Join us at Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference in February of 2024! The 45th annual OEFFA conference is three days full of live learning, shopping, sharing, and connecting with sustainable farmers, gardeners, and local food supporters.
With 50+ workshops on everything from farmers markets to livestock management, a big exhibit hall for shopping and networking, a few happy hours to gather and celebrate, locally-sourced lunches, and much more, we hope to see you there!
Thursday, February 15
|10 a.m.-5 p.m.||Food and Farm School*|
|1-4 p.m.||Understanding and Overcoming the Rural Urban Divide|
|2-4 p.m.||What is the Climate-Smart Agriculture Agenda for Small Farms?|
|4 p.m.||Registration/Check-In Opens, Exhibit Hall Opens|
|4-6 p.m.||Welcoming Exhibit Hall Happy Hour|
|6-7:15 p.m.||Keynote Storytelling|
Friday, February 16
|8 a.m.||Registration/Check-In Opens, Exhibit Hall Opens|
|9:15-10:30 a.m.||Workshop Session I|
|10:45 a.m.-Noon||Workshop Session II|
|1:30-2:45 p.m.||Workshop Session III|
|3-4:15 p.m.||Workshop Session IV|
|4:30-5 p.m.||Members’ Meeting**|
|5-6:30 p.m.||Exhibit Hall Happy Hour and Flash Demos, Farmers’ Market
Vendor Fair, Heartland FarmLink Mixer
|6:30 p.m.||Exhibit Hall Closes|
|7:30-10 p.m.||OEFFA Open Mic Night|
Saturday, February 17
|8 a.m.||Registration/Check-In Opens, Exhibit Hall Opens|
|8:45-10 a.m.||Keynote Address with Jim Embry|
|10:45-Noon||Workshop Session V|
|1:30 p.m.||Exhibit Hall Closes|
|1:30-2:45 p.m.||Workshop Session VI|
|3-4:15 p.m.||Workshop Session VII|
My Favorite Mistake
February 15 Keynote Storytelling
Walter Bonham, Sophia Buggs, David Kline, Mardy Townsend
Mistakes, while often painful, teach us valuable lessons. To cultivate a culture of caring, OEFFA asks four farmer leaders from around Ohio to tell the story of a mistake they made. This mistake taught something they are grateful to have learned so that others may gain from their hard-earned wisdom. After our storytellers have shared, the floor will open for attendees to tell their own stories. Together, we care for each other by sharing the challenges and gifts of farming.
Walter Bonham is an urban farmer, consultant, and a founding member of the Richland Gro-Op Cooperative. A native of Mansfield, Ohio, he works with others in his community to bridge the food insecurity gap, creating new farmers and focusing on both the local consumption and exportation of locally grown food. His mission to "Build. Grow. Feed." guides his unique approach to working so closely with his community.
Sophia Buggs owns and operates Lady Buggs Pharm, a 1.3-acre urban farm in Youngstown, Ohio. Sophia is the director of the Mahoning Food Access Initiative and the executive director of Plant It You (“Planet You”), a grassroots organization dedicated to land stewardship, food sovereignty, climate action, Black and Indigenous farmers, and food ways. She aims to regenerate her community by offering wellbeing from seed to table.
David Kline is an active recordkeeper of the goings-on on his 120-acre sustainable farm in southern Ohio. As an Amish farmer and author, he is known as an expert voice on the ways we are connected to our environment, and the joy and pleasure that come with being considerate stewards of land and food.
Mardy Townsend raises grassfed beef cattle on certified organic pasture on 226 acres in Ashtabula County, Ohio. The land is marginal—all highly erodible or wetland, which has necessitated the careful development of specific appropriate grazing management. Mardy serves on the OEFFA Board and has hosted a number of farm tours.
OEFFA thanks the Organic Vegetable Production Conference for letting us borrow this keynote concept.
February 17 Keynote Address
Pathways to a Caring and Sustainable Future
We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history. Humanity must choose its future: great peril or great promise. Our challenge is to more fully recognize that we are one human family. We must reimagine what it means to be human in the 21st century. Although our nation’s agriculture was founded on stolen land from Indigenous peoples and stolen labor from African peoples, our food system also represents the fulcrum point of transformational change.
Such a transformation has already begun, but the gravity of the situation demands more effective and inclusive action. Big ideas are necessary. We must think not just “out-of-the-box,” but also “out-of-the-barn” to achieve a caring and sustainable future.
The proud great-grandson of enslaved Africans brought across the Appalachian Mountains, Jim Embry regards himself an agrarian intellectual activist. As the founder and director of the Sustainable Communities Network, he contributes to the theory and practice of sustainable living at the local, national, and international levels with a focus on food systems.
Beginning in the Civil Rights Movement, he has participated in most of the major social justice movements of his era, and now believes the sustainability movement encompasses all the other movements. In 2023, Jim was honored with the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award “for his lifelong work as a community activist advocating for sustainable living practices and Black and Indigenous rights.”
Food and Farm School
Thursday, February 15—10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Key Principles for Regenerative Agriculture Success
To reimagine your agricultural business with a regenerative agriculture, you need a shift in thinking. Holistic Management simplifies complexity through planning and monitoring tools that aid in prioritizing and tracking lead-indicators. Wayne Knight of Holistic Management International (HMI) will introduce essential principles and planning tools to guide your decisions when starting or refining your grazing or cropping business.
Raising Better Chicken with Heritage Breeds
The Cornish Cross may dominate the market for meat chicken, but there is a niche and a growing demand for slow-growing, standard-bred chicken, such as the Ohio-native heritage breed Buckeye. Learn about advanced poultry husbandry techniques, the genetic nuances of breeding and incubation, and management practices to maximize your profit potential. Get equipped with the skills to elevate your farm-to-table operation by hearing effective marketing approaches and culinary techniques specific to heritage chickens.
Organic Systems Plan Help-Shop
Writing your first Organic Systems Plan (OSP) can be overwhelming. If you are planning to certify for the first time in 2024, OEFFA invites you to bring your draft OSP and your questions to this supported work session. Experienced OEFFA staff will address common stumbling blocks farmers encounter in their first OSP, provide individualized assistance, and answer your questions so your first year of certification goes as smoothly as possible.
Wholesale for All Scales
With multiple opportunities to sell into wholesale outlets emerging, including Ohio CAN, small and mid-scale growers have new market opportunities. Hear from a specific buyer about their requirements and process, plus take a deep dive into vegetable production on two crops–cabbage and cucumbers–with three farmers on the nitty-gritty details on their crop systems. Food safety practices will also be covered.
Organic Farmer Researcher Network DIY Research
Farmers, researchers, and educators interested or experienced in on-farm organic research are invited to discuss current needs and resources. Small group work is intended to generate and refine specific farmer-led research ideas, encouraging new partnerships, ideas, and resources. This conversation started in February 2023, so new and repeat attendees are welcome to come and move previous ideas forward and start new discussions.
Workshop Session I: 9:15-10:30 a.m.
Understanding and Overcoming the Rural Urban Divide: Opportunities for the Local Foods Movement to Lead the Way—Anthony Flaccavento, Rural Urban Bridge Initiative
What We Learned About Data Collection and Use by Direct Marketing Farmers Who Sell at Farmers’ Markets—Christie Welch, OSU
Ecological Landscaping and Beyond—Wes Duran, Marvin’s Organic Gardens
Year-Round Salad Production—Alex Ball, Old City Acres
Overcoming the Hurdles to Organic Grain Transition—Panel discussion, featuring Carmen Fernholz, A-Frame Farm, and moderated by Eric Richer, OSU
Native Warm Season Grasses: Applications and Management for Pasture-Based Farms—Dan Borrenpohl, Chris Glassmeyer, and Matt Tomaszewski, Greenacres Foundation
Seed To Fork: The Key to Raising Farm Wages—Ryan Doan, Fresh To Morrow
Farmers Working Together: Collaborations in Marketing, Purchasing, and Equipment to Improve Your Farm’s Bottom Line—Melissa Whitt, OSU
Breaking Ground in Land Access for Landowners Community Discussion—Jerah Pettibone, OEFFA
Workshop Session II: 10:45 a.m.-Noon
Beginning Farmer Tax Credit—Lauren Hirtle, OEFFA, Sarah Huffman, Ohio Department of Agriculture
Extension and USDA Midwest Climate Hub: Partnership for Climate-Informed Agriculture—Dennis Todey, USDA-ARS, Aaron Wilson, OSU
Connecting the Dots: Regeneration of Soil, Plants, and People—Debra Knapke, The Garden Sage
Utilizing Integrated Pest Management on Your Farm—Frank Becker, OSU
The New Economics of Organics—Ryan Koory, Mercaris
Intro to Raising Buckeyes for Meat—Jim Schultz, Red Shirt Farm
The New Paradigm: Promoting Circularity in Agriculture Using Practical, Local Approaches—Charles Bethke, Margaret Cullinan, PittMoss, LLC
Insider Tips: How to do Your Books in Five Minutes a Day and Get Good Results—Shelly Oswald, Old Time Farm
BIPOC Breakout Room—Erica Powell, OEFFA
Workshop Session III: 1:30-2:45 p.m.
Leveling the Playing Field through Crop Insurance Reform—Billy Hackett, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE): What the New Rule Means for Your Operation—Kate Pierfelice, OEFFA
When Two Wheels Are Better Than Four: Walk-Behind Tractors for Small-Scale Farming—Joel DuFour, Earth Tools
Powdery Mildew: Conventional vs. Natural Farming—Donetta Boykin, Endigo's Herbals & Organics and Seven Seed Sowers Co-op
Thinking Through Diversity: Crop Rotation on an Organic Grain Farm—Thor Oechsner, Oechsner Farms
Herd Shares in Ohio: Is it for You?—Annette and David Bair, Bair-Trax Dairy
Growing Seedlings and Skills for Agroforestry: Integration of Woody Seedlings and Annual Vegetable Production—Jessica Burns, Kelly's Working Well Farm
A Farmer's Story That Hits Different—Sherifat Alabi and Joy Crumble, OSU
Breaking Ground in Land Access for Farm Seekers Community Discussion—Jerah Pettibone, OEFFA
Workshop Session IV: 3-4:15 p.m.
A New Farm Bill: Where We’re at and Where We're Going—Jesse Womack, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
NRCS Programs for All Farms: Conservation Planning and Programs and Land Preservation Easements—Barbara Baker, Mary Griffiths, Abby McClain, USDA NRCS
Benefits of Fungi with Melanated Mushrooms—Cheryl and Vernon Clements, Melanated Mushrooms
Profitable Tunnel Rotations—Dana Hilfinger, Johnny's Selected Seeds and Roots, Fruits and Shoots
Navigating Turbulent Organic Grain Markets—Carmen Fernholz, A-Frame Farm
Incorporating Silvopasture into Your Livestock Operation—Molly Sowash and CJ Morgan, MoSo Farm
Internships and Learning Contracts to Promote Farm Career Development—Katy Rogers, Teter Organic Farm
Unconventional and Innovative Farm Design—Jonathan Greer, Eden's Blessing Family Farm
Growing Seed Crops and Seed Swap!—Lindsay Klaunig, Trouvaille Farm, Kaleb Wilkins, Rooted in Thyme
Workshop Session V: 10:45 a.m.-Noon
Bridging Perspectives—Nicole Wolcott, OEFFA
For Peat's Sake! An Exploration of Potting Soil Components—Nathan Rutz, Rust Belt Riders Composting/Tilth Soil
Small-Space Indoor Production of Microgreens and Mushrooms as a Way to Create a Viable Income and Help People Out of Poverty—Tom Phillips, StarkFresh
Fostering Best Practices for Plant and Soil Health Management While Adapting to Current and Future Climate Challenges—Pam Mack, L Marie Ltd
Farm, Mill, and Bakery: Adding Value Adds Up—Thor Oechsner, Oechsner Farms
Earning Income on Fallow with Swine—Tom Cail
Farming with Draft Animals—Gabriel Francisco, Thunderfoot Farm
Grants, Loans, and Technical Support for Urban Farmers from the USDA -- Mike Hogan, OSU
Seed Commons as a Pathway to Community Resilience—Jim Embry, Sustainable Communities Network
Workshop Session VI: 1:30-2:45 p.m.
A Seat at OEFFA's Table: Policy Agenda for Urban and BIPOC Communities—Amanda Hernandez, Leonard Hubert, L Hubert and Associates, Bill Miller, Ohio Farmers Union, Celeste Treece, AgNoire Urban Farming Association
The Craft Millers Guild: A Network of Open-Source Peer-to-Peer Learning for Millers—Michelle Ajamian, Shagbark Seed and Mill
No-Till Vegetable Production Strategies—Carlos Dandridge
From Market Garden to CSA: A Step-by-Step Crop Planning Demonstration—Marc Amante, Central State University
The Basics of Surface and Subsurface Drainage—Dave Shively, Shively Farm, Don Stinner
Grazing Management: Key Profit Drivers of a Grazing System—Michael Cox, Greenacres Foundation
African American Heritage Crop Project—Kamille Austin, Corey Higgs, Mariah Simmons, Claire Thorn, Central State University
Where am I Going to Sell My Produce?—Walt Bonham, The Food Lab
Queer Farmer Breakout Room—Jerah Pettibone, OEFFA
Workshop Session VII: 3-4:15 p.m.
Shifting the Narrative: How to Apply OEFFA's Policy Narrative and Cultivate Community—Lauren Hirtle and Milo Petruziello, OEFFA
Black Farmers and Climate Adaptation—Maritza Pierre, OSU
On-Farm Cultivation of Goldenseal: A High-Value Ohio Specialty Crop, and Other Forest Botanicals—Andrea Miller, Rural Action
Lessons from Design and Installation of an Earth-to-Air Heat Exchanger for High Tunnel Heating and Cooling—Jaden Tatum, OSU
Environmental and Economic Tradeoffs Associated with Integrating Livestock into Cash Grain Cropping Systems—Doug Jackson-Smith, Marilia Chiavegato, and Ryan Haden, OSU
Dairy Goats 101—Nellie Rowland, OSU
Leveraging Partnerships for Inclusive Climate-Resilient Community Garden Projects—Dianne Kadonaga, Sunny Glen Garden
On-Farm Realistic Expectation Setting with Scrum Project Management—Andrea Heim, Encouragemint LLC
Building a Farm Labor, Skill Share, and Volunteering Network—Erica Powell and Abbe Turner, OEFFA
The Fertrell Company
Granville Bread Company
Green Field Farms
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Heaven’s Dew Agriculture & Healthy Home
Marshy Meadows Farm
Betty Brown | Christine Hughes | Nick Leone | Nikki Ransom | Route 9 Cooperative | Judy Sauer | Jeannie Seabrook | Anthony Silvernail | Helen Sites | Mardy Townsend | Omar Wahdan
We incorporate organic and/or local meats, dairy products, vegetables, and grains into our meal offerings. Given this sourcing work, a limited number of meals are available for sale. If you plan to eat a conference lunch, we recommend buying it in advance. Vegan and gluten-free meals cannot be guaranteed.
Yogurt and granola
Sausage and eggs
Veggie tofu scramble
Pork enchilada casserole -or-
Vegetarian penne pasta primavera
Tossed salad with microgreens with ranch and vinaigrette dressings
Traditional beef shepherd’s pie -or-
Vegetarian sweet potato shepherd’s pie
Winter green kale salad with candied walnuts and ranch
and Ohio maple syrup vinaigrette dressing
Winter harvest roasted root vegetables
Baked apples with chef-crafted caramel sauce
Chef Craig Bigham is delighted to work with OEFFA again due to the
quality, freshness, and taste our farmers deliver to his kitchen for our conference meals. Well-versed in cooking for large groups, his background includes cooking in the United States Marine Corps as well as corporate kitchens and private events. Chef Bigham was raised on an Ohio farm and is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute.
Understanding and Overcoming the Rural Urban Divide:
The First Step in Rebuilding Our Democracy
Thursday, February 15—1-4 p.m.
Our nation is increasingly divided across economics, politics and culture. While race and class play major roles in this polarization, the divide between urban and rural is perhaps the most talked about yet poorly understood component of our divisions. The Rural Urban Bridge Initiative’s training, “Understanding and Overcoming the Rural-Urban Divide” provides an in-depth look into both the underlying causes of the divide and what people and groups can do to begin to overcome it. For the OEFFA conference, the workshop will include discussion of how farmers and food and farming advocates in particular can play a role. This event is free and does
not require registration.
What is the Climate-Smart Agriculture Agenda for Small Farms?
Thursday, February 15—2-4 p.m.
Help the USDA shape a small farm friendly approach to climate-smart agriculture. Hear about some of the key climate change impacts on agriculture in the Midwest and a regional Extension-USDA Midwest Climate Hub project, Climate Ready Midwest. Join small groups and discussions to explore the question: What
does climate-smart agriculture mean to you? This event is free and does not require registration.
Exhibit Hall Happy Hour and Keynote Storytelling
Thursday, February 15—4-7:15 p.m.
We’re kicking things off on Thursday evening with a welcoming happy hour in the exhibit hall and keynote storytelling! Reunite with food and farm friends, get a headstart on your conference shopping, and enjoy snacks and a cash bar in the exhibit hall. Can’t make it in time for the keynote? Follow us on Facebook
@ohioecologicalfoodandfarmassociation to watch it on Facebook live! Exhibit hall doors open at 4 p.m. The keynote storytelling begins at 6 p.m. Access to this event is included in both general and Food and Farm School registration.
Open Mic Night Film Screening
Friday, February 16—7:30 p.m.
Come and share your artistic side! This is a free
time to share your songs, poems, stories, skits, and more—share whatever moves you. There will be a sign-up sheet available to claim a spot on a first-come, first-served basis. An acoustic guitar will be available for anyone who needs it.
Friday, February 16—7:30 p.m.
OEFFA is screening the film Digging In, which follows Masika Henson around the U.S. to understand who controls our food, who owns the land it’s grown upon, and whether our systems can adapt to a changing climate.
Heartland FarmLink Mixer
Friday, February 16—5-6:30 p.m.
FarmLink Mixer is a social event for farmland seekers and farmland owners to meet and connect. Farmers and landowners who have available farmland to rent, sell, or transfer can meet up with interested farmers looking for land. Land seekers are encouraged to talk to farmland owners about their hopes and plans for a farm, and find other interested farmers who may want to collaborate on a farm project. Transferring land is a big challenge—this event is to help ease some of the hurdles and bring interested parties together. This event is free and does not require registration.
Farmers’ Market Vendor Fair
Friday, February 16—5-6:30 p.m.
This is an opportunity to connect farmers’ markets/managers with farmers and vendors searching for direct-to-consumer opportunities to sell their products.Market managers looking for new vendors will have informational displays conveniently set up along the way to the exhibit hall, making it easy for farmers and food entrepreneurs to network with potential markets and seek out a good fit.
Saturday, February 17—8:45 a.m.
Delight your mind and body with a keynote presentation from Jim Embry on growing a more caring world through sustainable farming, all while enjoying a cup of coffee and your morning breakfast.
Saturday, February 17—8 a.m.
Whether you’re just looking for information or to see the latest products available to farmers and consumers, the conference trade show will have an abundant and diverse selection of exhibitors on site to inspire you throughout the conference.
T H U R S D A Y
F R I D A Y
4:30 – 6:30 pm
Exhibit Hall Hours
Open throughout the conference!
T H U R S D A Y
F R I D A Y
8 am – 6:30 pm
F R I D A Y
8 am – 6:30 pm
F R I D A Y
4:30 – 6:30 pm
With more than 31,000 square feet of space, the exhibit hall is a one-stop shop! Here, you’ll find businesses that can help you find your market, products to maximize your farm or backyard, services to improve your farm or homestead, quality locally-produced merchandise for your pantry and home, and useful information from knowledgeable nonprofit and educational institutions.
Location and Lodging
Cherry Valley Hotel and Ohio Event Center
2299 Cherry Valley Rd. SE, Newark, Ohio 43055
cherryvalleyhotel.com | (740) 788-1200
With its newly renovated rooms and thousands of square feet of space, Cherry Valley Hotel will truly be our home for the conference weekend. Parking is complimentary, and guests will enjoy their rooms being only a minute’s walk to all conference activities. There is an indoor pool, fitness center, and multiple places to eat and drink on site.
$139.00 per night. Visit oeffa.org/stay or call and ask for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association room block rate. A limited number of rooms are available at this rate. Deadline: January 30, 2024.)
DISCOVER THE NEWARK
AND GRANVILLE AREA!
Stroll through the 2,000 acres of seasonal gardens and walking trails of The Dawes Arboretum. Popular attractions include the Japanese Garden, birdwatching, and a 10,000-year-old glacier ridge.
Granville Downtown Square
Experience New England charm in the heart of Ohio by strolling
down Granville’s downtown square. Explore the unique shops and sit down to enjoy the local dining options.
Catch spellbinding drama productions, ballet spectaculars, and sold-out concerts at Midland Theater, a 1,800-seat multipurpose venue in Newark.