ASHTABULA, Ohio — There is a growing trend in Ohio agriculture toward the direct marketing of agricultural products featuring locally grown foods.
Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of buying local and buying fresh. As the demand for local food products increases so does the interest in growing and producing a variety of agricultural products for these markets.
Perhaps this is something that you have considered for your small acreage but do not know where to begin. To help land owners decide what to grow or raise on their excess acreage, the Ohio State University Extension offices in Northeast Ohio are pleased to be conducting the Northeast Ohio Small Farmer College for new and aspiring farms.
The college will be held on Sept. 12 & 24 and Oct. 3 & 10 from 6-9 p.m. at the Ashtabula County Extension office located at 39 Wall Street in Jefferson, Ohio.
On Oct. 12 participants will visit two local farms to learn how they have gotten off to a successful start. This college is designed to help landowners increase their profits from their small acreage and is open to all new or aspiring farmers, new rural landowners, small farmers, and farm families looking for new ideas.
The small farmer college is split into five sessions designed to challenge participants to plan for success. The first session is Sept. 12 titled “Getting Started,” and will help participants build the foundation for their farm business.
Some of the session topics will include: Developing real-life expectations for your small farm, developing goals and objectives, developing an agricultural business plan, and tax and financial management secrets for small farms.
This session will also introduce the local agencies which can help farmers as they start, grow or maintain their business. The second session is Sept. 24, titled “Enterprise Selection.” It will help participants decide what to raise/grow on their farm and how to develop realistic budgets for these enterprises.
This session will be tailored-made based on the interests of the group. Learn more about vegetable, greenhouse, fruit, nursery and bio-fuel crops, as well as aquaculture, livestock, hay, traditional and alternative farm enterprises.
The third session, Oct. 3, will be a work session to help participants get their documents in order. Participants will work on enterprise budgets, EIN numbers, farm name, mission statements, and farm goals.
Each farm will begin building their farm business plan. The fourth session is Oct. 10, titled “Marketing & Resources for Small Farms,” and will help participants build a marketing direction for their business.
Learn how agricultural products are being marketed across northeast Ohio. The fifth session titled “Learning from the School of Hard Knocks” will be held Oct. 12 from 9 a.m.-noon at two small farms in Ashtabula County.
Participants will take tours of each farm to learn about raising, selecting and marketing agricultural crops. The host farms will be selected based on the interests of the class.
Participants will receive a light meal at sessions one through four; 15 hours of classroom and onsite instruction; resource notebook (1 per family); and connections to resources and people that will help your farm business grow.
Registration is $99 for the first registrant from each family and $50 for each family registrant thereafter. Call the Ashtabula County OSU Extension office at 440-576-9008 to make your reservations or to receive more information.
Registrations are requested by Sept. 5. Space is limited to the first 35 registrants. Forms can also be found at http://ashtabula.osu.edu.