Young, urban farmers the focus of OEFFA’s conference in Dayton, Feb. 9-11

By Debbi Snook, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/20/17

Leading organic farmer, Jim Riddle, and a prominent foe of genetically engineered food, Robyn O’Brien, will be keynote speakers at this year’s annual conference of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Feb. 9-11 in Dayton.
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Educating and supporting young farmers and urban farmers is the theme of the conference, which offers a series of workshops specifically geared to beginning farmers or those about to expand their operations. Planting and management of crops, water quality, business planning, safe handling of organic approved pesticides and other topics will be discussed in more than 70 workshops.

Others include organic grain production, on-farm poultry processing, soil fertility, bee health, local meat co-ops, foraged food and combating food waste.

“Urban Agriculture has the ability to transform our urban and blighted communities by becoming a practical solution,” said Clarence Bunch, associate director at Central State University’s Cooperative Extension Service.

The annual meeting dedicates all its programming to sustainable farming – done for the health of the environment, the farmers and consumers.

Riddle, a Minnesota berry farmer, has been an inspector for organic certification and spent several years on the National Organic Standards board of the United States Department of Agriculture. He has also devised ways for farmers to better afford organic certifications.

O’Brien is a former financial and food industry analyst and author of “The Unhealthy Truth,” a popular book about the health effects of food additives and manipulations.

This year’s conference moves to Dayton after many years in Granville. Dayton Convention Center will host most of the events. A trade show, meals, kids’ and teen conferences are part of the weekend.

Registration fees are $90 for the intensive, pre-conference session on Thursday, focused on growing high-nutrient food and working smarter on the farm, and $225 for the Friday and Saturday sessions. Discounted prices are available for OEFFA members, students and children. For more information, and for registration through Jan. 23, go online. The OEFFA offices can be reached at 614-421-2022.