OEFFA's Next Farm Team: Stories From The Field

Welcome to OEFFA's Begin Farming Program blog! Check back often for more beginning farmer profiles, stories from our farmers and about farmland access opportunities, and information about upcoming programs and events.

OEFFA's Begin Farming Program provides aspiring and early career farmers the support they need to understand what it takes to get into farming and grow their businesses, with the goal of increasing the number of successful sustainable and organic farmers in Ohio.

If you are interested in participating in these programs, or if you'd like to contribute to this blog, please contact Kelly Henderson, Begin Farming Program Coordinator.

Learning by Doing: Apprentices Gain On-Farm Experiences

by Kelly Henderson

Photo: Apprentices at Jorgensen Farms
On a rainy April morning, I had a chance to catch up with a few of our newest beginning farmers participating in OEFFA's Begin Farming Apprenticeship Program. This program has enabled nine apprentices to work on one of two central Ohio certified organic, mixed vegetable operations. In addition to on-farm training, the program includes additional learning opportunities, such as classroom education around topics like organic certification and agroecology, and off-farm field days to learn from other farmers. Despite the colder weather, these apprentices were beaming with positivity for the season to come. The apprentices were busy side dressing greens in a hoop house when I arrived at Jorgensen Farms in Westerville. Read on to learn a little bit about each of the 2017 apprentices. We'll be catching up with each of them throughout the season and hearing about their learning experiences in the program, so be sure to follow along!

Pictured (right to left): Joanna Tilton, Rowan Patton, Katie Barr

Meet the Sunbeam Family Farm Team

Claire Saunders

Claire joins the cohort from Westerville, Ohio. She received a degree in business finance from Kent State College and while she formerly worked in the business sector in Columbus, she knows that her heart is in agriculture. She first became interested in sustainable farming after reading The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymore and has recently spent time volunteering on local farms through WWOOF.

As someone with no background in agriculture, she is excited to apprentice at Sunbeam Family Farm because it is a balance of hands-on experiences and classroom education. Claire is looking forward to joining a dynamic team of motivated farmers!

Nicole Hamann
Nicole is from Port Clinton, Ohio. She received her Associates of the Arts degree from Columbus State Community College and spent some time traveling the country and landscaping. She was inspired by the persistance of people living in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, who grew container gardens on their roofs and hosted farmers' markets in churches.
After moving back to Ohio, she worked at the Clintonville Community Market; Oakland Nursery; and Peace, Love, and Freedom Farms, where she cultivated her love of gardening. Nicole joined the apprentice program to gain more hands on experience growing different crops and to learn about business planning for a sustainable farm.

Paige Saho
Paige is from the village of Gnadenhutten in eastern Ohio. She be will graduating from The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business in May 2017. Paige has experience working both on a family member's vegetable farm and on a dairy farm helping milk cows. She also has an extensive background in customer service.
She is participating in the Begin Farming Apprenticeship Program because she hopes to one day own her own farm and wants to learn more about sustainable agriculture.

Meet the Jorgensen Farms Team

Rowan Patton
Rowan hails from Northwest Indiana and received a bachelor's degree in Environmental and Occupational Health Science from Purdue University in 2013. He has voluneered for Heifer International in central Massachusetts, where he fell in love with animal husbandry, and has worked at Crown Point Ecology Center in Ohio trying his hand at growing vegetables.
He hopes to tie everything together at Jorgensen Farms and one day run a successful farm. Rowan has found farming to be the most physically and mentally challenging, but also the most rewarding, work he has ever done.    
Joanna Tilton
Joanna Tilton is a native of southwest Ohio, but has called Michigan home for the past ten years. She has a degree in Sociology from Eastern Michigan University, but has more recently found a passion in food production, policy, and sustainability. Joanna has worked in Ann Arbor at The Lunch Room as a farm manager, and at Seeley Farm as a farm assistant.
Her favorite place is at any farmers' market, and she has never met a fruit or vegetable she doesn't like! After working for two seasons on farms in Ann Arbor, she is excited to embark on this learning opportunity with OEFFA. 
Katie Barr
Katie Barr hails from Long Island, New York, and is a recent graduate of Barnard College with a degree in Environmental Policy. She is very passionate about sustainable food systems, specifically in increasing education around and access to fresh, healthy foods in urban environments. Katie interned at the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education, and Policy at Teacher’s College of Columbia University; worked a full summer season on a small-scale organic farm in upstate New York; and volunteered for both Slow Food’s New York City chapter, and for a community development organization, Project EATS. She is currently an active contributing writer for FoodTank.com, the online Food Think Tank.
She is incredibly excited to expand her knowledge of sustainable agriculture with OEFFA and Jorgensen Farms, and someday hopes to obtain a masters degree in agroecology.     
Emily Moran
Emily is a junior at Capital University studying Business Management and Entrepreneurship. Originally from Shaker Heights, Ohio, Emily spent four years abroad in Italy and Singapore with her family. Emily first found interest in farming during her time in Italy, the rich agriculture and beautiful landscapes drew Emily into the field where she first learned to garden. Inspired by the advances in farming organic produce, Emily knew this was something she was passionate about.
Emily is excited to learn more about organic farming in Ohio with this hands-on experience and hopes to own her own farm someday.

Tama Ricks
Tama has a passion for all things healthy and sustainable, and especially for healthy, locally sourced foods. Formerly, she worked as a Volunteer Coordinator for the Columbus Growing Collective and has spent time working on WWOOF farms. She currently serves on the board of the Clintonville Farmers Market, and volunteers for Local Matters.
With her strong passion to strengthen communities by increasing food security, she has a strong drive to become a sustainable fruit and vegetable farmer. She is now pursuing her Environmental Science degree to expand her knowledge of environmental health and regulations. When finished she plans to start her own sustainable farming operation to support her community and cultivate a more ecologically sound environment.  
Emily Romain
Emily is currently a student at The Ohio State University pursuing her bachelor's degree in Natural Resource Management with a specialization in Sustainable Agriculture. Emily earned her Associates of Science degree in Sustainable Agriculture in May 2016.
She has worked at the Ohio Agricultral Research and Development Center's Viticulture Department as a Student Research Associate, and more recently at the Ohio Environmental Council as an intern. She aspires to use her education to establish grassroots gardening efforts for people in underserved communities.


Great new program!

What a fantastic way for OEFFA to further support the healthy growth of sustainable and organic agriculture! I suspect that once they have completed this program, the interns will be in high demand by farm employers.

helping beginning farmers

We at Mound View Farms are by no means beginning farmers. We have been farming for over 42 years. Our farm is around 300 acres, all organic. However we are beginning organic farmers. We just got certified last spring. We would like to contribute to the blog in any way we can to help out these beginning farmers. We are in an area that has very few organic farms and we find it hard to find information we need ourselves.

Interested in contributing to the blog?

Please email beginfarming@oeffa.org and we will find a good fit for you!


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Want to learn more about OEFFA's Begin Farming Program? Email beginfarming@oeffa.org.

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