Archive for January, 2013

Fracking and Farmland: Stories from Ohio’s Fields

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
January 29, 2013
By Mary Kuhlman
Ohio Public News Service

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As the oil and gas fracking industry grows in Ohio, farmers’ concerns are mounting about the possible effects on public health, the food supply and the land.

Kip Gardner of Creekview Ridge Farm in Carroll County is in the process of becoming organically certified. He says the toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing have the potential to contaminate the water and soil, endanger livestock and threaten the food supply. He says nearly all of his neighbors have signed fracking leases, and he’s concerned that a process known as “mandatory pooling” will force him into a lease.

“We’ve been approached, I think, four times now by Chesapeake and BP about signing leases,” he said, “and so far they have not offered any terms that we consider adequate to protect what we are doing on the farm.”

Mandatory pooling allows the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to authorize access to non-leased land once oil and gas companies have acquired leases for 65 percent of the land in a drilling unit.

Gardner says it’s disappointing that private interests can trump his rights as a landowner.

“It feels as if the land is ours until somebody else wants to do something with it,” he declared. “And you know it’s not even public domain; it’s a private company.”

Gardner is one of several producers sharing their personal story from the field about how the fracking boom is affecting their land and operations. The profiles are featured in a new online series offered by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. The stories can be found at policy.oeffa.org/frackingfarmland.

The web pages feature several stories, including a cattle producer from Windsor, Ohio, concerned about contamination from nearby injection well sites, and a poultry producer in Stark County worried about the negative effect of fracking on the connection between successful farming and the health of the soil, water and air.

American Meat Documentary to Screen at OEFFA Conference

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 29, 2013

Contact:
Renee Hunt, OEFFA Program Director—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
Amber Gallihar, Chipotle Mexican Grill Public Relations—(216) 831-3767, agallihar@liefkarson.com 

Press Release

Granville, OH—American Meat, a documentary film about the U.S. meat and poultry industry, will be shown at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 34th annual conference, Growing Opportunities, Cultivating Change, on Saturday, February 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Presented by Chipotle Mexican Grill, American Meat takes a pro-farmer look at chicken, hog, and cattle production in America.

The movie, released in 2011, features well known sustainable agriculture advocates and farmers, including Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, who supplies pastured beef, poultry, eggs, and pork to more than 3,000 families, 10 retail outlets, and 50 restaurants, and Fred Kirschenmann, an organic farmer, Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center, and President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Both Salatin and Kirschenmann have spoken at the OEFFA conference in years’ past.

The movie explores feedlots and confinement operations through the eyes of farmers who live and work on them and compares this conventional model to Polyface Farm, where the Salatin family has developed an alternative agricultural model based on rotational grazing and local distribution. As a local food movement of farmers, chefs, and eaters concerned about the social, environmental, and health implications of today’s food system continues to grow, American Meat considers whether alternative farming methods, like those used at Polyface Farm, could feed the world.

The movie screening is part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference on February 16-17, an event that draws more than 1,100 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest, and has sold out in advance the past three years. In addition to the Saturday movie showing, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker George Siemon on Saturday, February 16; keynote speaker Nicolette Hahn Niman on Sunday, February 17; two pre-conference workshops on Friday, February 15; more than 90 educational workshops; a newly expanded trade show; a fun and educational kids’ conference and child care area; and locally-sourced and organic homemade meals.

All events will take place at Granville Middle and High schools, 248 New Burg St. in Granville, Ohio. The film screening is free and open to the public. All other conference events require paid pre-registration. Space is still available for the conference and pre-conference events, but Saturday meals are sold out. Go to www.oeffa.org/2013 for more information about the conference and registration or click here.

To view the video trailer for American Meat, click here. To read more about the movie, click here.

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About OEFFA

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a statewide, grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

About Chipotle Mexican Grill
Steve Ells, founder, chairman, and co-CEO, started Chipotle with the idea that food served fast did not have to be a typical fast food experience. Today, Chipotle continues to offer a focused menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla), and salads made from fresh, high-quality raw ingredients, prepared using classic cooking methods and served in a distinctive atmosphere. Through their vision of Food With Integrity, Chipotle is seeking better food from using ingredients that are not only fresh, but that—where possible—are sustainably grown and naturally raised with respect for the animals, the land, and the farmers who produce the food. A similarly focused people culture, with an emphasis on identifying and empowering top performing employees, enables us to develop future leaders from within. Chipotle opened with a single restaurant in 1993 and currently operates more than 1,350 restaurants. For more information, go to www.chipotle.com.

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 www.oeffa.org/2013. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org. The 2010, 2011, and 2012 conferences sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.

Artwork and Images
For the conference art image or speaker photographs, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org. For photographs of the 2012 conference, go to www.oeffa.us/oeffa/conference2012photos.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 and Public Service Announcement
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) will be holding its 34th annual conference, Growing Opportunities, Cultivating Change, on February 16-17, 2013 in Granville, Ohio. Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference, the event will feature keynote speakers George Siemon and Nicolette Hahn Niman; more than 90 workshops on sustainable farming, gardening, homesteading, cooking, livestock production, and business management; local and organic meals; a kids’ conference and childcare; a trade show; Saturday evening entertainment, and two featured pre-conference events on Friday, February 15. To register, or for more information, go to www.oeffa.org/2013 or call (614) 421-2022.

2013 Conference Sponsors
OEFFA’s 34th annual conference is being sponsored by Northstar Café, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Organic Valley, UNFI Foundation, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Iroquois Valley Farms, Mustard Seed Market and Café, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market Columbus, Northridge Organic Farm, Andelain Fields, Albert Lea Seed Company, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Casa Nueva, Earthineer, Edible Cleveland, Green BEAN Delivery, Horizon Organic, Lucky Cat Bakery, Raisin Rack, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Stonyfield Farm, Appalachia Ohio Alliance, Curly Tail Organic Farm, C-TEC of Licking County, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, King Family Farm, Luna Burger, Metro Cuisine, Shagbark Seed and Mill, Two Caterers, Whole Hog BBQ, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Bird’s Haven Farms, Bluebird Farm, CaJohns Fiery Foods, Eban Bakery, Equine Veterinary Dental Services, Fedco Seeds, Flying J Farm, Glad Annie’s Old World Baklava, The Going Green Store, Green Field Farms, Hartzler Dairy Farm, The Hills Market, Leo Dick and Sons, Marshy Meadows Farm, Nourse Farms, Sunbeam Family Farm, Swainway Urban Farm, Sweet Meadows Farm, and Wayward Seed Farm.

Fracking and Farmland: New Webpages Provide Farmers’ Stories from the Field

Thursday, January 24th, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 22, 2012
Contact: MacKenzie Bailey, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, mackenzie@oeffa.org

Columbus, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has launched new webpages, “Fracking and Farmland: Stories from the Field,” that provide the personal stories of farmers concerned about Ohio’s booming fracking industry and illustrations of how oil and gas extraction could impact Ohio’s food producers.

High-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking,” is a method of oil and gas extraction that injects millions of gallons of water laced with  toxic chemicals and sand at high pressure deep underground, pivoting horizontally for up to one mile, to break apart shale rock formations.

Due to technological advances that allow the fracking industry to tap into shale rock formations containing oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids that were not previously economically feasible to exploit, gas companies continue to seek out landowners willing to sign leases in parts of Ohio containing Marcellus, Utica, and Devonian shale formations.

“Farmers’ livelihoods depend upon the integrity of the soil, clean water, and pollution-free air. Because of their reliance on the land, farmers are among those most at risk to suffer from the negative impacts of fracking. As the fracking industry grows in Ohio, farmers’ concerns are mounting about the likely impacts on public health, our food supply, and our soil, water, and air,” said MacKenzie Bailey, OEFFA’s Policy Program Coordinator.

Mardy Townsend of Marshy Meadows Farm raises grass-fed beef in Ashtabula County. She relies on four water wells on her property for personal and farm use and is concerned that nearby fracking activity and waste water injection wells could pollute her water supply and poison her livestock. She regularly receives literature and lease enticements in the mail from energy companies.

Mardy has good reason to be concerned about her farm’s water quality. At every step of the fracking process, from injection and recovery to storage and transport, there is the potential for contamination of water through underground fissures, spills, leaks, and blowouts.

Well failures are fairly common at drilling sites. In 2011, Pennsylvania levied 141 violations against Chesapeake Energy alone. Of those, 24 involved failures of well integrity or underground leaks. And, scientists at Duke University who examined 60 sites in New York and Pennsylvania, found “systematic evidence for methane contamination” in household drinking water. Water wells half a mile from drilling operations were contaminated by methane at 17 times the rate of those farther from gas development.

Livestock are attracted to the salty toxic brine used in fracking and animal poisoning can result in death or loss of normal reproductive function, still births, birth defects, and other health problems. According to a Food and Water Watch report, in 2009, 16 cattle in Louisiana died after drinking spilled frack fluids. Other similar reports have been made.

“Clean water is vital on our farm and on farms across Ohio. Our livestock require clean water to drink, and if our water wells were to become contaminated, farming here would not be possible.”

Alex Dragovich of Mud Run Farm grows organic small grains, produce, and pastured poultry on 30 acres in Stark County. He is contacted nearly every day by energy companies wanting to lease his land. He has not signed a lease because he is concerned about fracking’s potential impacts on soil and air quality.

Fracking waste water can contain radioactive materials, including strontium, uranium, and radon which can contaminate the soil through spills, leaks, blowouts, or during venting and flaring. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, barium, and arsenic have been found in soils near gas sites. If contamination occurs on land that is certified organic, that land can be taken out of organic production for at least three years, and the farmer will lose that income.

Air pollution near fracking sites can also have an impact on a farm’s production. For instance, elevated levels of ground level ozone due to natural gas drilling, as has been seen in southwestern Wyoming, can lower soybean crop yields – Ohio’s largest agricultural commodity. Other ozone sensitive crops include spinach, tomatoes, beans, alfalfa, and other forages. Ozone damages plants by inhibiting photosynthesis and root development.

“I’m concerned that fracking could contaminate my soil, water, or air, which could put me out of business,” said Dragovich.

Dan and Kathy Philipps of Hollyberry Farm grow and sell organic blueberries in Lake County.  As a survivor of thyroid cancer, Kathy is concerned about the health impacts of fracking and how little is known about the chemicals being used.

The chemicals used in fracking have been linked to a wide range of health impacts affecting the endocrine, cardiovascular, immune, nervous, and respiratory systems. According to Ohio law, the exact brew of chemicals contained in the frack fluid does not need to be fully disclosed by oil and gas companies.. However, this fluid and the waste water returned from the wells can contain hundreds of dangerous chemicals which are then pumped into injection wells, spread on Ohio roadways as a deicer, or sent to public water treatment facilities.

Kip Gardner of Creekview Ridge Farm in Carroll County grows specialty crops and pastured poultry on 18 acres of land that he’s transitioning to organic production. Practically all of Kip’s neighbors have signed fracking leases, and he’s concerned that a process known as “mandatory pooling” will force him into a lease. Mandatory pooling allows the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to authorize access to non-leased land once oil and gas companies have acquired leases for 65 percent of the land in a drilling unit.

“It’s disappointing that private corporate interests can trump my rights as a landowner. I’m worried that I’ll be forced into an undesirable lease that does not protect my land or my ability to farm in the future,” said Gardner.

“Fracking comes with real risks to public health, our food shed, and the water, soil and air resources that we all share. Ohio’s current fracking regulations give the green light to gas and oil companies, and leave farmers and consumers vulnerable to the potential dangers of fracking. Ohio policy makers need to reexamine these risks and take action to require full public disclosure of chemicals and give local governments and property owners meaningful opportunities for involvement and the right to determine the future of their communities,” concluded Bailey.

To read the profiles of farmers affected by fracking, go to http://policy.oeffa.org/frackingfarmland. For more information about OEFFA’s fracking work, go to http://policy.oeffa.org/fracking.

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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, go to www.oeffa.org.

Jeni’s helps other small companies get their frozen products into stores

Monday, January 21st, 2013
The Columbus Dispatch
By Mary Vanac
December 21, 2012

More and more grocery stores and restaurants from Michigan to Washington, D.C., are stocking Luna Burger’s Ohio-made vegan burgers and breakfast patties.

“We’re excited about our list of retail locations,” said co-owner Megan Luna. “And it’s growing. That makes us happy.”

The growth also makes John Lowe, CEO of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, happy.

The artisan ice-cream-maker in Columbus started Eat Well Distribution early this year to get novel products of other small, mostly local, food companies on retail shelves nationwide.

Eat Well is meeting the needs of small frozen-food companies that don’t have enough sales to attract a handful of large national distributors. Eat Well also distributes its food in a unique way: packing it with dry ice and shipping it to retailers rather than delivering it with trucks.

“A company like Jeni’s that figured out how to do this for ice cream could really help other companies figure out a game plan to get their products to market,” said Nate Filler, president and CEO of the Ohio Grocers Association.

Luna Burger was Eat Well’s first client. “We’ve just about doubled our retail locations with them in less than a year,” Luna said. “So that’s been a significant impact for us.”

By taking over Luna Burger’s sales and distribution responsibilities, Eat Well also has freed up owners Megan and Barbie Luna to do other things, Megan Luna said.

Eat Well is compensated mostly with the difference between what it pays for the products it distributes and what retailers end up paying for the products. “As a simple matter, we buy from them at a distributor price and we sell at a wholesale price,” Lowe said.

Jeni’s expertise at taking orders, packing and shipping boxes of frozen food, and learning the lingo of frozen-food retailers sprang from necessity.

“When we started our wholesale business three and a half years ago, we didn’t sell enough ice cream for distributors to want to take up space at their warehouses,” Lowe said.

So a team at Jeni’s started packing 45 pints of ice cream and dry ice in a box, and shipping the boxes to retailers who stocked their own shelves.

“The Hill’s Market was our first customer, and then Foragers in Brooklyn, New York,” Lowe said. “ These retailers were always a little skeptical. But we would talk them into trying it.”

Today, Jeni’s is the largest buyer of dry ice in Ohio and ships its ice creams to 675 retail locations nationwide, Lowe said. It made business sense to leverage the company’s sales, marketing and distribution expertise by adding other small, frozen-food companies.

“We got excited about another product in town called Luna Burger, vegan veggie burgers that we think are fantastic,” Lowe said. “They’ve got a great product, but the chances of them breaking through and making a name for themselves is pretty thin” without a distributor.

Consolidation in the food industry by retailers, distributors and producers has left small, young food companies with few sales and distribution options, he said. Eat Well’s help could improve their odds for sales breakthroughs.

In addition to Luna Burger, Eat Well Distribution serves Brezel, the maker of gourmet Bavarian pretzels at Columbus’ North Market.

Eat Well and Brezel have been developing a line of four flavors of pretzels to be distributed first locally, then statewide, and eventually nationwide, beginning early next year, said Brittany Baum, founder and owner of Brezel.

“We really don’t know what to expect, but we’re hoping our retail business will pick up, and more people will put our products on their menus,” said Baum, who expects to pay Eat Well a success fee every time it gets her pretzels on a new store shelf.

Eat Well also distributes dry beans, grains, seeds and flour for Shagbark Seed & Mill in Athens, as well as Naanwiches — frozen naan bread sandwiches filled with Indian dishes such as Chicken Tikka Masala — for Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Foods in Hayward, Calif., and herb-infused, whole-food snack bars for Simple Squares in Chicago.

For Lowe, using Jeni’s expertise “on behalf of these other great companies is fun and exciting,” he said. “We think that if we help companies like Luna Burger and Shagbark grow with very low-cost services, their volumes will increase, and good will come of it.”

An update on a couple of small farmers taking on new challenges for the new year

Monday, January 21st, 2013
WKSU Quick Bites with Vivian Goodman
December 28, 2012

We’re at Breakneck Acres with Ami Gignac. You’re going to show us some new friends.

“Sure am. Let’s go take a look.  So we’ve, since you visited Vivian we’ve added three Berkshire pigs to the family.”

And you were telling me you’re working with a few new people, producers that you’re working with, right?

“We are. We started a relationship with a very small micro-brewery in Cuyahoga Falls called Toms Foolery. And they’re actuially going to do a certified organic bourbon. The toughest thing for me is that I’m going to have to wait over a year to have our first taste test.”

Ami Gignac starts most days with her feathered friends in a retrofitted school bus that serves as a mobile chicken coop. Sixty  laying hens including 20 leghorns live with her and Tim Fox on their Portage County farm.

“And then we’ve just recently taken on two cows. They are grass-fed beef that we will later use for meat.”

The cows have quite a salad bar. Breakneck Acres sits on 35 lush acres not far from Kent State University in Portage County.

RETURNING TO HIS ROOTS

Tim Fox grew up on a dairy farm. “Basically I guess it’s still part of my heritage.”

Amy had been a city girl. She realizes they’re getting into farming at the right time, at the peak of the farm-to-table movement.

“But it wasn’t planned. The transition was for personal reasons. I was 70 pounds heavier than you see me today. My blood pressure was 160 over 100. I had this great 6-figure salary but I wasn’t healthy and I wasn’t happy.”

She’d been the general manager of a small mining company. They were living in Kent in 2006 when Tim found the property they turned into Breakneck Acres.

THE SKILLS TRANSFER

“When I was in the mining business there was always this piece tied to sustainability and being environmentally conscious and a lot of that transitioned over. And then of course the financial management, the human resource issues, all of that has really transitioned nicely. And I think the difference is when I have a meeting I have cowboy boots on and before I had high heels.”

At first farming  had been only  a hobby.

“We had started out as row crop farmers and transitioned recently into doing seasonal produce and also specialty grains that we mill on the farm. Our primary is the wheat, corn and beans. We grow a special variety of a hard red winter wheat and hard red spring wheat that are high in protein and excellent for milling and for bread-baking. We grow a special variety of corn that’s a little sweeter than your typical field corn, lovely for corn meal, grits, and polenta. We also grow soybeans and different varieties of heirloom dry beans that are lovely for soups and that sort of thing. I think this year we have 5 varieties in the ground from an heirloom Black Turtle to Jacob’s Cattle, and one called Tiger’s Eye. We’re also looking for some wholesale customers. So we’re working with Breadsmith in Lakewood and they do a lovely loaf of bread that uses all local ingredients that’s really cool. And we’re also just starting to work with Ohio City Pasta on some signature pastas that will offer local ingredients which is also really neat because we love pasta.”

LISTED IN THE GOOD EARTH GUIDE

Ohio farms that sell directly to customers are listed in the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s Good Earth Guide. Published since 1990 , it’s grown from a list of a dozen or so to 350 farms including organic farms, like Breakneck Acres.

“Now that we are certified organic it’s important for me then to keep our information updated because I would guess that about ten percent of our customers find us via the good earth guide. Customers that are specifically looking for specialty products. I’ve even had someone from Malaysia call to talk to me a little bit about milling that said they had found us from the Good Earth Guide and then did a little more research on us so that was really cool.”

STONE MILLS FLOWN IN FROM EUROPE

One of the farm buildings houses two hand-crafted East Tyrolean stone mills they had shipped over from Austria.

“Stone milling keeps the temperature really below 140 degrees as it mills, says Gignac.” And so you don’t lose as much of the nutritional value as you would with some of the burr milling.”

Amy claims her chickens taste great and it might be because they feed on a gourmet blend.

“We use stone ground corn, buckwheat and hard red winter wheat and then we also add some trace minerals, some salt, some sea kelp. It’s great. In fact Tim taste-tests it each time I make a batch. They eat better than we do!”

She says she and her partner have no regrets about buying the farm.  And they plan to keep life simple.

“We’re not going to go into ‘big Ag.’ We appreciate that we do need to grow to be sustainable and really for both of us to officially quit our day jobs. But it’s a slow growth and its making small steps in the directions that keep Tim and I healthy and happy and stress-free.”

Amy Gignac and Tim Fox  sell their specialty grains, beans, organic vegetables and herbs and free-range eggs every Wednesday afternoon at the farm. They’re also at the Kent and Ravenna farmers’ markets.

Cooperative Organic Farming is Helping Ohio’s Family Farms Flourish

Monday, January 21st, 2013
By Mary Kuhlman
Public News Service-Ohio
January 9, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Succeeding in agriculture these days can be a tough task given the rise of mega-factory farms. However, many family farms in Ohio are finding another way to flourish – through a co-op.

More than 170 farmer-owners are part of the largest organic farming cooperative in North America, known under the brand Organic Valley. Unlike the typical business model of a public company, says George Siemon, its founder and chief executive, Organic Valley’s goal is to serve farmers and consumers instead of the stock price.

“Ours is more about how do we hit a sustainable profit level which is quite low. It allows us to focus more on our day-to-day business and serving our mission, which is to offer family farmers a sustainable living and to offer consumers the greatest food.”

Farmers establish equity when joining a cooperative and are supported in various aspects of their business including production, certification and farm planning, all while staying on their own land. By combining the model with organic growing, Siemon says, family farms are seeing their finances stabilize and their businesses become more sustainable.

The organic industry is expanding at a healthy clip, he says, with almost 20 percent growth every year. He says it’s a great time to get involved.

“The enthusiasm in the organic farmer community is very high, and it’s just infectious to see that kind of excitement about farming. Something we always see is how organic breathes life back into people’s farms and their excitement about their future.”

Concerns about food quality, the use of chemicals, healthier living and animal welfare all can be attributed to the growing success of organics, he says.

Siemon will speak more on these topics and the future of organic agriculture on Feb. 16 at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s conference in Granville. More information is online at oeffa.org/2013.

Farmer will discuss raising chickens at home

Monday, January 21st, 2013
By GARY SEMAN JR.
ThisWeek Community News
Sunday December 30, 2012

Call it Chicken 101.

Guy Ashmore, a certified organic farmer in Wilmington, will discuss the basics of home-poultry processing at the 34th annual Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association conference, slated Feb. 16 and 17 in Granville.

“It’s not as difficult as everybody thinks,” Ashmore said. “I think the hardest part is deciding you want to do it.”

There are a lot of misconceptions about raising chickens at home, said Ashmore, who owns That Guy’s Family Farm with his wife, Sandy.

First off, they don’t smell, if properly attended, and aren’t noisy unless roosters are involved, he said.

“When roosters start to crow, that’s when your neighbors get upset,” he said.

Ashmore suggests starting out small with a flock of about 10 chickens.

The basic starter kit involves a small, heated structure for the chicks until they’re about three weeks old.

Then, a permanent outdoor structure is recommended, encircled by fencing but allowing the chickens have enough room to move about.

In eight to 10 weeks, the chickens will be ready for slaughter — or in the parlance of farmers, “processing.”

It’s not an entirely rosy scenario, Ashmore said. Some people have to get over an initial queasiness factor, and there is an odor when the chicken carcasses are lowered in hot water to remove feathers.

It’s not necessarily less expensive to do it at home — the investment translates into about $2 per pound — but the benefit is in the quality of the product, Ashmore said.

It also satisfies the needs of a locavore, or someone who values locally grown and raised food products, Ashmore said.

“It’s all in your hands,” he said. “A lot of people want to get back to knowing how it’s raised, what they’re eating and how it’s processed.”

The OEFFA conference will include 95 workshops and more than 100 speakers from all facets of the farming industry.

“The conference offers a mix of farmers, agricultural experts and out-of-state talent,” said Lauren Ketcham, spokeswoman for Clintonville-based OEFFA.

The conference will be held at the Granville High School and Middle School complex, 248 Newbury St.

The farm association expects to draw 1,100 people, which would be the largest audience yet, Ketcham said.

OEFFA will accept registrations until the conference is sold out. For more information or to register, visit oeffa.org/2013.

New Store Becomes Resource For Urban Farmers

Monday, January 21st, 2013
WOSU
January 14, 2013
By Steve Brown

Urban farming is growing. In cities around the country, residents are planting crops on rooftops, on abandoned elevated train tracks, in vacant lots and, of course, backyards.

On Columbus’s north side, a new store near the corner of High Street and Morse Road has become a resource for urban farmers.

 Lincoln Park, a former housing project on the far south side of Columbus.

Shawn Fiegelist owns and operates City Folk’s Farm Shop. It’s a small corner store that offers chicken feed, cheese making kits, and everything in between to help people live off a little bit of land.

Fiegelist say she’s always had a passion for homesteading and growing her own food. She opened the store last March after growing frustrated with having to drive up to two hours to find supplies.

“There are other people who are like me. I knew some of those people so I knew there were people who were looking for this sort of thing and not finding it. And there’s also a big push to buy locally, so that helps us, as well.”

 Lincoln Park, a former housing project on the far south side of Columbus.

She says business has been steady, even really good at times. Over the last ten months, City Folk’s has evolved into more than just a store.

“If somebody’s looking for something specific or some sort of specific information, there are a lot of people that come through the doors, so we keep track of those folks and pass on information that way,” Fiegelist says.

“We have classes and workshops, so people who are interested in doing, let’s see what we’ve got coming up. We’ve got ‘Making Bee’s Wax Candles’, ‘Edible Medicine’, there’s a bee-keeping class, there’s a classroom for the urban coop…”

It’s hard to tell just how many urban farmers there are. They range from people growing tomatoes on an apartment balcony to full-scale commercial farms inside abandoned factories. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says about 15 percent of the nation’s food supply is now grown in urban areas, and cities including Columbus have loosened zoning rules allowing people to grow crops and raise livestock.

 Lincoln Park, a former housing project on the far south side of Columbus.

That includes Joseph Swain, owner of Swainway Urban Farm in Clintonville. He started farming four years ago, and it’s grown from a hobby to a career. He’s transformed his third-of-an-acre property into a commercial farm producing raspberries, mushrooms, and dozens of herbs and vegetables he sells at local farmers’ markets.

“We do have to take some different strategies and techniques to kind of compete with people who have vast amounts of land, so we focus on high-value crops and growing crops really intensively.”

He buys supplies from the City Folk’s Farm Shop, and has started supplying the store with some of his seedlings.

“What Shawn is doing is really fantastic. She does an awesome job at connecting with local businesses and other organizations to provide education and outreach programs. And I think it’s really important to support businesses like that to ensure the success of our community.”

Shawn Fiegelist hopes her shop will teach even more people about the benefits of urban farming.

“It’s a wide, wide group of people. It’s all sorts of people, all income levels. Clintonville obviously is a place I think that a lot of people think it’s going on. But it’s not just Clintonville, it really is all over the city.”

Food Safety and Grazing Pre-Conference Workshops Offer Information for Experienced Farmers: Feature Chris Blanchard and Troy Bishopp

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 15, 2013
 
Contact:
Renee Hunt, OEFFA Program Director—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org

Full day pre-conference workshops on food safety and grazing on Friday, February 15 are part of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 34th annual conference, Growing Opportunities, Cultivating Change, in Granville, Ohio (Licking County).

“While our two day conference covers a wide range of topics geared toward farmers, gardeners, and consumers, our full day pre-conference workshops are able to drill deeper, giving specialty crop growers and livestock farmers the skills they need to take their businesses to the next level,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director and the event’s lead organizer.

Farmer and food safety expert Chris Blanchard will lead the first pre-conference workshop, “Post-Harvest Handling, Food Safety, and GAP: Making It Work on a Real Farm.” The workshop will teach participants how to establish or improve food safety practices. Blanchard will review post-harvest handling practices and share methods for meeting Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) documentation and record-keeping requirements in a way that flows with the work on the farm, rather than existing as a separate set of tasks and requirements.

“Food safety is not just a legal responsibility, but a moral and ethical obligation you have with your customers,” said Blanchard.

As the owner and operator of Rock Spring Farm in Iowa since 1999, Blanchard manages 15 acres of vegetable, herb, and greenhouse production for a 200 member community supported agriculture (CSA) program, food stores, and a farmers’ market. In addition to farming, Blanchard provides education and consulting for farmers and others through Flying Rutabaga Works.

The second pre-conference workshop, “From Our Grazing Experience,” will delve into the intricate art of grass farming with “The Grass Whisperer” Troy Bishopp, and a panel of experienced graziers including Eric Grim of Grim Dairy, Gene DeBruin of DeBruin Family Dairy, Michael Putnam of Grassland Dairy, and Doug Murphy of Murphy’s Grass Farm.

Participants will learn about lengthening the grazing season using a grazing chart, specific grazing and feeding strategies, and balancing ecosystem processes with business profitability. This comprehensive workshop will also cover soil health, animal nutrition, transitioning to organic production, and maximizing profitability in pasture-based systems.

Troy Bishopp has been a passionate promoter and practioner of grazing management for more than 26 years. He contract grazes certified organic dairy replacements and grass-finishes beef on his fifth generation New York family farm. Bishopp is also a grassland conservation professional with the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Upper Susquehanna Coalition, and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NE-SARE) Professional Development Program, as well as a free-lance agricultural writer.

“I’ve found real value in building profitable, environmentally-friendly grazing strategies and tricks of the trade through good planning, observation, using my noggin, remaining flexible, and sharing these experiences amongst other farmers,” said Bishopp.

Both pre-conference workshops will take place on Friday, February 15 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Granville Middle and High schools, 248 New Burg St., Granville, OH. Pre-registration is required.

The pre-conference workshops are offered as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference on February 16-17, an event that draws more than 1,100 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest, and has sold out in advance the past three years. In addition to the pre-conferences, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker George Siemon on Saturday, February 16; keynote speaker Nicolette Hahn Niman on Sunday, February 17; more than 90 educational workshops; a newly expanded trade show; a fun and educational kids’ conference and child care area; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.

To register, or for more information about the pre-conference workshops or the conference, go to www.oeffa.org/2013.

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About OEFFA

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a statewide, grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

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 www.oeffa.org/2013. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org. The 2010, 2011, and 2012 conferences sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.

Artwork and Images
For the conference art image or speaker photographs, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org. For photographs of the 2012 conference, go to www.oeffa.us/oeffa/conference2012photos.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 and Public Service Announcement
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) will be holding its 34th annual conference, Growing Opportunities, Cultivating Change, on February 16-17, 2013 in Granville, Ohio. Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference, the event will feature keynote speakers George Siemon and Nicolette Hahn Niman; more than 90 workshops on sustainable farming, gardening, homesteading, cooking, livestock production, and business management; local and organic meals; a kids’ conference and childcare; a trade show; Saturday evening entertainment, and two featured pre-conference events on Friday, February 15. To register, or for more information, go to www.oeffa.org/2013 or call (614) 421-2022.

2012 Conference Sponsors
OEFFA’s 34th annual conference is being sponsored by Northstar Café, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Organic Valley, UNFI Foundation, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Iroquois Valley Farms, Mustard Seed Market and Café, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market Columbus, Northridge Organic Farm, Andelain Fields, Albert Lea Seed Company, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Earthineer, Edible Cleveland, Green BEAN Delivery, Horizon Organic, Lucky Cat Bakery, Raisin Rack, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Stonyfield Farm, Appalachia Ohio Alliance, Casa Nueva, Curly Tail Organic Farm, C-TEC of Licking County, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, King Family Farm, Luna Burger, Metro Cuisine, Shagbark Seed and Mill, Two Caterers, Whole Hog BBQ, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Bird’s Haven Farms, Bluebird Farm, CaJohns Fiery Foods, Eban Bakery, Equine Veterinary Dental Services, Fedco Seeds, Flying J Farm, Glad Annie’s Old World Baklava, Green Field Farms, Hartzler Dairy Farm, The Hills Market, Leo Dick and Sons, Marshy Meadows Farm, Nourse Farms, Sunbeam Family Farm, Swainway Urban Farm, Sweet Meadows Farm, and Wayward Seed Farm.

Author and Rancher to Keynote Ohio’s Largest Sustainable Food and Farming Conference: Nicolette Hahn Niman to Explore Connections between American Diet and Industrial Agriculture

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 10, 2013

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

Attorney, rancher, and writer Nicolette Hahn Niman will be the featured keynote speaker at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 34th annual conference, Growing Opportunities, Cultivating Change, on Sunday, February 17 in Granville, Ohio (Licking County).

“Nicolette will explore the links between modern industrial agriculture and the public health and environmental problems we’re facing today,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director and the event’s lead organizer. “She’ll offer fixes for our diet and our food system.”

Hahn Niman will speak as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, an event that draws more than 1,100 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest, and has sold out in advance the past three years. In addition to Hahn Niman, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker George Siemon on Saturday, February 16; more than 90 educational workshops; two featured pre-conference events on Friday, February 15; a trade show; a fun and educational kids’ conference and child care area; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.

Hahn Niman is an attorney, rancher, and author of Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms, which chronicles the problems with the concentration of livestock and poultry and her work to reform animal agriculture as the senior attorney at Waterkeeper Alliance. The book profiles successful farmers and ranchers using humane practices and gives consumers practical tips for choosing meat, while weaving in the story of her personal transition from being a big city lawyer to ranching in the west.

As she worked to reform factory farming, she found examples of farmers and ranchers throughout the country raising animals humanely and sustainably, including the 700 farmers and ranchers of Niman Ranch, a natural meat cooperative started in Bolinas, California. The company was founded by Bill Niman, who she eventually married.

“Following the footsteps of Eva Gabor in Green Acres, I packed up my high heels and moved to Bill’s northern California ranch,” she wrote in Edible Manhattan in 2011. “After years chronicling industrial animal abuses, I reveled in the rightness of this kind of agriculture. Instead of being fed antibiotics and slaughterhouse wastes, these herbivores ate grass—the food their bodies were designed for; instead of a feedlot pen or metal crate, they roamed across the open range and took afternoon naps in the sun; instead of artificial insemination, they courted and mated naturally, gave birth and raised their young according to their instincts. They lived in a way that I was not only comfortable with, I was proud of,” she continued.

Hahn Niman is also an accomplished author and speaker who has been featured in Time Magazine, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. She is regular blogger for The Atlantic, and has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, Cowboys & Indians, and CHOW.

Her keynote address, sponsored by Chipotle Mexican Grill, is titled, “Eating as We Farm (And Farming as We Eat” and takes place Sunday, February 17 at 2:45 p.m. Hahn Niman will explore how a shift from grass-fed, diversified, and small-scale farming to concentrated, industrial monoculture production methods have led to food overproduction, declining farm income, and fewer farms. While the industrialization of the food system, fueled by farm policy over the past half century, has resulted in cheap food, it has also caused an increase in diet-related diseases, overeating, and environmental pollution. She will offer a vision for a path forward that would improve  both the American diet and our broken food system.

For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/2013.

###
About OEFFA

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a statewide, grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

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 www.oeffa.org/2013. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org. The 2010, 2011, and 2012 conferences sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.

Artwork and Images
For the conference art image or speaker photographs, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org. For photographs of the 2012 conference, go to www.oeffa.us/oeffa/conference2012photos.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 and Public Service Announcement
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) will be holding its 34th annual conference, Growing Opportunities, Cultivating Change, on February 16-17, 2013 in Granville, Ohio. Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference, the event will feature keynote speakers George Siemon and Nicolette Hahn Niman; more than 90 workshops on sustainable farming, gardening, homesteading, cooking, livestock production, and business management; local and organic meals; a kids’ conference and childcare; a trade show; Saturday evening entertainment, and two featured pre-conference events on Friday, February 15. To register, or for more information, go to www.oeffa.org/2013 or call (614) 421-2022.

2013 Conference Sponsors
OEFFA’s 34th annual conference is being sponsored by Northstar Café, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Organic Valley, UNFI Foundation, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Iroquois Valley Farms, Mustard Seed Market and Café, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market Columbus, Northridge Organic Farm, Andelain Fields, Albert Lea Seed Company, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Earthineer, Edible Cleveland, Green BEAN Delivery, Horizon Organic, Lucky Cat Bakery, Raisin Rack, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Stonyfield Farm, Appalachia Ohio Alliance, Casa Nueva, Curly Tail Organic Farm, C-TEC of Licking County, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, King Family Farm, Luna Burger, Metro Cuisine, Shagbark Seed and Mill, Two Caterers, Whole Hog BBQ, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Bird’s Haven Farms, Bluebird Farm, CaJohns Fiery Foods, Eban Bakery, Equine Veterinary Dental Services, Fedco Seeds, Flying J Farm, Glad Annie’s Old World Baklava, Green Field Farms, Hartzler Dairy Farm, The Hills Market, Leo Dick and Sons, Marshy Meadows Farm, Nourse Farms, Sunbeam Family Farm, Swainway Urban Farm, Sweet Meadows Farm, and Wayward Seed Farm.