OEFFA Announces 2014 Stewardship and Service Award Recipients

February 17th, 2014
COLUMBUS, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2014 recipients for the Stewardship Award and Service Award.
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Kip and Becky Rondy of Green Edge Organic Gardens in Athens County received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community, and Ed Perkins of Sassafras Farm in Athens County received the Service Award, which recognizes outstanding service to OEFFA.
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The announcements were made on Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16 as part of OEFFA’s 35th annual conference, Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground.
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2014 Stewardship Award Winner—Kip and Becky Rondy
Rondys 2014Kip and Becky Rondy own and operate Green Edge Organic Gardens, a 120 acre certified organic farm in rural Amesville, Ohio. Migrogreens, salad mix, mushrooms, greens, and other seasonal produce are grown year-round using 10 high tunnels and sold at the Athens Farmers Market, two summer and winter community supported agriculture programs which serve more than 400 families, and at stores and restaurants in Athens and Columbus. The farm, primarily tended by hand, employs 13 people, in addition to interns.
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One of Ohio’s most successful year-round farms, Green Edge Organic Gardens has partnered with Rural Action to provide workshops on high tunnel operation, designed to help agricultural professionals work with farmers to promote season creation practices. As part of this collaborative work with local institutions to support a strong farming community, the Rondys also works with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Ohio University to develop innovative designs for internal covering and venting systems in high tunnels.
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“Kip and Becky have done a spectacular job at making organics work. They’ve set up a fantastic production system, while growing a business that supports its employees through a living wage and good benefits. At the same time, they continue to help the community by sharing what they’ve learned during on-farm educational workshops,” said Mick Luber, who received the 2007 Stewardship Award and presented the award to the Rondys at the Saturday afternoon ceremony.
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To learn more about the Rondys and their winter growing, view Our Ohio‘s video here. For a full list of past Stewardship Award winners, click here.
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2014 Service Award Winner—Ed Perkins
Perkins 2014Ed Perkins owns and operates Sassafras Farm in New Marshfield with his wife, Amy Abercrombie. They grow chemical-free vegetables, herbs, and berries on 2 acres, which are sold year-round at the Athens Farmers Market.
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A graduate of Ohio University with a Masters degree in botany, Perkins purchased his farm more than 40 years ago and has been an integral part of the Athens local foods community ever since. His regular Our Home column in The Athens Messenger has helped to educate thousands about environmental issues.
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Perkins is a long-time member of OEFFA and the former president of OEFFA’s Athens Chapter. As one of OEFFA’s most long-standing and active chapter presidents, Perkins hosted and organized local farm tours, potluck meals, and other chapter activities, helping to establish a strong link between OEFFA and the vibrant Athens local food movement.
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“As one of the founding fathers of the Athens area local food movement, Ed has contributed so much to our community. As a farmer, writer, and organizer, Ed has worked for decades to build a strong OEFFA chapter and the amazing Athens Farmers Market. He and Amy are models of sustainable and simple living at Sassafras Farm, bearing witness to the beauty of lives thoughtfully lived in harmony with nature and community,” said Leslie Schaller, who presented the award to Perkins at the Sunday afternoon ceremony.
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Perkins is the second recipient of the Service Award, which was created in 2013 to recognize outstanding service to OEFFA.To learn more about Ed, view Ohio University’s video here.
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“Both the Rondys and Ed care deeply about creating a sustainable food system and have worked for years towards that goal. We should all be grateful for their generosity in devoting themselves to advance sustainable agriculture in our community,” said OEFFA Executive Director Carol Goland.
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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.
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For a high resolution photo of the award recipients, please contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org. Please provide photo credit: George Remington, OEFFA.

Former U.S. Deputy Agriculture Secretary to Keynote Ohio’s Largest Food and Farming Conference: Kathleen Merrigan to Discuss Federal Agricultural Policy and Programs

February 4th, 2014

2/4/14

Granville, OH—Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan 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 Sunday, February 16 in Granville (Licking County).

“We are pleased to welcome Kathleen Merrigan to this year’s conference as we look back over the past 35 years,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director and the event’s lead organizer. “As one of the nation’s foremost organic agriculture advocates, she has played a significant role in the achievements the organic food movement has realized.”
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Merrigan 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 Merrigan, this year’s conference will feature organic farmer and author Atina Diffley as keynote speaker on Saturday, February 15; 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.
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Merrigan served as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture from 2009 to 2013. Before joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Merrigan spent six years as a top aide to Senator Patrick Leahy, former chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee. There, she helped write the original law that created the National Organic Program to establish organic standards and a certification process for organic farms and processors. From 1999 to 2001, she helped to implement the new organic rules as head of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the agency which oversees the organic program.
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As Deputy Secretary, Merrigan oversaw the day-to-day operations of the USDA, along with its $149 billion budget. She played a vital role in developing the department’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, championed a national farm-to-school program and funding for farmers to build hoop houses, increased crop insurance and conservation support for organic producers, and served as a strong advocate for the organic program, organic farmers, and local food systems.
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Merrigan holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and spent eight years as an assistant professor and director of the Agriculture, Food, and Environment graduate program at Tufts University in Boston. She has also been engaged in agricultural policy through positions at the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture, the Texas Department of Agriculture, and the Massachusetts State Senate. In November 2009, Merrigan made history by becoming the first woman to chair the Ministerial Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations. In 2010, Time magazine named her as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” She is currently a consultant and professional speaker at Merrigan Consulting.
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“It has been an honor to play a small part in history. I hope that during my tenure I was able to help open USDA’s doors a little wider, inviting new and discouraged constituencies to participate in USDA programs,” Merrigan told the National Journal.
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Her keynote address, presented by Chipotle Mexican Grill, is titled “Dysfunctional DC Matters: Ten Reasons to Stay Engaged in Federal Agricultural Policy,” and will take place on Sunday, February 16 at 2:45 p.m. Between government shutdowns, endless multi-year Farm Bill negotiations, and other political gridlock, it can be hard for consumers and farmers to believe in the federal government anymore. Merrigan will explore why federal agricultural policy still matters, identify targets for policy reform, and explain why producers and conscientious eaters can achieve real social change by getting involved.
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On Sunday, February 16 at 10:35 a.m., Merrigan will also lead a one hour workshop, “Show Me the Money: Farming Federal Programs.” Using the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass, Merrigan will explore what federal programs are available to farms, nonprofits, and businesses seeking assistance to build local and regional food systems.
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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.
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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, CaJohns Fiery Foods, 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, Stutzman Farms, 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.

Conference Registration Update
Saturday meals are now SOLD OUT; a very limited number of Sunday meals are still available. Online registration for the conference and pre-conference will remain open until Tuesday, February 11 or until sold out. Past conferences have sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.

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.

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 activist Atina Diffley to speak at Ohio food and farm conference

January 31st, 2014
 
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

January 28th, 2014
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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
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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

January 23rd, 2014
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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

January 16th, 2014
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 16, 2014
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Contact:
Renee Hunt, OEFFA Program Director—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203,
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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.
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“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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.

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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.
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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

January 14th, 2014
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

January 9th, 2014
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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.
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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.
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“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.”
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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.
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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.
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“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.
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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.
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To register for the conference, or for more information, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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 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.
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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.
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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

January 7th, 2014

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
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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.
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“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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

No matter how you slice it, Ohio’s cheese makes the cut

December 29th, 2013

 

WKSU
Friday, December 20, 2013
by Vivian Goodman
 
“Cheese is a very popular product. Everybody likes cheese.”

Brian Moran of Lake Erie Creamery says holidays are great, but Ohio cheese makers are of good cheer all year long.

Moran’s creamery has won national awards for its Blomma.

Which is a blooming rind goat cheese, aged at about three to four weeks before it comes to market, similar to a Camembert or a brie. ”

A cheese boom
Moran’s Cleveland operation was Ohio’s first artisan cheese creamery. It opened in 2006. By 2007 he had five competitors, and today there are 20.

And I know for a fact there are at least three or four getting ready to open either at the end of this year or the beginning of next. The big boom is the local food. People want to know where their food comes from, and I think that is the biggest driver for it.”

A Specialty Food Association survey shows “local” is the biggest cheese trend of 2013.

And Ohioans don’t have to travel far for award-winning cheese.

Hiram’s MacKenzie Creamery claimed 13 national awards in its first four years in business.

Owner Jean MacKenzie is proudest of the goat cheese she makes with cognac and figs. 

“Our little star we call her. Courvoisier cognac and dalmatia figs. And this little cheese has won five of our 13 awards, this one cheese.”

More local cheeses at the grocers
West Point Market stocks MacKenzie’s product along with many of Ohio’s artisan cheeses.

Its cheese shop carries 350 varieties from all over the world, and in the last five years has doubled its supply of locally-made cheeses.

Diana Bole ran the quality grocer’s cheese shop for 27 years. She thinks customers are getting more discerning.

“A lot of them would never taste a goat cheese, not ever. And now with the sampling that we do, washed-rind cheeses which are strong and stinky, where five years ago you couldn’t sell, people will try it now.”

Amanda Zazo and John Griffith of West Akron came to the cheese-tasting ready for adventure. Griffith hadn’t expected so many locally-produced cheeses.

“But come to think of it, with all of the local farms and cow farms, sheep, the fantastic products are there. So why not?”

“My favorite was the goat cheese coated in espresso and lavender,” said Zazo.

But that one came from Wisconsin, the mecca of American cheese-making.

On Wisconsin, but Ohio’s not far behind
Bob Dilcher of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board brought it to the tasting from the state that produces nearly half of America’s specialty cheese. But he has respect for Ohio cheese.

“There’s some great goat cheeses, some great sheep’s milk cheeses from Ohio. Brewster Cheese in Brewster,

Ohio, one of the largest Swiss cheese manufacturers in the country. Terrific Swiss cheese.”

People are eating more cheese, period. In 1970, the average American ate 8 pounds a year. Today it’s 23 pounds.

But what is this “artisanal” cheese?

It’s produced by hand in small batches from cow, sheep and goat’s milk  and often has to be aged and ripened.

One-woman show
Some producers raise their own animals, like Kristyn Henslee of Seville’s Yellow House Cheese. Hers is a farmstead operation.

“That means that everything happens start to finish on our farm. I milk the sheep myself, we make the cheese there, we age it there and sell everything from the farm. I’m kind of a one-woman show. I also have a husband whose a sixth-grade science teacher, so he’s home during the summers to help out. And I have two little girls 8 and 9 who are my absolute super-star helpers.”

Her sheep’s milk blue cheese won an American Cheese Society award in August. And she only started her business two years ago.

Of the 20 artisan cheese makers in Ohio, 16 are women.

Small but award-winning
Henslee’s farm is small and so is  Brian Schlotter’s in Defiance. His  family has been dairy farming for six generations.

Six years ago, after graduating college, Schlotter started making cheese.

His Canal Junction Charloe, winner of an American Cheese Society award, is his own creation.

The first bite tastes buttery and sweet, but then it gets nutty.

“We don’t have any peanuts in the production whatsoever. It is from the milk and the way we handle the cheese afterward in the aging.”

He’s optimistic about the future of artisan cheese making in Ohio. He knows Wisconsin has years on Ohio, and admits that’s a challenge. 

“If you look at the cheese makers in Ohio, the small cheese makers in Ohio most of them are complete newbies to the industry both the dairy and the cheese-making side.”

But he thinks Ohio will catch up. Wisconsin has long had a Master Cheese Maker program.

But in Ohio, where do you find the way — and the curds? 

The Cheese Guild
MacKenzie Creamery’s Jean MacKenzie found herself asking that question.

She worked in real estate for many years before she started making cheese. Her business sense told her a trade organization was needed. So she recently founded the Ohio Cheese Guild.

“We have a representative from a distribution company; we have a chef; we have a retailer. We have cheese makers from small creameries and from large companies. We want to include, we call them the big boys, because we can learn a lot from them.”

Kristyn Henslee of Seville’s Yellow House Cheese was one of the first to join the new guild. She’s not turning a profit yet but…

“We’re working on it. We’re making really great cheeses, and we’re just really hopeful that this is going to work out.”

And that’s this week’s Quick Bite. Next week our topic is the mislabeling of fish.