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  • Sharp Family Making an Impact Both On and Off the Farm | OEFFA News
    confinement of the cows for up to 120 days when needed in the winter months though the cows are on pasture whenever possible This structure provides adequate storage of manure to eliminate the need for spreading in the winter months and keeps the cows off the pasture when it is not suitable for grazing We tried to eliminate any rain water coming down on standing manure Don said They have also installed a settling basin and filter strip to treat the milk house water Rather than running down the steep hill to a creek any waste water is piped directly from the milk house into the settling basin where the liquids are filtered off into a wetland area that ties directly into the u shaped waterway that collects every drop of water that falls on or in the facility The recent addition of the Double 7 Herringbone milking parlor with auto take off added a key component to the water management strategy for the farm and it also made some tremendous changes for efficiency After suffering from health issues that limited his ability to continue milking Don had to decide what to do about the future of the dairy farm and its aging 1967 facility As Don s condition worsened Kyle made the decision last year to take over the full time and then some duty of milking the 75 cows twice every day With just few days of operation in the new parlor Kyle had already seen huge improvements with the 14 unit facility that replaced the three unit facility The cows aren t used to it yet but it has already cut six hours of milking down to three so far Kyle said So that went from 12 hours of milking a day down to six hours and I hope we can decrease that even more Kyle currently milks 88 head of Jersey and Holstein cows which graze in 14 small paddocks that cover 70 acres of pasture They are generally moved every day but it has rained so much we have been able to leave them in for two or three days this year Don said We have been rotationally grazing for around 30 years They are fed outside before they go in for milking now and then they go back out onto the pasture The Sharps have constructed livestock access roads and watering systems to make the rotational grazing system work more efficiently and provide the cattle access to water without going back to the barn They have also added stream and creek exclusion fences built from locust wood from the farm and paired the fencing with riparian filter strips Since 2006 the farm has been certified organic and the milk is marketed through Organic Valley a farmer owned cooperative based in Wisconsin The transition to organic was not really too tough for the dairy that has long been grass based Things really didn t change that much Don said We had to quit using antibiotics

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=1299 (2016-02-17)
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  • One Weird Trick to Fix Farms Forever | OEFFA News
    basking in the afternoon heat A mat of old leaves and stems covers the soil remnants of the winter cover crops that have kept the field devoid of weeds At Brandt s urging we scour the ground for what he calls haystacks little clusters of dead strawlike plant residue bunched up by earthworms Sure enough the stacks are everywhere Brandt scoops one up along with a fistful of black dirt Look there and there he says pointing into the dirt at pinkie size wriggling earthworms And there go some babies he adds indicating a few so tiny they could curl up on your fingernail Then he directs our gaze onto the ground where he just scooped the sample He points out a pencil size hole going deep into the soil a kind of worm thruway that invites water to stream down I don t think I m the only one gaping in awe thinking of the thousands of miniature haystacks around me each with its cadre of worms and its hole into the earth I look around to find several NRCS people holding their own little clump of dirt oohing and ahhing at the sight Then we cross the street to the neighbor s field Here the corn plants look similar to Brandt s if a little more scraggly but the soil couldn t be more different The ground unmarked by haystacks and mostly bare of plant residue altogether seems seized up into a moist muddy crust but the dirt just below the surface is almost dry Brandt points to a pattern of ruts in the ground cut by water that failed to absorb and gushed away Brandt s land managed to trap the previous night s rain for whatever the summer brings His neighbor s lost not just the precious water but untold chemical inputs that it carried away ASIDE FROM HIS FONDNESS FOR WORMS there are three things that set Brandt s practices apart from those of his neighbors and of most American farmers The first is his dedication to off season cover crops which are used on just 1 percent of US farmland each year The second involves his hostility to tilling he sold his tillage equipment in 1971 That has become somewhat more common with the rise of corn and soy varieties genetically engineered for herbicide resistance which has allowed farmers to use chemicals instead of the plow to control weeds But most the NRCS s Scarpitti says use rotational tillage they till in some years but not others thus losing any long term soil building benefit Brandt is a combination researcher cheerleader and promoter He s a good old boy and producers relate to him Finally and most simply Brandt adds wheat to the ubiquitous corn soy rotation favored by his peers throughout the Corn Belt Bringing in a third crop disrupts weed and pest patterns and a 2012 Iowa State University study found that by doing so farmers can dramatically cut down on herbicide and other agrichemical use The downsides of the kind of agriculture that holds sway in the heartland devoting large swaths of land to monocultures of just two crops regularly tilling the soil and leaving the ground fallow over winter are by now well known ever increasing loads of pesticides and titanic annual additions of synthetic and mined fertilizers much of which ends up fouling drinking water and feeding algae smothered aquatic dead zones from Lake Erie to the Gulf of Mexico But perhaps the most ominous long term trend in the Corn Belt is what s known as peak soil The Midwest still boasts one of the greatest stores of topsoil on Earth Left mostly unfarmed for millennia it was enriched by interactions between carbon sucking prairie grasses and mobs of grass chomping ruminants But since settlers first started working the lan d in the 1800s we ve been squandering that treasure Iowa for example has lost fully one half and counting of its topsoil on average since the prairie came under the plow According to University of Washington soil scientist David Montgomery author of Dirt The Erosion of Civilizations it takes between 700 and 1 500 years to generate an inch of topsoil under natural conditions Cornell agricultural scientist David Pimentel reckons that 90 percent of US cropland now is losing soil faster than its sustainable replacement rate Soil as Americans learned in the Dust Bow l is not a renewable resource at least on the scale of human lifetimes Then there s climate change itself Under natural conditions think forests or grasslands soil acts as a sponge for carbon dioxide sucking it in through plant respiration and storing a little more each year than is lost to oxidation in the process of rotting But under current farming practices US farmland only acts as what the USDA has deemed a modest carbon sink sequestering 4 million metric tons of carbon annually a tiny fraction of total US greenhouse gas emissions The good news says eminent soil scientist Rattan Lal of Ohio State University is that if all US farms adopted Brandt style agriculture they could suck down as much as 25 times more carbon than they currently are equivalent to taking nearly 10 percent of the US car fleet off the road Lal a member of the Nobel winning International Panel on Climate Change is so impressed with Brandt s methods that he brought a group of 20 Australian farmers on a pilgrimage to Carroll two years ago he tells me If all US farms adopted Brandt s methods we could save as much carbon as if we took 10 percent of cars off the road In the middle of his cornfield holding a handful of loamy black soil Brandt explains that he habitually tests his dirt for organic matter When he began renting this particular field two seasons before its organic content stood at 0 25 percent a pathetic reading in an area where even in fields farmed

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=1291 (2016-02-17)
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  • Why Northeast Ohio farmers disagree about the latest farm technology | OEFFA News
    to our soils and our environment That system needs to change if we re going to continue to feed our population Compared with Haley s 2 000 acre spread Gardner s farm is tiny just 26 acres He keeps 100 chickens and grows fruit vegetables and alfafa for hay Unlike Mike Haley Gardner wasn t born to farm He s an ecologist and molecular biologist teaching environmental science at Stark State College Three years ago he moved his family to a farm that dates back to 1875 When we bought the farm it was a conventional corn and soybean farm We are transitioning it to a diversified certified organic farm His chickens lay about six dozen eggs a day and Gardner s customers tell him they re glad he feeds the hens only non GMO grain And they know that conventional chicken feed because of the huge percentage of soybeans and corn that s grown GMO is going to contain GMO grain There s a nutritional difference in the eggs Gardner s hens lay compared to what you get in the supermarket Research shows chickens raised without GMO feed lay eggs with higher omega 3 fatty acids No tests on humans Gardner says the uncertain impact on human health is his biggest problem with GMOs Here in the United States we ve pretty much allowed them to develop unregulated There are currently roughly 100 crops approved for use in the United States more in the pipeline many we don t know what the effects are going to be Although GMO staple crops like soy and corn have become ubiquitous there have been no human trials of GMO foods In the United States says Gardner most of the research is done by the companies that develop the crops A French study last year on rats showed those fed GMO grain developed tumors earlier than and twice as quickly as a control group There ve also been concerns about some anecdotal reports of allergic responses and other things says Gardener So we don t know yet Consumers can t tell GMO from non GMO Most of the European Union outlaws GMOs and where they re legal they re labeled Maine and Connecticut recently enacted labeling laws and 20 other states are considering it Sens Elizabeth Warren and Mark Udall last month urged the FDA to require labels on GMOs marketed as food But back in West Salem Mike Haley remains confident that GMOs are good for his soil and his crops We re able to move forward way faster with using bio technology than with traditional breeding because they re able to evaluate the different genetics and work with them so much quicker instead of working years to isolate the genetics through traditional breeding techniques He says the latest innovation is heart healthy Omega 3 soybeans They ve altered the oils in the soybeans so that it s heart healthy So when French fries are deep fried at McDonald s it s

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=1271 (2016-02-17)
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  • New Bill Aims At Expanding Local Farms, Getting Fresh Produce Into Schools | OEFFA News
    schools to purchase locally grown food instead of buying pre packaged items Bryn Bird owns Bird s Haven Farm in Granville and said that demand for fresh produce in schools is growing The parents want to know that their kids going to school are getting the most nutritious lunches that they have available and I think the schools see it as a win win economically It s local tax dollars going back into the schools and keeping those dollars again going back into farms Bird said Sen Sherrod Brown said the new legislation will cost 120 million each year nationally but it will save 20 billion over ten years by eliminating farm subsidies paid to larger farms Watch video here Post navigation Farmers markets organic producers in line for federal subsidies Free Public Tour Series Features Ohio s Organic and Sustainable Farms and Businesses Archives Select Month February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=1161 (2016-02-17)
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  • Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Taken On By Congress In Right-To-Know Act | OEFFA News
    People would go see their members of Congress constantly asking them to support the standards At one point I remember one Congressman coming up to me in the hall and telling me DeFazio I have no idea what an organic standard is but I m gonna vote for it just so people stop bugging me It s not an unrealistic hope Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans over 90 percent supports mandatory labeling of foods with GE ingredients Sixty four other countries including Saudi Arabia Russia and China already require such labels And dozens of advocacy groups and food corporations have signalled their support of the new bill However strong opposition from the agriculture and biotech industries has scuttled proposals for GMO labeling laws in the past The most recent and high profile of these failed attempts at a GMO labeling requirement was California s Proposition 37 which was narrowly defeated in a popular referendum after opponents mostly in these industries spent 50 million lobbying against it On Wednesday afternoon representatives of leading GE seed producer Monsanto and the Biotechnology Industry Organization BIO a GE trade group said that they generally opposed mandates for GE food labels though they had not yet seen the full text of the new bill Unfortunately advocates of mandatory GMO labeling are working an agenda to vilify biotechnology and scare consumers away from safe and healthful food products BIO spokeswoman Karen Badt wrote in an email to The Huffington Post Scott Faber president of the Environmental Working Group and the Just Label It campaign in favor of GMO labeling said that opposition from the biotech and agricultural industries will mean the bill faces an uphill climb in both the House and Senate despite its popularity But he noted that Alaska Sen Mark Begich D successfully introduced an amendment to the Senate budget bill in late March to require labeling of genetically modified fish Moreover the bill doesn t necessarily need to pass to have its intended effect No matter what it will put more pressure on the White House and FDA to act on this issue Faber said Faber explained that the FDA which as part of Department of Health and Human Services answers to the White House already has the authority to require food manufacturers to label GE foods Over a million Americans signed Just Label It s petition to the FDA to get them to do so prompting the FDA to address the issue directly on its website on April 8 FDA spokeswoman Theresa Eisenman said that the agency is currently in the midst of addressing the petition and directed The Huffington Post to the FDA s procedures for answering petitions DeFazio confirmed that he intended the Genetically Engineered Food Right To Know Act to put political pressure on President Barack Obama and the FDA He described the executive branch s stance toward GMO labeling so far as indifference or even overt opposition They re approaching it more like a competitive

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=1152 (2016-02-17)
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  • Sen. Sherrod Brown serves up local-lunch bill for schools | OEFFA News
    we can expand markets for Ohio s agricultural producers while improving health creating jobs and strengthening our economy Mr Brown said According to Mr Brown the act would cost up to 2 billion over 10 years and would be paid for by phasing out an estimated 22 billion in farm subsidies The proposal passed the Democratic controlled Senate last year but was not acted on by the Republican controlled House of Representatives so the bill expired Mr Brown said committee work to reintroduce the bill and try again to pass it starts next week Mr Lahey owner of Manhattan s Restaurant caters lunches at the Toledo School for the Arts and six other schools We ve seen a growing demand in the restaurant for fresher more local fruits and vegetables Mr Lahey said The bill the senator s talking about would help move in that direction He told the students that watermelons that were on the menu in the fall came from Mr Keil s farm Other aspects of the bill are to help small farmers buy crop insurance and enable seniors to use senior food stamps to pay for local produce at farmers markets Ms Bergman owner of Sage Organics said Mr Brown s legislation would assist local farmers by addressing production aggregation processing marketing and distribution needs The next step to help build a vibrant food economy in Northwest Ohio is to develop large wholesale options for our farmers Ms Bergman said That means being able to place local produce in universities and other institutions Senator Brown said deficit concerns and the implementation of 85 billion in automatic cuts mandated by the sequester ought not prevent the program from getting off the ground We ve cut almost 2 trillion in spending in the last two and a half

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=1136 (2016-02-17)
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  • Major Grocer to Label Foods With Gene-Modified Content | OEFFA News
    Foods is the latest in a series of events that has intensified the debate over genetically modified foods Voters defeated a hard fought ballot initiative in California late last year after the biotech industry and major corporations like PepsiCo and Coca Cola spent millions of dollars to fight the effort Other initiatives have qualified for the ballot in Washington State and Missouri while consumers across the country have been waging a sort of guerrilla movement in supermarkets pasting warning stickers on products suspected of having G M O ingredients from food companies that oppose labeling Proponents of labeling insist that consumers have a right to know about the ingredients in the food they eat and they contend that some studies in rats show that bioengineered food can be harmful Gary Hirshberg chairman of Just Label It a campaign for a federal requirement to label foods containing genetically modified ingredients called the Whole Foods decision a game changer We ve had some pretty big developments in labeling this year Mr Hirshberg said adding that 22 states now have some sort of pending labeling legislation Now one of the fastest growing most successful retailers in the country is throwing down the gantlet He compared the potential impact of the Whole Foods announcement to Wal Mart s decision several years ago to stop selling milk from cows treated with growth hormone Today only a small number of milk cows are injected with the hormone Karen Batra a spokeswoman for BIO a trade group representing the biotech industry said it was too early to determine what impact if any the Whole Foods decision would have It looks like they want to expand their inventory of certified organic and non G M O lines Ms Batra said The industry has always supported the voluntary labeling of food for marketing reasons She contended however that without scientific evidence showing that genetically modified foods caused health or safety issues labeling was unnecessary Nonetheless companies have shown a growing willingness to consider labeling Some 20 major food companies as well as Wal Mart met recently in Washington to discuss genetically modified labeling Coincidentally the American Halal Company a food company whose Saffron Road products are sold in Whole Foods stores on Friday introduced the first frozen food a chickpea and spinach entree that has been certified not to contain genetically modified ingredients More than 90 percent of respondents to a poll of potential voters in the 2012 elections conducted by the Mellman Group in February last year were in favor of labeling genetically modified foods Some 93 percent of Democrats and 89 percent of Republicans in the poll which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 1 percent favored it But in the fight over the California initiative Proposition 37 the opponents succeeded in persuading voters that labeling would have a negative effect on food prices and the livelihood of farmers That fight however has cost food companies in other ways State legislatures and regulatory

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=1093 (2016-02-17)
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  • Sustainable Agriculture in the News | OEFFA News | Page 4
    people all income levels Clintonville obviously is a place I think that a lot of people think it s going on But it s not just Clintonville it really is all over the city Statement of Support for a Full and Fair Farm Bill January 8 2013 Sustainable Agriculture in the News Lauren We the undersigned worked diligently and in good faith with the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to complete the 2012 Farm Bill in regular order When that did not occur the Committees jointly developed a plan for a one year extension that while flawed had many merits Like the Agriculture Committee leaders and members we were shocked to learn that this agreement had been replaced by a biased extension that also disappointed the farmers fishers ranchers Tribal Nations farmworkers and rural and urban communities we represent Direct payments were continued at the full 2008 levels despite agreements to reduce them while disaster response support for producers who have suffered up to three years of extreme drought and heat was eliminated In the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills Congress gradually adopted a set of programs to build the foundation for a new food system This emerging food system a small but growing portion of overall US Farm and Food Policy has the potential to enhance equity for our nation s diverse producers and farmworkers secure a future in agriculture for new entry farmers and rural urban and tribal communities and provide fresh local food for all consumers The Agriculture Committees December 31 agreement continued 2013 support for these critical programs which ranged from Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers to Beginning Farmer Development Rural Development Specialty Crop Organic and Urban Agriculture and others including a deep surprise cut in the SNAP Supplemental Nutrition Assistance education program All of this funding was zeroed out as the Farm Bill extension was attached to the fiscal cliff bill that has now become law We thank the Agriculture Committee leadership and members for their efforts to achieve balance Beginning immediately we pledge to work with the incoming Agriculture Committees to complete a full and fair Farm Bill that mitigates disasters protects natural resources provides equity and inclusion constructs a new and economically viable future for agriculture and rural communities and assures healthy food for all consumers Rural Coalition National Family Farm Coalition Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Organic farmers and consumers will be hurt by congressional inaction that let the farm bill lapse letter to the editor November 26 2012 Sustainable Agriculture in the News Lauren The Cleveland Plain Dealer November 14 2012 On Oct 1 the farm bill officially expired due to inaction by the U S House of Representatives Their fumbling over budget cuts and money allocation has led us to the first full expiration of the farm bill in history leaving many programs without funding to continue their essential actions toward advancing agriculture in this country One such program is the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program NOCCSP which stopped accepting applications after Oct 31 Organic farmers are required to pay an annual fee for certification The NOCCSP gives farmers the opportunity to offset those costs by up to 750 per year Without this low cost program we are likely to see the number of enrollments to organic certification programs in Ohio slow and re enrollments decline Being organically certified helps consumers know that their food is held to the standards set by the National Organic Program which approximately one third of Ohio s organic operations utilize The loss of such a program could have devastating effects on the growing organic movement but all hope is not lost Congress can replenish funding by voting in its current lame duck session to reauthorize the farm bill A call to your congressmen can help make this a reality Shane Richmond Granville Tomatoes make way to Harding November 19 2012 Sustainable Agriculture in the News Lauren November 15 2012 By Bonnie Hazen Tribune Chronicle WARREN Students in Warren City Schools soon will enjoy salsa made from locally grown tomatoes Five bushels of tomatoes were delivered this week to Warren G Harding High School Warren Schools Department of Food Service director Laureen Postlethwait poses with locally grown tomatoes delivered Tuesday at Warren G Harding High School We were really happy with what came today said Laureen Postlethwait director of the Warren Schools Department of Food Service explaining the aroma and vibrant color of the tomatoes was surprising for a November delivery The tomatoes were the last pickings of the field grown tomatoes from Anguili s Farm Market in Canfield The produce was purchased from the Lake to River Food Cooperative a member owned cooperative comprising a local group of food producers processors and institutional and commercial buyers including a number of area farms schools and businesses The cooperative was formed in 2011 and is supported in part by a 75 000 USDA grant It offers a variety of foods including fresh produce meat cheese eggs and other products Our goal is to keep food dollars in our community said Lake to River Food Cooperative produce manager Greg Bowman of Salem who made the delivery Though this was the first delivery to Warren he said the co op has also served Austintown Youngstown Girard Boardman Springfield Labrae and Badger schools The food co op is helpful both to schools and farmers because it serves as an intermediary and helps provide fresh produce that is grown locally to schools while helping farmers wrap up the season after their stands close said Melissa Miller marketing manager for the Lake to River Food Cooperative The variety of produce offered by the co op assists local schools in providing more nutritious ingredients in their school lunches helping them comply with the stricter dietary guidelines initiated this year Postlethwait said The federal meal program guidelines signed into law by President Barack Obama as part of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 require schools to offer healthier food choices to students such as lower calorie and lower fat foods It s a challenge to change the mindset of the students meal patterns Postlethwait said adding that students have been very receptive to the fresh salads and they recently made salsa from tomatoes grown at school The tomatoes delivered Tuesday were the first of three shipments to be delivered within the next two weeks and will primarily be used for salsa in nacho and burrito lunches at the high school Postlethwait said apples also will be purchased from the co op in the winter months Editor s Note The Lake To River Food Cooperative s L2R 75 000 grant was provided by the Farmers Market Promotion Program FMPP in the Farm Bill The FMPP provides grants to community supported agriculture programs CSAs farmers markets and farm markets to develop marketing information and business plans support innovative market ideas and educate consumers L2R s FMPP funding supports the group s efforts to sell produce to 10 local school districts feeding nearly 14 000 school children and bring fresh food to low income neighborhoods in Youngstown and Warren Go to http policy oeffa org farmbill2012 to urge Congress to pass a 2012 Farm Bill that funds the FMPP and other important programs Area farmers finding number of ways to bring people back to the land October 25 2012 Sustainable Agriculture in the News Lauren Mockingbird Meadows co owner Dawn Combs instructs Girl Scouts from Dublin about facials and other uses for herbs in health and beauty By Mary Vanac The Columbus Dispatch October 24 2012 If you ve ever picked your own apples or bumped along on a hayride you ve taken part in agritourism But the concept has grown up as more people want to learn about their food That s led to local food meals served in the middle of sunflower fields and classes on making cheese from goat milk It s about relationships said Rob Leeds an Ohio State University Extension educator and pumpkin farmer who offers activities such as horse drawn hayrides at his farm in Ostrander Picking your own food knowing where it comes from and hopefully while you are out there meeting the farmer it all develops a sense of trust for who s raising your food Leeds said No matter what form it takes agritourism is growing in Ohio said Julie Fox a direct marketing specialist at OSU Extension More farmers are inviting consumers to buy baskets of seasonal produce help make maple syrup or learn how to can fruits and vegetables People want unique food experiences said Fox who leads a statewide team that is beginning to collect marketing and agritourism data Close proximity to farms also is fueling agritourism growth Leeds said In Ohio farm income from agritourism and recreational services more than doubled to nearly 5 m illion in 2007 from 2 2 million in 2002 according to the U S Department of Agriculture s five year farm census Agritourism grew to 2 1 percent of farm income in 2007 from 1 4 percent in 2002 It took Val Jorgensen a long time to accept the tourism aspect of agritourism This is definitely not Disney World Jorgensen said about her 65 acre Jorgensen Farms in Westerville which she sees more as an education hub than a tourist trap What I want to share with people is what real food is said Jorgensen who grew up on a Michigan dairy farm My degree s in nursing So my focus is on health and sharing the process of growing healthy food Jorgensen raises sheep which provide wool pelts and meat She keeps bees producing several herb infused raw honeys She grows fruits vegetables and herbs and sells them to local food companies and restaurants But hosting events from school tours to organization dinners to weddings does balance the budget she said Her Sunday Supper series features seasonal produce and meats grown on her farm or other farms just outside of Columbus prepared by local chefs and served in a barn or sunflower field Dinner tickets usually sell for between 58 and 75 I want to provide a place for people to be nourished said Jorgensen who sees herself as a steward not an owner of the land It warms my heart and soul to see people come out to the farm Visitors to Orchard Hill Bed Breakfast can feed the animals including donkeys pot bellied pigs llamas and alpacas while staying at the 1850 farmhouse near Granville The latest count is 72 if you count all the chickens and other fowl said Don Jones who owns the B B with Andrew Kohn The three suites at Orchard Hill go for between 95 and 155 a night Jones and Kohn feature local foods and products including Gambier Gold honey and Tilton Hollow goat milk soap at their B B Kohn makes jams which are served to lodgers and sold online and at a few local stores The B B operators cooperate with local shop keepers and wineries to create package deals Wineries can be a hook to attract well heeled tourists said Donniella Winchell executive director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association Slate Run Vineyard in Canal Winchester doesn t do tours but it does offer wine tastings and use of its weinhaus for events of up to 125 people Owner Keith Prichard charges between 150 and 550 for weinhaus rental he said At Soine Vineyard in Powell volunteers do much of the grape picking in exchange for a good meal and glass of wine said co owner Sandy Sainey Mockingbird Meadows between Plain City and Marysville connects visitors with healing herbs sustainable beekeeping homesteaders dinners and the spirit of the farm said co owner Dawn Combs Combs and her husband Carson Combs recently hosted a troop of Girl Scouts from Bailey Elementary School in Dublin for herbal facials and a tour of the couple s biodiverse farm We like to do things with the girls twice a month said Tala Rogers of Dublin one of the moms at the facial table A lot of our girls are familiar with dairy farms This is an herb farm so they re learning how to use herbs for health and beauty Dawn Combs infuses honey from the farm s bees with herbs to create healing spreads Three Mockingbird Meadows products are poised for national distribution It s very difficult to live off a farm Dawn Combs said If we were just to be honey producers we could not support our family We diversify our honey and we diversify our herbs Regular events also bring in income she said At Blue Rock Station in Philo home of the Earthship a house made of mud scrapped tires and other recycled materials Jay and Annie Warnke teach visitors how to make goat milk cheese and use mud to plaster walls and build structures Visitors can trek surrounding hills with llamas finishing their journey with a proper English tea or they can stay a night in two cabins made of recyclables said Annie Warnke The Warnkes have written a dozen books on sustainable farming based on nearly two decades of experience For me it s a whole way of life every step you take said Annie Warnke who started out in a corporation not on a farm The gross domestic product of Blue Rock Station is happiness A Simple Fix for Farming October 22 2012 Sustainable Agriculture in the News Lauren The New York Times By Mark Bittman October 19 2012 IT S becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need and profitably with far fewer chemicals And I m not talking about imposing some utopian vision of small organic farms on the world Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use if it wants to This was hammered home once again in what may be the most important agricultural study this year although it has been largely ignored by the media two of the leading science journals and even one of the study s sponsors the often hapless Department of Agriculture The study was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm On 22 acres of it beginning in 2003 researchers set up three plots one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next along with its routine mix of chemicals On another they planted a three year cycle that included oats the third plot added a four year cycle and alfalfa The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock whose manure was used as fertilizer The results were stunning The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200 fold and didn t reduce profits by a single cent In short there was only upside and no downside at all associated with the longer rotations There was an increase in labor costs but remember that profits were stable So this is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons And it s a high stakes game according to the Environmental Protection Agency about five billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States No one expects Iowacorn and soybean farmers to turn this thing around tomorrow but one might at least hope that the U S D A would trumpet the outcome The agency declined to comment when I asked about it One can guess that perhaps no one at the higher levels even knows about it or that they re afraid to tell Monsantoabout agency supported research that demonstrates a decreased need for chemicals A conspiracy theorist might note that the journals Science and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences both turned down the study It was finally published in PLOS One I first read about it on the Union of Concerned Scientists Web site Rosie Gainsborough Debates about how we grow food are usually presented in a simplistic black and white way conventional versus organic The spectrum that includes conventional on one end and organic on the other is not unlike the one that opposes the standard American diet with veganism In farming you have loads of chemicals and disastrous environmental impact against an orthodox even dogmatic method that is difficult to carry out on a large scale But seeing organic as the only alternative to industrial agriculture or veganism as the only alternative to supersize me is a bit like saying that the only alternative to the ravages of capitalism is Stalinism there are other ways And positioning organic as the only alternative allows its opponents to point to its flaws and say See We have to remain with conventional The Marsden Farm study points to a third path And though critics of this path can be predictably counted on to say it s moving backward the increased yields markedly decreased input of chemicals reduced energy costs and stable profits tell another story one of serious progress Nor was this a rinky dink study the background and scientific rigor of the authors who represent the U S D A s Agricultural Research Service as well as two of the country s leading agricultural universities are unimpeachable When I asked Adam Davis an author of the study who works for the U S D A to summarize the findings he said These were simple changes patterned after those used by North American farmers for generations What we found was that if you don t hold the natural forces back they are going to work for you THIS means that not only is weed suppression a direct result of systematic and increased crop rotation along with mulching cultivation and other nonchemical techniques but that by not poisoning the fields we make

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?cat=1&paged=4 (2016-02-17)
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