COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio farm families looking for economic alternatives to sustain their farming operations can attend any one of 20 tours highlighted in the 2002 Ohio Farm Profitability Tour Series.
The Ohio State University Extension event, beginning June 20 and running through Oct. 26, is designed to help farm families improve their agricultural operations by visiting other farms and farmer's markets of families who have been successful in their endeavors. The tours are free and open to the public and no registration is required.
The theme of this year's tour series is marketing and the tour will cover topics such as marketing products from non-traditional agricultural enterprises, using alternative marketing systems to market traditional farm commodities, developing a direct marketing system for farm products and developing value-added products.
"Participants will be able to see how these farm families utilize marketing systems to sell their products to the community. It's a way of keeping that money within the community as opposed to selling to wholesale or retail markets," said Mike Hogan, an Ohio State Extension agent. "In 1910, for every dollar spent by the consumer, 44 cents was given back to the farmer. In 1990, that number dropped to nine cents. We are trying to help people boost that number back up."
Hogan said that family farm operations can not only be successful in selling to their neighbors, but can also be profitable when targeting urban residents. For example, the Findlay Farmer's Market, located in downtown Cincinnati, is Ohio's oldest and most successful public farmer's market with continuous operation since 1852.
"People bemoan urban sprawl onto agricultural land, but it's something that will likely continue," said Hogan. "Ohio has 10 to 11 million residents. The challenge is how do we make customers out of these people?"
The tour series is sponsored by Ohio State Extension, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Innovative Farmers of Ohio, and Direct Agricultural Marketing Association, Organic Crop Improvement Association, Natural Resources Conservation Service and North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.
The following is a list of tours. For more information or directions to each tour site, contact your local county Extension office, Innovative Farmers of Ohio at (740) 368-8552 or Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association at (614) 421-2022.
June 20 - Everyday Herb Company, Little Hocking, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Highlights: eighth generation family that raises beef cattle, field crops and culinary herbs. The herbs, marketed directly to consumers, farmer's markets and local stores, were grown because urban sprawl reduced the number of acres available to the family to produce field crops.
June 22 - Findlay Farmer's Market, Cincinnati, 10 a.m. to noon. Highlights: Ohio's oldest public farmer's market since 1852.
June 25 - Rainbow Hills Vineyards and Winery, Newcomerstown, 10 a.m. to noon. Highlights: five acres of American and French hybrid grape varieties, processed, aged and sold at the farm.
June 29 - Hrinko Nursery, Caldwell, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Highlights: third-generation Christmas tree growers, who grow a variety of shade, ornamental and evergreen trees for wholesale and retail markets.
July 13 - Zanesville Farmer's Market, Zanesville, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Highlights: operated by volunteers consisting of vendors and consumers, the market offers fruits and vegetables, farm-raised meats, cheeses, bedding plants, baked goods and crafts. The market has been in operation since 1975.
July 17 - Brooker Farm, Wilmington, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Highlights: freezer beef production on 21 acres. The family also raises goat meat to market directly to ethnic communities.
July 20 - Athens Farmer's Market, Athens, 10 a.m. to noon. Highlights: open air market featuring locally produced fruits, vegetables, herbs, bedding plants, flowers, honey, meats, eggs and baked goods.
July 20 - ACENet Kitchen Incubator, Athens, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Highlights: a 12,000 square foot shared-used kitchen available to farmers and others wishing to produce, store or ship various food products.
July 27 - Worthington Farmer's Market, Worthington, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Highlights: contains over 40 farmers/vendors and is a direct market access point because of its location.
July 30 - M & M Berry Farm, Cable, 1:00 p.m. to 3 p.m. Highlights: black and red raspberry production sold through a pick-your-own operation.
August 1 - Hartzler Family Dairy, Wooster, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Highlights: family-owned dairy farms with a milk bottling and processing plant and retail store.
August 8 - OSU Food Industries Center, Columbus, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Highlights: located at Ohio State, the center helps farmers and others with services related to food product research and development.
August 9 - Schacht Farm and Market, Canal Winchester, 10 a.m. to noon. Highlights: 60 acres of vegetables and small fruits sold directly to consumers through farm markets and pick-your-own operations.
August 24 - Young's Jersey Dairy, Yellow Springs, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Highlights: nationally known family-owned and operated dairy farm with restaurants, gift shops, a bakery and agri-entertainment options for families.
August 31 - Bluebird Hills Farm, Springfield, 10 a.m. to noon. Highlights: a vegetable farm that adopted a Community Supported Agriculture system which does not require shareholders to work on the farm.
Sept. 7 - Mulberry Creek Herb Farm, Huron, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Highlights: offers the largest selection of certified organically grown herbs and perennials in the country.
Sept. 9 - Big Tree Plantation, Morrow, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Highlights: a choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm complete with a gift shop, live reindeer, horse and wagon rides and over 50,000 Christmas trees.
Sept. 28 - Country Living Field Day, Augusta, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Highlights: provides farm families the opportunity to learn about alternative agricultural and natural resources enterprises through workshops, displays, exhibits and farm tours. It is the largest field day of its type in the country.
Oct. 5 - Leeds Farm, Ostrander, 10 a.m. to noon. Highlights: corn/soybean farm, which has transitioned into experiential farming and a seasonal farmer's market.
Oct. 26 - Ohio Family Farm Beef Industry Network, Columbus, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Highlights: producer-driven networking program designed to create value-added marketing opportunities for Ohio beef cattle producers.