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Momentous Harvest Season for Some Ohio Beginning Farmers

Caroline McColloch of Chez Nous Farm is celebrating her first harvest of organic raspberries. (McColloch)
Caroline McColloch of Chez Nous Farm is celebrating her first harvest of organic raspberries. (McColloch)
July 23, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Harvest season is here, and it's an especially momentous time for some beginning farmers in Ohio.

Caroline McColloch inherited Chez Nous Farm in Piqua, and as its new owner started a massive vegetable garden. However, she had a larger vision for her operation, and wanted to hone her business skills.

That's when she learned about the Heartland Farm Beginnings program for early career farmers.

"I thought this is exactly what I need because I had no experience running a business," she states.

The farmer-led workshop series helps farmers develop a whole farm plan, and assists in goal setting, financial management and other areas.

McColloch says the program also helped her secure financing to begin organic raspberry production.

"The first harvest is actually coming now and the high tunnel is finished,” she relates. “It's pretty exciting. I'm looking forward to starting to market those."

In September, McColloch will be among the first graduates of Heartland Farm Beginnings, which is offered by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farmers Association. Applications are now being accepted for the Winter Course starting in October.

McColloch's ultimate goal is to develop a pasture-based goat meat and diversified fruit, vegetable and herb operation. And she says the assistance of a farm mentor through the program has been very beneficial.

"The real value of the program is that it puts you in touch with so many people, not only through the class but across the state, and that kind of support is just instrumental to trying to make good decisions because when you get to pick other people's brains it's sort of like turbo-charged research," she states.

Heartland Farm Beginnings is a year-long program that includes eight business planning sessions. Application information is available at

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH