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Tours Highlight Past, Future of Sustainable Farming in Ohio

Ohioans can learn about vegetable production and other topics during an annual farm tour series. (Glass City Goat Gals)
Ohioans can learn about vegetable production and other topics during an annual farm tour series. (Glass City Goat Gals)
May 22, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Summer is just about here, and Ohioans have an opportunity to learn about the past and future of farming in the state.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association's annual Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series begins June 6.

Jess Lamar Reece Holler, OEFFA’s director of its Growing Right Oral History Project, says the series showcases the work of growers and producers who use sustainable methods.

"Ecological farming is really about place,” she points out. “Every farmer has a different ecology they participate in based on where they're located, and so one of the most palpable ways to experience that is to get on the farm and see and hear and smell for yourself what it's like."

There are 17 free farm tours, along with 10 special events and workshops on vegetable production, urban farming, food security and other topics.

Ohioans also can hear the stories of those who founded the state's sustainable farm movement through OEFFA's Growing Right Oral History Project Central Ohio pop-up tour of farmers markets and groceries, which is new to the series.

Holler explains the field-based project features multimedia pieces, maps and photos from a few dozen farmers, gardeners, teachers and consumers who played a vital role in ecological farming in Ohio.

"Some were students during the era of a lot of strip mining and came across a lot of texts really central to the environmental movement,” she explains. “Others such as Charlie Fry, who was an incredible urban farming leader and street preacher in Cleveland – his involvement in organic farming actually grew out of the food justice and social justice concerns of the civil rights movement."

Holler adds that knowing stories of the past is important for the future.

"Our past all the time informs our present, and there are also consequences to just forgetting where we came from and how it got started,” she states. “So I think we're at a really critical moment right now in terms of our environmental futures and the way our human health and communities' health are connected to that."

Central State University Cooperative Extension, The Ohio State University Extension Sustainable Agriculture Team and the Clintonville Farmers' Market are working together on the series.

This collaboration is produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded by the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH