Help is here for small farm owners

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SALEM, Ohio – It’s the perfect little plot of land. Now, what do you do with it?
Delving into the world of agriculture for the first time can be a scary experience for those with little or no knowledge about the industry, but there is a way to secure a safety net before jumping in.
What is it? The Ohio State University Extension Small Farm College program offers insight into land use options, agricultural and horticultural enterprises and basic farming.
It is aimed at helping new farmers start off on the right foot and helping small farmers brush up on their skills. The program is also directed at those who have not yet purchased land, but are considering doing so.
New farms. This is the second year for the Small Farm College program, which began in response to a growing number of new farms popping up in some of Ohio’s southern counties.
“An in-depth look at the basic information was appropriate for the new farmers,” said Washington County extension educator for agriculture Eric Barrett, who helped organize the program this year.
Subjects. The Small Farm College is a nine-session course that will be held one night a week at three separate locations.
Topics include getting started, where to get assistance, natural resource management, legal issues, finances and record keeping, crops and horticulture options, animal production and marketing alternatives. The classes will be taught by extension professionals and experts from throughout Ohio.
Where to go. Barrett said some of the most valuable information participants will take away from the course is “where to find answers, because even if you’ve been farming for a long time, things change quickly.”
The Small Farm College will wrap up with field day where participants will tour successful small farms.
In addition to spreading knowledge about operating a small farm, Barrett said program organizers hope to stimulate the small-scale agricultural economy.
“Agriculture tends to remain a vital part of local communities,” he said, adding that the trend toward locally grown foods has prompted the development of more small farms.
Register now. Registration for the course is now being accepted. The cost of the course is $150 per person and $50 for an additional family member.
Each participant will receive a Small Farm College notebook containing the information presented in each class session, plus additional materials.
Small Farm College locations

* Morgan County, at the Morgan Local High School in McConnelsville, beginning Jan. 19 and continuing every Thursday until March 16.

* Warren County, at Der Dutchman restaurant in Waynesville, beginning Jan. 18 and continuing every Wednesday until March. 15.

* Ross County, Ross County Service Center in Chillicothe, beginning Jan. 16 and continuing every Monday until March 13.

Get the details

* Eric Barrett, 740-376-7431 or Chris Penrose, 740-962-4854

* A flier is available online at http://washington.osu.edu.

(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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