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