Monthly Archives: January 2014

Organic activist Atina Diffley to speak at Ohio food and farm conference

 
By Debbi Snook
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
1/31/2014

Old MacDonald had a farm, and a whopping good story to go with it. Atina Diffley had a farm, and she believes that every organic farmer needs to find his or her own stories and sing them aloud.

Here’s one of hers: When plants in her Minnesota greenhouse became infested with damaging aphids, she noticed one of her field crops was covered with ladybugs, the aphids’ natural enemies. She trucked her aphid-infested plants out to the ladybug area and let them sit overnight. In the morning, the aphids had been devoured.

It’s the classic story of integrated pest management, she says, one of the hallmarks of organic solutions. No pesticides were necessary.

Diffley wants organic farmers to use stories like this to help make the world healthier and less chemical-dependent.

Diffley, 54, will be the keynote speaker Friday-Sunday, Feb. 14-16 at the annual conference of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, or OEFFA, the state’s leading organic advocacy group and one of its major farm certifying agents. The conference draws hundreds of attendees to Granville, southeast of Columbus, with nearly 100 talks and workshops with topics that range from growing and marketing to making a living from small-scale organic farms and gardens.

Diffley spent decades as a farmer and wrote books about it, including “Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works” (University of Minnesota Press, 2012) — part romance (with her husband and co-farmer, Martin), part war (legally, with a utility trying to run a pipeline through her land) and part organic creed. She has since left farming for work as a consultant and advocate.

The organic movement is a small part of agricultural America, but its sales are growing much faster than sales from conventional farms. Even the supermarket industry is predicting organics will have a 14 percent growth over the next five years.

Diffley spoke by phone about the optimism – and proper storytelling — necessary for the organic movement to pick up greater speed and meet what she calls greater needs.

She misses farming, she says, “but I wanted to be feeding people through their minds.”

Why do farmers need to be organic advocates?

I really want farmers to recognize their role as a connection between the land and the people who eat their food. They really have this opportunity to activate the people they’re feeding toward making policy changes. We are a hero culture and eaters are interested in what the farmers are doing.

The way we eat is really important, and we need to take the next step. Agriculture is 40 percent of our planet and the leading cause of habitat degradation, species extinction and greenhouse gases that lead to climate change. When you change agriculture, you make all the difference in the world.

How so, exactly?

Organic farms, statistically, sequester 15 percent to 28 percent more carbon than conventional farms. That’s significant. That’s equal to hundreds of thousands of cars off the road. Instead of bringing in fertilizer from off the farm, you’re growing it on the farm by building soil health. Organic farms change the hydrology of their soil, and they change where the water runoff goes. If you add 1 percent of organic matter to the soil, an acre can hold an extra 16,500 gallons of water. That also will get you through six weeks of drought. The service provided to the community by an organic farm goes beyond food. Another is the practice of biological diversity on a farm, which supports pest and disease management and the protection of native pollinators. We take trees and wildlife for granted, but we cannot survive without them. We can survive without our computers but not without nature.

Who should farm?

It’s not for everyone. You have to like being outside. You have to have some tolerance for physical discomfort, and you have to have good stress-management skills. I encourage anyone to take a look. When we were farming, people would show up every year, wanting to work for us. One said he definitely wanted to have a farm, but never did. Other people said they were doing it because they didn’t know what else they wanted [to do]. And they became farmers. People should just go and try it. They should go work for someone else’s farm, or multiple farms, and at places bigger than they ever want to be. If you’re going to make it, you have to learn systems of economy. I’ve seen high-quality farms not make it because they couldn’t figure out that when they said they’d be at a meeting at 7 a.m., they needed to be there at 7. You’ve got to know how to be in a business relationship, and how to repair those relationships. I see people with a marketing background thriving as farmers, and growing more quickly than those who don’t have that background.

You’ve talked in your book about running away from home at 17, being in an abusive marriage and finally “stepping out of the victim role.”

I was caught in a situation where I let other people define me. But you can’t be 50 and living as a 2-year-old would see the world. When I see people acting irrationally, I think that what they’re doing is going back to their hurt 2-year-old self. It’s nice if you can get professional help or find friends to catch you when you’re stepping out of reality, thinking you’re not smart enough, strong enough or good enough. One of my best gifts was being able to write my “Turn Here” book. I had to say what happened, how I felt about it, and what I know to be true now. In that process I learned a lot of things.

You’ve said cities need to plan for their food futures.

If you took out the bridges to cities, most of them would run out of food in three or four days. It’s important to decentralize food for stability. If you have a drought, you need another system to move to.

I like to think regionally. The word “local” food is not clear enough. It’s an abused word. There was a summer in the 1880s when summer never really came. There was massive starvation in Europe and America. Now we have the luxury of shipping food long distances, but just because we have the capacity, doesn’t mean that’s what we should always do to be economically viable and environmentally sound. That will take a maturation of growers’ skills and it will bring the price of food up.

But it’s worth it. When abolitionists were fighting slavery they faced the argument that without slaves there would be an economic disaster in agriculture and its economy. That’s the same argument we’re facing today. Basically, when you look at the fruit and vegetable-growing world, you’re looking at institutional slavery. These people are not making a living wage, not getting health care, can’t afford homes.

But people don’t want organics to cost more.

It has to cost more because smaller farms don’t have the same economic advantage. But that will get better as organics grow. I’m upset at people who think of organic food as bourgeoisie. I bought a solar-power system once and a friend remarked that if I had waited two years, it would be cheaper. My response was that it would never get cheaper if nobody bought them now. It takes somebody to make change happen. Gradually, prices will come down. Right now we need to do what it takes to keep these farmers going. Glory be to the people who put their money where their mouth is.

You see the food movement as a social movement?

Absolutely. It took women 70 years to get the right to vote. There were women who didn’t live long enough to see that happen. But it was worth their efforts. Today we wonder, ‘What was the world thinking when they believed that women were too emotional to vote?’ So today we have an agricultural system that’s destructive of the environment. We cannot survive without that environment, cannot replace it. Look at the composition of the body. Essentially, we’re made of the same stuff plants and insects are made of, and soil is made of. And we eat those plants and they become our bodies. Yet we are so fundamentally removed from that realization.

Bipartisan Deal Reached on Farm Bill: Includes Important Investments in Organic and Sustainable Agriculture, But Much-Needed Reforms Missing

 .
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 28, 2014

Contact:

MacKenzie Bailey, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator—(203) 545-3909, mackenzie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
 .
Washington, D.C.—The Farm Bill agreement announced yesterday by the conference committee renews funding for a number of important programs that were left stranded by last year’s Farm Bill extension, but fails to make much-needed reforms in the structure of farm policy.

The bill renews critical investments in important programs for beginning farmers, local food systems, organic agriculture, and healthy food access. The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), which has been without funding for more than a year, will receive $11.5 million in mandatory annual funding. The program, which is utilized by more than 40 percent of Ohio organic growers, reimburses farmers for up to 75 percent of their certification fees.

In addition to NOCCSP, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative will receive $20 million annually in mandatory funding, and the Organic Data Initiative and the National Organic Program will each receive $5 million in one-time mandatory funding. The bill also links conservation requirements to the receipt of crop insurance premium subsidies and rejects a series of extreme proposals to eliminate market and contract protections for livestock and poultry farmers.

“Although this bill is a mixed bag, innovative programs that invest in beginning farmers, organic agriculture, local food systems, and rural communities—which have been stranded without funding for more than a year—can now be revived,” said MacKenzie Bailey, Policy Program Coordinator with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). “We applaud Senator Sherrod Brown, who served on the conference committee, for his vital role in advocating for sustainable agriculture programs.”

Unfortunately, the bill jettisons long-overdue payment limitation reforms included in both the House and Senate bills passed last year that target farm subsidy payments to working farmers. It also drops a provision passed twice by the Senate that would have modestly reduced insurance subsidies to millionaires. Additionally, the bill cuts billions from conservation programs that help farmers address production challenges and protect natural resources and the environment. The final bill also reduces benefits for a portion of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants.

“At a time of fiscal restraint, growing income inequality, and economic distress in rural communities, it is appalling for the new Farm Bill to continue uncapped, unlimited commodity and crop insurance subsidies for mega-farms,” said Ferd Hoefner, Policy Director with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). NSAC is an alliance of grassroots sustainable agriculture organizations, including OEFFA, that advocates for federal policy reform.

“This Farm Bill falls short of achieving the changes needed to support a sustainable food and farm system, and the secretive process used to achieve this agreement which reverses reforms backed in previous Senate and House versions of the bill is very disappointing,” Bailey added. “However, given that our farming communities have been without a full Farm Bill for so long and the importance of the organic and conservation programs at stake, we support the bill, but will continue to work for reform.”

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Farm Bill as soon as tomorrow, and the Senate vote is anticipated shortly after, before going to the President for his signature.

Sustainable Farming Conference Features 17 Ohio State Presenters, Feb. 14-16

  .
OSU College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences
By Tracy Turner
1/23/2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – From stink bug and weed management to recruiting farm labor and agricultural marketing trends, researchers and industry experts from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will present the latest information on some of the key issues in organic and sustainable agriculture next month during Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 35th annual conference, “Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground,” is Feb. 15-16 in Granville, Ohio. With 13 workshops and a full-day pre-conference event featuring Ohio State scientists, specialists and students, participants will get an updated look at some of the key issues facing growers in organic and sustainable agriculture, organizers said.

“This conference will be rich with information and networking opportunities, drawing on the expertise of both nationally recognized agricultural professionals and local farmers and educators,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “Whether you’re a full-time farmer, backyard gardener or local food enthusiast, this conference has much to offer you.”

The Ohio State presenters are from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, which are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the college.

[In all, the conference features more than 100 workshops plus a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally sourced and organic homemade meals; and keynote talks by Atina Diffley, an organic farmer and writer, and Kathleen Merrigan, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.

The conference will also feature a daylong pre-conference workshop, “Eco-Farming, Biodiversity and Soil Health: A Systems Approach to Enhancing Productivity,” presented by  CFAES experts Rafiq Islam, Randall Reeder, Jim Hoorman, Brad Bergefurd, Harit Kaur Bal, Alan Sundermeier and Vinayak Shedekar.

Other workshops offered by CFAES experts include:

  • Celeste Welty, entomologist with OARDC and OSU Extension, “Stink Bug Management in Peppers, Berries and Other Organic Crops,” Saturday, 9:30-10:25 a.m.
  • Brian McSpadden Gardener, plant pathologist with OARDC and OSU Extension and director of OARDC’s Organic Food and Farming Education and Research Program, “Biofertilizers for Organic Production,” Saturday, 9:30-10:25 a.m.
  • Doug Doohan, weed management expert with OARDC and OSU Extension, and Dave Campbell of Lily Lake Organic Farm, Illinois, “Weed Management Practices for Organic Field Crops,” Saturday, 9:30-10:25 a.m.
  • Francisco A. Espinoza, program coordinator for OSU Extension’s Agricultural and Horticultural Labor Education program, “Recruiting and Retaining Farm Labor,” Saturday, 9:30-10:25 a.m.
  • Mike Hogan, OSU Extension, “Top Ten Food and Agriculture Marketing Trends,” Saturday, 9:30-10:25 a.m.
  • Brad Bergefurd, educator and specialist with OSU Extension and OARDC based at the Ohio State University South Centers, “Hops: A New Specialty Crop for Ohio,” Saturday, 10:35-11:30 a.m.
  • Rafiq Islam, also with OSU Extension and OARDC based at the OSU South Centers, “Use of Cover Crop Cocktail Mix to Sustain Organic Production,” Saturday, 10:35-11:30 a.m.
  • Gustavo Schuenemann, assistant professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, “Dairy Herd Health: Risk Factors and Transition Cow Management,” Saturday, 10:35-11:30 a.m.
  • Jeff Suchy, Ohio State lecturer, and Dee Jepsen, OSU Extension state safety leader, “Small Farm and Garden Safety,” Saturday, 10:35-11:30 a.m.
  • Jim Jasinski, OSU Extension’s Integrated Pest Management program, “Good Bugs and Bad Bugs in the Home Garden,” Saturday, 10:35-11:30 a.m.
  • Alan Sundermeier, OSU Extension, and organic grain farmers Dave Shively and Jake Schmitz of Organic Valley, “Organic Corn Production: Guidelines for Success,” Sunday, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Shirron LeShure, Ohio Statedoctoral student, “Using Grape Pomace as a Natural De-wormer in Sheep,” Sunday, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
  • Mike Hogan, “Utilizing SARE Grants and Resources to Achieve Your Farm Goals,” Sunday, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Early bird registration ranges from the $65 one-day student member rate to $205 for both days for an adult nonmember of OEFFA. Early bird registration ends Jan. 31, after which rates increase. Meals, the kids’ conference and the pre-conference workshops are purchased separately. Register online at http://www.oeffa.org/conference2014.php.

The soil health pre-conference workshop will be held Feb. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cherry Valley Lodge, 2299 Cherry Valley Road SE, Newark, Ohio. Pre-registration is required and costs $60 for OEFFA members and $70 for nonmembers.

Editor: Members of the press can attend some or all of the conference free of charge, but limited spots are available. To arrange a press pass, contact Lauren Ketcham at lauren@oeffa.org or 614-421-2022, ext. 203.

Ohio’s Largest Food and Farming Conference to Feature Intensive Pre-Conference Workshop on Soil Health

.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 16, 2014
.
Contact:
Renee Hunt, OEFFA Program Director—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203,
 .
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) will host a full day pre-conference workshop, Eco-Farming, Biodiversity, and Soil Health: A Systems Approach to Enhancing Productivity, on Friday, February 14 as part of its 35th annual conference, Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground.
 .
“This in-depth event is designed to help ecological growers improve their productivity and profitability by learning how to enhance their use of natural soil amendments, cover crops, plasticulture and other methods to maximize their land’s agroecosystem services,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.
 .
The pre-conference workshop will be offered as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, an event which draws more than 1,200 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest.
.
In addition to the soil health intensive pre-conference workshop, the 2014 conference on Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16 will feature keynote speakers Atina Diffley and Kathleen Merrigan; more than 100 educational workshops; a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment. A second pre-conference workshop on wholesale marketing will also be offered on Friday, February 14.
.
Rafiq Islam of Ohio State University’s South Centers, along with OSU extension educators Randall Reeder, Jim Hoorman, Brad Bergefurd, Harit Kaur Bal, Alan Sundermeier, and Vinayak Shedekar, will lead the workshop, which will focus on the eco-farming systems approach, plasticulture production of organic fruits and vegetables, organic agroecosystems and biocontrol services, soil amendment and nutrient recycling, soil organic matter calculators, and soil health tests.
.
The pre-conference workshop will be held from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Cherry Valley Lodge, 2299 Cherry Valley Rd. SE, Newark, Ohio. Pre-registration is required and costs $60 for OEFFA members and $70 for non-members. For more information, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014.
 .
On Saturday and Sunday, the OEFFA conference will be held at Granville Middle and High schools, 248 New Burg St., Granville, Ohio. Separate registration is required for all conference events. For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014.
.
###
.
Our Sponsors
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Northstar Café/Third and Hollywood, UNFI Foundation, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Mustard Seed Market and Café, Northridge Organic Farm, Organic Valley, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market, Albert Lea Seed Company, Around the World Gourmet, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Casa Nueva, Earth Tools, Eban’s Bakehouse, Edible Cleveland, Green BEAN Delivery, Green Field Farms, Lucky Cat Bakery, OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources, Raisin Rack Natural Food Market, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Swainway Urban Farm, Andelain Fields, Curly Tail Organic Farm, C-TEC of Licking County, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, Glass Rooster Cannery, King Family Farm, Law Office of David G. Cox, Metro Cuisine, Two Caterers Contemporary Cuisine, Whole Hog BBQ, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Bluebird Farm, Carriage House Farm, Charlie’s Apples at Windy Hill Farm, Fedco Seeds, Flying J Farm, Hartzler Dairy Farm, The Hills Market, Lucky’s Market, Marshy Meadows Farm, Middlefield Original Cheese, Nourse Farms, Pâtisserie Lallier, Schmidt Family Farms, Stonyfield Farm, Sunsprout Farms of Central Ohio, and Wayward Seed Farm
.
Conference Registration
To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, featured presenters and workshops, pre-conference descriptions, workshop listings, hotel options, and a schedule, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org. Past conferences have sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.

.
Artwork and Images
For the conference art image, speaker photographs, or pictures from past conferences, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org.
.
Press Passes and Media Inquiries
OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend conference and pre-conference events. We can also help members of the press schedule interviews with keynote speakers and workshop presenters. To arrange an interview or request a press pass, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org.

Atina Diffley: Ohio Farmers as Leaders of Social Change

Mary Kuhlman
January 14, 2014

PHOTO: An organic-farming expert says Ohio farmers can be role models for social change and the environment. Photo courtesy of OEFFA.COLUMBUS, Ohio – Organic farmers in Ohio face many struggles, including the impacts of agricultural policies, urban sprawl and pollution on their land.

But one expert in the field says as stewards of soil and water, organic farmers can be powerful advocates for the environment.

Atina Diffley ran one of the Midwest’s first certified organic produce farms and led a successful legal and citizen action campaign to reroute a crude-oil pipeline to protect organic farmland in Minnesota.

She says it wouldn’t have happened without efforts to educate policy leaders about how organic farming works.

“We ended up not only accomplishing all our goals, but the judge understood organic systems well enough, and the Department of Agriculture then understood organic systems well enough that they made recommendations that supported organic farms and non-organic farms beyond what we had even asked for,” she explains.

Diffley says organic farmers have a responsibility to protect the land, and it’s crucial for them to stand together and work on policy matters that can create social change.

She adds as the link between the land and the food, organic farmers need to reach out and engage the customer as well.

Diffley says in her case, by educating her customers, more than 4,600 people wrote letters to the pipeline company, which resulted in the creation of a statewide organic mitigation plan.

Diffley points out organic farmers manage soil, water and habitat on a daily basis and understand the balance needed to keep an ecosystem thriving.

She says organic farmers can be role models and leaders for the community.

“Organic, it’s not just a way to make money or a day job,” she maintains. “We live in these relationships so it’s really crucial that we stand for them and take that information and that knowledge that we are gaining through our work beyond the property lines of our own farms.”

Diffley will speak at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 35th annual conference, Feb. 14 and 15 in Granville.

Ohio’s Largest Sustainable Food and Farm Conference to Feature Farmers Forum: Farmers Will Share NCR-SARE Research Results

.
Granville, OH—As part of its 35th annual conference, Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground, on February 15-16, 2014 in Granville, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) will host the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) program’s Farmers Forum.
 .
The forum will feature 20 farmers, educators, veterinarians, students, and others funded by NCR-SARE grants who will share information about their sustainable agriculture research, demonstration, and education projects.
 .
“We hope to build on the success we’ve had hosting a Farmers Forum as a part of the Small Farm conference in Missouri for many years by rotating the Forum around the region,” said Beth Nelson, Director of Research and Education Programs for NCR-SARE. “We wanted to have an opportunity to bring together people who were doing SARE-funded sustainable agriculture research and education, but didn’t want to add to the long list of great conferences already happening. Partnering with OEFFA to have a Farmers Forum track within their annual conference has been a perfect fit.”
 .
The Farmers Forum will be offered as special conference workshop track, with additional projects featured in other workshop tracks. Showcasing 16 projects from Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, workshops will cover a range of topics, including nut processing and marketing, meat rabbitry, using fermentation in value-added products, non-antibiotic alternatives for mastitis treatment, sweet corn production, low tunnel strategies, growing and making canola oil, co-op marketing and distribution, organic soybean variety trials, and cover crops for organic production.
 .
As a U.S. Department of Agriculture program dedicated to sustainable agriculture, SARE invests in research and education that helps farmers adopt profitable, ecological farming practices like cover crops, rotational grazing, and composting. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, SARE was created by Congress in the Agricultural Productivity Act and first funded in 1988. Since then, NCR-SARE has awarded more than $40 million worth of competitive grants to farmers, ranchers, researchers, educators, public and private institutions, nonprofit groups, and others exploring sustainable agriculture in 12 states.
.
“Unlike conventional growers, sustainable and organic farmers have not had the research or educational support necessary from our university system. While the playing field is certainly not even, SARE has been critical in developing practical research and educating farmers and farm professionals about sustainable practices,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “Another valuable part of SARE’s work has been its funding to farmers to conduct on-farm research. Farmers can learn so much when research is carried out in working farm conditions, as compared with research test plots,” Hunt continued.
.
In addition to the Farmers Forum, the state’s largest sustainable agriculture conference will feature keynote speakers Atina Diffley and Kathleen Merrigan; more than 100 educational workshops; two in-depth pre-conference workshops on Friday, February 14; a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment. The annual event draws more than 1,200 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest.
.
To register for the conference, or for more information, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014.
.
###
.
Our Sponsors
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Northstar Café/Third and Hollywood, UNFI Foundation, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Mustard Seed Market and Café, Northridge Organic Farm, Organic Valley, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market, Albert Lea Seed Company, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Casa Nueva, Earth Tools, Eban Bakery, Edible Cleveland, Green BEAN Delivery, Green Field Farms, Lucky Cat Bakery, OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources, Raisin Rack Natural Food Market, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Swainway Urban Farm, Andelain Fields, Curly Tail Organic Farm, C-TEC of Licking County, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, Glass Rooster Cannery, King Family Farm, Law Office of David G. Cox, Metro Cuisine, Two Caterers, Whole Hog BBQ, Around the World Gourmet, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Bird’s Haven Farms, Bluebird Farm, Carriage House Farm, Charlie’s Apples at Windy Hill Farm, Fedco Seeds, Flying J Farm, Hartzler Dairy Farm, The Hills Market, Marshy Meadows Farm, Middlefield Original Cheese, Nourse Farms, Pâtisserie Lallier, Schmidt Family Farms, Stonyfield Farm, Sunsprout Farms of Central Ohio, and Wayward Seed Farm.
.
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.
 .
About NCR-SARE
The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) program is one of four regional SARE offices, a nationwide grants and education program to advance sustainable innovation to American agriculture. Project abstracts can be found by searching the SARE project database. Learn more at www.northcentralsare.org.
 .
 Conference Registration
To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, featured presenters and workshops, pre-conference descriptions, workshop listings, hotel options, and a schedule, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org. Past conferences have sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.

Artwork and Images
For the conference art image, speaker photographs, or pictures from past conferences, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org.
.
Press Passes and Media Inquiries
OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend conference and pre-conference events. We can also help members of the press schedule interviews with keynote speakers and workshop presenters. To arrange an interview 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) 35th annual conference, Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground, is February 15-16, 2014 in Granville, Ohio. This is Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference and will feature keynote speakers Kathleen Merrigan and Atina Diffley; more than 100 workshops on sustainable farming, gardening, and homesteading; local and organic meals; a kids’ conference, teen conference, and childcare; a trade show; Saturday evening entertainment, and pre-conference events on produce wholesale marketing and soil health and biodiversity on Friday, February 14. To register, or for more information, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014 or call (614) 421-2022.

Organic Farmer, Activist, and Author to Keynote Ohio’s Largest Food and Farming Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 7, 2014

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
.
Granville, OH– Organic farmer, consultant, activist, and author Atina Diffley will be the featured keynote speaker at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 35th annual conference, Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground, on Saturday, February 15 in Granville (Licking County). She will also lead a pre-conference about wholesale marketing for produce growers on Friday, February 14.
 .
“We are excited to bring Atina to the conference,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director and the event’s lead organizer. “Her years of organic produce farming and marketing, and her experience dealing with sprawl and land ownership issues will inspire and deliver a wealth of information.”
 .
Diffley will speak as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, an event which draws more than 1,200 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest. In addition to Diffley, this year’s conference will feature former Deputy Secretary of the USDA Kathleen Merrigan as keynote speaker on Sunday, February 16; more than 100 educational workshops; two in-depth pre-conference workshops on Friday, February 14; a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.
 .
Diffley and her husband, Martin, operated Gardens of Eagan in Eagan, Minnesota, one of the Midwest’s first certified organic produce farms, and now provide consulting through their business, Organic Farming Works.
.
She is a co-editor of Wholesale Success: A Farmer’s Guide to Food Safety, Post-Harvest Handling, Packing, and Selling Produce, a publication of Familyfarmed.org, and is their lead trainer on food safety, post-harvest handling, and wholesale marketing issues.
.
Diffley’s autobiographical memoir, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works, which received the Minnesota Book Award in 2013, has been described as a “master class in farming, a lesson in entrepreneurship, a love story, and a legal thriller.” The book explores the Diffleys’ unbreakable commitment to their land, the impacts of suburban sprawl and pipeline development in their community, and the struggles and triumphs that farmers face every day.
 .
Diffley was named Successful Farmer of the Year in 2008 by EcoFarm and Organic Farmer of the Year in 2004 by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). She currently serves on the board for the Organic Seed Alliance and the Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture.
 .
Her keynote address, “Farmers as Role Models and Leaders: Protecting Nature and Creating Social Change,” will take place on Saturday, February 15 at 4 p.m. She will explore how farmers are the crucial link between the land and the people who take their nourishment from the land. Diffley will argue that as stewards of the soil and water, farmers can be powerful advocates for the environment. She will discuss how farmers can help role model, educate, and lead in order to protect nature and create social change.
 .
On Saturday, February 15 at 9:30 a.m., Diffley will lead a one hour workshop, “Engaging in Policy to Protect Organic Farms.” She will describe how she led a successful legal and citizen campaign against Koch Industries to reroute a crude oil pipeline to protect organic farmland and create an Organic Mitigation Plan.
.
Of that experience, Diffley told The Mix, “Courage came from the responsibility to protect the land and nature. After all it has given us, it was the least we could do. Nature should have legal rights of its own, but it doesn’t—to protect nature in our courts of law we’re required to show a loss to humans, so humans have to stand up and speak for it.” She continued, “We accomplish so much more when we stand together. It is crucial that citizens engage in policy and politics, talk to legislators, speak up, and reclaim their power… Eat, educate and engage in policy—as if the Earth matters—because it does.”
.
The OEFFA conference will be held at Granville Middle and High schools, 248 New Burg St. in Granville.  For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014.
.
On Friday, Diffley will lead a pre-conference workshop, “Wholesale Marketing for Fresh Produce Growers,” designed to help farmers take their business to the next level by selling to retailers, wholesalers, and institutions.  The workshop will cover the advantages and disadvantages of wholesale marketing; the characteristics and needs of different wholesale markets; good practices for satisfying buyers; grading, pricing, and packaging products; brand name marketing; establishing contracts; shipping options; sequential crop planning skills; food safety, and more.
.
The pre-conference workshop will be held from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Granville Inn, 314 E. Broadway in Granville, Ohio. Pre-registration is required and costs $60 for members and $70 for non-members.
 .
###
.
Our Sponsors
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Northstar Café/Third and Hollywood, UNFI Foundation, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Mustard Seed Market and Café, Northridge Organic Farm, Organic Valley, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market Columbus, Albert Lea Seed Company, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Casa Nueva, Earth Tools, Eban Bakery, Edible Cleveland, Green BEAN Delivery, Green Field Farms, Lucky Cat Bakery, OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources, Raisin Rack Natural Food Market, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Swainway Urban Farm, Andelain Fields, Curly Tail Organic Farm, C-TEC of Licking County, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, Glass Rooster Cannery, King Family Farm, Law Office of David G. Cox, Metro Cuisine, Two Caterers, Whole Hog BBQ, Around the World Gourmet, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Bird’s Haven Farms, Bluebird Farm, Carriage House Farm, Charlie’s Apples at Windy Hill Farm, Fedco Seeds, Flying J Farm, Hartzler Dairy Farm, The Hills Market, Marshy Meadows Farm, Middlefield Original Cheese, Nourse Farms, Pâtisserie Lallier, Schmidt Family Farms, Stonyfield Farm, Sunsprout Farms of Central Ohio, and Wayward Seed Farm.
.
Conference Registration
To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, featured presenters and workshops, pre-conference descriptions, workshop listings, hotel options, and a schedule, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org. Past conferences have sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.
.
Artwork and Images
For the conference art image, speaker photographs, or pictures from past conferences, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org.
.
Press Passes and Media Inquiries
OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend conference and pre-conference events. We can also help members of the press schedule interviews with keynote speakers and workshop presenters. To arrange an interview 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) 35th annual conference, Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground, is February 15-16, 2014 in Granville, Ohio. This is Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference and will feature keynote speakers Kathleen Merrigan and Atina Diffley; more than 100 workshops on sustainable farming, gardening, and homesteading; local and organic meals; a kids’ conference, teen conference, and childcare; a trade show; Saturday evening entertainment, and pre-conference events on produce wholesale marketing and soil health and biodiversity on Friday, February 14. To register, or for more information, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014 or call (614) 421-2022.