COLUMBUS – Sustainable agriculture is becoming big business for Ohio, with farmers doubling their sales between 2008 and 2014, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
And an upcoming gathering aims to build more momentum.
Registration is open for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s annual conference Feb. 12 through the 14 in Granville.
Lauren Ketchum, communications coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), explains the heart of this year’s event is examining ways to work with nature rather than controlling it.
“We’re really looking at the ways in which sustainable agriculture is not only a path for growing right by nature, but for doing right by our communities, public health and our economy as well,” she states.
Whether an experienced grower, gardener or local food enthusiast, Ketchum says there is something for everyone.
Nearly 100 workshops are scheduled on various topics including cooking, livestock and poultry production, and business management.
The conference also includes a trade show, locally sourced and organic meals, a seed swap, along with activities for children and teens.
Farmers are jacks-of-all-trades, says Ketchum, and the yearly event is an opportunity for those in agriculture to rub elbows and learn new skills and practices.
“It’s such a broad skill set that farmers need to bring to the table to be successful,” she stresses. “What we hope to do with a conference like this is be able to offer a wide variety of workshops that help people fill in the gaps that they may have.”
The conference also will cover some of challenges of beginning farmers, including start-up costs, accessing land and the restoration of new ground.
Some 1,200 people are expected to attend, and Ketchum notes that past conferences have sold out.