is part of The Driftwood Group, and will be overseeing the dinner. He has been a part of Cleveland’s culinary landscape for more than 20 years.

Tickets are $125 per person or $1,000 for a table of 8. All proceeds support OEFFA’s work to grow Ohio’s sustainable and organic agriculture movement.

The Farmers’ Table is sponsored by The Driftwood Group, Maplestar Farm, Edible Cleveland, Kevin Morgan Studio, Organic Valley, Rising Star Coffee Roasters, Storehouse Tea, and Tea Hills Farms.

For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.oeffa.org/FarmersTable, call (614) 421-Ext. 206, or email dinner@oeffa.org.

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About OEFFA
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a statewide, grassroots, nonprofit organization working to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. OEFFA operates one of the country’s largest and most respected USDA-accredited organic certification agencies. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

Organic is Non-GMO and More: New Product Logo Helps Consumers Understand the Health and Environmental Benefits of Organic Food

For Immediate Release: June 17, 2015

Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, amalie@oeffa.org
Kate Blake, Certification Program Manager, (614) 262-2022 Ext. 223, kate@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org

Columbus, OH—While a growing number of consumers are seeking foods made without genetically modified organisms (GMOs), they may be getting less than they think from non-GMO labeled products.

According to Michelle Ajamian, owner of Shagbark Seed & Mill in Athens, “Non-GMO labels don’t guarantee crops are grown without chemicals. In fact, unless the food is certified organic, it may be grown with even more chemicals than GMO crops.”

To help consumers find food that is both non-GMO and environmentally friendly, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has released a new label that OEFFA-certified organic farmers and processors can use on their products, in addition to the standard USDA organic seal. This label reminds consumers that choosing organic foods allows them to avoid GMOs and protect public health and the environment.

To use the organic label, foods must not only be non-GMO but they must also be grown without synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, and chemical fertilizers.

“Shagbark Seed & Mill chose organic certification over non-GMO verification to support the farmers that go beyond non-GMO by working with nature, instead of against it. That means cover crops, crop rotations, and healthy soil. That means no GMO seed, ever. The result is a product we’re confident will protect water and soil resources and feed us the best quality food on all fronts,” stated Ajamian, whose certified organic mill sells beans, flour, pasta, chips, and other products.

Organic farmers undergo a rigorous annual third party verification process that includes an organic system plan, multiple reviews of that plan, and an inspection of the farm.

“As a result, the organic seal is the gold standard in ecological labeling and consumers can have confidence that farmers are adhering to the standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program,” said OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator Amalie Lipstreu. “Regardless of which version of the organic label a farmer or processor chooses, the organic seal guarantees that the product was made without GMOs. Organic is also the clear choice for shoppers who are concerned about the health and sustainability of their food.”

Annual Public Tour and Workshop Series Features Ohio’s Organic and Sustainable Farms: 2015 Guide Now Available

For Immediate Release: May 12, 2015

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
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Do you want to experience life as a shepherd? Learn how to effectively combat weeds in the garden without chemicals? See draft horses make sorghum cane into sweet syrup? Sample local meats, cheeses, and artisan jams and preserves? Or learn how to butcher your own poultry or install your own solar photovoltaic system?
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The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is sponsoring 15 tours, nine workshops, a one-day Women Grow Ohio event, and a farm to table dinner as part of the 2015 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series. The series, which features these and other topics, will allow Ohioans to see, taste, and experience life on the farm while gaining practical new skills.
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“This is a great chance for everyone interested in local foods to turn over a new leaf, learn how sustainably produced food is grown, and to connect with others who share a passion for sustainable agriculture,” said Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA’s Communications Coordinator. “Whether you want to gain a greater understanding of how food gets from the field to the dinner table, or pick up production or marketing pointers for your own farm, this series offers something for everyone.”
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Meet local farmers and experience sustainable farming up close and personal during these OEFFA’s farm tours:
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Develop your farm and do-it-yourself skills, during these workshops which allow participants to delve deeper into specific topics:
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Celebrate Ohio farms and flavors, during this unique farm to table dinner:
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OEFFA has offered annual farm tours for more than 35 years, providing unique opportunities for growers, educators, and conscientious eaters to learn about sustainable agriculture and local foods on the farm from growers and producers with years of practical experience.
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The 2015 farm tour and workshop series is promoted in cooperation with the Ohio State University Sustainable Agriculture Team and the Clintonville Farmers’ Market, who are sponsoring additional tours. In total, the series features 29 farms tours, one university research center tour, 10 educational workshops, a one-day Women Grow Ohio event, and a benefit dinner.
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For additional information and a complete list of all farm tours, including dates, times, farm descriptions, and driving directions, click here.

Solar Electric Workshop Scheduled for June: Farmers and Others Can Learn How to Design and Install Photovoltaic Systems

For Immediate Release: May 5, 2015

Contact: Milo Petruziello, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 206, milo@oeffa.org

Press Release

Columbus, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association and Jay and Annie Warmke of Blue Rock Station will be offering a five-day solar electric workshop designed for people who want to make their farm, home, or business energy independent, or who are looking to start their own business installing photovoltaic (PV) systems.

The workshop will be held Monday, June 15 through Friday, June 19 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at OEFFA’s offices in the Ohio Lumbermen’s Building at 41 Croswell Rd. in Columbus, OH.

“During previous courses, we’ve helped many people to enter a new career field or gain the skills necessary to design and install their own PV system,” said instructor Jay Warmke.

Jay is the author of numerous textbooks on the subject, teaches renewable energy classes at Central Ohio Technical College, and serves as vice president of Green Energy Ohio. He and his wife Annie put this knowledge into practice at Blue Rock Station, a 38 acre educational center which is home to Ohio’s first Earthship and a 6kW solar array.

During this training course, participants will learn how to design and install photovoltaic systems through lectures and hands-on labs. They will learn with a working PV system, dismantling and reinstalling it, troubleshooting, and testing its proper operation. The class will also learn how to construct a working solar generator to run pumps, freezers, lights, and more when the grid goes down.

As part of the class, registrants can nominate a site to serve as a “real world” model; one site will be selected and together the class will evaluate, size, and design a system for that site.

At the end of the week, participants will have the opportunity to sit for an internationally recognized certification Level 1 examination offered by the Electronic Technicians Association (ETA).

“Many farmers and homesteaders are looking for a way to be energy independent and reduce their reliance on polluting fossil fuels. With prices for PV systems falling and demand on the rise, systems are becoming economical for nearly every home or farm,” said OEFFA Program Assistant Milo Petruziello. “Finding qualified personnel to install and maintain systems remains a challenge, however. We hope this course will give people the tools they need to harness the power of the sun.”

The cost of the workshop is $930 for OEFFA members and $970 for non-members. The cost includes ETA fees, an installation toolkit, and a course workbook. Lunch is provided on each class day.

Pre-registration is required. Space is limited. Register at www.oeffa.org by June 10. To register by mail, send a check made out to OEFFA along with the names of all attendees, addresses, phone numbers, and emails to OEFFA Solar Workshop, 41 Croswell Rd., Columbus, OH 43214.

For more information, or to register by phone, please contact Milo Petruziello at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 206 or milo@oeffa.org. For more information about Blue Rock Station, call (740) 674-4300 or go to www.bluerockstation.com.

OEFFA Joins Groups to Challenge Major USDA Change to Organic Rule

Washington, DC, April 8, 2015 – Organic stakeholders have filed a lawsuit in federal court, maintaining that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) violated the federal rulemaking process when it changed established procedures for reviewing the potential hazards and need for allowed synthetic and prohibited natural substances used in producing organic food. A coalition of 15 organic food producers and farmer, consumer, environmental, and certification groups asked the court to require USDA to reconsider its decision on the rule change and reinstitute the agency’s customary public hearing and comment process.

When it comes to organic food production, consumers and producers expect a high level of scrutiny and are willing to pay a premium with the knowledge that a third-party certifier is evaluating compliance with organic standards. The burgeoning $35+ billion organic market relies heavily on a system of public review and input regarding decisions that affect organic production systems and the organic label. The multi-stakeholder National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)[1], appointed to a 5-year term by the Secretary of Agriculture, holds semi-annual meetings to solicit public input and to write recommendations to the Secretary on organic policy matters, including the allowance of synthetic and non-organic agricultural materials and ingredients.

The unilateral agency action taken to adopt major policy change without a public process, the plaintiffs maintain, violates one of the foundational principles and practices of OFPA —public participation in organic policy-making. In adopting the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), Congress created standards for organic certification and established the NOSB to oversee the allowance of synthetic materials based on a determination that they do not cause harm to human health and the environment and are necessary in organic food production and processing, given a lack of alternatives. Under the law, a review of these materials takes place on a five year cycle, with a procedure for relisting if consistent with OFPA criteria. Plaintiffs in this case maintain that the USDA organic rule establishes a public process that creates public trust in the USDA organic label, which has resulted in exponential growth in organic sales over the last two decades.

At issue in the lawsuit is a rule that implements the organic law’s “sunset provision,” which since its origins has been interpreted to require all listed materials to cycle off the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances every five years unless the NOSB votes by a two-thirds majority to relist them. In making its decision, the NOSB is charged with considering public input, new science, and new information on available alternatives.

In September, 2013, in a complete reversal of accepted process, USDA announced a definitive change in the rule it had been operating under since the inception of the organic program without any public input. Now, materials can remain on the National List in perpetuity unless the NOSB takes initiative to vote it off the List.

In a joint statement, the plaintiffs, representing a broad cross-section of interests in organic, said:

We are filing this lawsuit today because we are deeply concerned that the organic decision making process is being undermined by USDA. The complaint challenges the unilateral agency action on the sunset procedure for synthetic materials review, which represents a dramatic departure from the organic community’s commitment to an open and fair decision making process, subject to public input. Legally, the agency’s decision represents a rule change and therefore must be subject to public comment. But equally important, it is a departure from the public process that we have built as a community. This process has created a unique opportunity within government for a community of stakeholders to come together, hear all points of view, and chart a course for the future of organic. It is a process that continually strengthens organic, supports its rapid growth, and builds the integrity of the USDA certified label in the marketplace.

The plaintiffs in the case, represented by counsel from Center for Food Safety, include: Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety, Equal Exchange, Food and Water Watch, Frey Vineyards, La Montanita Co-op, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, New Natives, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Northeast Organic Farmers Association Massachusetts, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Organic Consumers Association, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, PCC Natural Markets, and The Cornucopia Institute.

[1] The NOSB is a 15 member Board comprised of farmers, consumers, environmentalists, retailers, certifiers and food producers who advise the Secretary of Agriculture and the National Organic Program on all matters related to organic food and agriculture policy.