- Crop Production: cover crops
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, agricultural finance
We have achieved all the main objectives of our proposal. During the summer of 1996, the last season of this grant funding, we completed another ten week Sustainable Agriculture Internship Experience for nine student interns. We also expanded our program to provide for more one-on-one training during the spring and fall seasons, which included season long apprenticeships in sustainable farm management. These interns followed a demanding schedule which included developing practical skills through hands-on experiences on our demonstration farm at Stratford in addition to a few privately-owned farms throughout the state of Ohio. They participated in lectures and discussions from a number of visiting speakers dealing a wide variety of topics related to sustainable agriculture, including soil ecology, agroecology, rural sociology, Amish agriculture, on-farm research methodology, cover cropping and other sustainable cultural practices. Each intern also completed projects in sustainable agriculture in topics related to their own specific interests.
Secondly, we have been working to involve a greater number of individual farmers and other public and private demonstration farms in Ohio to establish a network of demonstration farms. A number of field days, demonstrations, workshops and farm tours were organized on these farms over the last year with combined attendance approaching 1,000 people, in addition to serving as venues for practical education with the Sustainable Agriculture Internship Program.
This network served as a basis for the formation and development of Innovative Farmers of Ohio, an organization independently run by Ohio farmers which provides a network for farmer-to-farmer exchange of information and ideas, promotes on-farm research to enhance farmers’ sustainability and profitability, and promotes interaction between farmers, non-farmers, and the rural communities they live in. This organization already has over 350 individuals on a mailing list which receives announcements and research trials results on a regular basis, including over 100 paid members. In addition to the Demonstration Farm developed by the Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, Ohio, we have conducted six additional on-farm research trials on three different farms throughout Ohio.
Project objectives:div style="margin-left:1em;">
A. To provide innovative opportunities for practical education in sustainable agricultural for agricultural students and young farmers.
B. To provide and expand venues for sustainable agriculture educational opportunities for practical hands-on experience for agricultural students and farmers through developing a network of publicly and privately operated demonstration farms.
C. To facilitate the further development an association of “Innovative Farmers of Ohio” (IFO) to serve as a highly visible tool for student and farmer education in the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices.