Organic Grain Farmers to Keynote Ohio’s Largest Sustainable Food and Farm Conference

Leading Experts in Organic Production, Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens, to Speak Saturday, February 19


Contact: Renee Hunt, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205,

Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens
Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens

Press Release

Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens made the transition from conventional farming to being one of the leading experts in organic production. They will share their knowledge as keynote speakers at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 32nd annual conference, Inspiring Farms, Sustaining Communities, February 19-20, 2011 in Granville, Ohio.

“We’re excited to able to bring Klaas and Mary-Howell to this year’s conference. They are a perfect illustration of this year’s theme—Inspiring Farms, Sustaining Communities. The Martens’ are a great example of how two people can make a huge impact, as they reach out to farmers across the country in an effort to build local and organic food systems,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.

Farming organically since 1993, Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens raise about 1400 acres of corn, soybeans, small grains, and other crops as well as heifers, pigs, and chickens. The Martens’ venture into organic farming led them to start an organic grain business in 1996. Lakeview Organic Grain has expanded to supply more than 300 organic farmers in central New York and is the state’s only dedicated organic feed mill and organic seed operation.

“We truly believe that we were like many conventional farmers, using the chemical fertilizers and pesticides simply because we saw no other alternatives, but hating what it might be doing to us, our family, our land, and our environment,” wrote Mary-Howell in a New Farm Magazine article. “We farmed conventionally because we had been told so often that it was the only way to survive in agriculture today.”

The Martens are the Northeast Region winners of the 2008 Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture. They helped found New York Certified Organic, and the Northeast Organic Network, an innovative consortium of farmers, researchers, extension educators, and grassroots nonprofits working together to improve organic farmers’ access to research and technical support.

The Martens’ keynote address, titled “Living Upstream: Decision-Making on an Organic Farm” will take place Saturday, February 19 at 4 p.m. They will share their philosophy on soil health management, crop rotation, weed control, and marketing.

The Martens will also be presenting two workshops earlier that day. The first, “Weed Management in Organic Grain Crops,” will take place from 9:30-10:25 a.m. Klaas and Mary-Howell will describe how they incorporate management strategies such as soil health, variety selection, nutrient management, crop rotations, and mechanical cultivation in organic weed management, and how their approach has evolved over time.

Their second workshop, “From Amber Waves to Market: Successfully Selling Your Organic Grain,” will take place from 1:45-2:40 p.m. The Martens will discuss how successful marketing of organic grains relies on attention to detail throughout the entire crop production process, from growing, harvesting, storing, and handling grains, to being attentive to both new and existing customers.


The conference will also feature more than 70 other educational workshops and cooking demonstrations with topics including: season extension, growing brambles, grazing, dairy farming, pastured livestock and poultry, maple syruping, hiring and managing farm employees, cover crops, renewable energy, farm insurance, agriculture policy and activism, weed control, growing mushrooms, growing and marketing grains, school gardens, farm recordkeeping, growing garlic, meat goats, homemade dyes, farm to school, eating seasonally, green building, pest management, business branding, pricing for profitability, organic apple growing, beekeeping, ecological parenting, flower production, internet marketing, soil fertility, and food co-ops.

The conference workshops will also feature a grazing track. Designed for producers and resource managers, this grazing workshop track follows the long established Ohio Grazing School Program, and will be presented by Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension; Bob Hendershot, USDA NRCS; and Paul Dutter, OEFFA Organic Certification Program. The workshops will include topics such as planning and getting started; evaluating resources; environmental considerations; plant growth physiology; plant selection; soil fertility; the organic pasture rule; meeting nutritional requirements; designing and laying out paddocks; fencing; and livestock pasture watering systems. A certificate will be given to those that attend the entire track, which will be honored by USDA-NRCS for points in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Additional Conference Features

The state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, this year’s event will also feature keynote speaker Joan Dye Gussow; a kid’s conference offering a variety of exciting workshops for children ages 6-12; a playroom for children under 6; a book signing by Joan Dye Gussow and The Contrary Farmer, Gene Logsdon; an exhibit hall offering an interesting array of information, products, services, and resources that relate to sustainable agriculture; a non-denominational Sunday service; and Saturday evening entertainment provided by the Back Porch Swing Band.


This year’s event will also feature a one-day pre-conference titled The ABCs of CSAs. This workshop will provide guidance for farmers interested in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) including information on the challenges and benefits of CSAs, planning, record-keeping, membership recruitment and management, and more. The pre-conference will take place on Friday, February 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Granville, Ohio.

The workshop will be led by Beth Knorr, who spent nine years co-managing one of Northeast Ohio’s most successful CSA operations at Crown Point Ecology Center with her husband Tim, and currently manages farmers’ markets and provides educational workshops for the Countryside Conservancy. Beth will be joined by CSA growers, who will share their experiences.

Our Sponsors

OEFFA’s 32nd annual conference is being sponsored by Edible Ohio Valley, Edible Columbus, Northstar Café, Chipotle, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Lucky Cat Bakery, Mustard Seed Market and Cafe, Organic Valley/CROPP, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market Columbus, Ben and Jerry’s, Blue Jacket Dairy, C-TEC, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Casa Nueva, Curly Tail Organic Farm, Eden Foods, Luna Burger, Northridge Organic Farm, OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter, SARE-USDA, Whole Hog BBQ, Equine Veterinary Dental Services, Fox Hollow Farm, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, King Family Farm, Marshy Meadows Farm, Sassafras Bakery, Bexley Natural Market, Bluebird Farm, Carriage House Farm, Charlie’s Apples, Crumbs Bakery, Flying J Farm, Green B.E.A.N. Delivery, Green Field Farms, The Greener Grocer, Hartzler Family Dairy, The Hills Market, Kitchen Basics, Phoenix Organics, OSU Social Responsibility Initiative, Schacht Family Farm, Schmidt Family Farms, Stan Evans Bakery, The Wayward Seed Farm, and Wild Goose Creative.



The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters who committed to work together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to

Conference Registration

Conference registration is now open. To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, workshops, speakers, and a schedule, go to or contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or Last year’s conference sold out, so early registration is encouraged to guarantee a spot.

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

Artwork and Images

For the conference art image or pictures of keynote speakers, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or For photographs of the 2010 conference, go to

Event Calendar Announcement

Food and Farming Conference: The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 32nd annual conference, Inspiring Farms, Sustaining Communities, will take place February 19-20, 2011 in Granville, Ohio. OEFFA’s annual conference is Ohio’s largest organic/sustainable agriculture gathering. This event will feature nationally recognized keynote speakers Joan Dye Gussow and Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens, over 70 workshops, a trade show, organic and locally-sourced meals, a kids’ conference, on-site childcare, and Saturday evening entertainment. For more information visit or contact Renee Hunt at or (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205.