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Organic farmer Elizabeth Henderson to keynote 40th Ohio Sustainable Food and Farm Conference

First Posted: 12:04 pm - January 17th, 2019 - Views

OEFFA news release

Elizabeth Henderson, keynote speaker for OEFFA’s 40th annual conference.
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The need to connect soil and human health with social justice and fairness on the farm will be the focus of a keynote address by long-time organic farmer, agricultural justice advocate, and writer Elizabeth Henderson at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 40th annual conference, Just Farming: The Path Before Us, this February in Dayton, Ohio.

In her Friday, Feb. 15 keynote address, “Agrarian Justice: Creating a Food System Worth Sustaining,” Henderson will explore why we need to support fair pricing for farmers, instead of subsidizing corporate control of our food system. She’ll also explain why we need to unite family-scale farmers with other food workers and build a coalition powerful enough to bring to life a food system grounded in agroecology, health, freedom, justice, and equity.

“If we are honest, we have to admit that for the most part social relations in organic agriculture mimic those of the dominant industrial food system, and organic farmers, even farmers who sell direct in local markets, have a hard time making ends meet,” Henderson said. “By stretching towards fairness, organic can take its rightful place in the struggles for freedom and justice, for civil liberties for all. We will not reach the promised land of sustainability based on the environment and humane treatment of livestock alone. Farmers and farmworkers, the people who do the work of farming, must have justice.”

Henderson is a core leader behind the Agricultural Justice Project (AJP) and its Food Justice Certification label, working to create fairness for farmers and farmworkers. “The basic premise of AJP is that supportive relations of mutual respect and cooperation among the people who grow and sell food will result in a triple win for farmers, food workers, and ultimately the people who eat the food,” Henderson said.

Henderson is also a pioneer of the community supported agriculture (CSA) model. She co-founded the Genesee Valley Organic CSA in Rochester, NY in 1989, and later Peacework Farm in Newark, NY in 1998, one of the country’s longest running CSAs.

“For me, farming for a community of people whom I know well is very satisfying,” she told the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. “It’s not like shipping crates off somewhere, where I never see the customers. I know everyone, and I know most of their children.”

She co-authored the definitive work on CSA farming, Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture, and is honorary president of the international CSA network, Urgenci. On Friday, Feb. 15, Henderson will also lead a 90-minute workshop, “CSAs Around the World.”

“Around the planet there are many different ways of doing [CSA]. And that’s part of what’s so exciting, that CSA isn’t an orthodoxy, nobody certifies it, nobody dictates that you have to do it this way or that way. It’s a concept of the direct connection between a group of eaters and one or several pieces of land. And after that you can do it however you want,” she told the Farmer to Farmer podcast in 2015.

Deeply involved in the organic movement, Henderson is a founding member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) in Massachusetts. She has served on the Board of Directors for NOFA-New York and other farming organizations. She is also co-author of Whole Farm Planning: Ecological Imperatives, Personal Values, and Low-Input Practices, and her writings on organic agriculture appear in Grist, The Natural Farmer and other publications.

“We are honored to welcome Elizabeth to our 40th annual conference,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “As we reflect on how far we’ve come and the work ahead, her decades of experience and leadership in the organic movement and thoughtful ability to explore the themes of justice and diversity make her a perfect fit for helping to shape our work for the next 40 years.”

On Saturday, Feb. 16, Henderson will co-present the 90-minute workshop, “OEFFA’s Advocacy Agenda: Policy Priorities Past, Present, and Future.”

Henderson will speak as part of Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, which will run Thursday, Feb. 14 through Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Dayton Convention Center.

In addition to Henderson, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Onika Abraham on Feb. 16; nearly 80 educational workshops; four full-day Food and Farm School classes on Feb. 14; a three-day trade show; evening entertainment; activities for children; locally-sourced meals; a raffle; book sales and signings, and more.

A limited number of scholarships are available to persons of color and beginning farmers, along with reduced rate volunteer spaces.

For more information about the conference, or to register, go to

Elizabeth Henderson, keynote speaker for OEFFA’s 40th annual conference. Henderson, keynote speaker for OEFFA’s 40th annual conference.

OEFFA news release

Ohio Farm Bureau celebrates its 100th year

First Posted: 1:36 pm - January 16th, 2019 Updated: 1:39 pm - January 16th, 2019. - Views

By Amanda Rockhold -

Advertisement for Farm Bureau Automobile Mutual Insurance.
Steve Hausfeld, manager, Nationwide Library and History & Archives Center, presented “Strong Roots: How the Ohio Farm Bureau Cultivated the Seed to become Nationwide” at Ohio Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, Dec. 6. Frank Burkett III, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation president, at the Ohio Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, Dec. 6.
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COLUMBUS — The Ohio Farm Bureau and Nationwide Insurance celebrated 100 years of partnership, a legacy formed through farmers joining together.

Steve Hausfeld, manager, Nationwide Library and History & Archives Center, presented “Strong Roots: How the Ohio Farm Bureau Cultivated the Seed to become Nationwide” at Ohio Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, Dec. 6.

“People have within their own hands the tools to fashion their own destiny,” said Hausfeld, quoting the early Farm Bureau leader and the longest serving president in Nationwide’s history, Murray D. Lincoln.

“The founding of the Ohio Farm Bureau and of Nationwide are grounded into the roots of the subject of Murray’s statement,” said Hausfeld.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation was established in 1919 at The Ohio State University. Through the Farm Bureau, Nationwide was eventually established.

Hausfeld said that in many ways, the foundation and partnership between the Ohio Farm Bureau and Nationwide is an origin story. “All origin stories begin with the people,” he said. “For the first 22 years of what became Nationwide, we were part of a larger organization, an organization that at its roots informed and engaged members,” said Hausfeld, explaining that both the insurance company and Farm Bureau benefited from the partnership.

Nationwide was originally known as Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. In 1893 George Cooley, known as Uncle George and referred to as the “Father of Ohio Farm Bureau,” helped establish the Cuyahoga County Grape Growers Cooperative. Cooley was a grape grower, a teacher, a township trustee, an architect and a “renaissance man,” said Hausfeld. “But most importantly, he was an organizer.”

In 1905 Cooley helped build roads in 14 states as a federal highway engineer. In 1905 he became an early leader in the establishment of the Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) Federation.

Hausfeld also highlighted two others significant to OFB, including Murray D. Lincoln and Ezra Anstaett, who was the first employee and general agent for Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company in 1926.

“They took an idea 100 years ago and said, ‘Hey let’s join together and do what we can’t do individually,’” said Frank Burkett III, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation president. “And I look forward to what county farm bureaus, Ohio Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau do in the next 100 years.” This will be Burkett’s third full term as president. He was reelected Dec. 7 at the annual meeting.

“From 1913 until near the end of [World War I] crop prices just exploded, something in the neighborhood of 121 percent over the 1913 prices,” said Hausfeld. However, prices crashed after the war. Between 1919 and 1920 farmers’ income dropped 60 percent across the United States, according to Hausfelf.

“There was a need for farmers to come together because [the farmers] weren’t getting support from those living outside of their world,” said Hausfeld. “People in urban areas were at the cusp of the Roaring Twenties.”

By 1918 all but one of the 88 counties of Ohio had established Farm Bureau.

“Murray and Uncle George recognized that there was a potential threat even greater than the price of corn, and that was what the wreckage of an auto accident could do to a farmer, both physically and financially,” said Hausfeld. “They knew how much potential the Farm Bureau had to influence this.” By 1925, only 15 percent of farmers had automobile insurance, as it was expensive. The Ohio Farm Bureau established the Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, offering automobile insurance in April 1926.

In 1931 the organization began to offer insurance to people who lived in urban areas as well because farm population began to decrease. But they had to sign up for a Farm Bureau membership first.

“Less than one percent of U.S. companies actually make it to celebrate their centennial,” said Burkett, and he said Ohio Farm Bureau owes its centennial all to its members. “To be president when Ohio Farm Bureau is celebrating their centennial—it’s very humbling, to stand here as the twenty-fourth president.”

Forced separation

The Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company continued to expand throughout World War II and by 1948 the organization had 1.2 million policy holders and around $64 million in assets.

However, in 1948 the two organizations separated. “We didn’t do so because we wanted to,” said Hausfeld. But Highway Insurance examiners and others conducted an examiner’s report, which showed potential for questionable activities with the management structures, relationships and agreements between the two organizations. However, the examiner’s report identified that there was never any actual questionable activity.

Lincoln put together a thirty-plus page draft arguing against each point in the examiner’s report. But ultimately, the two companies separated. Lincoln decided to continue with the insurance company.

“[Lincoln] felt that the opportunity for insurance could better connect with his personal philosophy around people coming together on a much grander scale,” a quote by Lincoln. “Insurance…the best bet for getting all kinds of people together to fulfill their needs.”

In 1952 the insurance company became the first full service insurance and financial services company when it acquired Mutual Income Foundation, a small mutual fund company. In 1955, the company officially changed its name to Nationwide and introduced the “N” and eagle logo.

“We have always focused on people, on members, on associates, on partners,” said Hausfeld. “And our connection to [Ohio Farm Bureau] is as strong today as it was in 1926 and I’m confident that when our [descendants] meet for the 200th anniversary of the Farm Bureau that our connection will be equally as strong.”

Advertisement for Farm Bureau Automobile Mutual Insurance. for Farm Bureau Automobile Mutual Insurance.

Steve Hausfeld, manager, Nationwide Library and History & Archives Center, presented “Strong Roots: How the Ohio Farm Bureau Cultivated the Seed to become Nationwide” at Ohio Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, Dec. 6. Frank Burkett III, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation president, at the Ohio Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, Dec. 6. Hausfeld, manager, Nationwide Library and History & Archives Center, presented “Strong Roots: How the Ohio Farm Bureau Cultivated the Seed to become Nationwide” at Ohio Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, Dec. 6. Frank Burkett III, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation president, at the Ohio Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, Dec. 6.

By Amanda Rockhold

Snowville Creamery — holding steady in a struggling market

First Posted: 11:38 am - January 15th, 2019 - Views

By Dorothy J. Countryman -

Melody Holler Farm’s A2 Guernseys enjoying a respite from the rain.
Dorothy J. Countryman| Rural Life
Snowville’s processing plant is located in the center of Melody Holler farm.
Dorothy J. Countryman| Rural Life
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POMEROY — Even though the domestic dairy market is shrinking and prices are depressed, Snowville Creamery’s niche marketing strategy has made the 11-year-old business a success. Located near the Meigs-Athens county line on a steep and winding state highway, the brainchild of Warren and Victoria Taylor sends minimally processed dairy products to the state’s four major metropolitan areas as well as to Indianapolis, Washington, DC and New Jersey.

It began as the Taylors were rearing their children in the area. They were thrilled with the taste of milk produced by their neighbors at The Red Brick Dairy. Warren, a dairy technician and dairy design engineer by trade, was so intrigued he decided to find a way to share that milk with as many consumers as possible. He purchased an acre in the middle of the farm, and began to plan and then design a new creamery. Today, Snowville is still on its original site. The property surrounding the creamery is Melody Holler Farm, and is run by Lin and Eric Karcher, who have been at this location since 2015.

The creamery is one of the largest employers in Meigs County with about 30 staff members, including the pick-up and delivery drivers. It is “bursting at the seams,” according to Heather Fuston, who serves as public relations director and community educator for the company. Snowville continues to operate with the Taylors’ set of values: pay the farmers a sustainable wage, keep the cows as healthy as possible, focus on the taste. Even though Warren is engaged in other projects these days, Virginia is a visible and regular presence at the center of operations. The creamery is not a cooperative. Fuston said that two other farmers—one in Ohio and one in Mason, WV—are currently part of the production group. After a three-year transition period that has just ended, all of the cows in the operation are A2/A2 cows.

The secret behind the taste is a combination of factors: the cows are primarily grass and forage fed; over the past three years the herds that comprise the creamery’s base have become solely A2/A2 cows, and the milk is processed at the lowest temperatures possible to keep it nutrient-dense. “This is the real stuff,” Fuston said. “We’re trying to maintain milk as it should be.”

Even this time of year, the cows are out foraging. Their diet is supplemented with a minimal amount of non-GMO grain. “We try to keep that at about 10 percent of their diet, but we want them to be as healthy as possible,” Fuston noted, and added that the farmers who manage the three herds make feed decisions based on conditions at their own farms. The cows at Melody Holler are rotated to different pasture after each milking, about 12 hours apart, which helps sustain the grass as long as possible.

The A2/A2 designation is determined by the genetics of the individual cows and means that the cow has the A2 genetic factor on both sides of her family tree. Guernsey and Jersey cows are typically A2, which means that their milk is consistently nutrient-rich, dense with beta-casein protein, and less likely to cause stomach discomfort in humans. The A2 Milk Company originated in New Zealand and has been responsible for bringing this aspect of milk to light. Fuston says that company has invested in advertising and education programs world-wide that a small creamery, such as Snowville, could not afford. The typical Holstein cow—those black and white ones most often associated with dairy products—does not have the A2 gene.

Although Snowville is not organically certified, “our standards are even cleaner, even better for the cows and for” consumers than organic requires, Fuston said. This allows them to get to a premium price point for not only milk, but yogurt, half and half, and cream. “It’s always a struggle to make enough cream,” Fuston added, and demand for whipping cream is high year round. “We see opportunities especially with A2 as people become more aware of the health benefits” it has. Right now she notes that their “niche is a safe place to be” but it is not invulnerable. Two other Northern Ohio companies are competing with them now.

Whole Foods distributes products from Snowville in the East, and uses them in their in-store bakeries. The creamery produces, on average, 15,500 cartons of milk each week. They run production five days a week. “We’re committed to staying local,” Fuston noted, adding that it would be hard to move the product much farther east or west than it’s going right now. A lot of what happens in milk marketing has to do with the shelf-stable dates that are allowable. “We have a short” shelf-life “since we’re minimally pasteurized.” Snowville is delivered twice a week to stores in Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and Cleveland.

Although the future is always a gamble, Snowville plans to stay in Meigs County. “We have a commitment to this place and to these people,” Warren says in one of the company’s videos. They’re going to go on doing their best to bring consumers, “the best milk ever.”

For more information about Snoville Creamery visit:

Melody Holler Farm’s A2 Guernseys enjoying a respite from the rain. Holler Farm’s A2 Guernseys enjoying a respite from the rain. Dorothy J. Countryman| Rural Life

Snowville’s processing plant is located in the center of Melody Holler farm.’s processing plant is located in the center of Melody Holler farm. Dorothy J. Countryman| Rural Life

By Dorothy J. Countryman

From dairy farm to micro-dairy

Dugan Road Creamery surviving a struggling industry

First Posted: 3:35 pm - January 11th, 2019 - Views

By Amanda Rockhold -

Joyce Nelson of The Nelson Family’s Dugan Road Creamery and her calf, Adam.
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URBANA — Joyce Nelson of Dugan Road Creamery in Urbana admits that she prefers the micro-dairy life, as opposed to her previous dairy farm. And with low milk prices and high feed costs, who could blame her?

“It’s not a good situation [for dairy farms],” said Joyce. According to a recent Ohio State Extension article, Ohio dairy farmers have been leaving the business at a higher than usual rate because they’ve been struggling with lower milk prices and reduced revenue because the supply of dairy products have outstripped the demand.

In the summer of 2016 Joyce and her husband, Chris, sold all of their 50 cows except for one because of economic reasons and the struggling dairy industry.

But they couldn’t live without cows for very long.

“We couldn’t handle it. We missed the cows too much,” said Joyce. Six months after they sold their cows, they decided to start a micro dairy. Now they have seven holstein cows at their creamery.

Joyce and Chris Nelson opened The Nelson Family’s Dugan Road Creamery in April 2017, where they now offer flavored milk, white milk, cheese curds, cream cheeses in various flavors, along with hand stretched mozzarella cheese and greek style yogurt cheeses. Their creamery is located on Dugan Road in Urbana. The Nelsons have been on this farm for 32 years. Joyce and Chris moved to Ohio from Idaho in 1988, where they were milking 300 cows.

At their micro-dairy, they sell to local stores, including Steve’s Market & Deli (Urbana and DeGraff), Davis Meats (Sidney), Sunset Meat Market (Piqua), Haren’s Market (Troy), and Rosewood Grocery (Rosewood).

Joyce admitted that they had an easy transition since they already had much of the infrsastructure. The most significant expense was the pasteurizing equipment needed for the creamery. Before they had been selling their milk directly to milk processors.

Now they can better control their prices and sell locally. “I much prefer the micro dairy,” said Joyce. Before they started their creamery, the Nelsons visited many micro dairies in Maryland. Joyce said the Ohio Department of Agriculture was very encouraging during the process of starting the micro dairy. She added that the health inspectors were also helpful.

Chris and Joyce work and operate the micro dairy, with some help from their children when they’re home from school. The Nelsons pasteurize, cool and bottle their milk and other products themselves.

A cow produces about six gallons of milk per milking, and they are milked twice per day. The Nelsons have used sand instead of hay for their cows to stand on for 15 years now. Sand doen’t hold bacteria like hay can do. The sand also holds in heat.

“Antibiotics are never in your milk,” said Joyce, expalining that they have to test their milk three times before it’s ever sold. They also have three inspectors who visit the farm every month.

The Nelsons produce creamline milk, which means that the fat from the milk is not broken up through homogenization. Therefore, milk from Dugan Road Creamery needs to be shaken before drinking. But Joyce admits that the fat that’s not broken up helps the stomach process the milk.

“You still get the same 11 nutrients in colored milk as you do in white,” said Joyce, adding that the flavored milk does add some calories.

Cows and people

“Cows need people, and people need cows,” said Joyce. Her philosphy, which she instilled into her four children on the farm, is that you should touch every animal on the farm every day.

She said that dairy farming is a perfect way to raise children, as it teaches them responsibility. “They learn that the decisions they make can be life and death situations,” Joyce said. She supports the idea of bottle feeding every calf, as you can look at the cow’s eyes, take a close look to see if they’re healthy or if they’re getting sick. Scours and pneumonia are common sicknesses in calves.

“We have a whole generation of kids who aren’t drinking as much milk as they should be,” Joyce said, adding that many schools do not have the capability to keep enough milk cold to offer to students at school.

“Kids need to know where their food comes from,” said Joyce. “They need to know it doesn’t come from Kroger.”

Joyce has been a 4-H advisor for 32 years and they host Farm Days for kids at their creamery once per year. She also drives a school bus full time, which she said works with her schedule at the creamery.

“I love raising them,” said Joyce, referring to the cows. “I’ve tried to potty train my cows for 42 years.” Although she has not been successful yet. “But they know not to poop in the barn.”

Joyce Nelson of The Nelson Family’s Dugan Road Creamery and her calf, Adam. Nelson of The Nelson Family’s Dugan Road Creamery and her calf, Adam.
Dugan Road Creamery surviving a struggling industry

By Amanda Rockhold

Protecting livestock from Black vultures

First Posted: 3:17 pm - January 11th, 2019 - Views

By Dorothy J. Countryman -

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HILLSBORO — Black vultures are moving north through southwestern Ohio. They pose a threat to livestock and will kill young animals to feed.

The vultures and what can be done about them were the topic of a presentation to the Highland County Extension Service’s first Winter Farmers Meeting at the Hillsboro Pondorosa, Dec. 10. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Technician Gary A. Ludwig of Greenfield was the guest speaker.

Black vultures are native to the countries of Central and South America. They are migratory birds. In the past 30 years they have been moving steadily north, and had come as far as northern Kentucky by 2000. Since that time, the birds have established a major roosting area near the Rocky Fork Lake dam in Highland County. Ludwig said they are continuing to move their territory northward and are now being seen in Central and Southeast Ohio as well.

Red-headed vultures have been at home in Ohio for at least 100 years. Differing from them in both size and temperment, the Black vultures are aggressive and deadly. In 2018, Ludwig investigated eight cases where new-born calves were killed in the fields by the birds. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) officers have determined that calves are vulnerable to attack for two to three weeks after birth. The birds will also attack lambs and piglets.

The APHIS officers recommend a multi-part strategy for producers dealing with the birds. “There is no silver bullet,” Ludwig said. Strategies for livestock protection from them must be both species and site specific—each farm and each predator is different. “The issues you have to deal with,” he added, when it comes to any wildlife are “ongoing.” Producers should not expect that following these recommendations will automatically solve the problem.

Identify the Culprit

The first requirement to help producers claim reimbursement for Black vulture damage to livestock, is to be sure you’re dealing with Black vultures. To this end, Ludwig described the differences between the Red-heads and their black counterparts. Red-headed vultures are dark brown, with a grayish, lighter underwing that is apparent from the ground when you are looking at them as they soar overhead. They travel on the thermal air currents and their six to six-and-a-half-foot wingspan allows them to move with very little flapping. As they soar, you’ll notice that their wings are a bit above their bodies. They do not acquire their red heads until they reach sexual maturity about a year after they are hatched. Until then, their heads are grey and they can be mistaken for the black vultures. However, Red-headed vultures do not attack live animals; they feed on carcasses of those already deceased. They move on the ground by a combination of hopping and flapping. Their long wings are hard to hold close to the body when they are on the ground and sometimes appear to droop when folded. Their tails are squarish with the feathers bunched together.

Black vultures have the gray-black heads from the time they hatch. The also have longer legs that are placed toward the rear of the body so they can walk more easily on the ground. Their wings are shorter and they must flap them to maintain height in the air; they rarely soar long distances. From below the whitish tips of their underwings are obvious, and the wings are held level with their bodies when they fly. Their tails are shaped like a slice of pie.

Both species nest on the ground in hollow logs and fallen tree trunks or in brushy woods. They can sometimes be found in the haylofts of abandoned barns.

The Black vultures leave very specific damage indicators when they attack. They will first pick out the eyes of the animal they’ve attacked and they will take the end of the tongue. They then attack through the soft tissue areas: the anus, the vagina, the teats, and the underbelly. It is important to take pictures of the animal(s) that have been killed as soon as possible after the attack. This increases the wildlife officer’s chances of making a correct assessment of the killer.

Fighting Back

To combat the vultures, focus on “exclusion techniques.”

First, Ludwig said, exclude the birds from the livestock. Whenever possible bring cows ready to calve into a barn or shelter where you can keep an eye on them. Keep the calves and their mothers confined until they have passed their third week. That’s when the vultures seem to lose interest in them. Some producers have found it effective to place large groups of cattle in smaller paddocks within a field and rotate them all together to the next paddock.

If an animal is killed, photograph it as quickly as possible. Then bury or compost the carcass. Don’t leave it on the ground for the vultures to pick over. If it’s left in the field, it gives the the vultures the notion that they have found a safe place to dine and they will return to that area to kill and feed again.

Remove single or isolated trees where the vultures are seen loafing. It is not necessary to take down the entire woodlot. Usually, they congregate in a single tree. Observation is the key to this strategy—once it’s been determined where they are, remove the object they’ve appropriated.

Harrass the vultures. Just driving a four-wheeler along a fenceline where the vultures are hanging around can disturb them enough to cause them to leave, at least temporarily. The wildlife officers have found that pyrotechnics—Bangers and Screamers—are as effective as firing a shotgun, “and it saves you money on shotgun shells,” Ludwig said. “Bangers and Screamers are essentially firecrackers.” He added that if you choose to fire a shotgun in their vicinity, remember not to aim AT them—without a permit, it is not legal to kill the birds. For more information about pyrotechnics for harassing the birds,contact the APHIS officers. They will help producers choose pyrotechnics suited to a particular situation, and will demonstrate how to operate them.

Another harassment technique is hanging a black vulture in effigy. The vultures don’t like to be near dead members of their own clans. Ludwig says that you can hang the bird where the flock congregates—on a tree limb or a nearby fence, and they will move on.

Protected Not Indestructible

A permit is necessary to kill the bird in the first place, since they are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Protection Act. However, producers don’t have to wait for the birds to kill animals before taking action. If they’re hanging around, call the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Filling out the application can be daunting, but an officer will come to your farm to assist you in completing the application and making sure your documentation is in order. First-time permit applications are free under current program rules, but renewals will cost $100. If the birds do kill an animal, the officer can kill a bird so one can be hung while your permit is processed. Having a wildlife officer help you with the forms also ensures that your permit application will go through the system as quickly as possible. Currently, if an application is completed and sent before the end of the business day, the permit may be back to the producer by the end of the next day.

More Information

APHIS has a webpage devoted specifically to vultures at There is also a fact sheet at For assistance with a specific problem, contact the Ohio Wildlife office at 866-487-3297 or 614-993-3444. J Countryman | Rural Life Today photo | USDA/APHIS/WS photo | USDA/APHIS/WS

By Dorothy J. Countryman

Success story, Bexley City Schools

First Posted: 3:57 pm - January 9th, 2019 - Views

By Amy Fovargue - Ohio Farm to School Coordinator - OSU Extension

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BEXLEY — “School food does not have to be great, it just needs to be good,” explained Juli Carvi, the director of food services at Bexley City Schools. She thinks she has the best job in the school, because it is rewarding for her to make kids happy (with lunch) and she does not have to worry about giving them grades.

“I have found zero resistance while implementing a Farm to School program in my district. The hardest part is the leg work and going after the Ohio products. It takes extra work for me to go after the products, but I am passionate about serving local foods. We [food service directors] need to identify it and get it into the mouths of the students closest to the food,” she said.

Bexley schools began using local foods about five years ago when they initiated Salad Bar to Schools with the Chef Ann Foundation. During August through October, they procure many local items. The growers Carvi works with reach out to her with their list of available produce. She first checked with her local health department and they confirmed that her cafeteria could use locally grown produce. They are involved in a harvest of the month program called Ohio Days: My Plate, My State. This program features one meal a month served in the school cafeterias that is entirely grown, raised and/or processed in Ohio. This program encourages schools to provide healthy, local, fresh foods in the cafeteria and learn about this food in their classroom or through experiential learning.

Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) created the Ohio Days program materials. As part of the program, students, their families and teachers are provided resources such as newsletters and a poster to feature the monthly menu. “Our younger students are very enthusiastic about Ohio Days, because they love anything that is promoted,” Carvi said.

“Our goal is to continue to use the Ohio Days promotion. We want to see more Ohio food in our cafeterias. We want more access [to local products] and have it prominently labeled. I want to keep our food closer to where it is grown. What I have learned through this program is there is not enough food processed in Ohio in order to have it available throughout the year,” Carvi said. “[Many] institutions want to procure local labels, but it’s not labelled locally for us to buy. I encourage more Ohio schools to become involved in Ohio Days, because the more we [institutions] demand the local products, the more interested the distributors and the decision makers will be about developing local processing for us.”

Her biggest take away about procuring local products is learning more about agribusiness and the complexity of manufacturing, distribution and about the whole process of getting foods delivered to the schools. “One example is the Conagra plant of Ohio, their products are sold nationally; therefore, it is not prominently labelled that their products are from Ohio, even though people in Ohio want to know,” Carvi added.

The enrollment at Bexley City schools is 2,300 students. Each day, more than 600 students are buying a whole lunch while 800 youth are buying at least one item. Carvi said, to serve local foods, school kitchens only need cutting boards, knives and people who know how to use them. In the 1980s we got away from scratch cooking. Once the Healthy Hunger Free Act was passed, the nutritional rules became more stringent which led us away from processed food and back to scratch cooking. In order for this to be successful, the kitchens need to be able to pay an appropriate hourly wage for those doing the work.

Bexley has a school garden at one elementary and one high school life skills class. Their school has experimented with tower gardens in the past, but saw an increase in their electric usage with them and so they no longer use the towers. They have a food waste program in place in which one of the science teachers collects the kitchen scraps to feed to his 50 chickens at his home. He brings in buckets and the school fills them with vegetable ends such as carrots, peppers and lettuce scraps. Their local farmers are Bryn Bird’s Haven Farms of Granville, Yellowbird Food Shed of Mount Vernon, Quarry Hill Orchards of Berlin Heights, and Bright Farms of Wilmington, which grows baby greens and herbs.

During a recent Ohio Days lunch, the school cafeteria had a visit from their local Congresswoman, Joyce Beatty. Carvi was able to discuss with Beatty her concern about Ohio’s need for more food processing infrastructure. “We can find protein items all year round, but not the produce in the cold months,” she said.

By Amy Fovargue

Ohio Farm to School Coordinator

OSU Extension

Family Farm Nights announced

First Posted: 12:00 pm - January 9th, 2019 - Views

By Amanda Douridas - OSU Extension

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URBANA — It is hard to find time to spend together as a family in today’s hectic schedules. Even sitting down to dinner is a struggle. This winter, The Ohio State University (OSU) Extension is offering a series where families can come together for a warm, wholesome meal and gain knowledge to strengthen their farm business as well. Farming is a family business and it is important for all members of the family to have some understanding of what it takes to keep the business running and support the family. This is especially true if there is a desire for the next generation to be involved.

Family Farm Nights offer an opportunity for children and adults to learn more. Two tracks will be offered with one focused towards adults and the other towards youth. The first night is Jan. 17, which will focus on farm and family budgeting for the older crowd. We will discuss cash flow budgets and how they can be used to better plan inflows and outflows of cash through the year. Youth can participate in the fun and interactive Commodity Market game which will provide insight into how prices are received for commodities.

On Feb. 21, adults will focus on steps to transition planning. This will include discussion on how to transition farm responsibilities and the legal aspects of estate planning. Youth will participate in 4-H Exploration activities.

Precision agriculture across the farm will be the focus on March 21 as Dr. John Fulton from the Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department with Ohio State discusses how precision agriculture is being implemented in all aspects of farming, including livestock and grain operations. The youth will dive into an exciting night of Robotics.

Each evening will begin with dinner at 5:30 p.m. and the program will run from 6-8 p.m. Events will be in the Champaign County Community Center, 1512 South US Hwy 68, Suite B100. The cost is $10 per person or $25 per family per night. You can participate in just one or all three evenings. This event is sponsored by Security National Bank. Registration forms are available at Call 937-484-1526 or email with any questions. from Pixabay.

By Amanda Douridas

OSU Extension

A new year, a new generation

First Posted: 1:34 pm - January 7th, 2019 Updated: 1:38 pm - January 7th, 2019. - Views

By Amanda Rockhold -

Sandy and Guy Ashmore, along with their dog Bodie, of That Guy’s Family Farm in Clarksville, their house decorated for the holiday season.
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Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a series of monthly articles following a farm family through the course of a year. This year, Rural Life Today is following the Sandy and Guy Ashmore family in Clinton County.

CLARKSVILLE — Guy and Sandy Ashmore of That Guy’s Family Farm are at a crossroads of selling the rest of their product, while ordering for next year at the same time. This is typical for most farmers during this time of year. In addition to preparing for the 2019 growing season, Guy said, “It’s always good to reflect on where we’ve been and what’s coming up.”

The Ashmores became certified organic in 1998, after spending a decade transitioning their traditional farm of corn, beans and wheat to one that concentrated on produce. Now more than 20 years later the couple is still, “firm in our commitment to train other farmers in organic — we’re firm in out commitment to growing organic,” said Sandy.

Guy added that there is a big gap between farmland and people. “We want people to realize that [food] doesn’t come out of the back of Kroger,” said Guy. “We have this big disconnect.”

“If you can keep connections to farmers and farmland through farmers markets and CSAs (community supported agriculture), that also connects people to the land,” said Sandy, adding that the connection between the consumer and the food they are eating is important to maintain. The Ashmores are about halfway through their CSA winter season. This year they have 35 members, which is about the same as last year. They also participate as vendors at the Deerfield Farmers Market, just north of Cincinnati.

Guy and Sandy welcome others to visit their farm. “We want to help and encourage new growers. We’ve always kind of done that, and we want to see that through, to help push another generation or two” said Guy.

They are firm in their commitment to train other farmers in organic practices, intending to help and encourage new growers and the next generation. “If there isn’t anyone to get practical experience from then you could lose the next generation,” said Sandy.

Sandy shared a quote by Wendell Berry, an agrarian writer, environmental activist and farmer. “People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food,” quoted Sandy.

The other hope of Guy and Sandy is that future generations can make a living by farming, “and that a small acreage can still be viable,” said Guy. “I think we’ve kind of grown up thinking ‘labor’ was a dirty word,” said Guy, adding that people they know who own restaurants are finding it difficult to find dedicated workers.

Guy explained there is a similar issue for people who own and operate machine and welding shops, and admits that “there’s a big gap with carrying that forward. When you don’t have a mentor to go to, people don’t see an opportunity to go into that field.”

They are also reviewing applications for next year’s apprentices. Every year they welcome two apprentices to stay at their farm for about five months, where they work on the farm and learn about the business. Guy and Sandy would like to have decided on the apprentices by the end of February or the first of March.

Seed ordering

The Ashmores are getting ready to put in seed orders, which they have to place in a timely manner because some organic seeds are first come, first served, especially sweet potatoes. Their sweet potato slips (shoots that are grown from a mature sweet potato) come from Kansas State University, and there is a limited supply for organic. Sweet potatoes are actually a tropical plant.

“Seed orders are fun,” said Sandy, and Guy agreed.

“You can get too ambitious,” said Guy. “You want to try all these new varieties or you heard about something from another grower, so you want to try it. Then you have to scale back and say ‘hold on here.’”

However, sourcing organic seeds can have its challenges. But the Ashmores said that more and more companies are offering organic seeds.

They place group orders with other farmers, which they have been doing for about 12 years, through Fedco Seeds group ordering.

Next year they plan to plant more onions and asparagus.

Other updates

The Ashmores have also been keeping busy with field planting for next year, as well as crop rotations. They’ve also been meeting with buyers.

They are continuing with normal equipment maintenance and repairs, including installing new windows in the older part of their farmhouse. They are planning to purchase a new 4-row planter this year. Their current one is from the early 1960s. “So maybe we can upgrade to the 1980s,” said Guy, laughing along with Sandy, who added, “Maybe the 1990s.”

“We try not to invest in anything that rusts, rots, or depreciates. We try to invest in things that appreciate, like seeds, animals, people,” said Guy.

Guy and Sandy spent Christmas with their family, and Sandy sent out her yearly Christmas card. Every year she creates one that’s inspired by the farm. This year she focused on the red and green colors of radishes they grew. They also cut down their own tree for Christmas, which they have been doing since 1980.

They will continue to harvest greens through the end of January.

Next month: Seed orders and getting ready for spring.

Sandy and Guy Ashmore, along with their dog Bodie, of That Guy’s Family Farm in Clarksville, their house decorated for the holiday season. and Guy Ashmore, along with their dog Bodie, of That Guy’s Family Farm in Clarksville, their house decorated for the holiday season.

By Amanda Rockhold

Improving grain marketing plans workshops

First Posted: 2:57 pm - January 4th, 2019 - Views

By Ken Ford - OSU Extension

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Do you want to do a better job of pricing your corn and soybeans? Is grain marketing a confusing and daunting task? If so, this workshop is for you!

Ohio State University Extension is offering a three-session workshop focused on helping farmers become better grain marketers. Participants will have a better understanding of risk, marketing tools, and the development of written marketing plans. These workshops are funded through a North Central Risk Management Education Grant and being offered in six locations throughout Ohio. Additional information can be found at

Participants will learn to identify their personal risk tolerance and their farm’s financial risk capacity. Both of these are important in developing a successful grain marketing plan. Participants will also learn how crop insurance products affect marketing decisions and affect risk capacity. Grain marketing consists of understanding and managing many pieces of information. Information on the different grain marketing contracts will be presented. These include basis, hedging, cash, futures and option contracts. Additionally, participants will be provided an example of a grain marketing plan and the fundamental principles that should be included.

The courses will be offered on three consecutive Tuesdays, two locations each time. Programs in Paulding and Henry Counties will start Jan. 8, 2019. The Fayette and Champaign County programs will commence on Jan. 22, 2019. The final programs will be in Miami and Darke Counties starting on Jan. 29, 2019. For specific times and locations, as well as program registration instruction, go to and select the county you plan to attend. Cost for the program is $45 for the first registration and $60 for two registrations from the same farm business. Included in registration are the workshop notebook and meals/refreshments (depending on location).

The Fayette County Extension Office will be the location of the “Improving Grain Marketing Plans.” The three session series is Jan. 22, Jan. 29 and Feb. 5. The three Tuesday sessions will begin with lunch at 12:15 p.m., program at 1:00 p.m. and concludes at 4:00 p.m. To reserve your spot for this exciting and well worthwhile program, please contact the Fayette County Extension Office at 740-335-1150, before Jan. 15, 2019.

To request additional information or to have questions answered, contact Ken Ford at 740-335-1150 or at

By Ken Ford

OSU Extension

What’s killing beech trees?

Searching for answers

First Posted: 2:47 pm - January 3rd, 2019 - Views

By Alayna DeMartini

American beech leaf disease is killing trees in northeast Ohio as well as in Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario.
Photo courtesy of CFAES
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COLUMBUS – American beech trees are dying in northeast Ohio and beyond. An Ohio State University study aims to figure out why.

The study is looking into the cause of beech leaf disease, which was first found in Lake County in 2012 and has since spread to nine other counties in Ohio, eight in Pennsylvania, one in New York and five in Ontario.

Young trees seem to be particularly susceptible to the disease, which initially causes dark stripes to appear on leaves, then deforms the leaves. Eventually the disease can kill the trees.

“There’s no similar forest tree disease that we are aware of anywhere,” said Enrico Bonello, a professor of plant pathology in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), who oversees the study.

“It’s really a black box,” he said.

Working under Bonello’s supervision, doctoral graduate student, Carrie Ewing, is comparing the genes of microorganisms present in leaves that have symptoms of beech tree disease and those that do not, hoping to identify the microorganisms that are uniquely associated with beech leaf disease. She’s trying to determine whether the mystery microorganisms causing the disease are viruses, fungi, bacteria, phytoplasmas or nematodes. Phytoplasmas are bacteria without cell walls. Nematodes are microscopic worms.

“We are comparing huge amounts of data, kind of a shotgun approach,” Bonello said. “It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack by comparing various haystacks.”

If the infected plants have genetic material from a specific microorganism that the uninfected plants don’t have, Ewing then can zero in on the suspected pathogen and inoculate healthy trees with it in an attempt to prove that the pathogen is the cause of beech leaf disease. Ewing expects to have study results by this summer.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service and researchers with Lake County’s Holden Arboretum in Kirtland are conducting a separate study on potential causes of the disease. They are looking into whether nematodes found two years ago on infected beech leaves are causing the disease or if they were just present on infected leaves.

Ohio has 17 million American beech trees. Many of them in northeast Ohio, particularly along or near Lake Erie, are afflicted with the disease, Bonello said.

The disease was first reported on American beech trees, the only beech trees native to North America, but similar symptoms have been found on European beech and Oriental beech trees in nurseries in Lake County, where beech leaf disease was first found.

“That suggests other species are susceptible,” Bonello said. “So there’s potential for the disease to spread worldwide in the northern hemisphere.”

Submitted by Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

American beech leaf disease is killing trees in northeast Ohio as well as in Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario. beech leaf disease is killing trees in northeast Ohio as well as in Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario. Photo courtesy of CFAES
Searching for answers

By Alayna DeMartini

Submitted by Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Submitted by Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.