Small farm college in Northeast Ohio

There is a growing trend in Ohio Agriculture toward the direct marketing of agricultural products featuring locally grown food products. Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of buying local and buying fresh. As the demand for local food products increases so does the interest in growing and producing a variety of agricultural products for these markets. Perhaps this is something that you have considered for your small acreage but do not know where to begin.

To help land owners decide what to grow or raise on their excess acreage, the Ohio State University Extension offices in the Western Reserve Extension Education and Research Area are pleased to announce the Northeast Ohio New & Small Farm College titled “Too Much to Mow-What Do I Grow?” will be held on Monday evenings September 26 and October 3, 10, & 17, 2011 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in Madison (Lake County) Ohio. This college is open to any person in Northeast Ohio or Northwest Pennsylvania.

This four-week college is designed to help farmers increase their profits from their small acreage. This college is open to all new or aspiring farmers, new rural landowners, small farmers, and farm families looking for new ideas. The small farmer college is split into 4 evening sessions designed to challenge participants to plan for success. The first session titled “Getting Started” will help participants build the foundation for their farm business. Some of the session topics will include: developing real-life expectations for your small farm, developing goals and objectives, developing an agricultural business plan, and tax and financial management secrets for small farms.

The second session titled “Enterprise Selection” will help participants decide what to raise/grow on their farm and how to develop realistic budgets for these enterprises. This session will be tailored-made based on the interests of the group. Learn more about vegetable, greenhouse, fruit, nursery and bio-fuel crops, as well as aquaculture, livestock, hay, traditional and alternative farm enterprises. Let your passions lead you to the right agricultural enterprise to raise or grow.

The third session titled, “Experience at the Farm & Market Level” will be held at Rainbow Farms outside of Perry, Ohio. During this session, participants will take a tour of the farm to learn about raising, selecting, and marketing fruit and vegetable crops. Rainbow Farms raises a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. They presently sell at 11 outdoor farmer’s markets per week, operate a pick your own operation, and recently opened an on-site indoor market.

The final session titled “Marketing & Resources for Small Farms” will help participants build a marketing direction for their business. Learn how agricultural products are being marketed across northeast Ohio. This session will introduce the local agencies which can help farmers as they start, grow or maintain their farm (tax savings, federal, state and local farm programs) business.

Participants will receive a light meal at sessions 1, 2, and 4; 12 hours of classroom and on-site instruction; resource notebook (1 per family); and connections to resources and people that will help your farm business grow. The first, second, and fourth sessions will be held at Grand River Cellars Winery & Restaurant located on State Route 538 between Thompson and Madison, Ohio. The third session will be held at Rainbow Farms located outside of Perry, Ohio.

The registration fee for this college is $60 for the first registrant from each family and $30 for each registrant thereafter. This fee includes a course notebook (1 per family), class handouts and light meal/refreshments at each session. Call the Ashtabula County OSU Extension office at 440-576-9008 to make your reservations. Reservations are requested by Monday, September 19, 2011. Call the Ashtabula County Extension office for more information. Registration forms can also be found at http://ashtabula.osu.edu.

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