Sustainable Farming Conference to Feature 19 Ohio State Experts, Feb. 13-15

Jan 13, 2015

By Tracy Turner

From berry pests and cover crop concepts to soil biology and building regional food systems, researchers and industry experts from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will present the latest information on some of the key issues in organic and sustainable agriculture next month during Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 36th annual conference, “Sustainable Agriculture: Renewing Ohio’s Heart and Soil,” is Feb. 13-15 in Granville, Ohio. With numerous workshops and a full-day pre-conference event featuring Ohio State and industry scientists, specialists and students, participants will get an updated look at some of the important issues facing growers in organic and sustainable agriculture, organizers said.

“How we care for our soil has everything to do with the well-being of our food and water, how we feed ourselves in the future, and who will be raising our food,” OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt said in a statement. “Soil health is at the core of sustainable agriculture, but by building connections between eaters and farmers we are also renewing the heart of our community-based food systems.”

The Ohio State presenters are from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, which are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the college.

In all, the conference features more than 100 workshops plus a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally sourced and organic homemade meals; three full-day pre-conference events, and keynote talks by Doug Gurian-Sherman, director of sustainable agriculture and a senior scientist at the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C., and Alan Guebert, an award-winning freelance agricultural journalist.

One of the pre-conference workshops, “Udder Health and Mastitis Control in Organic Dairies,” will be presented by Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine veterinarians Dr. Paivi Rajala-Schultz and Dr. Luciana da Costa.

Other workshops offered by CFAES experts include:

  • Celeste Welty, entomologist with OARDC and OSU Extension, “Spotted Wing Drosophila: A New Berry Crop Pest,” Sunday, 9:30-10:25 a.m. 
  • Brian McSpadden Gardener, plant pathologist with OARDC and OSU Extension and director of OARDC’s Organic Food and Farming Education and Research Program, “Best Bet Biopesticides for Organic and Sustainable Farmers,” Sunday, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
  •  Alan Sundermeier, OSU Extension, and cover crop expert Andy Clark of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, “Advanced Cover Crop Concepts,” Saturday, 1:35-3:45 p.m.
  • Mike Hogan, OSU Extension, “Turning Your New Ideas into Successful SARE Grant Proposals,” Sunday, 10:35-11:30 a.m.
  • Brad Bergefurd, educator and specialist with OSU Extension and OARDC based at the Ohio State University South Centers, “Cooperatively Growing the Ohio Hops Industry,” Sunday, 10:35-11:30 a.m.
  • Larry Phelan, Ohio State scientist and professor, “Inside the Black Box: Understanding Soil Biology in Organic Farming,” Sunday, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
  • Morgan Taggart, OSU Extension, “Building Coalitions to Support Local and Regional Food Systems,” Saturday, 9:30-10:25 a.m.
  • Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension, and Bob Hendershot, retired, Natural Resources Conservation Service:
    • “Pasture for Profit I: Setting Goals and Evaluating Your Resources,” Saturday, 9:30-10:25 a.m.
    • “Pasture for Profit II: Forage Selection and Animal Nutrition,” Saturday, 1:45-3:45 p.m.
    • “Pasture for Profit III: Soil Fertility, Contingency Plans, and Organic Regulations,” Sunday, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
    • “Pasture for Profit IV: Paddock, Water, and Fencing Systems,” Sunday, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
  • Julie Weatherington-Rice, Ohio State adjunct assistant professor, and Ted Auch, of FracTracker Alliance, “The Effects of Fracking on Ohio’s Watersheds, Soils, and Ecosystem Services,” Saturday, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Jill Clark, Ohio State assistant professor of food policy, and activist Bryn Bird, “Food Citizens: Engaging in the Intersection between Food and Policy,” Saturday, 1:45-2:40 p.m.
  • Subbu Kumarappan, Ohio State assistant professor, “Tips for Economic Decision-Making on the Organic Farm,” Saturday, 2:50-3:45 p.m.
  • Dave Apsley, OSU Extension, and professional forester Peter Woyer, “Sustainable Woodlot Management,” Saturday, 1:45-3:45 p.m.
  • Steve Culman, OSU Extension, “Soil Testing for Active Organic Matter,” Saturday, 1:45-2:40 p.m.
  • Fulya Baysal-Gurel, Ohio State research associate, “Engaging Ohio Vegetable Growers through Interactive Disease Diagnostic Services,” Sunday, 9:30-11:30 a.m. 

Early bird registration ranges from the $65 student member rate to $205 for both days for an adult nonmember of OEFFA. Early bird registration ends Jan. 31, after which rates increase. Meals, the kids’ conference and the pre-conference workshops are purchased separately. Register online at

The pre-conference workshops will be held Feb. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Pre-registration is required and costs $75 for OEFFA members and $90 for nonmembers.

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