The Ocean Farm is part of 1650 acres that I farm with my son Jeff. We have used no till since the 80’s and began using cover crops in the early 90’s. Along with that we started decreasing the usage of chemicals and inorganic fertilizers. We are trying to go back to a more natural way of farming, while using highly technical equipment. We have organic certification on 115 acres. In 2001, the Ocean Farm will be certified organic. We continue to practice good stewardship of the land and promote this to other farmers through field days and tours. In 1980 we were chosen Outstanding Soil Conservation Farm Family for Adams County and third runner up in Illinois. This year, I was also honored to receive the RJ Vollmer Sustainable Agriculture Award at the Illinois State Fair.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
Project Goal: Completion of Phase 1 of the Ocean Farm Project. An intern was hired to prepare a plan for Ocean Farm that can also be used as a proposal to look for additional funding. The Advisory board was formed and began to function for the Ocean Farm Project.
The project got an extra boost when Mary Holmes of the Institute for Rural Affairs contacted me in August 1999. She was working with a Peace Corps Fellow and would be assigning him to work with me on this project for one semester. Kevin Hale met with me and we discussed sustainable agriculture and my goals for the project. Kevin began to form the advisory board and get the project rolling. He sent out mailings to potential board members and held two meetings for the board members. At the second board meeting, Randy Kurfman from the Golden Historical Society gave a presentation on the restoration of the historic Golden Windmill and a brief tour. The windmill is nearing completion and will be available for visitors in 2001. I presented the board with the information that part of the Ocean Farm would be eligible for the CREP. The board encouraged me to enroll the farm as part of my commitment to promoting wildlife habitat on the farm. In January 2000, I advertised for the intern listed in the grant. Edwin Waters, an organic gardener in the area, was hired. Edwin and I toured the farm and Edwin began to contact various specialists to inventory the resources available. Gary Balke of Balke Ag prepared an appraisal of the property. Edwin and I met with Martha Sheppard of Two Rivers RC&D on a monthly basis to review progress and determine what needed to be done. I held a field day on August 31, 2000 and over 50 people attended. The Advisory Board members were sent copies of the draft proposal to review and a meeting was held at the field day. Many suggestions were made which Edwin incorporated into his draft. The advisory board is scheduled to meet in December to review progress and determine what to do next. Martha took several pictures with a digital camera and prepared a Power Point presentation on Ocean Farm and it will be shown to the Advisory board at this meeting. I have been in contact with a couple of potential funders for Ocean Farm and have already used the plan and presentation prepared as part of this grant.
People involved in this project include: Martha Sheppard of Two Rivers RC&D, Edwin Waters, Mary Holmes of the Institute for Rural Affairs, Kevin Hale of the Peace Corps Fellows program, Holly Cain of the Quincy Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jim Elliot Publishing, Mike Rahe of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Dido Kotile, and Mike Roegge of the Illinois Extension Service, and Randy Kurfman of the Golden Historical Society.
The results from this grant are the finished proposal and presentation. The education of the Advisory Board was also a part of the education provided through this grant. This grant was only for the completion of Phase 1. Phase 2 of this project will be the development of an educational program at Ocean Farm. There will be a lot of work to make Ocean Farm the educational resource that I envision.
Over 50 people attended my field day and I included a talk about the Ocean Farm project. I was honored to receive the RJ Vollmer Sustainable Agriculture Award and the Ocean Farm Project was included in the press releases about the award. Articles appeared in the State Journal Register, the Quincy Herald Whig, the Illinois Sustainable Ag Society publication and local newspapers in my area. The Advisory Board for the Ocean Farm project has learned about sustainable agriculture from the meetings, field day and discussions. The Advisory Board will continue to meet and advise me on this project. The proposal is currently being sent to possible funders and organizations interested in using Ocean Farm as it is now. Phase 2 of this project will be the development of an educational program at Ocean Farm.