Growing good ground

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HARTVILLE, Ohio – For Larry and Cynthia Ringer, there’s more to business than moving the most product or making the most money. Their priority list is topped by the desire to improve the environment and leave the ground fertile for future generations.
The Ringers work toward their goal through their business, Ohio Earth Food, which specializes in organic fertilizers.
They sell four personally-formulated fertilizers – Re-Vita Organic Lawn Fertilizer, Re-Vita Pro, Re-Vita Compost Plus and Re-Vita Hi-K.
The base of the Re-Vita products is composted poultry manure. Other natural nitrogen and potash sources like feathermeal, bloodmeal and sulfate of potash are added in various combinations and amounts.
The fertilizers, which have a nearly indefinite shelf life, aren’t manufactured at the Ringers’ Hartville-based facility, but they are created to Larry and Cynthia’s specifications.
In addition to the fertilizer, the company also carries organic feed supplements, organic pesticides and Sea-Min Kelp Meal.

Supplement

Sea-Min Kelp Meal can be used as a supplement in animal feed, as well as fertilizers.
Kelp, or seaweed, contains trace minerals, vitamins, enzymes and hormones, which help produce healthy plants and soil, according to the Ringers.
The kelp used at Ohio Earth Food is harvested from the north Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Nova Scotia.
In addition to its high mineral content, kelp is also a renewable resource, an attribute that is important to Larry and Cynthia.
“We have to use renewable or recyclable resources as much as we can,” Larry said.
The Ringers became interested in seaweed products thanks to Cynthia’s father, a Hartville farmer who battled persistent disease in his radish crop. A salesman asked him to try kelp on the radishes and before long, the disease was gone, along with some other pest problems.
“Within about three years, he realized he no longer needed an insecticide,” Cynthia said.

Natural alternatives

After that, Cynthia’s father started looking for other natural alternatives to chemical fertilizers.
In 1972, Cynthia and Larry partnered with Cynthia’s parents and started Ohio Earth Food at Cynthia’s parent’s farm.
“We were in the organic business before organic was the buzzword it is today,” Larry said.
In 1991, the Ringers moved to their current facility on Swamp Street. They have customers all over the U.S. and they can accommodate everyone from beginning gardeners who need one bag of fertilizer to farmers who need tons.
“We’re a mom and pop, but we move a lot of fertilizer,” Larry said.

Efficiency

According to Larry, organic fertilizers are efficient because of their slow release. Also, organic fertilizer makes the leaf surface of a plant less appealing to sucking insects.
“It’s not a pesticide that kills anything, but it upsets their cycle apparently,” he said.
While there’s no silver bullet when it comes to eradicating a disease or strengthening the soil, the Ringers said it’s important to work with our environment, instead of against it.
“If we work with nature, nature responds better than we expect it to,” Larry said.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

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