Archive for January, 2012

The Greenhorns Documentary to Screen at OEFFA Conference: Free Film Screening and Discussion will Explore Issues Facing America’s Next Generation of Farmers

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 31, 2012

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

Press Release

Granville, OH—The Greenhorns, a new documentary film created by a national grassroots nonprofit organization of young farmers by the same name, will be screened at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of our Food Sovereignty, on Saturday, February 18 at 7:30 p.m. The event will also feature a discussion and a debut screening of a trailer of the Athens, Ohio documentary, Hand to Mouth.

The film showing is free and open to all OEFFA members. All other conference events require paid pre-registration.

A growing number of young men and women are entering into farming, countering trends of an aging farmer population, the economic challenges of agriculture, and the continued loss of farmland to development.  In Ohio, more than 6.9 million acres of farmland have been lost to development in the past five decades, yet the growing popularity of farmers’ markets are providing low cost entry points for small, mid-sized, and beginning farmers to incubate their businesses.  At Columbus’ popular Clintonville Farmers’ Market, for instance, one quarter of the farmers are under 40 years old and approximately 90 percent of the market’s producers are start-up and small farming operations.

The Greenhorns documents the reemergence of the young American farmer on the national landscape and the ways in which this new generation of farmers is creating jobs and economic opportunities, reshaping our local food systems, and changing the culture of farming in America. Directed by farmer and activist Severine von Tscharner Fleming, and filmed in dozens of states over three years, The Greenhorns runs for 50 minutes.

The free screening will be followed by an audience discussion facilitated by Joseph Swain of Swainway Urban Farm in Columbus. Swain operates a certified organic urban farm on a sub-acre plot where he intensively grows a variety of vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, specialty crops, and seedlings.

A trailer for an upcoming documentary about the sustainable food economy in Athens, Ohio, Hand to Mouth, will also make its public debut.

The events are featured as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, which draws more than 1,000 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest each year. The conference features nationally-recognized keynote speakers; more than 70 informative, hands-on workshops; two featured pre-conference events on February 17; a trade show; a fun and educational kids’ conference presented by Chipotle; child care area; and locally-sourced and organic homemade meals.

All events will take place at Granville Middle and High School, 248 New Burg St. in Granville, Ohio.

The film screening is free and open to all OEFFA members.  Doors open at 7:15 p.m. OEFFA members are also invited for free contra dancing with the Back Porch Swing Band at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Admission to the Exhibit Hall, featuring dozens of businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies from across Ohio and the U.S. offering an array of food, books, farm and garden products, tools, information, and services, will also be free and open to the general public from 5:15-6:30 p.m. on Saturday only.

All other conference events require paid pre-registration. Space is still available for the pre-conference events and for Sunday, but Saturday registration is full and weekend meals are sold out. Go to http://www.oeffa.org/conference2012.php for more information.

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About OEFFA

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a state-wide, grassroots, non-profit 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.

About The Greenhorns

The Greenhorns is a national non-profit organization that recruits, supports, and promotes young farmers in America. Using radio, blogs, film, new media, original resources and live events, The Greenhorns build agrarian culture by connecting young farmers with land, resources, and each other. They are based on a farm in the Hudson Valley of New York State. For more information, go to  http://www.thegreenhorns.net/about.html

Conference and Pre-Conference Registration

Space is still available for the pre-conference events and for Sunday, but Saturday registration is full and weekend meals are sold out. To register or for more information, including directions, workshop descriptions, speakers, and a schedule, go to http://www.oeffa.org/conference2012.php. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org.

Artwork and Images

For The Greenhorns logo, conference art image, or pictures of keynote speakers, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org. For photographs of the 2011 conference, go to http://www.redplanetwd.com/oeffa/conference2011.php.

Press Passes and Interviews with Keynote Speakers

OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend one or both days of the conference. We can also help members of the press schedule pre-conference interviews with our keynote speakers. To arrange an interview or request a press pass, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org

Our Sponsors

OEFFA’s 33rd annual conference is being sponsored by Chipotle Mexican Grill, Northstar Café, Organic Valley/CROPP, Edible Ohio Valley, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Mustard Seed Market and Cafe, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market Dublin, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Casa Nueva, Earthineer, Earth Tools, The Fertrell Co., Green B.E.A.N. Delivery, Gregg Organics, OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter, Raisin Rack Natural Food Market, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Lucky Cat Bakery, Midwest Bio-Ag, Northridge Organic Farm, Ohio Earth Food, OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Stonyfield Farm, Swainway Urban Farm, Whole Hog BBQ, Andelain Fields, C-TEC, Curly Tail Organic Farm, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, King Family Farm, Luna Burger, Marshy Meadows Farm, Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles, Rodale Institute, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Blue Jacket Dairy, Bluebird Farm, Crumbs Bakery, Equine Veterinary Dental Services, Flying J Farm, Glad Annie’s Old World Baklava, Green Fields Farm, Hartzler Family Dairy, The Hills Market, Hirzel Cannery and Farms/ Dei Fratelli, Kitchen Basics, Leo Dick and Sons, Locust Run Farm, OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources Social Responsibility Initiative, Peace Coffee, Phoenix Organics, Shagbark Seed & Mill, Schmidt Family Farms, Stan Evans Bakery, and Wayward Seed Farm.

Is ‘Genetically Modified’ the Future of Our Food?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
January 31, 2012
Ohio Public News Service

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The proliferation of genetically-modified foods has put agriculture at a crossroads in Ohio and around the country, and some believe it is also putting food safety at risk.

Andrew Kimbrell, founder of the Center for Food Safety, says genetically-modified or “GMO” crops can contaminate organic and conventional crops, hurt other organisms, and affect human health. He says GMO crops also are becoming more pest- and weed-resistant, leading to greater use of pesticides and herbicides.

“They’re ratcheting up the toxic spiral of the herbicides they’re using. So, in the future, unless we stop these GMO crops, we’re going to see more and more of these more toxic herbicides poured on our crops. That means it’s in our air; that means it’s in our water; that means it’s in our food; and that means it’s in our bodies.”

Last year, the USDA approved unrestricted use of genetically-engineered alfalfa, the nation’s fourth-largest crop. Kimbrell says the decision sends a message that no federal agency is looking out for food safety.

“I think what you are seeing with the FDA, the USDA and even the EPA is that these are agencies that are really working to benefit a handful of major chemical companies and not really acting on behalf of the American consumer, which is what they are supposed to be doing.”

Kimbrell says polls indicate the public wants genetically-engineered foods to be clearly labeled. And Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich recently introduced the “Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act,” which would require such labeling.

Kimbrell cites GMO crops as one factor contributing to the larger problems of industrial agriculture. In his view, consumers and farmers need to work together and get back to basics, to build a lasting food future.

“We need agriculture that’s local, appropriate-scale, diverse, humane and socially just. That’s the ‘beyond organic’ vision, and it’s not pie in the sky. We’re going to have to do this, because the other system is simply unsustainable.”

Supporters of genetically-modified foods say they can help end the scourge of hunger and can help a farmer’s bottom line. Opponents counter that they could be dangerous, and that there aren’t regulations in place to manage them responsibly.

Kimbrell will speak at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Conference on February 19 in Granville.

More information is at oeffa.org.

Ohio produce growers and marketers urged to join food safety program

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Farm and Dairy

By Chris Kick

SANDUSKY, Ohio — Food recalls and food poisoning often are some of the most expensive costs to a produce farmer and can be enough to put him or her out of business.

On a national level, sources say millions of people are sickened each year by the top sources of foodborne illness, costing tens of billions of dollars in medical expenses and time off work.

But with some foresight and good planning, produce growers can ensure themselves and their customers that what they produce is as safe as possible.

On Jan. 16, the opening day of the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association annual congress, internationally recognized “retail guru” John Stanley delivered a common sense message on food safety called Making Food Safety Work for You and Your Wallet.

Food safety has been a major topic in all major news media the past few years and many types of legislation have been introduced to ensure food is produced and marketed safely. They include names like the Food Safety Modernization Act, the National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement and the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement.

“We’ve got enough legislation, everywhere you go there’s legislation,” Stanley said.

Building trust

The challenge producers need to face, he said, is gaining consumer confidence and trust. While legislation can sometimes help, he echoed sentiments shared by Ohio growers who say that a one-size-fits-all government program is not best for Ohio or other individual states.

The leafy greens program, for example, got its start in California and was suited for large California-style produce operations, Stanley said. Ohio is the opposite in many ways, with a combination of large growers, but also many small-scale producers.

“There is a lot of difference in California — the thinking process in California and the lifestyle process in California compared to the lifestyle and thinking process in Ohio,” he said.

He pointed to a map of Ohio and insisted that any food safety plan for Ohio “has to be designed for that state.”

Lots of support

The leading farm and produce organizations in Ohio are in fact supporting a food safety program of their own called Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement. It has been in the works at least the past three years, but is gaining momentum as an accredited food safety program.

Stanley, and other speakers on the opening day, went as far as to say that a food safety program will be a requirement if you wish to sell produce in the future.

“Retailers will not buy from you if you are not certified in the future,” he said.

Karl Kolb, one of the lead organizers of the agreement, said 25 or so producers already are signed up and participating. But he expects that number to grow exponentially over the coming months and years.

Part of the process is petitioning the Ohio Department of Agriculture to give final approval of the program as a certified marketing agreement. Some 200 petition signatures are needed and the program must demonstrate its effectiveness and commitment to strong standards. OPMA currently operates on a de facto status, with its leaders confident full approval will granted in the near future.

At that point, “we will have our own plan and that will have the force of law,” Kolb said.

Many different plans

The Ohio plan will not necessarily replace other marketing plans or federal requirements, but is expected to replace third-party audit fees with a more affordable inspection option for smaller-size producers. The agreement shares universal standards, but is implemented in a scale-appropriate, three-tier approach.

“You need (a food safety plan) for one principal reason and that is to protect your investment,” Kolb said. “It’s not if you’re going to get a recall, it’s when and when it’s going to come. It’s (your certification) your first and best and only line of investment at protecting your investment.”

Stanley said consumers want to be assured of the quality and safety of the foods for sale, but currently, consumer confidence is very low. Only 47 percent of Americans are confident their food is safe, according to survey information from the International Food Information Council.

The Ohio plan, he said, is one that is developed by Ohioans, provides access to new markets and “peace of mind to the consumer.”

The Ohio plan is supported by organizations like OPGMA, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.

Looking ahead

In previous interviews, Kolb has said the plan has the potential to reach markets further than Ohio and could become a model for other states wishing to make marketing plans that fit their growers.

“I applaud the government for wanting to do great things (nationally) but I think we’re ahead of the power curb,” he said.

Lisa Schacht, president of OPGMA, said the plan was one of the biggest projects of the year, and continues to be a popular topic.

“OPMA is definitely a project we worked to see come to cooperative fruition,” she said. “It is designed to address those circumstances associated with size and scale.”

Additional signatures supporting the Ohio plan were gathered at the conference. The number of signatures and the review of the program by the ag department will be reported as that information becomes available.

To learn more about OPGMA or the Ohio marketing agreement, visit www.opgma.org, or www.opma.us.

Cornell Study Links Fracking Wastewater with Mortality in Farm Animals

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
1/16/2012

John Messeder

It has been a rough week for the shale industry. Earthquakes have been tied to a deep wastewater injection well and resulted in, among other things, demonstrations on the lawn of the Ohio Statehouse. And residents in rural central New York are organizing door-to-door petition drives to halt hydraulic fracturing —if not in their state, at least in Madison and Oneida Counties.

A recently completed study by two Cornell University researchers indicates the process of hydraulic fracturing deep shale to release natural gas may be linked to shortened lifespan and reduced or mutated reproduction in cattle—and maybe humans.

Fracking (the colloquial name for hydraulic fracturing), involves drilling a well about 8,000 feet down, and then up to about 13,000 feet horizontally. Three to five million gallons of fresh water, specially formulated sand and up to 250,000 gallons of chemicals, some of them highly toxic, are poured into the well at great pressure, breaking the deep shale and releasing the coveted gas.

Without knowing exactly what chemicals are being used, and in what quantities, it is difficult to perform laboratory-style experiments on, say lab rats. But farm animals are captive, surrounded by electric and barbed wire fences.

And when fracking wastewater is spilled across their pasture and into their drinking water, and they start dying and birthing dead calves, one can become suspicious that there is a connection.

Which is what the Cornell researchers found during a year-long study of farm animals, based primarily on interviews with animal owners and veterinarians in six states: Colorado, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.

“Animals can nevertheless serve as sentinels for human health impacts,” the report, titled Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health, notes. “Animals, particularly livestock, remain in a confined area and, in some cases, are continually exposed to an environmental threat.”

The report has been produced by Robert E. Oswald, a biochemist and Professor of Molecular Medicine at Cornell University, and Michelle Bamberger, a veterinarian with a master’s degree in pharmacology.

In one case, an accidental release of fracking fluids into a pasture adjacent to a drilling operation resulted in 17 cows dead within an hour. Exposure to fracking fluids running onto pastures or into streams or wells also reportedly led to pregnant cows producing stillborn calves, goats exhibiting reproductive problems and other farm animals displaying similar problems. Farmers reported effects within one to three days of animals consuming errant fracking wastewater.

“Of the seven cattle farms studied in the most detail, 50 percent of the herd, on average, was affected by death and failure of survivors to breed,” the researchers noted.

Other examples seem to confirm animal health problems after exposure to fracking wastewater. Animals exposed to it have the problems; animals separated from it —most of them, anyway, do not.

The report points out a major difference between company and non-company observers. Area residents and conservation groups look at the existing evidence and try to err on the side of “let’s be careful, here.”

Gas exploration companies – some of them, anyway, like Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. in its recently won bout with residents of Dimmock, Pennsylvania—head for court and demand that they be released from responsibility because there is no “proof” their process is problematic. Others, such as Encana, simply demand the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) avoid “moving too quickly” to make connections between toxic emissions and people becoming ill.

When mothers in the Denver, Colorado area complained that fracking near their homes was making their children ill, Encana said it has been fracking in the area since 2006 with no problems. “Health claims based on anecdotal data and not sound science can’t be substantiated,” Encana reportedly told the parents.

Fracking—the kind that, for instance, breaks up shallow rock formations to increase water flow into a well—has been around a long time. The problem is, fracking a mile and-a-half down to release natural gas and other compounds is relatively new technology. It likely will be years before someone leaks internal memos showing the companies knew, or suspected, what they are doing was hazardous to human health.

Near where I live are several EPA superfund sites. Waste chemicals from a local industry were illegally dumped there in the early 1980s.

To this day, water is pumped from below the dump sites and sprayed into the air in an effort to “strip” it of the offending chemicals. It is an effort which likely will not be completely successful in the lifetime of anyone currently living in the county.

Instead of cutting funding for state and federal environmental protection agencies, and fighting over whether drilling creates jobs (it does) and reduces our nation’s dependency on foreign oil (probably ditto), I submit we increase funding, and do the scientific work necessary to determine which methods will protect living creatures in the vicinity.

Some fixes are being voluntarily accomplished. Some companies are capturing and reusing their wastewater, sealing off leaking wells and gas compressors, and taking other measures to contain toxic pollutants. We need to ensure the solutions that work are required and uniformly implemented.

We would create more jobs and protect our health—what politicians like to call a “win-win.”

This article was reposted with the permission of Rock the Capital.

Conference, Workshop to Focus on Organic No-Till Farming Methods: Events to Feature Rodale Institute’s Jeff Moyer

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 24, 2012

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

Press Release

Granville, Ohio—Utilizing cover crops, compost, and crop rotations to improve organic no-till crop production will be the subject of a full-day preconference on February 17 and three workshops at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty, on February 18-19 in Granville, Ohio (Licking County).

The events will feature Jeff Moyer, the Director of Farm Operations at the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, home to the Farming Systems Trial, America’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture.

“No-till farming provides significant benefits by allowing farmers to grow crops without disturbing the soil, reducing erosion while increasing organic matter,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director and the event’s organizer. “But because no-till also requires significant use of herbicides, it has not been available to organic farmers, who rely on mechanical tillage to control weeds. With organic no-till, Jeff is pioneering a practice that will allow organic farmers to reap the benefits of no-till and conventional farmers to reduce their reliance on herbicides.”

As manager of the 333-acre research farm, Moyer is an expert in organic crop production systems including weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design. He is a past chair of the National Organic Standards Board, which assists the USDA Secretary of Agriculture and the National Organic Program in developing and implementing standards for organic production.

The preconference, “No Till, No Drill, No Problem: Integrating No-Till Methods into Organic Production Systems,” will take place on Friday, February 17 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Moyer will discuss practical ways to utilize soil fertility to tackle problem weeds, build soil tilth, retain soil nutrients, and create biologically active soils.

On Saturday, February 18, Moyer will be offering three workshops as part of OEFFA’s annual conference. “No-Till Organic Farming” will look at techniques to maximize yields in field crop operations, by reducing or even eliminating tillage.

Moyer will also present “Using Compost in Field Crop Systems.” This workshop will explore how to effectively manage compost applications to improve the health and biological activity of soil in field crop systems. He will also discuss simple tools for producing good compost.

“While “compost happens,” a good compost operation producing consistently high-quality compost doesn’t. It doesn’t just happen on its own, that is. It takes a fair amount of planning and, like any enterprise, good management,” said Moyer.

During Moyer’s final workshop, “Cover Crops for Soil Fertility,” he will discuss ways to enhance soil fertility through the intensive management of cover crops, drawing on more than 30 years of research looking at the best strategies to increase field crop production using sustainable methods.

The events are featured as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, which draws more than 1,000 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest each year. In addition to Moyer, this year’s conference will feature keynote speakers Woody Tasch and Andrew Kimbrell; more than 70 informative, hands-on workshops; a second pre-conference workshop on sustainable financial investing; a trade show; a fun and educational kids’ conference presented by Chipotle; child care area; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.

All events will take place at Granville Middle and High School, 248 New Burg St. in Granville, Ohio. Pre-registration is required. Cost for the pre-conference is $45 for OEFFA members and $55 for non-members, and includes lunch. Space is still available for the pre-conference events. Weekend and Saturday-only conference registration is full. Sunday only registration is still open, but expected to fill up soon, and costs $80 for OEFFA members and $115 for non-members. All Saturday and Sunday meals are currently sold out. Go to http://www.oeffa.org/conference2012.php for more information or to register online and receive $5 off the conference registration fee.

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About OEFFA

The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) is a state-wide, grassroots, non-profit 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.

Conference and Pre-Conference Registration

To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, workshop descriptions, speakers, and a schedule, go to http://www.oeffa.org/conference2012.php. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org. The 2010 and 2011 conferences sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to guarantee a spot.

Artwork and Images

For the conference art image or pictures of keynote speakers, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org. For photographs of the 2011 conference, go to http://www.redplanetwd.com/oeffa/conference2011.php.

Press Passes and Interviews with Keynote Speakers

OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend one or both days of the conference. We can also help members of the press schedule pre-conference interviews with our keynote speakers. To arrange an interview or request a press pass, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org

Event Calendar Announcement

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty, February 18-19 in Granville, Ohio is Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference. The event will feature keynote speakers Woody Tasch and Andrew Kimbrell, more than 70 workshops, local and organic meals, kids’ conference, childcare, a trade show, Saturday evening entertainment, and two featured pre-conference events on February 17. Workshop topics include farming, gardening, homesteading, cooking, green living, livestock production, business planning, and marketing. To register, or for more information about the conference, go to www.oeffa.org or contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org.

Our Sponsors

OEFFA’s 33rd annual conference is being sponsored by Chipotle Mexican Grill, Northstar Café, Organic Valley/CROPP, Edible Ohio Valley, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Mustard Seed Market and Cafe, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market Dublin, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Casa Nueva, Earthineer, Earth Tools, The Fertrell Co., Green B.E.A.N. Delivery, Gregg Organics, OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter, Raisin Rack Natural Food Market, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Lucky Cat Bakery, Midwest Bio-Ag, Northridge Organic Farm, Ohio Earth Food, OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Stonyfield Farm, Swainway Urban Farm, Whole Hog BBQ, Andelain Fields, C-TEC, Curly Tail Organic Farm, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, King Family Farm, Luna Burger, Marshy Meadows Farm, Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles, Rodale Institute, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Blue Jacket Dairy, Bluebird Farm, Crumbs Bakery, Equine Veterinary Dental Services, Flying J Farm, Glad Annie’s Old World Baklava, Green Fields Farm, Hartzler Family Dairy, The Hills Market, Hirzel Cannery and Farms/ Dei Fratelli, Kitchen Basics, Leo Dick and Sons, Locust Run Farm, OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources Social Responsibility Initiative, Peace Coffee, Phoenix Organics, Shagbark Seed & Mill, Schmidt Family Farms, Stan Evans Bakery, and Wayward Seed Farm.

FREE WEBINAR SERIES OFFERED FOR SPECIALTY CROP FARMERS

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Registration is Now Open for January and March 2012 Sessions

Press Release

Contact:
Rebecca Cole, (330) 657-2542 x 228, rcole@cvcountryside.org
Michelle Gregg, (614) 421-2022 x204, michelle@oeffa.org

Countryside Conservancy and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) are offering a series of free webinars designed for specialty crop growers.  Two webinars have been scheduled and will be offered in January and March.  There is no charge to participate, but pre-registration is required.

On January 30, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. the first webinar in the series, “A Systematic Approach for Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Quality on Your Farm,” will be presented by Dan Kittredge of the Real Food Campaign.  Kittredge will discuss techniques and systems that can be used to increase the quality of fruit and vegetables produced on Ohio farms.  Practices such as soil testing, mineral balancing, focusing on seed size and weight, and using brix to monitor crop quality will be shared. To register, go to https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/117344990.

On Friday March 9 at 1:00 p.m. Steve Groff will be presenting the second webinar, “Effective Cover Cropping Systems for Specialty Crop Farms. ” He will discuss the effectiveness of tillage radish as an annual cover crop alternative.  A passionate advocate for sustainable agriculture, including soil conservation, soil health, and food quality, Groff began using no-till practices in the early 1980s. He later began using cover crops as another soil conservation measure, improving his technique over time to plant specific cover crops based on what will be planted the following year. Some of his fields have not been touched by any tillage equipment for over 30 years! To register, go to https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/468533342.

The third and final webinar in the series will address insect management. Date, time, and details will be announced soon at www.oeffa.org and www.cvcountryside.org.

Partial funding for this webinar series is provided through a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the State of Ohio, and the United States Department of Agriculture under the provisions of the Specialty Crop Block Grant.

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About Countryside Conservancy

cntryside conserv logo c 4c

Countryside Conservancy advances the vision of a Northeast Ohio filled with thriving farming and food entrepreneurs: where farms are viable businesses, farmland is a treasured resource, and local food is commonplace. We support up-and-coming farmers, share innovative land-use and business models, facilitate networking opportunities and advocate community-based agriculture.  We connect communities and farmers, provide alternate market choices, and create venues that foster civic engagement through fun and informal education. To learn more visit www.cvcountryside.org.

About OEFFA

OEFFA logo low qualityThe Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 and is a coalition of farmers, gardeners, consumers, retailers, researchers, and educators who share a desire to build a healthy, sustainable food system. For more than 30 years, OEFFA has used education, advocacy, and grassroots organizing to promote local and organic food systems, helping farmers and consumers reconnect and together build a sustainable food system, one meal at a time. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

Conference to Look at the Future of Food and the Risks of Genetic Engineering:

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Events to Feature Center for Food Safety’s Andrew Kimbrell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 12, 2012

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

Press Release

Granville, Ohio—The subject of genetically engineered (GE) food will take center stage at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty, in Granville, Ohio (Licking County) on February 18-19, 2012.

Andrew Kimbrell, the founder and executive director of the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the International Center for Technology Assessment, will be a keynote speaker and workshop presenter at the event. Kimbrell is one of the country’s leading environmental attorneys, and an author of numerous books and articles on environment, technology and society, and food issues.

“Andy’s message will be getting to the heart of food sovereignty,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director and the event’s organizer. “Will people have a choice to eat GE-free food?  Will farmers have the choice to grow GE-free food?”

The conference is the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, and draws more than 1,000 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest. In addition to Kimbrell, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Woody Tasch; more than 70 informative, hands-on workshops; two full day pre-conference workshops on February 17; a trade show; a fun and educational kids’ conference and child care area; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.

On Sunday, February 19 from 2:45 to 4:15 p.m., Kimbrell’s keynote address, “The Future of Food,” will explore a food system at a crossroads. Kimbrell will describe the conflict between a food system increasingly reliant on pesticides, fertilizers, monocultures, and genetic engineering and surging consumer demand for healthy, local, organic, humane, and environmentally safe food. He will provide an up-to-date summary of this struggle and ways consumers and farmers can work together for a new food future.

Earlier in the day, from 9:30-11:30 a.m., Kimbrell will lead a workshop, titled “Genetic Engineering: The Battle for Safe Food, Public Health, and Environmental Protection.” He will describe the negative health and environmental effects of GE food, and CFS’s public education, advocacy, and legal work intended to safeguard the food system against a flood of deregulated GE products.

In response to the USDA’s unrestricted approval of GE Roundup Ready alfalfa, Kimbrell said the USDA has become “a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.”

GE crops, such as alfalfa, threaten to contaminate organic and conventional non-GE crops through pollen drift, storage, transportation, and processing. GE crops have also been linked to pest and weed resistance, and the increased use of pesticides and herbicides. Recent consumer polls indicate consumer distrust of GE technology and the desire to have GE food labeled.

“What we constantly see is a failure of the media and of policymakers to really say, ‘The problem here is industrial agriculture,’” Kimbrell told Organic Connections. “They want us to see these events as scary isolated incidents instead of indicators of how dangerous and unsustainable our industrial food system has become. The sleight of hand is to try to treat each incident in its own isolation and not understand that they’re all connected to the larger systemic failures and problems of industrial agriculture.”

Kimbrell is author of 101 Ways to Help Save the Earth, The Human Body Shop: The Engineering and Marketing of Life, Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food and general editor of Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture.

His articles on law, technology, social, and psychological issues have also appeared in numerous law reviews, technology journals, magazines, and newspapers across the country, and he has been featured in many documentary films, including “The Future of Food.”

In 1994, Utne Reader named Kimbrell one of the world’s leading 100 visionaries. In 2007, he was named one of the 50 people most likely to save the planet by The Guardian-U.K.

All events will take place at Granville Middle and High Schools, 248 New Burg St. in Granville. Pre-registration is required. Cost for the conference is $115 for OEFFA members and $175 for non-members, and meals must be purchased separately. Prices vary for late registrations, students, and one-day only registrations. Go to http://www.oeffa.org/conference2012.php for more information or to register online and receive $5 off the registration fee.

###

About OEFFA

The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) is a state-wide, grassroots, non-profit 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.

Conference and Pre-Conference Registration

To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, workshop descriptions, speakers, and a schedule, go to http://www.oeffa.org/conference2012.php. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org. The 2010 and 2011 conferences sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to guarantee a spot.

Artwork and Images

For the conference art image or pictures of keynote speakers, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org. For photographs of the 2011 conference, go to http://www.redplanetwd.com/oeffa/conference2011.php.

Press Passes and Interviews with Keynote Speakers

OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend one or both days of the conference. We can also help members of the press schedule pre-conference interviews with our keynote speakers. To arrange an interview or request a press pass, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org

Event Calendar Announcement

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty, February 18-19 in Granville, Ohio is Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference. The event will feature keynote speakers Woody Tasch and Andrew Kimbrell, more than 70 workshops, local and organic meals, kids’ conference, childcare, a trade show, Saturday evening entertainment, and two featured pre-conference events on February 17. Workshop topics include farming, gardening, homesteading, cooking, green living, livestock production, business planning, and marketing. To register, or for more information about the conference, go to www.oeffa.org or contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org.

Our Sponsors

OEFFA’s 33rd annual conference is being sponsored by Chipotle Mexican Grill, Northstar Café, Organic Valley/CROPP, Edible Ohio Valley, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Mustard Seed Market and Cafe, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market Dublin, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Casa Nueva, Earthineer, Earth Tools, The Fertrell Co., Green B.E.A.N. Delivery, OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter, Raisin Rack Natural Food Market, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Lucky Cat Bakery, Midwest Bio-Ag, Ohio Earth Food, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Stonyfield Farm, Gregg Organics, Swainway Urban Farm, Whole Hog BBQ, Andelain Fields, C-TEC, Curly Tail Organic Farm, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, King Family Farm, Luna Burger, Marshy Meadows Farm, Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles, Rodale Institute, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Blue Jacket Dairy, Bluebird Farm, Crumbs Bakery, Equine Veterinary Dental Services, Flying J Farm, Glad Annie’s Old World Baklava, Green Fields Farm, Hartzler Family Dairy, The Hills Market, Hirzel Cannery and Farms/ Dei Fratelli, Kitchen Basics, Leo Dick and Sons, Locust Run Farm, OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources Social Responsibility Initiative, Peace Coffee, Phoenix Organics, Shagbark Seed & Mill, Schmidt Family Farms, Stan Evans Bakery, and Wayward Seed Farm.

Smarter Food: A farmers market with a difference

Monday, January 9th, 2012
The Washington Post
By Jane Black, Published: January 3

WOOSTER, OHIO — Martha Gaffney had high hopes five years ago when she arrived in Ohio and began farming. She had grown up in the Ecuadorean Andes, where the only way to farm, she says, is what we Americans call “organic.” With local foods booming, Gaffney thought it would be easy to grow and market vegetables and pastured meat from her six acres in the small city of Ashland.

Except it wasn’t easy. Gaffney was able to sell some of the crops at farmers markets. But that required long hours away from Martha’s Farm during the height of the growing season. The rest she hawked at the local produce auction, where the going rate often was barely high enough for her to break even.

(Ben Leitschuh/BEN LEITSCHUH) – Market manager, Jessica Eikleberry is Local Roots’ only full-time employee.

Then in 2010, Gaffney found Local Roots, a market in nearby Wooster that saved the farm. The local-foods co-op allows as many as 150 producers to stock its shelves six days a week, year-round. Customers can buy milk, cheese, meat and produce from any combination of producers and pay at a central checkout. And the farmers receive 90 percent of the purchase price, nearly three times what they would get if they sold it to a wholesaler. “We were so happy,” says Gaffney, who now sells almost all of her meat and produce through Local Roots. “We won’t be slaves. We will be able to make a business.”

Local Roots is a new kind of co-op. It helps small farmers such as Gaffney make ends meet. It also caters to customers who like the idea of buying local but find visits to farmers markets and weekly buying clubs, such as community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, inconvenient.

Launched two years ago in a renovated warehouse off Wooster’s main drag, the market is thriving. On a recent visit, the shelves were stocked with potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, arugula, nine varieties of apples, grass-fed milk, jam, maple syrup and locally milled flour. And this is the slow season.

To date, the co-op has grossed about $750,000 and is making a profit. The founders have added a small cafe and soon will build a community kitchen, where producers and entrepreneurs can preserve and can seasonal foods. This month, Local Roots helped to open a second market — what it calls a “sprout” — in Ashland, about 25 miles away.

Wooster is not an obvious place for a local-foods co-op. The city is home to just 26,000 people. And this is not, say, Vermont or Northern California, where local food has become a cause. But Wooster does have two big advantages. The rolling hills that surround it are dotted with small farms; the county is home to one of the largest Amish populations in the country. And it has a small, dedicated group of residents who wanted a different kind of place to shop.

Local Roots’ founders are a diverse group, including farmers, agricultural researchers, teachers, a banker and an architect. In 2009, the group began meeting weekly to figure out how to build a co-op without a lot of capital — which, co-founder Betsy Anderson says, “none of us had.” That ruled out traditional retail models, where the store sources and buys all of the food up front — and loses money on whatever goes to waste. “From the beginning, we were looking at how this would all fit together so it was environmentally and economically sustainable,” Anderson says.

Local Roots’ solution was to develop a hybrid grocery store-farmers market. There are sections for meat, dairy products, bread, produce and specialty items such as gourmet popcorn and sorghum syrup. Each department carries offerings from a variety of producers, who come each week and stock the shelves themselves. That allows customers to buy grass-fed milk from Hartzler’s Dairy, eggs from the Shepherd’s Market, walnut bread from the Grain Maker bakery and turnips from Martha’s Farm but still check out at a single cash register, using a check, a credit card, even food stamps as well as cash.

For tracking sales, each product in the store has a bar code, created with free, open-source software. Every week, each farmer gets an inventory report of what sold and when. Every two weeks, each farmer gets a check for 90 percent of his or her total gross sales. The other 10 percent goes toward operational expenses: rent, utilities and the salary of the co-op’s market manager, its only full-time staffer.

Farmers also sell to the co-op’s cafe. On most days, the three chefs buy food just like any other customer and turn it into homey, delicious dishes such as leek-and-feta quiche or a curried cauliflower, apple and arugula pesto sandwich on locally made bread. Producers also sell the cafe their excess produce, the stuff that won’t sit another week on the shelves. The cooks prep and freeze it or use it for soups and sauces.

The setup has been a boon to farmers. Marion Yoder, who sells pastured meats, cheese and homemade bagels, says the co-op helps keep her business running all year, with no need for customers to drive out to the farm after the farmers markets close for the season. (She is now selling about half of her meat through Local Roots.) Shoppers benefit, too, because the co-op makes it convenient to source most of their food locally. “It’s as easy as the grocery store,” says Trevor Dunlap, the head of a local nonprofit group, who stopped in to pick up some grass-fed milk and butter on his lunch hour.

There has been much to learn, of course. Jessica Eikleberry, the co-op’s market manager, has had to coach producers about what they can reasonably expect to sell in a given week. Last summer, she remembers, “every single grower in the tri-county area brought in tomatoes, until half the building was full of them.” The next week, the co-op printed tomato recipe cards and organized cooking demonstrations. But most farmers didn’t bother to bring any. Farmers are now required to rent shelf space for a month at a time, so the co-op knows how much produce to expect each week.

Local Roots’ success has garnered the group much attention locally. Co-founder Betsy Anderson says she is consulting with five groups from other parts of Ohio about how to get similar co-ops up and running.

And the idea is spreading. Bob Filbrun, an agricultural extension agent in Edgecombe County, N.C., about an hour east of Raleigh, visited Local Roots for inspiration on how to re-energize his own community’s struggling market. Its model addressed many of the challenges he’d been hearing about from customers and producers in his area. But just as important was the market’s vibe: “It was such a nice mix of products and presentation and atmosphere,” he said. “I don’t mean to get too philosophical about it. But if a farmers market is done right, it can be the heartbeat of the community.”

Indeed, that is the aim of Local Roots. Each month, the co-op puts on special events, such as December’s artisan crafts day and a knitting circle. But at its core is a new way of buying and selling food. Or as Marlene Barkheimer, Local Roots’ treasurer, says with a laugh, “finding a way to make it work for the farmer and the lazy shopper — like me.

Conference and Workshop to Offer Training, Discussion About Financing the Local Food System: Events to Feature Slow Money’s Woody Tasch

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 5, 2012

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

Press Release

Granville, Ohio—How people and institutions can help finance the local food system, how farmers and local food business can access capital, and what local financing models are out there are the topics of an all day pre-conference workshop on Friday, February 17, and a keynote address and workshop on Saturday, February 18 featured as part of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty, in Granville, Ohio (Licking County).

The events will feature Slow Money Alliance founder and chairman Woody Tasch who will provide a primer on Slow Money, a national effort to encourage sustainable financial investments that support local, community-based food and farm businesses.

“Slow Money is a movement and an investment strategy,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s Program Director and the organizer of the event. “Slow Money is about finding meaningful places for people to put their money to work, right in their own communities.”

A former venture capitalist and entrepreneur, Tasch inspired the Slow Money movement by writing Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered. He is the former chairman of Investors’ Circle, which has invested $133 million in 200 early stage sustainability businesses since 1992 and served as treasurer of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation.

“We’ve got to take some of our money out of all this stuff that we no longer understand or can manage effectively and put it to work near where we live, starting with food,” Tasch said in a December interview with the Ohio News Service.

In a 2011 interview with Edible Columbus, Tasch went on to say, “If we are going to build a new food system and a new restorative economy, we are going to need billions upon billions of dollars. Where is this money going to come from? Wall Street? Washington? Foundations? Whatever they can do, it won’t be enough, it won’t be direct enough and there won’t be enough of it. The only place it can come from is from all of us, who have a direct, vested interest in the places where we live.”

To date, $4.5 million has been invested in 16 small food enterprises through Slow Money’s national gatherings. In the last year, $5 million more has been invested through Slow Money chapters.

Slow Money Pre-Conference Event

The full day-preconference event, Slow Money for Ohio?  Financing the Local Food System, will take place from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Friday, February 17 and feature panels of experts and practitioners who will discuss the challenges of capitalizing the local food economy and strategies to nurture long-term impact and prosperity. Additionally, the event will showcase Slow Money-type models in Ohio and elsewhere and provide attendees with an opportunity to network with individuals and representatives from businesses, organizations, and government interested in investing in their local food system.

In addition to Woody Tasch, pre-conference presenters will include:

-          John Mitterholzer, The Gund Foundation (invited)

-          Mark Barbash, MB Economic Development Consulting

-          Joe Cimperman, Cleveland City Council

-          Todd Deiterrle, New Harvest Ventures

-          Jessica Eickleberry, Local Roots Market and Café (recently featured in the Washington Post)

-          Leslie Schaller, ACEnet

-          Becky Rondy, Green Edge Gardens

-          Representatives from The Economic and Community Development Institute of Columbus, Kemba Bank, Insight Bank, and Farm Credit Services of Mid-America

Slow Money Conference Events

Tasch’s conference keynote address, Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Matter, will take place from 4-5:15 p.m. on Saturday, February 18. Earlier in the day, Tasch will be leading a workshop, Slow Money 101: Where is it Coming From, Where is it Going?, from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

About the Events

The state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, the event draws more than 1,000 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest. In addition to Tasch, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Andrew Kimbrell; more than 70 informative, hands-on workshops; two featured pre-conference events; a trade show; a fun and educational kids’ conference and child care area; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.

All events will take place at Granville Middle and High Schools, 248 New Burg St. in Granville. Pre-registration is required. Cost for the pre-conference is $45 for members and $55 for non-members, and includes lunch. Cost for the conference is $115 for members and $175 for non-members, and meals must be purchased separately. Prices vary for late registrations, students, and one-day only registrations. Go to http://www.oeffa.org/conference2012.php for more information or to register online and receive $5 off the registration fee.

Our Sponsors

OEFFA’s 33rd annual conference is being sponsored by Chipotle Mexican Grill, Northstar Café, Organic Valley/CROPP, Edible Ohio Valley, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Mustard Seed Market and Cafe, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market Dublin, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Casa Nueva, Earthineer, Earth Tools, Green B.E.A.N. Delivery, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Lucky Cat Bakery, Midwest Bio-Ag, Ohio Earth Food, OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter, Raisin Rack Natural Food Market, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Stonyfield Farm, Swainway Urban Farm, Whole Hog BBQ, Andelain Fields, C-TEC, Curly Tail Organic Farm, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, King Family Farm, Luna Burger, Marshy Meadows Farm, Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles, Rodale Institute, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Blue Jacket Dairy, Bluebird Farm, Crumbs Bakery, Equine Veterinary Dental Services, Flying J Farm, Glad Annie’s Old World Baklava, Green Fields Farm, Hartzler Family Dairy, The Hills Market, Hirzel Cannery and Farms/ Dei Fratelli, Kitchen Basics, Leo Dick and Sons, Locust Run Farm, OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources Social Responsibility Initiative, Peace Coffee, Phoenix Organics, Shagbark Seed & Mill, Schmidt Family Farms, Stan Evans Bakery, and Wayward Seed Farm.

###

About OEFFA

The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) is a state-wide, grassroots, non-profit 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.

Conference and Pre-Conference Registration

To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, workshop descriptions, speakers, and a schedule, go to http://www.oeffa.org/conference2012.php. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org. The 2010 and 2011 conferences sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to guarantee a spot.

Artwork and Images

For the conference art image or pictures of keynote speakers, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org. For photographs of the 2011 conference, go to http://www.redplanetwd.com/oeffa/conference2011.php.

Press Passes and Interviews with Keynote Speakers

OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend one or both days of the conference. We can also help members of the press schedule pre-conference interviews with our keynote speakers. To arrange an interview or request a press pass, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org

Event Calendar Announcement

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty, February 18-19 in Granville, Ohio is Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference. The event will feature keynote speakers Woody Tasch and Andrew Kimbrell, more than 70 workshops, local and organic meals, kids’ conference, childcare, a trade show, Saturday evening entertainment, and two featured pre-conference events on February 17. Workshop topics include farming, gardening, homesteading, cooking, green living, livestock production, business planning, and marketing. To register, or for more information about the conference, go to www.oeffa.org or contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org.