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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.


In The Field: Farm Tour Season Is Here!

by Kelly Henderson

Photo: Sweet Grass Dairy
   
The 2017 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series information has officially been released and we are so excited about the many learning and networking opportunities for beginning farmers. Among the 43 events that will take place this growing season and beyond, many have been developed specifically to meet the needs of our region's aspiring and early career farmers. Let's take a look at the tours and workshops lined up for the next farm team!
  

Photo: Homecoming Farm

Diversified Beginning Farm Tour

Homecoming Farm in Amesville, OH - Athens County
Sunday, June 25 1-4 p.m.

John Wood, an Amesville native, started Homecoming Farm with the help of his parents George and Marcia, in 2015. This start-up is managed sustainably and ethically, and John is currently exploring organic certification. On this tour, John will share some of his experiences and lessons as a beginning farmer. John's farm is managed with a whole-farm approach with a focus on diverse, year-round income streams including fruit trees, vegetables, wood products, and non-timber forest products, such as maple syrup. The tour will include the farm's vegetable plots, flower beds, and sugar shack.

This tour is great for anyone interested in learning more about how to diversify a farm and manage both forested and unforested land! The tour is free, but pre-registration is encouraged. You can contact caitie@ruralaction.org and find directions or learn more here.

Young and Beginning Farmers Q & A and Networking Session

Rambling House Soda in Columbus, OH - Franklin County
Tuesday, August 8 6-8 p.m.

Networking events and opportunities to gather informally can play an important role in building community around budding farmers. As new farmers grow, they need a space to share ideas and information about production, business, marketing, and even sometimes policy. In order to facilitate these bridges between farmers, and in coordination with the Central Ohio Young Farmers Coalition chapter, OEFFA will be hosting an evening networking event for young and beginning farmers. 

Rambling House Soda is a casual music venue and soda shop where attendees can mingle to talk all things farming. It will be a great opportunity to bring your business and legal questions for answers from local farm lawyers, Barrett, Easterday, Cunningham & Eselgroth, LLP.

Photo by OEFFA staff: NYFC chapter leaders at the 2017 OEFFA Conference

Vegetable Equipment Systems Farm Tour

Mile Creek Farm in New Lebanon, OH - Montgomery County
Sunday, August 13 4-6 p.m.

Mile Creek Farm is a family run certified organic farm located just outside of Dayton, OH. The farm began in 2007 and is now cultivating 10 acres of vegetables that sell at farmers markets and through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

This beginning farmer focused tour will walk you through the process of equipment systems and the role that machinery can play in making established systems on the farm more efficient. Organic farmer Ben Jackle will provide an overview of the process and equipment used in their greenhouses, fields, and packing shed. Greenhorns will learn about seed bed preparation and cultivation for maximizing efficiency.

This tour will be useful for farmers interested in
learning about how equipment can facilitate effective flow on a mixed vegetable operation and how these systems fit together.
 
For more information and directions to the farm, click here.
 
Photo: Mile Creek Farm

Pasture-Raised Livestock Beginning Farm Tour

Moores Heritage Farm in Ashtabula, OH - Ashtabula County
Saturday, October 21 4-7 p.m.

Randall and Connie Moores are beginning farmers, breathing new life into Randall's grandparents' farmstead, which they purchased in 2014, after it had been sold out of the family in the 1990s. When Randall returned home from active duty service in the Army in 2015, they built a mobile chicken coop, raised small flocks of chickens and turkeys, and purchased two freshened dairy goats (pictured left) and Moores Heritage Farm was born. Last year was their first full season selling chicken, eggs, goat milk, fudge, and soap at two weekly farmer' markets. They also raised pastured pigs and grass-fed lamb, which were sold as whole and half animals directly to consumers. The Moores installed more than a mile of fencing around 32 acres and are in the process of reclaiming fields that have not been touched in nearly 30 years! They plan to seek organic certification in 2017.

As green farmers they have learned a lot from making mistakes but also from networking and sharing with other beginning and experienced farmers. The Moores have experience working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), The Ohio State University Extension, their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), and the Ashtabula Local Food Council (ALFC). If you're a new livestock farmer or considering transitioning to organic production, this tour is for you!

As part of OEFFA's Begin Farming program, there are additional workshops being offered this fall and winter which include the Farm Vision Workshop, Heartland Farm Beginnings® Training Course, and a workshop focused on scaling-up, Grow More Vegetables, Make More Money. You can learn more about these workshops at the links provided, and more information will be released this summer.
 
Stay tuned readers!

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