WILMINGTON, Ohio -- Small farmers wanting to expand or make their farms work more efficiently, or landowners who are new to agriculture and are looking for ways to utilize acreage, can learn entrepreneurial tips from agricultural experts with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences during a series of small farms conferences in March.
The “Opening Doors to Success” and the “Living Your Small Farm Dream” conferences and trade shows are designed to help landowners and producers learn tips, techniques and methods to increase their awareness and make their small farm operations more successful, which can in turn lead to increased profits, said Tony Nye, an Ohio State University Extension educator and conference organizer.
Researchers and educators with OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), as well as industry experts, will conduct the workshops. OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college.
“Small farmer” typically describes individuals who are practicing agriculture on a small amount of acreage, usually less than 100 acres, Nye said.
“These farmers are, many times, new to agriculture and are looking to begin a different lifestyle,” he said. “The conferences and trade shows are designed to help participants learn more tips, techniques and methods for diversifying their opportunities into successful new enterprises and new markets as a way to improve economic growth and development on their farms.”
The “Opening Doors to Success” conference, which will be held March 7-8 at Wilmington College’s Boyd Cultural Arts Center, 1870 Quaker Way in Wilmington, will feature 30 sessions and a trade show for landowners and small farmers, Nye said.
The “Living the Small Farm Dream” conference, which will be held March 21-22 at the Joyce E. Brooks Conference Center, 7300 N. Palmyra Road in Canfield, will feature 25 sessions, including a keynote address on “Making Your Small Farm Dream a Reality.”
The overall goal of these events and the mission of the OSU Small Farms Program are to provide a greater understanding of production practices, economics of land-use choices, assessment of personal and natural resources, marketing alternatives, and identifying sources of assistance, Nye said.
'Participants will gain knowledge of some of the various enterprises they can get into and how to begin the process of becoming an entrepreneur,' he said. 'Participants will learn some of the basic information needed to get started in their endeavors and leave the conferences with the knowledge that there is help and resources available to them.'
Some of the topics to be addressed include:
- Soil and soil management
- Small farm boot camp
- Maple syrup
- Goat production
- Poultry production
- Livestock nutrition
- Direct marketing
- Social media
- Christmas trees
- Legal issues for small farms
- Soil basics
- High tunnels
- Vegetable and fruit production
- Tax issues
The conferences are an outgrowth of the Ohio New and Small Farm College, an eight-week program created by OSU Extension that offers an introduction to the business of small farming for those who are new to the industry. The program offers information on budgeting, business planning and developing a farm structure, among other issues.
The conference is co-sponsored by OSU Extension's Small Farm Program, Farm Credit Mid-America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, the National Agriculture Statistics Service, the Ohio Farm Bureau of Clinton and Mahoning counties and USDA Rural Development.
Registration for the “Opening Doors to Success” conference is $20 for the March 7 session and $60 for the March 8 session, or $70 for both days. The deadline to register is March 1.
Registration for the “Living the Small Farm Dream” conference is $20 for the March 21 session and $60 for the March 22 session, or $70 for both days. The deadline to register is March 14.