COLUMBUS, Ohio — Four full-day pre-conference intensive workshops designed to help farmers develop their production and business skills will be featured as part of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s 38th annual conference, Growing Today, Transforming Tomorrow.
The conference will be held Feb. 9 through 11 at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton, Ohio.
“These day-long workshops allow farmers to delve deep into these topics with experienced presenters who have direct, hands-on experience,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.
The four pre-conference intensive sessions are:
- Farming Smarter, Not Harder: Tune Up Your Farm Business and Increase Your Net Profit — This full-day session, led by Richard Wiswall of Cate Farm in Vermont and author of The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, will help farmers plan to increase their net profit, market their products strategically and meet their long-term business goals. Participants will learn how to efficiently determine the profitability of different enterprises, and about farm office administration, key financial statements, employee management and more.
- Growing Bionutrient Rich Food: Applying the Principles of Biological Systems — Dan Kittredge, founder and executive director of the Bionutrient Food Association, will take an in-depth look at soil, crop and human nutrition and how farmers can improve crop quality by applying the principles of biological systems to their land. With a strong focus on management practices and techniques, this intensive session will cover pest and disease control, soil testing, mineral balancing, cover crops and minimal tillage, plant visual analysis, seed quality, Brix and other topics.
- Respect Your Elderberries: Growing and Selling Niche Fruit Crops from Aronia to Service Berries — Jim Riddle of Blue Fruit Farm in Minnesota will explore how to grow high value specialty perennial berries, like black currants, elderberries, aronia berries, josta berries, service berries and honeyberries. He will describe nursery sources, site selection and preparation, fertility, irrigation, pollination, pest management and marketing challenges and strategies for effectively selling these niche berries.
- Building a Profitable Pastured Broiler Business — Mike and Christie Badger of Badger’s Millside Farm will take an in-depth look at developing a profitable pastured broiler business. Topics will include breed selection, designing shelters, nutrition, management, marketing and pricing.
All pre-conference intensive workshops will be held on Feb. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Dayton, which is attached to the Dayton Convention Center. Pre-registration is required. The cost is $75 for members and $90 for non-members, and includes lunch.
Beyond the pre-conference sessions, other Thursday activities include:
- The Contrary Farmers’ Social from 7-9 p.m. at the nearby 2nd Street Market featuring food, drinks and a remembrance of Ohio’s Contrary Farmer, Gene Logsdon, led by David Kline of Farming Magazine;
- Free, public admission to OEFFA’s Exhibit Hall from 4-7 p.m.;
- A free, public Farm Land of Opportunity reception from 5-6:30 designed to connect farmers looking for land with established farmers with land and farming opportunities;
- An Old MacGyver Had a Farm meet-up from 5-6:30 where farmers can share on-farm innovations they’ve developed to solve problems on the farm; and
- An oral history presentation from 5-6:30 p.m. featuring stories, multimedia shorts and interviews with the founders of Ohio’s organic movement.
In addition, on Friday and Saturday, the conference will feature:
- Nearly 80 90-minute workshops on topics including sustainable farming, gardening, cooking, livestock, business management and policy;
- Keynote speakers Robyn O’Brien, presented by Horizon Organic, and Jim Riddle;
- A trade show featuring dozens of businesses, non-profits, and government agencies offering an array of food, books, products and services;
- The Cream of the Crop Banquet on Feb. 10 featuring a dinner celebrating Ohio’s farming community;
- A kids’ conference for children ages 6-12; a playroom for young children and a teen conference for teenagers ages 12-15; and
- Locally-sourced, from-scratch lunches; raffle; book table; morning yoga and tai chi; book signings and much more.
For more information, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2017. Online registration is open until Jan. 23.
— Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association