Beginning farmers a focus of OEFFA conference

Helping beginning farmers start and grow their operations is the focus of a six-part workshop track, which is part of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 38th annual conference, Growing Today, Transforming Tomorrow. The event will be held Thursday, Feb. 9 through Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Dayton Convention Center.

“Our goal is to help early career and aspiring farmers increase their knowledge and skills, find leads on farmland, and make business and professional connections,” said Kelly Henderson, OEFFA Begin Farming Program Coordinator.

Six 90-minute workshops, totaling nine hours of education, will cover a range of topics from choosing the right equipment to developing a successful business:

  • Start with the soil: Establishing a first-year fertility program — Raymond Yoder, Jr., Green Field Farms (Friday, February 10, 8:30-10 a.m.)
  • Starting your own farm business from scratch — Richard Wiswall, Cate Farm (Friday, February 10, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.)
  • Farming the farm bill: FSA programs and how they can support your farm — Matt Kleski and David Drake, USDA Farm Service Agency (Friday, February 10, 2-3:30 p.m.)
  • Farmland access 101: Options for landowners and growers — Krista McGaw, Tecumseh Land Trust (Saturday, February 11, 8:30-10 a.m.)
  • The path to organic certification: Lessons from farmers — Julia Barton and Patrick Turner, Octagon Acres (Saturday, February 11, 1:30-3 p.m.)
  • Walk-behind tractors for small farms — Michael O’Donnell, Purdue University Extension (Saturday, February 11, 3:30-5 p.m.)

In addition to the begin farming workshop track, the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference will offer other opportunities geared specifically toward beginning farmers, including:

  • A full-day pre-conference intensive workshop on Thursday, Feb. 9, “Farming smarter, not harder: Tune up your farm business and increase your net profit.” Long-time organic farmer and author of The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, Richard Wiswall, will explore ways farmers can plan to increase their farms’ net profit, market their products strategically, and meet their long-term business goals.
  • A free, public Farm Land of Opportunity reception on Thursday, Feb. 9 designed to connect farmers looking for land with established farmers looking for employees, retiring farmers interested in a transition plan, and landowners with land to sell or lease.

To help budding farmers access these educational opportunities, OEFFA is offering a limited number of full scholarships for early career farmers. The application deadline is January 7.

In addition, the conference will also feature:

For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2017. Online registration will be open until January 23.

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