Country Life

Urban agriculture grants at work in Cuyahoga County

Economic opportunity, beautification, new jobs and access to fresh, local produce are being wrapped into one pretty package for the Greater Cleveland community.

Ohio State University Extension in Cuyahoga County has received more than $840,000 in grants to help new farmers get started on small tracts of land in the city, with a special focus on training for women, minorities, refugees, immigrants and limited resource adults with developmental disabilities.

Projects supported by the grants will address several key city issues at once, said Marie Barni, director of the Cuyahoga County office for OSU Extension, including urban blight, food deserts, and unemployment.

The Beginning Entrepreneurs in Agricultural Networks (BEAN) and the Urban Agriculture Innovation District (UAID) projects will turn vacant tracts into lush, productive gardens and farms, Barni said.

“Many people in our county live without ready access to fresh produce. Infusing agriculture throughout our county provides healthy foods in our neighborhoods.… Continue reading

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TSC program supports 4-H

From now through November 21, 2010, Tractor Supply Company stores will support local 4-H youth and their families, volunteers, staff, and alumni with the exclusive TSC Clover Card, a loyalty card that gives periodic discounts to folks affiliated with 4-H and offers clubs the opportunity to win a monthly $500 TSC gift card. In addition, from November 5-14th, all TSC stores will be running a Paper Clover fundraiser in their stores to raise funds for their local 4-H programs. Can you help support 6 million 4-H youth by spreading the word about this exciting campaign?

In addition to the benefits for 4-H families to sign up for the excusive TSC Clover Card, all funds raised through this local TSC Paper Clover Promotion will be donated to 4-H, and will support local camps, after-school programs and other 4-H youth development program activities.

What is the TSC Clover Card?
As part of National 4-H Council’s partnership withTractor Supply Company (TSC), TSC has created a pilot loyalty card program for 4-Hers, their families, and staff involved in 4-H—it is called the TSC Clover Card!… Continue reading

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Cross country meet held “Down on the Farm”

By Kyle Sharp

Hundreds of people gathered at the Ross County farm of Larry and Betsy Moore on Sept. 29, but it wasn’t for an early harvest party. They’d come to watch and participate in the 2010 “Down on the Farm Run,” a low-key cross country meet that has become quite popular among six area schools.

The event is the brainchild of the Moore’s daughter, Jennifer Johnston, who is an agricultural education teacher and cross country coach at nearby Zane Trace High School.

“I started coaching cross country at Zane Trace in fall 2000, and I would take some of our runners out to the farm to run as practice,” Johnston said. “It became tradition and the kids really liked it. Then one of them said it would be neat if we had a meet here. She thought it would be fun to run around the cow pasture.”

That got the creative juices flowing, and plans were soon underway to hold the first “Down on the Farm Run” in 2004.… Continue reading

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FCS helps rebuild grandstand at Defiance County Fairgrounds

Anyone who grew up or lives in rural America likely has a pretty good feel for how county fairs — complete with 4H Club members, livestock judging, demolition derbies, tractor pulls, elephant ears, and much more — are an integral part of the fabric of their local communities.

“County fairs are really an annual celebration of agriculture and rural America,” said Defiance County native Nick Sheets recently of his county’s fair at Hicksville.

Those annual celebrations are also an opportunity to share agriculture’s story with a population increasingly removed from farming traditions and practices. However, in Defiance County fewer people are attending than in years past, which has had some community leaders concerned.

“At one time this was a great county fair, but over the past few years interest and attendance have dwindled,” said Tom Breininger, a retired school principal and farmer who agreed to chair a foundation board to raise funds to help rejuvenate the fair.… Continue reading

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OARDC tornado damage video on the Web

Ohio State University tree experts show tornado damage to the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and its Secrest Arboretum in Wooster in a new video posted Oct. 1 on YouTube.

The images come from areas that continue to remain off-limits to the public — the main OARDC campus and its 120-acre arboretum — following a Sept. 16 tornado strike.

Part one is at

Part two is at

Narrators Jim Chatfield, an Ohio State University Extension horticulture specialist based in Wooster, and Bruce Cubberley, an assistant professor of horticulture technologies at Ohio State’s Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI), also in Wooster, look at which trees were lost, which ones survived, how to know if a damaged tree can be saved and more.

“It’s about mourning, but it’s also about learning and looking to the future,” Chatfield says in the video.

“We will put this material to use” — with ATI horticulture students, in OSU Extension outreach programs — “because that’s what we’re about: bringing knowledge to life.”… Continue reading

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Ohio Department of Agriculture Preserves 37 Farms 
Using Clean Ohio Funds

The Ohio Department of Agriculture today announces that nearly 6,200 acres from 37 farms are preserved through its Agricultural Easement Purchase Program using Clean Ohio funds.

The Clean Ohio Fund bond initiative won support from Ohio’s voters in 2008 to preserve farmland and green space, improve outdoor recreation and to encourage redevelopment and revitalize communities by cleaning up brownfields.

This year, the Ohio Farmland Preservation Advisory Board reviewed 203 applications from 37 counties competing for the limited money available through the Clean Ohio Fund. Applicants had the opportunity to earn up to 150 points based on a two-tiered scoring system. Section one of the application focused on development pressure, soils, proximity to other agricultural land, use of best management practices and local comprehensive land-use plans. Section two included narrative questions regarding the farm and its unique appeal to the Agricultural Easement Purchase Program.

The following is a list of landowners selected to receive Clean Ohio funds, pending completion of a legal review, title search and any necessary review of third party interests:

Landowner NameFarm AcreageCounty
Thomas, Michael88.91Fairfield
Young, Helen140.28Fairfield
Young, Joe & Cathy125.01Fairfield




Thomas, Donald & Alesia110.58Knox

An agricultural easement is a voluntary and legally-binding restriction placed on a farm.… Continue reading

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4-H offers activities for day off school

In many central Ohio school districts, Friday, Oct. 15, is set aside for teachers’ professional development, giving students a day off. For the first time, Ohio 4-H Youth Development is offering a day of activities at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on Ohio State University’s Columbus campus.

“I remember when my children were younger that I wanted them to have someplace and something to do on that day off when I couldn’t be home, they were too old for day care, but not old enough to be home alone,” said Sally McClaskey, program coordinator for Ohio State University Extension’s 4-H program. “A one-day, structured, supervised activity would have been great.”

McClaskey has planned “4-H for a Day” for Oct. 15 — a day of activities for students ages 8 rough 12 involving games, team-building, crafts — even making ice cream with students in the Buckeye Dairy Club.

The event is limited to 40 children, and registration is due to McClaskey by Wednesday, Oct.… Continue reading

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Social media from the farm

A conversation with Mike “farmerhaley” Haley, a farmer and social media (Twitter and Facebook) user

OCJ: First can you tell us a little about your farm and your background?

Mike: I am a fifth generation farmer from Wayne County, Ohio. My father and I raise corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. My wife, Pam, and I are continuing my grandfather’s love of beef cattle by raising purebred Simmental cattle on our farm.

OCJ: How did you get started with using social media?

Mike: About a year and a half ago I attended an Ohio Farm Bureau Young Agricultural Professional Conference where one of the sessions was talking about how social media can help connect with the growing amount of people wanting to learn more about how their food is raised. The importance of individual farmers telling their stories rather than leaving it to associations or critics really hit home. Pam and I both decided to get involved.… Continue reading

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Tree farmers promote conservation in NW Ohio

By Matt Reese

In 1966, Walt and Donna Lange moved from Toledo to the rich farm country outside of Swanton. Walt was a Math teacher for the University of Toledo and was looking for a place to relax, enjoy the countryside and do some hunting. Their 33 acres was mostly in cropland, with around 10 acres in trees.

“In the winter, I can remember the blowing sand drifting onto the road instead of snow,” Donna said. “We started planting a windbreak in 1971 to try and stop some of that blowing sand.”

The initial planting of trees apparently appealed to the Langes because they have not stopped since. The couple was named the 2010 Ohio Tree Farmers of the Year by the Ohio Tree Farm Committee, which is sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“We’ve probably planted more than 10,000 trees through the years,” Walt said. “Planting trees is our labor of love and we are planting trees someplace every year.”… Continue reading

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Green policies may not create many jobs

Like many states, Ohio is banking on green energy technology to put residents back to work. Yet, a new Ohio State University analysis examining the economic development impacts of green policies suggests that the state’s current efforts are unlikely to generate large numbers of new jobs.

However, on a more positive front, the analysis also indicates that related proposals such as cap-and-trade are unlikely to be the massive “job killers” that opponents fear.

The analysis is laid out in a policy brief titled, “Green Policies, Climate Changes, and New Jobs: Separating Fact from Fiction.” In the document, Ohio State agricultural economist Mark Partridge and his colleagues Amanda Weinstein and J. Clay Francis discuss why environmental policies, such as green energy subsidies and cap-and-trade, do little to affect job growth.

“The overriding weakness for alternative energy to create jobs, even in the short run, is that virtually all green energy technologies are capital intensive, meaning that they require few workers to get started or maintain,” said Partridge, the Swank Chair in Rural-Urban Policy and a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.… Continue reading

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USDA announces loan program and Organic Program Handbook

USDA announces loan program and Organic Program Handbook

USDA has made two recent announcements regarding tools to help U.S. farms.

The launch of a Conservation Loan (CL) program that will provide farm owners and farm-related business operators access to credit to implement conservation techniques that will conserve natural resources.

“This will give farmers who want to implement conservation measures on their lands a chance to do so by providing assistance with their up-front costs,” said Vilsack. “In return, these producers will help to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and promote sustainable and organic agricultural practices.”

CL funds can be used to implement conservation practices approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), such as the installation of conservation structures; establishment of forest cover; installation of water conservation measures; establishment or improvement of permanent pastures; implementation of manure management; and the adaptation of other emerging or existing conservation practices, techniques or technologies.… Continue reading

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Wind energy becoming a breeze

Wind energy could supply about 20% of the nation’s electricity, according to the federal research lab, Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory, which in turn could lessen dependency on fuels and reduce emissions in the air. Although much of the wind resources in the U.S. are still largely untapped, the American Wind Energy Association estimates that wind is the fastest growing energy source in the world – expanding at a rate of 25-30% every year.

Closer to northwest Ohio, wind energy remains a popular point of discussion. Homes, cabins, boats and farms are utilizing systems to produce electrical power for on-site use. Of course, there are numerous factors to consider before generating such power: different characteristics of wind turbines, net metering agreements, sizing the right turbine, permits needed, and even available grants to fund a turbine.

Glen Ginesi, president of Engineered Process Systems (EPS), will present “Understanding Distrbuted Wind Systems” on Thurs., Sept.… Continue reading

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Trade safeguards would hurt, not help, developing countries

Allowing developing countries to increase import tariffs based on price and supply triggers under proposed World Trade Organization rules would actually harm those countries, according to a Purdue University economic analysis.

A major factor in the breakdown of the Doha Development Agenda, which aimed to set new rules for agricultural trade under the WTO, was disagreement over whether a special safeguard mechanism should be included to allow developing countries to increase tariffs if imports surged or world prices dropped past certain trigger points. Developing countries lobbied for those safeguards, believing the measures would protect producers from cheap commodities flooding their markets.

But Thomas Hertel, a Purdue distinguished professor of agricultural economics and executive director of the Global Trade Analysis Project, said those safeguards actually would increase price volatility with developing countries faring the worst.

“Rather than stabilizing domestic producers’ incomes, it could destabilize them. It would also raise food prices faced by the poor,” said Hertel, who ran an economic analysis on the effects of the proposed safeguards.… Continue reading

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MIchigan State Fair cancelled

The Michigan State Fair had been a state tradition for 160 years and held at Eight Mile and Woodward, within Detroit city limits, since 1905. But the fair had been running deficits and needed $360,000 from the state in 2008 to cover losses. Fewer than 220,000 people passed through last year. At its peak in 1966, the fair drew 1 million.… Continue reading

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OSU ag professor honored for global commitment

On his way home from work every evening, Herbert Ockerman makes it a habit to stop at three outlets of Half-Price Books to purchase textbooks, literature or “anything that would fit into a school or university library.”

He boxes them up with other books he collects, including donations from retiring faculty members, and stores them in his garage, basement and living room. When he has enough for a shipment, he has a shipping container delivered to his neighborhood in northern Columbus and enlists the help of friends, family, students and other volunteers to fill it up. Then it’s ready to send overseas, primarily to universities where former international students are now faculty members or administrators. Ockerman, professor of animal sciences with Ohio State University’sCollege of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, has done this since 1984, coordinating more than 1,500 shipments to thousands of educational institutions in more than 350 locations around the world.… Continue reading

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The Belmont County Fair finds a new home

By Matt Reese

“It is the same old thing, but this time it is all new.”
Jerry Campbell, president of the Belmont County Fair Board is excited, nervous and scared all at the same time as he leads the effort for yet another Belmont County Fair beginning on Sept. 7. In many ways, it will be the same as past fairs in the county, with junior exhibitors, events, and a community that is always supportive of the event. But this year, it will be the first time at a new location.
The Belmont County Fair long called a 17-acre site in St. Clairsville home, but the location offered no room to grow. This year will be the first fair at the new 162-acre location just outside of East Richland, 5.5 miles west of the previous site.
“That is a huge difference,” Campbell said. “We sold the former fairgrounds four years ago and had the fair there through last year while we worked on the new site.… Continue reading

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Win Your Community $2,500 Through Monsanto’s Farmers Grow Communities Project

The America’s Farmers Grow Communities Project sponsored by Monsanto gives eligible farmers the opportunity to win $2,500 for their local community. If the farmer is selected as a winner, Monsanto Fund will make a $2,500 grant to the community nonprofit organization they choose, such as FFA, 4-H, schools, fire departments and other civic groups.

For every farmer who registers, Monsanto Fund will donate $1 to the local United Way to help food banks, food pantries, Meals On Wheels and other charitable organizations dealing with hunger in that farmer’s county.

Registration begins August 31, 2010, and ends December 31, 2010. Apply and see rues and eligibility at or call 1-877-267-3332.

America’s Farmers Grow Communities Project Details

Eligible Counties

See previous Ohio winners

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Win Your Community $2,500 Through Monsanto's Farmers Grow Communities Project

The America’s Farmers Grow Communities Project sponsored by Monsanto gives eligible farmers the opportunity to win $2,500 for their local community. If the farmer is selected as a winner, Monsanto Fund will make a $2,500 grant to the community nonprofit organization they choose, such as FFA, 4-H, schools, fire departments and other civic groups.

For every farmer who registers, Monsanto Fund will donate $1 to the local United Way to help food banks, food pantries, Meals On Wheels and other charitable organizations dealing with hunger in that farmer’s county.

Registration begins August 31, 2010, and ends December 31, 2010. Apply and see rues and eligibility at or call 1-877-267-3332.

America’s Farmers Grow Communities Project Details

Eligible Counties

See previous Ohio winners

Continue reading

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USDA and FFA team up to create lesson plans just in time for school

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the National FFA Organization have partnered to develop new educational tools to help promote agricultural and statistical literacy among kindergarten through 12th-grade students.

“By including these materials in the classroom curriculum, teachers can help students better understand statistics and their importance to the farming community, rural America and society as a whole,” said Dr. Cynthia Clark, NASS administrator. “These lesson plans contain relevant information to give students a realistic view of statistical processes used to track trends and changes in U.S. agricultural production, economics and demographics.”

The classroom-ready resources, which include lesson plans and supporting materials, are aligned with national curriculum standards for science, math and social studies.

The materials use current Census of Agriculture data to teach a variety of concepts including discovering new trends in population subsets and evaluating diversity among farmers.

The materials are available online via the NASS website (… Continue reading

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U.S. Agriculture Paying Price for Inaction on Mexican Trucks

Mexico’s trade retaliation against the United States is expanding in size and scope due to the U.S. government not meeting obligations to allow Mexican trucks to operate in the United States. Due to this inaction, America’s farmers and ranchers are paying a steep price and the American Farm Bureau Federation is calling for immediate action to correct the matter.

The updated retaliation list published by Mexico includes tariffs that take effect today against U.S. pork, certain types of U.S. cheese, pistachios, a wide range of U.S. fruits and vegetables and other farm and non-farm goods.

“Mexico is one of our best trading partners and allowing this retaliation to continue for a provision we are obligated to meet is simply unacceptable,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The economic impact from this growing list will be significant to many farmers and ranchers.”

Mexico has taken this action because under NAFTA, Mexican motor carriers are allowed to transport international cargo within the U.S.… Continue reading

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