Learning For Success-Two upcoming conferences help small farm owners

Published on Fri, 01/06/2017 - 10:01am

I continue to see a huge interest in agricultural production as the Small Farm Program Coordinator for Ohio State University Extension. Whether a large or small producer, a producing-for-profit operation, or just a hobby farmer, the interest in agriculture is just incredible.

Since 2005, we at Ohio State have tried addressing producer needs for small farm production. Our two main efforts include an eight-week Small Farm College and the second is through Small Farm Conferences.

This month I want to highlight our two small farm conferences the OSU Extension’s Small Farm Program will be sponsoring. These conferences are designed for small farm owners wanting to learn more about how to make their farms work better for them.

Through the many topics offered, we hope we can help landowners expand their operations or help them identify ways to more efficiently utilize their acreage. Land owners can attend workshops and presentations on these issues—and more—during the two conferences: “Opening Doors to Success” and “Living Your Small Farm Dream”.

A smorgasbord of ideas

The two conferences, combined with a trade show, are set up to help participants learn tips, techniques, and methods for diversifying their opportunities into successful new enterprises and markets as a way to improve economic growth and development on their farms.

Through the conferences, we try to give participants a smorgasbord of ideas that may interest them and opportunities to learn in-depth about an issue, gain resources, and study how to finance a new venture. Although similar in content, the two conferences are not set up to contain the same sessions, nor are they located in the same location.

The “Opening Doors to Success” Conference and Trade Show will be held March 10-11, 2017 at the Wilmington College Campus, in Wilmington, Ohio. This conference will kick off Friday afternoon with two really neat hands-on workshops focusing on Poultry Production and Beekeeping for the Beginner.

The Poultry Production program will feature our very own AcreageLife poultry guru, Andy Schneider, aka the chicken whisperer, as well as other presenters.  They will be focusing on laying and meat production, health and biosecurity, processing, rules and regulations. 

The Introduction to Beekeeping program will be led by Amanda Bennett, the Miami County Extension Educator for Ohio State University, and will include other beekeeping producers and experts here in Ohio. Topics for the program will include: Different Ways to Keep Bees, What’s going on in the Hive, The Do’s and Don’ts of Selling Honey, Spring and Fall Hive Management, as well as a question and answer period.

Your small farm dream

On Saturday, the conference will feature 25-plus sessions from Ohio State University and industry experts as well as a trade show for small farmers that will offer information that can benefit a variety of growers. 

The “Living Your Small Farm Dream”, Conference and Trade Show will be held Saturday, March 25, 2017 at the R.G. Drage Center in Massillon, Ohio. Participants at this conference will also be able to choose from more than 25 sessions presented by both Ohio State and industry experts.  Attendees will also be able to question other producer speakers on issues related to small farms.

OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. The overall goal of these events and the mission of the OSU Small Farms Program is to provide a greater understanding of production practices, economics of land-use choices, and assessment of personal and natural resources. Additional goals include helping landowners explore marketing alternatives, and the identification of sources of assistance.

I encourage landowners to attend both conferences, as they will not cover all the same speakers or topics. We try to keep the two conferences different so we can reach more producers and help them with their operation needs.

Topical information

The information presented is varied, ranging from practical and hands-on, to strategic. Some of the topics (subject to change) we plan to cover at the two conferences are:

•    Aquaculture

•    Livestock production

•    Poultry production

•    Farm business planning

•    Artisan cheese-making

•    Direct marketing

•    Organics

•    Accessing land

•    Sprayer calibration

•    Utilizing cover crops

•    Soil health

•    Fertility management

•    High tunnels

•    Beekeeping

•    Vegetable and fruit production

•    Financing/loans

•    Estate planning

•    Maple syrup production

•    Chain saw safety

For more information about these two conferences, session descriptions and registration details please visit http://agnr.osu.edu/small-farm-programs or contact Tony Nye at (937) 382-0901 or nye.1@osu.edu

Find a conference near you

Most state extension services realize the challenges small farms face, and offer ongoing training or annual conferences like these in Ohio. Google “small farm conference” to find what’s happening in your state