All posts by Rural Life Today

Cover Crop, everybody speaks beer

Celebrating OFB’s centennial beer

First Posted: 3:24 pm - April 11th, 2019 - Views

By Amanda Rockhold - arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com



Front Left to Right: Wes Champan, ATIG; Maria Hoewischer, ATIG; Mallory Zachrich, Zachrich Hop Yard; Lyndsey Murphy, CCFB trustee, Amanda Adelsberger, OFBF. Back Left to Right: Tom Nisonger, CCFB President; Adam Carney, OFBF; Matt Cunningham, Rustic Brew Malt; Nick Zachrich, Zachrich Hop Yard; Kelsey Stief, North High Brewery; Jason McKibben, North High Brewery; Mike Terry, CCFB trustee; and Jamon Sellman, CCFB trustee.
North High Brewing Company’s Cover Crop beer was the official beer of the Ohio Farm Bureau’s Federation centennial celebration this year.
From left are Adam Carney, director of membership sales for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; Matt Cunningham, owner of Rustic Brew Farm in Marysville; Nick and Mallory Zachrich of Zachrich Hop Yard in Mechanicsburg; Kelsey Stief; and Jason McKibben, Brewmaster and partner of North High Brewing Company in Columbus.
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URBANA — If you’re a beer drinker, you may have seen North High Brewing Company’s craft beer, Cover Crop, in your local grocery store. This beer was not only the official beer for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th anniversary, but its ingredients are grown by Ohio farmers. The hops used for the beer come from five Ohio hopyards, one of them being Zachrich Hop Yard & Farm in Mechanicsburg, about 20 minutes southeast of Urbana.

Nick and Mallory Zachrich of Zachrich Hop Yard worked with Champaign County Farm Bureau to host the Cover Crop from Field to Pint event at Lincoln & Main gastropub in Urbana on March 26. Representatives from North High, Zachrich Hop Yard, Ohio Farm Bureau, Rustic Brew Farm in Marysville and others attended the event.

“(Cover Crop) is not hoppy, not malty, just beer,” said Jason McKibben, brewmaster and partner of North High Brewing Company (North High) of Columbus. “We wanted to make it as approachable as possible.” He added that North High chose to use the Centennial hop variety for Cover Crop because of Ohio Farm Bureau’s (OFB) 100th anniversary and it also has a “floral, delicate aroma but can be strong,” depending on how it’s brewed.

Mallory said that this event was intended to promote the beer locally and “Urbana is a good location,” where Cover Crop can be found on tap at Lincoln & Main. North High’s Cover Crop beer is sold in all 88 Ohio counties.

McKibben said that at North High they also have hops varieties including Cashmere, a newer type, and Comet, a rediscovered variety. On one-and-one-fourth of an acre the Zachriches grow six hops varieties on their farm, including Cascade, Centennial, Zeus, Cashmere, Willamette and Magnum. They started growing hops almost three years ago in June 2017.

Another vital ingredient North High needs to brew beer is grain, or malted barley. Two-thirds of the grain North High uses for their beer comes from Rustic Brew Farm (Rustic Brew) in Marysville, where owner Matt Cunningham grows 130 acres of barley, which is malted after harvest to prepare it for brewing. Cunningham is a fourth generation farmer in Marysville. He and his family also grow corn and soybeans in addition to some hops. They started growing and malting barley in 2014.

Adam Carney, director of membership sales for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, said that this is a great story to tell and “it’s been a perfect storm.” He was the initial OFB lead working with North High and the other organizations to develop Cover Crop as the official OFB centennial beer.

Both McKibben and Carney alluded to the idea of seeing the full circle of the brewing process from working with the malt and hops producers. Hops and malted barley are both cover crops. A cover crop is grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil, including soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife in an agroecosystem. The cover crop helps clean the water, which is then used to brew the beer.

“It’s poetic,” said McKibben. “It gives me a good feeling about what we’re doing.”

Cunningham said that these partnerships between OFB, Zachrich Hop Yard and Rustic Brew are bridging the gap between urban and rural communities. “Everybody speaks beer,” said Cunningham.

Mallory added that establishing such partnerships “speaks volumes for the agricultural community … We all pull together and help each other.”

McKibben said he appreciates that he has been able to meet so many farmers through working with local hops growers in Ohio. “Everybody has been amazing,” said McKibben, adding that everyone at North High has become a Farm Bureau member and he is “happy to do it.”

For more information about North High visit northhighbrewing.com

For more information about OFB visit ofbf.org

More on hops

McKibben said that the variety of hops they mostly look for is Cascade because it grows well in Ohio and is versatile. “It’s tried and true,” said McKibben.

Nick said that mold is a big issue with growing hops, especially with Ohio’s humidity. Hops have to be dried after harvested, which Nick said is half the battle. If they wait too long to dry the hops, they can be become moldy; if they dry them too fast, the hops can become too hot.

The Zachriches also sell their hops to Mother Stewarts in Springfield and Roundhouse Depot in Bellefontaine. The couple have agricultural backgrounds, both growing up on family farms.

For more information visit: zachrich-hop-yard-farm.business.site

More on malt

Cunningham said he is planning and projecting to grow Rustic Brew’s malt production. The crash of 2013, when the net farm income began to drop, caused Cunningham to start producing malted barley in an effort to be more profitable.

Cunningham built a malthouse, where their grain is prepared and stored for the malting process. “It was either build our own or spend half a million dollars on one from Germany,” he said. Heritage in Marysville helped them build their first malthouse and is in the process of building a second one for Rustic Brew.

For more information visit: rusticbrewfarm.com

Front Left to Right: Wes Champan, ATIG; Maria Hoewischer, ATIG; Mallory Zachrich, Zachrich Hop Yard; Lyndsey Murphy, CCFB trustee, Amanda Adelsberger, OFBF. Back Left to Right: Tom Nisonger, CCFB President; Adam Carney, OFBF; Matt Cunningham, Rustic Brew Malt; Nick Zachrich, Zachrich Hop Yard; Kelsey Stief, North High Brewery; Jason McKibben, North High Brewery; Mike Terry, CCFB trustee; and Jamon Sellman, CCFB trustee.
https://www.rurallifetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2019/04/web1_NorthHighLM1.jpgFront Left to Right: Wes Champan, ATIG; Maria Hoewischer, ATIG; Mallory Zachrich, Zachrich Hop Yard; Lyndsey Murphy, CCFB trustee, Amanda Adelsberger, OFBF. Back Left to Right: Tom Nisonger, CCFB President; Adam Carney, OFBF; Matt Cunningham, Rustic Brew Malt; Nick Zachrich, Zachrich Hop Yard; Kelsey Stief, North High Brewery; Jason McKibben, North High Brewery; Mike Terry, CCFB trustee; and Jamon Sellman, CCFB trustee.

North High Brewing Company’s Cover Crop beer was the official beer of the Ohio Farm Bureau’s Federation centennial celebration this year.
https://www.rurallifetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2019/04/web1_NorthHighCentennial.jpgNorth High Brewing Company’s Cover Crop beer was the official beer of the Ohio Farm Bureau’s Federation centennial celebration this year.

From left are Adam Carney, director of membership sales for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; Matt Cunningham, owner of Rustic Brew Farm in Marysville; Nick and Mallory Zachrich of Zachrich Hop Yard in Mechanicsburg; Kelsey Stief; and Jason McKibben, Brewmaster and partner of North High Brewing Company in Columbus.
https://www.rurallifetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2019/04/web1_NorthHighLM2.jpgFrom left are Adam Carney, director of membership sales for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; Matt Cunningham, owner of Rustic Brew Farm in Marysville; Nick and Mallory Zachrich of Zachrich Hop Yard in Mechanicsburg; Kelsey Stief; and Jason McKibben, Brewmaster and partner of North High Brewing Company in Columbus.
Celebrating OFB’s centennial beer

By Amanda Rockhold

arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com

Farming for the next generation

Auglaize brothers acquire neighbor’s land

First Posted: 12:17 pm - April 10th, 2019 - Views

By Amanda Rockhold - arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com



Lee Turner (left) and his brother Brandon Turner (right) with farm equipment on their recently-purchased farm, Scioto Prairie Farms, in Auglaize County.
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WAYNESFIELD — Brothers Lee and Brandon Turner are springing into their first fiscal year operating Scioto Prairie Farms in Auglaize County. Although both are in their twenties, they certainly aren’t new to the farming business.

“[Starting Scioto Prairie Farms] puts a career in perspective for us,” said Brandon. “It’s something we’re going to try to be doing year after year, and hopefully a little more. With the business, we’ve always served the farmers around us.”

Working with their mother and father, the Turner brothers have taken over a neighboring farm, about double the size of their family farm in Waynesfield. Their neighbor retired and his children were not interested in taking over the farm. The Turner family had done a lot of agricultural work for their neighbor in the past.

They chose the name Scioto Prairie Farms because they “farmed quite a bit around the Scioto River and ever since we’ve grown up everybody has called this area The Prairie because it’s so flat,” said Lee.

Along with the land, the Turners acquired farm equipment, including a combine, which they have never owned before, a bigger planter that will keep up with the bigger tractor, and other equipment.

Lee said that “staying ahead of the game” with agricultural technology is a challenge. “It just keeps getting harder and harder to stay ahead. The tools are there to help you succeed,” although he admitted that equipment is becoming more expensive. Purchasing the land was a two-year process, according to Lee. There was a lot of farm credit that they needed to start the corporation, as well.

“The biggest thing as far as young people [getting involved with farming] is you got to have connections. You got to have someone willing to back you up,” said Brandon. “It’s not easy as far as financing.”

But Lee said hard work pays off and, “If you continue to show people and the community you’re interested [in farming], that goes a long way. More than what a guy thinks.”

Lee and Brandon are both college alumni of Wilmington College. Lee graduated with a degree in agronomy and a minor in agricultural business in 2016, and Brandon graduated with an agricultural business degree in 2017. Both brothers attended Waynesfield Goshen, where they played football and showed livestock. Lee and Brandon’s father was an agriculture teacher. Their mother is from Michigan and did not grow up on a farm. She met their father at The Ohio State University.

Lee and Brandon’s father farmed with his own father and started the Turner family farm business in the early 1990s. From then until 2017 they grew popcorn and soybeans. According to Lee, the demand for popcorn dwindled and so they switched to growing corn and soybeans. “We’d like to get back into popcorn again some day,” said Lee.

The largest part of the Turner family business is custom spraying applications. In addition to this and growing crops, they also offer full-service lawn care, snow removal, grain hauling and some fertilizer application. Brandon works more with the sprayers during planting season, while Lee works the fields with their father.

But during harvest season, everyone helps.

“We actually have a young staff,” referring to their two full-time employees who are both in their twenties. They also employ some part-time seasonal help. “It’s always good to hire young people and get them involved. It just adds another thing that we like to do,” said Lee.

“I’ve always liked rural community…and we’ve always enjoyed helping out area farmers and try to be involved in the community,” said Lee, explaining that he has been on the Auglaize County Farm Bureau board for two years and this year he joined the Auglaize Soil and Water Conservation District board.

Lee said that “you always want to be good stewards of the land and keep it there for the next generation.”

The brothers also said that they are ready for planting season. “There’s always optimism in the new year,” said Lee, adding that he “hopes for the best.”

Lee Turner (left) and his brother Brandon Turner (right) with farm equipment on their recently-purchased farm, Scioto Prairie Farms, in Auglaize County.
https://www.rurallifetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2019/04/web1_TurnerBrothers.jpgLee Turner (left) and his brother Brandon Turner (right) with farm equipment on their recently-purchased farm, Scioto Prairie Farms, in Auglaize County.
Auglaize brothers acquire neighbor’s land

By Amanda Rockhold

arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com

Marysville farmer shares concerns on Capitol Hill

Farm Bureau members travel to DC on OFB Presidents’ Trip

First Posted: 12:13 pm - April 10th, 2019 - Views

By Amanda Rockhold - arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com



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WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 100 Ohio Farm Bureau members, many of them farmers, visited Capitol Hill to speak with their district representatives, March 12-14, as part of the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C.

Every year Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) takes Ohio County Farm Bureau presidents and vice presidents, along with a group of media, on a three-day trip to advocate to legislature.

Dustin Converse, Union County Farm Bureau president, met with Jared Dilley instead of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th congressional district, who was unable to make the meeting, for his congressional visit on Capitol Hill.

“We’re not putting on more fertilizer than we need,” said Converse, speaking about water quality issues to Dilley. Converse and his family are grain and cattle farmers in Marysville.

The group also talked about trade issues with Dilley. Converse admitted that, “There’s a lot of uncertainty.” Converse said that the trade war and tariffs have affected his farm negatively. “We’re still going to be hurt with what’s backlogged and will carry over,” he said, speaking of exports and stored grain. “There is a lot of grain in bins and we had record yield around much of the Midwest, along with less market for them.”

Obtaining more access to broadband technologies and higher speed internet for rural areas is one of OFB’s top priorities for Ohio. Along with that, OFB advocates for the nation’s infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, locks and dams, ports and waterway systems.

Breakfast with the senators

The attendees had breakfast U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Wed., March 13 and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on Thurs., March 14. Both senators talked about their agricultural concerns, some including broadband, trade and the division of the U.S.

“[This is] a troubling time in our country right now,” said Brown. “Jobs have moved overseas, while the opioid epidemic has moved in. Farm bankruptcies are up. Prices are low while input costs are high. It’s almost impossible to make a living without off-farm income.”

Portman agreed and said, “Prices aren’t good, weather is tough and things are tough in the farm economy.”

“Rural communities are often ignored by state and federal government,” said Brown, emphasizing that Ohio should be recognized as an “Ag state.”

Brown told the group about a recent trip he took to Iowa. “We went to a lot of smaller places, we didn’t spend a lot of time in Des Moines. I heard a lot of the same concerns in Iowa that I hear from Ohio farmers. But maybe the biggest takeaway I heard was that just like in Ohio, these small towns feel overlooked and ignored,” said Brown.

Portman said that his biggest concern is trade, adding that he has learned a lot about agriculture while working on trade issues. “Trade and agriculture are so close,” said Portman.

“We know that more needs to be done to increase access to broadband in rural Ohio, so we included a 14-fold increase in funding,” said Brown, referring to the Farm Bill. “It’s only with this level of federal investment that we can ensure that small businesses, farm families, and students have access to high speed internet. None of this would have been possible without your input.”

“This country is divided now,” said Brown, telling the group that they need to “keep the pressure on us…Tweets and name calling distract us.”

Climate change and taxes

Although Portman and Brown work on several Ohio agricultural issues together, they have some different viewpoints on issues, such as taxes and climate change.

Portman said that he talked to some small businesses benefiting from a little bit of a tax break from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed at the end of 2017. However, Brown said that “the tax cut went to no one in this room but to the one percent,” said Brown, speaking to the group during his breakfast.

During a media interview before his breakfast, Brown told reporters that anyone who continues to deny climate change should be “embarrassed.”

“I just don’t think there are two sides to the issue of climate change,” Brown said. “The facts are facts, and climate change is real…And it’s not really a political thing. It’s a fact thing.”

Portman said during his breakfast that “the science is uncertain” about the impact that humans have on climate change. “Do we have a role to play, yes, I think we do, but you can’t say that it’s just people.” Although Brown did not advocate the New Green Deal, Portman said that it is “outlandish” and “just doesn’t make sense.”

Portman added, “[There are] absolutely things we can do to reduce emissions,” but “we should do it in a way that’s pro growth, pro jobs, pro farmer. It doesn’t have to be either/or.”

https://www.rurallifetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2019/04/web1_Converse.jpg
Farm Bureau members travel to DC on OFB Presidents’ Trip

By Amanda Rockhold

arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com

Mercer Co. farmer brings concerns to Capitol Hill

Farm Bureau members travel to DC on OFB Presidents’ Trip

First Posted: 12:12 pm - April 10th, 2019 - Views

By Amanda Rockhold - arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com



Left to right on the couch, Gene Daniel, Seneca County Farm Bureau president; Seth Middleton, Shelby County Farm Bureau president; John Hafer, Marion County Farm Bureau president; and Gary Mescher, Mercer County Farm Bureau president. They spoke to Jared Dilley, in place of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th congressional district, during the group’s congressional meeting at the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C, March 14.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 100 Ohio Farm Bureau members, many of them farmers, visited Capitol Hill to speak with their district representatives, March 12-14, as part of the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C.

Every year Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) takes Ohio County Farm Bureau presidents and vice presidents, along with a group of media, on a three-day trip to advocate to legislature.

Gary Mescher, OFB County president of Mercer County, a dairy farmer with his brother, spoke with Representative Bob Latta of Ohio’s 5th congressional district during his congressional visit on Capitol Hill, in addition to Jared Dilley in place of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th congressional district.

He said that meeting with Latta went well, adding that “Mr. Latta was very receptive. He listened to all of us. Unfortunately, he had a vote but that’s his job,” referring to Latta having to end the meeting to vote.

“I spoke a little bit on water quality. I’ve been dealing with that for a long time,” said Mescher, who is in the Grand Lake watershed, which he said was an issue “way before” the Lake Erie situation. “The Lake Erie situation is kind of like a slap in the face to me,” referring to the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR), which Mescher said he “very much” disagrees with. “But not being a citizen of Toledo, I really don’t have a say so.”

“[LEBOR] has given people the right to just legislate things that will put agriculture or other business out of business. Especially when these same people are not playing by the same rules,” he added. Mescher asked Latta if he thought LEBOR and the water quality law suits were unconstitutional. Latta said that he doesn’t see how it stands up constitutionally.

“I also am very concerned about trade. I agree with the tariffs. I don’t like them, but we have to do what we have to do,” said Mescher.

Latta and the Farm Bureau members who met with him talked about broadband, saying that, “It would be nice to use all that technology,” referring to the farmers who do not have fast enough internet connection to use farm machinery that depends on high tech internet connection.

Obtaining more access to broadband technologies and higher speed internet for rural areas is one of OFB’s top priorities for Ohio. Along with that, OFB advocates for the nation’s infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, locks and dams, ports and waterway systems.

During the congressional meeting, Ronald Wilker, an egg farmer in Auglaize County, asked Dilley, “Why can’t we have a law passed for supply and demand,” regarding animal regulations and producing caged chicken eggs versus cage-free chicken eggs. “Let supply and demand equalize,” Wilker added.

Breakfast with the senators

The attendees had breakfast U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Wed., March 13 and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on Thurs., March 14. Both senators talked about their agricultural concerns, some including broadband, trade and the division of the U.S.

“[This is] a troubling time in our country right now,” said Brown. “Jobs have moved overseas, while the opioid epidemic has moved in. Farm bankruptcies are up. Prices are low while input costs are high. It’s almost impossible to make a living without off-farm income.”

Portman agreed and said, “Prices aren’t good, weather is tough and things are tough in the farm economy.”

“Rural communities are often ignored by state and federal government,” said Brown, emphasizing that Ohio should be recognized as an “Ag state.”

Brown told the group about a recent trip he took to Iowa. “We went to a lot of smaller places, we didn’t spend a lot of time in Des Moines. I heard a lot of the same concerns in Iowa that I hear from Ohio farmers. But maybe the biggest takeaway I heard was that just like in Ohio, these small towns feel overlooked and ignored,” said Brown.

Portman said that his biggest concern is trade, adding that he has learned a lot about agriculture while working on trade issues. “Trade and agriculture are so close,” said Portman.

“We know that more needs to be done to increase access to broadband in rural Ohio, so we included a 14-fold increase in funding,” said Brown, referring to the Farm Bill. “It’s only with this level of federal investment that we can ensure that small businesses, farm families, and students have access to high speed internet. None of this would have been possible without your input.”

“This country is divided now,” said Brown, telling the group that they need to “keep the pressure on us…Tweets and name calling distract us.”

Climate change and taxes

Although Portman and Brown work on several Ohio agricultural issues together, they have some different viewpoints on issues, such as taxes and climate change.

Portman said that he talked to some small businesses benefiting from a little bit of a tax break from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed at the end of 2017. However, Brown said that “the tax cut went to no one in this room but to the one percent,” said Brown, speaking to the group during his breakfast.

During a media interview before his breakfast, Brown told reporters that anyone who continues to deny climate change should be “embarrassed.”

“I just don’t think there are two sides to the issue of climate change,” Brown said. “The facts are facts, and climate change is real…And it’s not really a political thing. It’s a fact thing.”

Portman said during his breakfast that “the science is uncertain” about the impact that humans have on climate change. “Do we have a role to play, yes, I think we do, but you can’t say that it’s just people.” Although Brown did not advocate the New Green Deal, Portman said that it is “outlandish” and “just doesn’t make sense.”

Portman added, “[There are] absolutely things we can do to reduce emissions,” but “we should do it in a way that’s pro growth, pro jobs, pro farmer. It doesn’t have to be either/or.”

Left to right on the couch, Gene Daniel, Seneca County Farm Bureau president; Seth Middleton, Shelby County Farm Bureau president; John Hafer, Marion County Farm Bureau president; and Gary Mescher, Mercer County Farm Bureau president. They spoke to Jared Dilley, in place of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th congressional district, during the group’s congressional meeting at the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C, March 14.
https://www.rurallifetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2019/04/web1_DilleyCongressionalVisit-1.jpgLeft to right on the couch, Gene Daniel, Seneca County Farm Bureau president; Seth Middleton, Shelby County Farm Bureau president; John Hafer, Marion County Farm Bureau president; and Gary Mescher, Mercer County Farm Bureau president. They spoke to Jared Dilley, in place of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th congressional district, during the group’s congressional meeting at the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C, March 14.
Farm Bureau members travel to DC on OFB Presidents’ Trip

By Amanda Rockhold

arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com

Shelby Co. farmer brings concerns to Capitol Hill

Farm Bureau members travel to DC on OFB Presidents’ Trip

First Posted: 12:05 pm - April 10th, 2019 Updated: 11:01 am - April 12th, 2019. - Views

By Amanda Rockhold - arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com



Left to right on the couch, Gene Daniel, Seneca County Farm Bureau president; Seth Middleton, Shelby County Farm Bureau president; John Hafer, Marion County Farm Bureau president; and Gary Mescher, Mercer County Farm Bureau president. They spoke to Jared Dilley, in place of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th congressional district, during the group’s congressional meeting at the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C, March 14.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 100 Ohio Farm Bureau members, many of them farmers, visited Capitol Hill to speak with their district representatives, March 12-14, as part of the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C.

Every year Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) takes Ohio County Farm Bureau presidents and vice presidents, along with a group of media, on a three-day trip to advocate to legislature.

Seth Middleton, Shelby County Farm Bureau president, met with Jared Dilley instead of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th congressional district, who was unable to make the meeting, for his congressional visit on Capitol Hill.

Middleton is the Assistant Vice President AgriBusiness Banker at Heartland Bank in Columbus. A Shelby County Farm Bureau member, he helps run the family’s grain and hay operation in Sidney.

Middleton said his biggest concerns are water quality and trade affecting Ohio. He asked Dilley how “common grounds across the aisle” can be accomplished in Congress.

He also said that increasing broadband and higher internet speeds in rural Ohio areas “could allow farmers to do things they haven’t able to do before,” referring to the farmers who do not have fast enough internet connection to use farm machinery which depends on high tech internet connection.

Middleton also asked Dilley what Jordan’s general thoughts were about water quality. “We’re not saying we’re the entire problem, but agriculture is a part of the [water quality] problem and we’re here to say we’re going to take care of it,” said Middleton.

Obtaining more access to broadband technologies and higher speed internet for rural areas is one of OFB’s top priorities for Ohio. Along with that, OFB advocates for the nation’s infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, locks and dams, ports and waterway systems.

Breakfast with the senators

The attendees had breakfast U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Wed., March 13 and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on Thurs., March 14. Both senators talked about their agricultural concerns, some including broadband, trade and the division of the U.S.

“[This is] a troubling time in our country right now,” said Brown. “Jobs have moved overseas, while the opioid epidemic has moved in. Farm bankruptcies are up. Prices are low while input costs are high. It’s almost impossible to make a living without off-farm income.”

Portman agreed and said, “Prices aren’t good, weather is tough and things are tough in the farm economy.”

“Rural communities are often ignored by state and federal government,” said Brown, emphasizing that Ohio should be recognized as an “Ag state.”

Brown told the group about a recent trip he took to Iowa. “We went to a lot of smaller places, we didn’t spend a lot of time in Des Moines. I heard a lot of the same concerns in Iowa that I hear from Ohio farmers. But maybe the biggest takeaway I heard was that just like in Ohio, these small towns feel overlooked and ignored,” said Brown.

Portman said that his biggest concern is trade, adding that he has learned a lot about agriculture while working on trade issues. “Trade and agriculture are so close,” said Portman.

“We know that more needs to be done to increase access to broadband in rural Ohio, so we included a 14-fold increase in funding,” said Brown, referring to the Farm Bill. “It’s only with this level of federal investment that we can ensure that small businesses, farm families, and students have access to high speed internet. None of this would have been possible without your input.”

“This country is divided now,” said Brown, telling the group that they need to “keep the pressure on us…Tweets and name calling distract us.”

Climate change and taxes

Although Portman and Brown work on several Ohio agricultural issues together, they have some different viewpoints on issues, such as taxes and climate change.

Portman said that he talked to some small businesses benefiting from a little bit of a tax break from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed at the end of 2017. However, Brown said that “the tax cut went to no one in this room but to the one percent,” said Brown, speaking to the group during his breakfast.

During a media interview before his breakfast, Brown told reporters that anyone who continues to deny climate change should be “embarrassed.”

“I just don’t think there are two sides to the issue of climate change,” Brown said. “The facts are facts, and climate change is real…And it’s not really a political thing. It’s a fact thing.”

Portman said during his breakfast that “the science is uncertain” about the impact that humans have on climate change. “Do we have a role to play, yes, I think we do, but you can’t say that it’s just people.” Although Brown did not advocate the New Green Deal, Portman said that it is “outlandish” and “just doesn’t make sense.”

Portman added, “[There are] absolutely things we can do to reduce emissions,” but “we should do it in a way that’s pro growth, pro jobs, pro farmer. It doesn’t have to be either/or.”

Left to right on the couch, Gene Daniel, Seneca County Farm Bureau president; Seth Middleton, Shelby County Farm Bureau president; John Hafer, Marion County Farm Bureau president; and Gary Mescher, Mercer County Farm Bureau president. They spoke to Jared Dilley, in place of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th congressional district, during the group’s congressional meeting at the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C, March 14.
https://www.rurallifetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2019/04/web1_DilleyCongressionalVisit-2.jpgLeft to right on the couch, Gene Daniel, Seneca County Farm Bureau president; Seth Middleton, Shelby County Farm Bureau president; John Hafer, Marion County Farm Bureau president; and Gary Mescher, Mercer County Farm Bureau president. They spoke to Jared Dilley, in place of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th congressional district, during the group’s congressional meeting at the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C, March 14.
Farm Bureau members travel to DC on OFB Presidents’ Trip

By Amanda Rockhold

arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com

Fayette Co. farmer brings concerns to Capitol Hill

Farm Bureau members travel to DC on OFB Presidents’ Trip

First Posted: 12:03 pm - April 10th, 2019 - Views

By Amanda Rockhold - arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com



U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaking to Ohio county Farm Bureau presidents and other attendees during the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C., March 13.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 100 Ohio Farm Bureau members, many of them farmers, visited Capitol Hill to speak with their district representatives, March 12-14, as part of the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C.

Every year Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) takes Ohio County Farm Bureau presidents and vice presidents, along with a group of media, on a three-day trip to advocate to legislature.

Lisa Peterson, Fayette County Farm Bureau president, met with Congressmen Steve Stivers and Troy Balderson during the congressional visits on Capitol Hill.

“Attending the OFB DC trip was the perfect opportunity to share personal concerns with my congressmen,” said Peterson. “The trip was also a great opportunity to network with other county presidents, discussing issues they face and concluding that the issues concerning those in Northern Ohio are just as important as those in the southern part of the state.”

Peterson and her husband farm soybeans, corn and wheat on a 2,700-acre farm in the western part of Fayette county near the Clinton and Greene county lines.

“It is important to put a farmer’s face and thoughts directly in front of lawmakers and share some of the real life issues we face on the farm. When 87 Ohio Farm Bureau county presidents show up in DC people take note,” she said.

One of the main issues she brought with her to DC was over-regulation, which she said is one of the “greatest threats to the next generation.” She added her son plans to continue the family farm when he returns from college.

“Like all of those involved in Ohio agriculture – regulatory reform, rural broadband, Waters of the United States (now the Clean Water Rule) and trade are all issues of great importance,” said Peterson.

Obtaining more access to broadband technologies and higher speed internet for rural areas is one of OFB’s top priorities for Ohio. Along with that, OFB advocates for the nation’s infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, locks and dams, ports and waterway systems.

Breakfast with the senators

The attendees had breakfast U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Wed., March 13 and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on Thurs., March 14. Both senators talked about their agricultural concerns, some including broadband, trade and the division of the U.S.

“[This is] a troubling time in our country right now,” said Brown. “Jobs have moved overseas, while the opioid epidemic has moved in. Farm bankruptcies are up. Prices are low while input costs are high. It’s almost impossible to make a living without off-farm income.”

Portman agreed and said, “Prices aren’t good, weather is tough and things are tough in the farm economy.”

“Rural communities are often ignored by state and federal government,” said Brown, emphasizing that Ohio should be recognized as an “Ag state.”

Brown told the group about a recent trip he took to Iowa. “We went to a lot of smaller places, we didn’t spend a lot of time in Des Moines. I heard a lot of the same concerns in Iowa that I hear from Ohio farmers. But maybe the biggest takeaway I heard was that just like in Ohio, these small towns feel overlooked and ignored,” said Brown.

Portman said that his biggest concern is trade, adding that he has learned a lot about agriculture while working on trade issues. “Trade and agriculture are so close,” said Portman.

“We know that more needs to be done to increase access to broadband in rural Ohio, so we included a 14-fold increase in funding,” said Brown, referring to the Farm Bill. “It’s only with this level of federal investment that we can ensure that small businesses, farm families, and students have access to high speed internet. None of this would have been possible without your input.”

“This country is divided now,” said Brown, telling the group that they need to “keep the pressure on us…Tweets and name calling distract us.”

Climate change and taxes

Although Portman and Brown work on several Ohio agricultural issues together, they have some different viewpoints on issues, such as taxes and climate change.

Portman said that he talked to some small businesses benefiting from a little bit of a tax break from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed at the end of 2017. However, Brown said that “the tax cut went to no one in this room but to the one percent,” said Brown, speaking to the group during his breakfast.

During a media interview before his breakfast, Brown told reporters that anyone who continues to deny climate change should be “embarrassed.”

“I just don’t think there are two sides to the issue of climate change,” Brown said. “The facts are facts, and climate change is real…And it’s not really a political thing. It’s a fact thing.”

Portman said during his breakfast that “the science is uncertain” about the impact that humans have on climate change. “Do we have a role to play, yes, I think we do, but you can’t say that it’s just people.” Although Brown did not advocate the New Green Deal, Portman said that it is “outlandish” and “just doesn’t make sense.”

Portman added, “[There are] absolutely things we can do to reduce emissions,” but “we should do it in a way that’s pro growth, pro jobs, pro farmer. It doesn’t have to be either/or.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaking to Ohio county Farm Bureau presidents and other attendees during the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C., March 13.
https://www.rurallifetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2019/04/web1_Sherrod.jpgU.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaking to Ohio county Farm Bureau presidents and other attendees during the 73rd Ohio County Farm Bureau Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C., March 13.

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Farm Bureau members travel to DC on OFB Presidents’ Trip

By Amanda Rockhold

arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com

LFC connects producers to buyers

Making the food system more convenient

First Posted: 10:05 am - March 27th, 2019 - Views

By Amanda Rockhold and Dorothy J. Countryman - arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com - dcountryman@aimmediamidwest.com



Left to right: Emma Woughter, Local Food Connection team member; Patsy Funke-Carter, LFC logistics manager; and Luke Beckwith, 80 Acre Farm. They are working at the Local Food Connection location in Newport, KY, Feb. 7. Emma is weighing out frozen items to pack into coolers, which are then taken by each delivery vehicle in the morning. Luke is bringing in his products for the day to be checked in, and Patsy is checking him in using LFC’s pick lists.
Dorothy J Countrman | Rural Life Today
Emma Woughter, Local Food Connection team member (left) and Patsy Funke-Carter, LFC logistics manager (right) packing bags for households to pick up at their respective locations at the Local Food Connection’s walk-in fridge, where food is sorted by client.
Submitted photo
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NEWPORT, KY — Increasing the local food system to make obtaining local food convenient is the main mission of Local Food Connection, a “food hub” organization that connects farmers to a network of active wholesale and retail buyers in the Bluegrass and Ohio Valley.

“LFC serves as a logistical middleman between buyers and farmers,” said Alice Chalmers, Local Food Connection (LFC) founder. According to the LFC website, the organization provides “chefs, institutional buyers, employers, and households with a way to source top-quality local food.” LFC is located in The Incubator at 517 W 7th St., Newport, KY, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. The organization works with several Ohio producers as far north as Eshleman Fruit Farm in Clyde, OH. Almost all of the apples at LFC come from this location.

LFC has three ways of providing product to buyers: week-to-week, standing orders and large volume sales. LFC will work directly with restaurants, which have greens on standing order, and larger institutions that pre-order large volumes. For example, LFC provides product for the whole salad bar at a university. In situations like this, LFC will plan with these institutions and work with farms directly for these types of orders.

“[LFC] makes it easy and convenient for the buyer without having to manage a lot of producers,” said Chalmers. “We consider ourselves a food hub.” Buyers can buy from more than 80 farms through LFC, all 100 percent local.

Alice Chalmers founded the organization (as the Ohio Valley Food Connection, which is now Local Food Connection) in June 2015 with 14 farms. That Guy’s Family Farm in Clarksville, owned by Guy and Sandy Ashmore, was one those first 14 farms. “[The Ashmores] took a leap of faith with me. I owe a lot to the farmers who started with me,” said Chalmers, adding that Guy and Sandy provided greens when they started.

Since 2015 they have grown to 80 farms, 450 whoelsale clients and 2,000 plus households, according to Chalmers. LFC moved $2 million worth of product last year. Chalmers has 9 people on staff, a mix of part-time and full-time employees.

“We have an amazing, dedicated team of folks who don’t just do their jobs but really believe in what they’re doing,” said Chalmers. “They love farms and they understand the importance that what we do is different than the regular food system. And they are making a difference.”

Emma Woughter, LFC team member, has been helping the organization since May 2018. “I really like it,” she said. “My family actually has a farm. It’s kind of cool to be on this end of it.”

Patsy Funke-Carter, LFC logistics manager, said that LFC provides the communication. “We’re talking to the chefs to find out how much we need,” said Carter, adding that they then relay that information to their growers. LFC also offers an online farmers market, where buyers can place orders.

Carter grew up in a farm family and then spent 20 years in the restaurant business. She became interested in how food got from the farm to the restaurant when the farm that provided the sprout mix used in the restaurant where she worked suddenly couldn’t provide the mix because a storm destroyed the plants and the greenhouse.

“So who do we call? It takes a while to establish the relationships [between the chefs and the growers], but whoever makes up the difference must have consistent quality, and you need the same quality for the high-end chefs [as for] the little corner cafes,” said Carter. When the sprout situation occurred she started thinking, “there’s got to be someone who can help” because the restaurant’s entire menu was based on this product. When her research turned up Chalmers and the LFC, Carter began to volunteer and later on came on as regular staff.

Now Carter gets in about 7:30 a.m. on delivery days and spends “a lot of time on the communication.” Some of the farms do as much as $2,000 worth of business a week, while others only send in a few clamshells of herbs or smaller items.

According to the LFC website, LFC manages all customer service, ordering and delivery. LFC has five trucks used to deliver projects every week. Some of the producers schedule a group delivery, so a driver will load from their own farm and then pick up from other locations along the way. LFC receives food on Mondays and Thursdays and then ships it out on Tuesdays and Fridays. “Everything is fresh when it gets to clients,” said Chalmers.

LFC has two large walk-in coolers, one of which is mostly dedicated to tomatoes during the summer growing season. Their walk-in freezer provides a place for meats and other items as needed.

During the winter, they get a lot of storage vegetables, such as winter squash, and bee pollen.

Connecting

For producers interested in becoming part of LFC, email producers.foodconnection@gmail.com or directly fill out this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScmRhgeEpo3J9TyedMNLMWzlgro0_7m5bmPz0Zr7AYliEbIAg/viewform.

LFC is currently looking for the following products:

1. Year round red/white russian baby kale (leaf less than 4 inches, stems less than 2 inches)

2. Heirloom fresh beans and dried beans

3. Peas (shelling/English, snap, snow)

4. Haricots verts (petites skinny green beans)

5. Romanesco, colorful cauliflower, and broccolini

LFC sponsored an event called Off the Hook at the Newport Aquarium in KY to trigger interest in the Cincinnati area regarding sustainable seafood, according to Carter. LFC will also be participating in the CHCA Food Symposium (www.chca-oh.org/foodsymposium), April 4-5. LFC will have a booth and Chalmers will be speaking.

For more information visit: www.localfoodconnection.net.

Left to right: Emma Woughter, Local Food Connection team member; Patsy Funke-Carter, LFC logistics manager; and Luke Beckwith, 80 Acre Farm. They are working at the Local Food Connection location in Newport, KY, Feb. 7. Emma is weighing out frozen items to pack into coolers, which are then taken by each delivery vehicle in the morning. Luke is bringing in his products for the day to be checked in, and Patsy is checking him in using LFC’s pick lists.
https://www.rurallifetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2019/03/web1_LFC.jpgLeft to right: Emma Woughter, Local Food Connection team member; Patsy Funke-Carter, LFC logistics manager; and Luke Beckwith, 80 Acre Farm. They are working at the Local Food Connection location in Newport, KY, Feb. 7. Emma is weighing out frozen items to pack into coolers, which are then taken by each delivery vehicle in the morning. Luke is bringing in his products for the day to be checked in, and Patsy is checking him in using LFC’s pick lists. Dorothy J Countrman | Rural Life Today

Emma Woughter, Local Food Connection team member (left) and Patsy Funke-Carter, LFC logistics manager (right) packing bags for households to pick up at their respective locations at the Local Food Connection’s walk-in fridge, where food is sorted by client.
https://www.rurallifetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2019/03/web1_LFC2.jpgEmma Woughter, Local Food Connection team member (left) and Patsy Funke-Carter, LFC logistics manager (right) packing bags for households to pick up at their respective locations at the Local Food Connection’s walk-in fridge, where food is sorted by client. Submitted photo
Making the food system more convenient

By Amanda Rockhold and Dorothy J. Countryman

arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com

dcountryman@aimmediamidwest.com

Everything you need to know about the farm bill in one summit

An in-depth examination of policy and practical application

First Posted: 11:25 am - March 19th, 2019 - Views

By Alayna DeMartini - OSU Extension



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COLUMBUS — Profits for Ohio corn and soybean farmers are not likely to be as high as they were in 2018 when growers benefited from above normal yields and new government aid, according to an agricultural economics expert at The Ohio State University.

At least two factors could be different this year: Yields in 2018 were record high for corn and soybeans, which may not happen again in 2019, and the government payments that farmers received to compensate for the impact of foreign tariffs may not be reissued, said Ben Brown, manager of the farm management program in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

“We’re expecting Ohio corn and soybean farmers, on average, to either break even or experience losses in 2019,” Brown said.

The majority of corn and soybean returns for producers are determined by the price per bushel the farmer is able to sell them for, in addition to the number of bushels per acre the crop yields. Also, farmers can receive government aid. For corn, roughly 8 percent of per acre gross returns comes from direct government assistance; for soybeans, 6 percent, Brown said.

Government payments are authorized through the federal farm bill, which Congress passed in December and is budgeted to cost $426 billion over five years.

On April 11, a Farm Bill Summit in Versailles, Ohio, will be hosted by CFAES and other partners to address changes in the new farm bill and the implications for the state’s farmers.

“We want people to know what the farm bill means to them and what steps they can take to maximize profits going forward,” Brown said.

Brown will serve as moderator of the summit, which will feature three speakers:

Keith Coble, Giles Distinguished Professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University.

Jonathan Coppes, director of the Gardner Agricultural Policy Program, director of the Bock Agricultural Law and Policy Program, and clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois; and past administrator of the Farm Service Agency.

Patrick Westhof, director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, Howard Cowden Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Missouri; and past economist to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

The speakers will address government assistance paid or partially paid for in the farm bill including crop insurance, compensation for farmers who set aside a portion of their land for conservation, and payments to farmers who grow corn, soybeans, wheat, and other commodities when losses occur due to low commodities prices or low revenue.

Producers of commodities have a choice between two programs: Agricultural Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage. Prior to the 2018 farm bill, growers chose between the two programs at the beginning of the farm bill and were required to stick with their choice for the authorized period, typically five to seven years.

The new farm bill allows producers to make a choice for the first two years (2019, 2020) and then, beginning in 2021, allows that choice to be made annually. Which program is more profitable for a farmer can change from year to year.

Another significant change in the new farm bill will affect dairy producers. The Dairy Margin Coverage program provides aid to dairy farmers when the margin between milk prices and feed costs dips below a certain coverage level that the dairy farmer chooses. Higher coverage levels have a higher probability of triggering a government payment, so the premium a dairy farmer must pay to enroll in the program also increases. The 2018 farm bill lowered the cost of premiums for the first 5 million pounds of milk, but raised premiums costs for any milk over 5 million pounds.

“The change will help all dairy farmers who participate in the program, but particularly small dairy producers,” Brown said.

Producers who participate in the Conservation Reserve Program will see changes as well. Those who opt to set aside a portion of their land for conservation to reduce soil loss, improve water quality, or increase wildlife habitat could receive less compensation per acre compared to what they received under the previous farm bill. However, the farmers will have the option of enrolling more acres in that program.

Nationally, the total acreage allowed in the program rose to 27 million acres from 24 million, but the payment rate for farmers enrolled in the program dropped. Farmers have been paid the county rental rate for their property placed in the conservation program, which differs by county. The new compensation rate has been decreased to 85 percent of the county rental rate.

To register or learn more about the summit, which is free and open to the public, visit go.osu.edu/farmbillsummit. Questions can be emailed to Brown at brown.6888@osu.edu, Sam Custer at custer.2@osu.edu, or Dudley Lipps at Dudley.Lipps@e-farmcredit.com.

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An in-depth examination of policy and practical application

By Alayna DeMartini

OSU Extension

Champaign Berry Farm entry wins award

Pullins to lead Ohio Produce Network

First Posted: 1:04 pm - March 7th, 2019 - Views

By Amanda Rockhold - arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com



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URBANA — The Pullins of Champaign Berry Farm are really pulling their weight when it comes to growing raspberries and participating in the Ohio Produce Network. With more than 40 years of farming, Mike and Cathy Pullins have certainly made a name for themselves within the farming industry.

Mike and Cathy Pullins of Champaign Berry Farm in Urbana won the Value Added Product Tasting with their Black Raspberry Jam entry during the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association’s annual Ohio Produce Network on Jan. 16-17 in Dublin. In this contest, growers vote for their favorite jam, salsa, jelly or specialty product. This year the Ohio Produce Network featured 56 educational sessions, a membership meeting, keynote address by Wendy’s Chief Communications Officer Liliana Esposito, a sold-out industry trade show and a few hands-on sessions.

Also at this year’s conference, Cathy was elected president of the Ohio Produce Network, where she will serve with Alex Buck of Fruit Growers Marketing Association in Newcomerstown as vice president.

Cathy’s husband, Mike, served as executive director of the Ohio Produce Network during the 1990s and early 2000s.

The Champaign Berry Farm began as an FFA project for Cathy and Mike’s son, Matt. The farm evolved from 5 acres in 1995 to its current 25 acres. On their farm in Mutual (village just outside of Urbana), the Pullins grow black raspberries, red raspberries, currants and gooseberries.

“I see us as providing a service to the public; every year we have people saying ‘thank you for being here, thank you for doing this,’” said Cathy.

Both Cathy and Mike are retired from other jobs and Cathy said farming keeps them physically fit and busy. “[We farm] to help people have good food to eat,” said Cathy, adding that there are a lot of healthy benefits to raspberries. “Any dark fruit is good for you.”

“And we just love doing it. We’ll probably [farm] until we can’t,” said Cathy.

Cathy worked with children with disabilities for 34 years at the Lawnview Child and Family Center in Urbana (which is now called Madison-Champaign Educational Service Center). Mike worked for the Ohio Farm Bureau for 33 years before he retired and he served as executive director of the Ohio Fruit Growers Society, Ohio Vegetable and Potato Growers. However, they farmed in addition to their jobs. They bought their first farm in the late 1970s and Cathy said that they were able to “hang on” when the 1980s Farm Crisis hit because they had other jobs. They lived in eastern Ohio until 1988, when they moved to Champaign County.

In 2013, they planted a test plot of peach trees and have been growing them since. They have a total of 1,000 peach trees on their home farm on South Ludlow Road in Urbana and on the test plot in Mutual.

Three weeks out of the summer, usually mid-June to mid-July (depending on the weather), they open up their farm to the public, bringing in seasonal workers. People are welcome to visit the farm and pick their own berries, or people can put in orders to have berries picked for them. More than 80 percent of Champaign Berry Farm’s raspberries are pick-your-own. According to the Pullins, more than 40 percent of the customers come from the Columbus area, some others coming from as far as Kansas, Colorado, Virginia, New York, and Florida.

Champaign Berry Farm is registered with the Ohio Farm Bureau Buying Local directory and the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Farm Markets directory. Twenty percent of their berries are sold wholesale to farmers who will then sell them at farmers markets, such as the Clark’s Farm Market in Springfield; Miami County Farmers Market in Troy; Champaign County’s Virtual Farmers Market; Logan County Farmer’s Market; and others throughout Ohio. They have jams and sauces that are made with their product, which are available year round.

Mike said that their geographical location is very beneficial to them, an hour’s drive or less from Columbus, Dayton, Marysville, Bellefontaine, Delaware, Piqua, Springfield, London and other surrounding towns and cities. “We have two to three million people within 40 miles,” said Mike.

Overall, the Pullins family owns and farms about 1,400 acres, including the berry farm, peach trees, corn, soybeans and hay. Some land they farm themselves, and some they lease to others. Mike and Cathy have two sons, who are both managers and investors in the family farm business. They also have a daughter, who raises livestock.

Raspberry challenges

Red raspberries are grown throughout the world, said Mike, but black raspberries are only native to the Midwest. Raspberries have to be picked dry because they will mold if wet, and they are difficult to grow.

“[Black and red raspberries] are a very difficult crop to grow because of all of the pests and diseases,” said Mike, adding that there are more than 20 fungal diseases to which raspberries are susceptible. “Raspberries are very closely related to roses; they’re in the same family. And so any gardener who grows roses knows all the insects and diseases that attack raspberries.”

Mike added that within the past 6 years, an invasive species from Asia called Drosophila suzukii, or the spotted wing Drosophila, commonly known as a fruit fly, “has attacked all soft fruits, but particularly is devastating to raspberries and black berries…and it’s very difficult to control.”

“There’s a spray program that Mike follows with fungicide for the fungal diseases and then with insecticides for the SWD (spotted wing Drosophila),” said Cathy, adding that because of these obstacles it’s difficult to be organic. “People ask us all the time if we’re organic. We could not have a crop—however, we do follow recommended practices in spraying and we’re very cognizant of the bees…because we love the bees and the bees love the berries when the red raspberries are in bloom.”

Most raspberries are biennial plants, which means the flowering plant takes two years to complete its biological lifecycle. In the first year, the plants grow leaves, stems and roots and enter a period of dormancy during the colder months.

“The cane (stem) grows one year, overwinters, and then fruits in early summer,” said Mike. “Then that cane dies, not the plant, just that cane dies. And at the same time the cane is growing for the next year. So you have two crops always growing at the same time.” Raspberries require 2,000 hours of cold.

Connect

For more information about Champaign Berry Farm visit: www.champaignberryfarm.com

The Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association is a non-profit organization that works for the betterment of the produce industry in Ohio. For more information about the organization, visit the OPGMA website at www.opgma.org.

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Pullins to lead Ohio Produce Network

By Amanda Rockhold

arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com

The Ashmores awarded at the OEFFA Conference

First Posted: 12:28 pm - March 5th, 2019 - Views

By Amanda Rockhold - arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com



Guy (left) and Sandy (middle) Ashmore of That Guy’s Family Farm won the Stewardship Award during OEFFA’s 40th annual conference, Feb. 15. Carol Goland (right), OEFFA Executive Director, presented them with the award.
Courtesy of OEFFA
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Editor’s note: This is the eleventh 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 — The Ashmore farm, That Guy’s Family Farm, hasn’t always been certified organic. And when they made the transition from a conventional farm raising hogs to growing organic vegetables after joining The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) in 1988, they described it as a “turning point in our farming practices and ultimately our lives.” Their first acres were certified organic in 1998.

“Farming began to be fun, rewarding, and enjoyable again. Our children could help; we could farm a lot less acres and make a profit,” according to Guy and Sandy. By 2005, their entire farm was certified organic.

Every year Guy and Sandy Ashmore attend the OEFFA annual conference. This year they received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community. The announcement was made Feb. 15 in Dayton as part of OEFFA’s 40th annual conference, “Just Farming: The Path Before Us.”

“We were adding more land, more chemicals, and more livestock, but things were not working out. We were stressed; our livestock and crops were stressed. We enjoyed farming, but this just didn’t seem right for us,” said Guy. The Ashmores wholesale produce through the Local Food Connection and Dorothy Lane Markets, and sell at a farmers’ market, their farm store and through a winter and summer community supported agriculture (CSA) program.

They have held OEFFA farm tours, led OEFFA conference workshops, and are active members in their OEFFA chapter. They received the Snail of Approval from Slow Food Cincinnati in 2018 and were elected to Dorothy Lane Market’s Vendor Honor Roll.

“I saw the Ashmore family in full swing when they let me “help learn” how to process chickens. With good-natured determination and sense of purpose, they have continued to grow and share their insights. Their love for food, farming, family, and friends is an inspiring example our community strives to repeat,” said Steve Edwards, who has represented OEFFA’s Southwest chapter on the Board of Trustees since 2005.

Guy and Sandy’s daughter, Nellie, spoke at the OEFFA Conference on Saturday, Feb. 16. Her topic was “Selling Cut Flowers to Grocery Stores and Starting a Flower CSA.” (See the article headlined “Selling fresh-cut flowers” in this issue.)

On the farm

Both Sandy and Guy agree that they’re ready for spring. “It’s nothing like having two nice days in a row to really fire you up,” said Guy, referring to some of the warm weather in early February.

This month the couple plan to “get some field work done if it’s dry,” said Guy. “And possibly cultivate the overwintered crops.” Currently they have five unheated greenhouses and one heated, a total of 6,000 square feet that they use during the winter. In the spring they will transplant crops from their greenhouses to the fields. They have acquired all of the supplies to build a second heated greenhouse.

The couple raises about 30 different crops and around 130 different varieties on 8 to 10 acres. The Ashmores finished their seed ordering in February. Every year 10 percent of their total order goes to new varieties of crops.

They also purchased a vacuum seeder for the greenhouse, which will speed up the process of planting smaller seeds. “We’re excited about that,” said Guy. They are working on making their germination chamber larger. The germination chamber helps seeds germinate quicker by housing the seeds in a dark, insulated, warm, and moist environment. They are making it bigger so that they can store more flats (which hold the seeds) at one time.

Their winter CSA has ended. “Everyone was nice about the weather and grateful for the food,” said Guy. In addition to their CSA and selling wholesale to grocery stories, they sell at the Deerfield Farmers Market in Mason, OH and from That Farm and Flower Shop, a small refridgerated building stocked with fresh cut flowers and perishable produce. The store is a small building at the front their property that operates as a self-serve honor system stand. They opened That Farm and Flower Shop in June 2018 and the store will open sometime in the spring.

In February, two journalists from Tokyo, JP visited That Guy’s Family Farm to learn about small farms in the United States. “They came out here because they wanted to interview and look at small farms and see how they’re playing a role in American agriculture to try and ecourage more young people in Japan to get back on the land,” said Guy. “They’ve had a big exodus of young people leaving the farms over [in Japan].” According to Guy, the journalists thought that the Ashmores’ 48-acre farm was big, compared to those in Japan.

This season Guy and Sandy are planning to partner with Aberlin Springs in Warren County by providing produce to help supplement their product. Aberlin Springs is a conservation community set among acres of preserved forests and meadows where homes and hamlets are connected by looping country roads and a network of footpaths. For more information visit: aberlinsprings.com.

Guy and Sandy’s son, Conard, will begin planting oats as a cover crop in the spring on the 14 acres of land he acquired from a neighbor. He purchased a pull-type tractor in February, which he will use for cover crops and other work on the family farm. According to Guy, Conard plans to build up the organic matter and he will learn a lot about the soil’s fertility in the first year of farming the land. Connard will operate the land as certified organic.

The Ashmores have chosen their two apprentices for 2019, named Mara and Joseph. Every year the couple chooses two apprentices through the OEFFA Begin Farming program, who will work on the farm from May through October.

For more information about That Guy’s Family Farm, visit: www.thatguysfamilyfarm.com

Next month: Preparing for spring.

Guy (left) and Sandy (middle) Ashmore of That Guy’s Family Farm won the Stewardship Award during OEFFA’s 40th annual conference, Feb. 15. Carol Goland (right), OEFFA Executive Director, presented them with the award.
https://www.rurallifetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2019/03/web1_Ashmores-LR-Square-Crop.jpgGuy (left) and Sandy (middle) Ashmore of That Guy’s Family Farm won the Stewardship Award during OEFFA’s 40th annual conference, Feb. 15. Carol Goland (right), OEFFA Executive Director, presented them with the award. Courtesy of OEFFA

By Amanda Rockhold

arockhold@aimmediamidwest.com