Archive for the ‘Farm Tours’ Category
Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
Mansfield News Journal
September 15, 2012
By Kaitlin Durbin
Jane Simonson, of Cincinnati, selects her lunch at Kenyon College from the salad bar, of which some items have been procured from area farms. / Dave Polcyn/News Journal
GAMBIER — Most college campuses are known for dining options that fall far short of “home cooking, just like mom makes it.”
But for many students at Kenyon College, the dining hall is shopping at the same supermarket as mom: local farms.
Close to 40 percent of total food purchases for the Kenyon cafeteria are from local producers, according to John Marsh, AVI’s sustainability director.
“This matters to them (the students),” Marsh said. “They can tell what’s local and what’s not.”
Chad Wilkoff, a sous chef for the college, said the fresh produce has made all the difference in the way the kitchen prepares meals.
“We have more flexibility in what we’re able to make,” Wilkoff said. “We’re always changing our vegetable of the day.”
“The quality doesn’t get any better than this. We’re the real deal,” Wilkoff said.
Kenyon has been sourcing part of their meat, dairy and vegetable demand from central Ohio growers for seven years through its local food program with AVI.
Friday, the college opened its kitchen to several growers from the area for an Institutional Sourcing of Local Food Tour. Attendees toured the kitchen, ate fresh produce in the cafeteria and heard from Marsh how the partnership works.
“(This partnership) is good for people working on a relatively large scale or just getting started,” Marsh said. “We’re willing to help local growers get started.”
The college is always looking for new growers and produce items, Marsh told the crowd.
The majority of red meats are bought locally, as is a variety of vegetables, apples, butter, honey and some dairy products.
“Just about everything on the salad bar is locally grown,” Marsh said. “Including the yogurt, eggs, black beans and shredded cheeses.”
Most lettuce and spinach is sourced elsewhere, though, Marsh said, because local farmers are not able to produce enough to meet needs.
The cafeteria goes through 144 pints of cherry tomatoes in one day, Marsh said. The cafeteria serves about 1,500 people daily.
Last year, Kenyon students ate 22,000 pounds of potatoes, 20,000 pounds of apples, 6,000 pounds of onions, 4,000 pounds of broccoli, 4,000 pints of cherry tomatoes, 5,000 pounds of slicing tomatoes, 29,000 pounds of beef and 10,000 pounds of pork from local growers, according to Marsh’s records.
“Labor is the biggest problem,” Marsh said. “We can’t find enough local growers to provide what we need. It’s hard to entice people to grow something specifically for you.”
That’s why Marsh says building a relationship with local farmers is the most important part of his job.
“If you make a deal with a local farmer, you have to honor it,” Marsh said. “This is somebody’s livelihood.”
“I know I better take care of my grower because if I don’t, I won’t have any,” Marsh said.
Creekside Produce farmer Jonathon Byler is one of the many local farmers supplying the college with tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, winter squash and beets.
Byler said his partnership with AVI has “been a big help to income. About 50 percent (of our produce) goes to retail and the other 50 percent goes to AVI.”
The company funded construction of two greenhouses on Byler’s property so he could continue growing for the college all year.
AVI picks up fresh produce from the farm four days a week, Byler said.
The success stories from area farmers had California residents Dan McLeod and Caitilin Bergman “encouraged” that farming can be a business. The couple is looking to move back to McLeod’s hometown of Mount Vernon within the next year to buy some land and start a farm.
“We want to make the transition over to farming education,” McLeod said. “We hope to make the facility a demonstration site and a site to produce a sustainable product.”
“Kenyon should be a model for other schools,” McLeod said.
Helen Sites, of Delaware County, said she just bought a 28-acre farm last year in Coshocton County. She attended the meeting to find an outlet to sell her crops.
“Last year I grew a lot of kale, but there was no market for it,” Sites said. “Most of it ended up going to chicken feed, so I’m looking for an outlet for whatever.”
Marsh said he is “most desperate” to find five items locally; basil, oats, lettuce, chicken meat and early potatoes that can be picked by the start of school in August.
As for winter crops, Marsh said, the need is “wide open.”
Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
Ohio Public News Service
May 8, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohioans have a chance see the ins and outs of some of the state’s finest sustainable and organic farms.
More than a dozen farmers are opening their gates to show people firsthand how food gets from the field to their dinner plate. The free public tours are offered as part of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s 2012 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.
OEFFA Spokeswoman Lauren Ketcham says the series offers a unique learning opportunity to see, taste, feel and learn what sustainable food and fiber production is all about from the farmers themselves.
“Consumers who are interested in local foods, farmers and market gardeners who want to learn more and network with other farmers, aspiring and beginning farmers, really anyone interested in learning more about the production and marketing techniques of sustainable farmers, are encouraged to attend.”
OEFFA has offered such tours for 30 years, and Ketcham says they are growing more and more popular as consumer demand for fresh, locally-produced food and farm products continues to grow.
“People are increasingly wanting to have that connection with the farm, and the more consumers know about how their food is grown, the better prepared they are to make choices that are right for themselves and their families about who to support with their food dollars.”
Children and families are welcome to the tours and workshops. Ketcham says it’s a great opportunity for kids to see what their food looks like before it gets to their dinner plates.
29 tours and workshops will be held from June through September as part of the series, 13 of them sponsored by OEFFA. They will feature a variety of topics and operations, including organic berry production, commercial composting, natural goat health, raw-milk cheese-making, and Ohio farm history. The schedule is available online at oeffa.org.
Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
April 30, 2012
By Kaylyn Hlavaty
Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery started a farm on owner Art Oestrike’s land 14 months ago to further expand sustainability by growing its own crops to incorporate into the bar’s dishes and drinks. Jackie O’s hired an additional chef to create dishes surrounding the locally grown produce. (Sam Owens | Staff Photographer)
Known for handcrafted signature ales and pub-inspired dishes, Jackie O’s is taking the meaning of locally produced goods a step further.
The brewery, which is located at 24 W. Union St., started a farm 14 months ago to further expand sustainability.
Quality and the use of locally produced food has been a commitment for Jackie O’s owner Art Oestrike, who said the farm was always something he eventually wanted to start in partnership with the business.
“I thought it was the right time to grow our produce and incorporate our crops into our beer and dishes we serve here,” Oestrike said. “I wanted to know where my ingredients were coming from, and by using produce from our farm, the fresh ingredients will reflect in our dishes.”
Jackie O’s hired an additional chef to create dishes surrounding the locally grown produce.
Because it’s only the second growing season, the restaurant is still testing which crops grow best and which to use in the restaurant and brewery.
Melissa Christen, an agricultural expert and grower at the farm, said plants such as fruit and nut trees have to mature before there is a crop worthy of selling or incorporating into the menu.
“As of right now we are harvesting the cold crops that include broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, as well as hearty greens like spinach and kale,” she said. “I have planted them in six sessions so there will be a constant availability of produce we can use at Jackie O’s and sell at the market instead of relying on other farmers.”
Jackie O’s currently grows raspberries, lemon verbena and mint that are added during the brew process to give ales subtle hints of flavor.
“We just got approved to design a high tunnel, which is an unheated plastic structure that will help us extend our growing season without the cost of a greenhouse,” Oestrike said. “I’m excited to announce that we will have bees coming on May 14th that will allow us to decrease the amount of herbicides used.”
In partnership with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Jackie O’s Farm will provide a tour and potluck on Sunday to increase awareness about sustainability among farmers, educators and conscientious eaters.
“I want to convey the work that goes into planting produce in such a fluctuating climate while still growing a large amount of crops,” Christen said. “This farm is unique in the reason that unlike most farmers who have to find a business to sell to, we already have Jackie O’s.”
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
By WKBN Channel 27
Watch video here.
A farm in Salem is being recognized as one of the most sustainable and organic farms in the state of Ohio. And on Tuesday, the public got a chance to see exactly why during a free tour.
The Heritage Lane Farm in Salem made it on the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s 2011 series of free public tours for being one of the finest sustainable and organic farms. Each year, OEFFA promotes sustainable agriculture with about 20 different farm tours all around the state.
“Today we are hosting one here at our farm, showcasing our herd of American bison or buffalo, as well as our garden in which we grow produce and cut flowers. And behind me, the two high tunnels we use for season extension,” said Sarah Swope, owner/operator of Heritage Lane Farm.
The farm is family operated and Swope said their farm is unique to Ohio because there are very few farms that raise American buffalo, and most of their produce is done in what they call a sustainable manner.
“Which means that we don’t use any herbicides or chemical fertilizers. We produce all of our own compost here on the farm with either the vegetable matter or with some of the manures and bedding from the animals,” Swope said.
Those who came out for the tour were impressed with what they saw.
“My cousin told me about this tour. And my parents were raised on farms, but it was nothing like this. And it’s just such an ambitious endeavour that they’re doing. Isn’t it amazing,” said Francine Burlingame of Salem.
The Swope family also markets all of their produce and meat locally, and said their meat and produce sales are doing extremely well.
“Folks are beginning to discover the unique benefits of meat and produce grown locally, as far as the economic benefits, and even the taste and health benefits,” Swope said.
The Swopes plan to increase their herd size to meet the demand for meat, and are also looking into expanding their produce crop.
Thursday, July 28th, 2011
Thirty-four years ago, Patricia West-Volland’s husband, Robert Volland, came home and announced they were going to live on a farm.”He had seen a for sale sign; I thought he was crazy,” said West-Volland, a Zanesville native. “But the next thing I knew, we had bought 5 acres and moved to the country.”
The couple named their new home Butternut Farms, for the butternut trees that grew on the property. From the very beginning, they knew their farm would be sustainable and organic.
“It was always my husband’s dream to be a farmer; that was his goal in life,” West-Volland said. “And he wanted to be a good, organic farmer.”
Thursday, July 28th, 2011
By Charita Goshay
Salem — Among the calves, Jessie is one of the youngest of the bunch, but she also is the boldest. As the rest shy away from the approaching adults, Jessie wanders over, curious about the goings-on.
The only thing standing between her and a flurry of head pats? An electric fence.
Jessie is one of 70 bison being raised by Kevin and Sarah Swope, co-owners of Heritage Lane Farm at 29668 Mountz Road, which is part of the Ohio 2011 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshops presented by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. OEFFA is a grassroots affiliation of farmers, gardeners, university researchers, food retailers and educators.
The tour and workshops showcase 40 farms and food businesses, university research centers and family-run businesses that have found success in using sustainable methods for food production.
The Swopes’ farm is an example of how some are using alternative, organic methods of cultivating food.
Kevin Swope said Heritage Lane employs a pasture-based system to feed the bison, whose meat is lower in fat grams, cholesterol and calories than beef, pork or poultry. Forty acres of the farm is pastureland, which has been divided into paddocks containing different grasses for bison to eat.
The herd is shifted among the paddocks every two to four days, allowing the pastures to recover naturally.
“It’s a whole different way of thinking,” Swope said. “We’re harvesting sunlight by way of the grass, which finds its way into the animals, which becomes a meat product. … I’m not working for these buffalo; they’re working for me.”
In addition to bison, Heritage Lane also features organically grown vegetables, including heirloom tomatoes and flowers, as well as poultry and sheep. The meat is processed off-site by a USDA-approved facility.
“We’re attempting to manage our pastures, using an organic method,” Swope said. “We’re really focusing on the health of the soil and allowing the biology to develop.”
The property has been a working farm since 1830. It was purchased by Sarah Swope’s parents in 1978 and later deeded to the couple in 1991.
Kevin Swope said the chief goal is to reverse the impact on the soil of nearly 200 years of tilling and chemically-dependent farming. Lime, manure and chicken litter are the additives of choice. Forty of Heritage Lane’s 52 acres is under “grassland easement,” meaning that at least 40 acres must remain as undeveloped grassland for 99 years.
“There was a lot of erosion,” he said. “I see improvements every year.”
Swope, who grew up in Louisville, had no prior farm experience. He did his own research on organic farming techniques. In addition to farming, he is a manager and soil conservationist for Natural Resource Conservation.
“Our agency is looking more and more at soil health,” he said.
Sarah Swope grows organic vegetables, including several types of hybrid tomatoes and flowers through a “high tunnel” method.
Essentially, high tunnels are Quonset huts made of clear plastic that cover the gardening area. The plastic keeps the ground warmer, which expands the planting season — from March through December.
High tunnels also reduce the spread of disease and protect plants from such extreme weather elements as high winds or hail.
“Almost all of our produce sold is grown in high tunnels,” she said. “You’re using purely solar energy.”
Sarah Swope said the growing method probably is not for everyone because the enclosure limits use of equipment.
“It’s extremely labor intensive,” she said. “The flip side is we produce all of our family’s food supplies for the year.”
On weekends, the Swopes sell their products at a farmers’ market in Beechwood.
Kevin Swope said the Cleveland area has been designated by nutrition experts as a “food desert,” meaning that availability to fresh, locally produced food is limited.
He believes opportunities abound for people interested in farming as a profession, particularly small-acerage food production. The couple’s three children are engaged in agriculture or environmental studies.
“I grew up with that mentality that you can buy it cheaper than you can grow it,” Swope said. “Sixty percent of our fruit and vegetables in the U.S. are imported. But people are willing to pay for a premium item picked on a Friday.”
The Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour runs through Oct. 9. For a schedule or more information call the OEFFA at 614-421-2022, or visit www.oeffa.org.
Heritage Lane Farms also conducts tours. Call 330-222-1377.
Saturday, June 25th, 2011
The Toledo Blade
June 17, 2011
A group devoted to organic food production will visit the operations of Hirzel Farms in Wood County Saturday as part of a 40-stop tour of Ohio sites engaged in organic farming and sustainable agriculture.
Beginning at 10 a.m., members of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association will be at the Hirzel site near Luckey where they will view its grain cleaning and compost operations.
“When the grains come in from the field, they have one step in between harvest and the flour mill. It’s the cleaning out of all the nonfood debris, weed seeds and the like, that can go to a food processor,” Lou Kozma, a Hirzel family member and manager of Hirzel Farms.
Most farmers or farming operators just send grains as is on to a processor or milling operation, but Hirzel uses an air-blowing screening process to clean its grains and those of any farmer who contracts to use its cleaning process. The process removes “everything you wouldn’t want to see in a package sitting on the store shelf,” Mr. Kozma said.
The value-added service makes Hirzel products more desirable because a mill can go right to the flour-making process, he added.
Hirzel also has a process, called dehulling, which removes the outer covering of oats and a species of wheat called “spelt,” to make them ready immediately for processing.
The waste it gathers from the grain cleaning, dehulling, and processing of tomatoes at its Hirzel Canning operation in Northwood is used to make compost that is reapplied to its 1,850-acre farming operations, 700 acres of which grow organic crops.
Hirzel Farms grows tomatoes, cabbage, nongenetically modified soybeans, organic edible soybeans, feed corn, spelt, winter wheat, spring wheat, oats, alfalfa, and clover.
Mr. Kozma said the Hirzel family starting grain cleaning in 1979 as a way to give it a competitive edge over its rivals.
“What started out as a way to market our products turned into a custom cleaning operation for us and for others. We now have 20 area growers that feed into the cleaning facility,” he said.
Hirzel began a composting operation to dispose of its cannery and cleaning waste.
The ecological food and farm group began its tour June 11 at a dairy farm in southern Ohio. After the visit to Hirzel Farms, the group will head to a poultry farm in central Ohio.
Read the original text of this article at The Toledo Blade.
Saturday, June 25th, 2011
June 16, 2011
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s 2011 tour of some of the state’s sustainable and organic farms includes a stop at a local family farm.
Hirzel Farms, 20790 Bradner Rd., Luckey, will be open to the public June 18 at 10 a.m. About 700 acres of the 2,000-acre farm have been certified organic.
The farm’s grain cleaning and bagging operations will be featured, said Lupe Hernandez, who manages the farm and has worked for the Hirzels for 32 years. “There aren’t too many machines like we have in Ohio,” he said, adding the farm ventured into organics in the early 1980s.
Soybeans, corn, wheat, and oats are grown organically on the farm, which has been in the Hirzel family for five generations.
Hernandez said the farm’s grain products are sold locally and nationally and, through the Andersons brokerage division, the farm has even sold some products in Japan.
Tour participants will also see the farm’s licensed compost operations which processes waste from grain and livestock operations as well as the Hirzel’s canning business.
Hernandez said about 4,000 tons of compost are generated annually, with about half applied to the farm’s fields and the rest sold through a cooperative to other growers.
Cabbage and tomato fields supply the Silver Fleece sauerkraut and Dei Fratelli tomato product lines but are not part of the farm’s organic business.
Hernandez said the farm was also included in the OEFFA tour in the mid 1990s.
OEFFA was formed in 1979 and has offered the tour series for 29 years.
“The food production system is a mystery for many consumers. This series of free tours shows that some farmers are eager to open their doors to share their experiences with other farmers and with the general public,” said Michelle Gregg-Skinner, Organic Education Program Coordinator at OEFFA. “The more consumers know about how their food is grown, the better prepared they are to make informed choices about who to support with their food dollars.”
The tour continues into November. The next stop will be June 30 at a family-owned poultry farm, Ridgway Hatcheries, in Marion County.
Sunday, June 19th, 2011
Hounds in the Kitchen
June 7, 2011
Innovative. Compact. Sustainable. Friendly. Swainway Urban Farm is a new model for growing.
Settled on a large lot in Clintonville Ohio, Joseph Swainway and partner Jess Billings (of Jess Bee Natural lip balm fame) have a half acre empire dedicated to growing edibles in an earth friendly way.
Their farm grew out of a desire to provide themselves with healthy fresh food. As their interest deepened, their garden grew to the point of being able to give and sell the excess to friends and family. Soon, restaurants came calling and Swainway Urban Farm was born.
In 2011 the farm applied for and received Organic status by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.
straw bale compost bed
urban composted soil
Minimizing garden inputs is one goal of the farm. Joseph maintains several large compost heaps designed to produce rich organic matter to return to the soil. Part of the motivation for growing edible mushrooms was to use the spent mushroom beds in the compost. The enzymes found in the mushroom compost ‘closes the loop’, as these nutrients are unavailable from traditional plant compost.
The farm was also founded to be an educational resource for home growers and healthy eaters. Jess and Joseph are eager to share gardening and cooking advice at their Clintonville Farmer’s Market stand. They are participants in the Clintonville Farmer’s Market children’s program where kids visit and help work on the farm. On August 7 from 2-4 pm the farm will be open for an OEFFA Farm Tour.
watering in greenhouse at swainway
Joseph and Jess gave intern Keara and I a tour in mid-April. The farm was in the midst of seedling production. Heirloom seed starts grew under artificial light and then were transfered to the large greenhouse. They were transplanted into four inch pots for selling at the Clintonville Farmer’s Market and Clintonville Community Market.
Joseph and Jess also grow a wide variety of produce for restaurant chefs and farmer’s market shoppers. From early spring through the fall, the farm provides radish, kale, and pea shoots. Shitake mushrooms have been a popular item for years and this spring Joseph debuted oyster mushrooms. Lettuces, herbs, greens, tomatoes, carrots, and more are available seasonally.
Keara had this to say about visiting Swainway: “Rachel introduced me to two amazing, hard working farmers, Jess and Joseph. They live in an urban area and yet are still driven to have the most sustainable lifestyle possible. I was in awe of their backyard as they used every inch they could for gardening purposes.
Never before had I thought that such comprehensive farming was possible in urban Columbus. Seeing how they went about it I could tell they put an enormous amount of work into their extensive garden. Jesse and Joseph obviously care deeply about a healthy lifestyle for themselves as well as the Earth. Witnessing how they live makes me want to let everyone know that even though you might live on a street by a busy city with long rows of houses adjoining your house doesn’t mean that you can’t have a significant farm in your backyard.”
For more information, visit Hounds in the Kitchen.