Conference Offers Small Farmers Options to Diversify, Grow Operations

Beekeeping is one of several topics to be discussed during March 28 Small Farms Conference. (Photo: Thinkstock)

WOOSTER, Ohio – Landowners new to agriculture or small farmers wanting to diversify their farm operations who aren’t sure where they can potentially find farm funding can learn more about the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency farm loan programs during a Small Farm Conference March 28 offered by Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

In addition to offering a session on the FSA farm loan program, the “Living Your Small Farm Dream” conference and trade show will offer landowners and producers tips, techniques and methods to help make their small farm operations more successful, profitable and sustainable, said Tony Nye, an Ohio State University Extension educator and conference organizer.

Researchers and educators with OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, as well as industry experts, will conduct the workshops. OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college. A similar small farm conference is being held in southern Ohio, in Wilmington, on March 13-14, he said.

For many new landowners and small farmers, owning their property and being able to make it into a viable and profitable farm operation is “‘Living the Dream,’ and this conference is designed to offer new strategies and ideas of how to do that,” Nye said.

“People are always looking for new or better ideas of how to improve what they are doing in their farm operations,” he said. “Our hope is to be able to provide good, sound information that can help producers grow their enterprises.

“Whether they are new to agriculture or an experienced farmer, we hope that they can gain something from these sessions to diversify their opportunities into successful new enterprises and new markets as a way to improve economic growth and development on their farms.”

The conference will be held in the Fisher Auditorium and Shisler Conference Center, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, Ohio, on the OARDC campus. It will feature more than 25 sessions, including workshops on:

  • Haymaking 101
  • Chainsaw Operation: Maintenance and Safety
  • On Farm Solar Energy Development
  • Women in Agriculture Networks, Opportunities and Resources
  • Direct Marketing of Meat to the Consumer
  • Tunnels: Tools to Get More and Higher Quality Vegetables
  • An Introduction to Beekeeping
  • Soil Health and Productivity
  • Marketing Farm Products: Where Do I Start?
  • Hops Production and Marketing
  • Rural Energy for America Program: An Overview
  • Hobby Maple Production
  • Farm Neighbor Laws
  • ATV Safety
  • Vegetable Grafting: What, When, Why and How
  • Sell Well: Eggs, Produce and Cottage Foods
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service Programs for Small Farms
  • Get More Out of Your Pasture
  • Tree Fruit and Small Fruit Production
  • Pond Care 101
  • Growing Vegetables for Market
  • Hands-On Fruit Tree Pruning
  • Overview of Farm Service Agency Programs for New and Beginning Farmers
  • Small Flock Poultry
  • Organic Certification Process

The conference is an outgrowth of the Ohio New and Small Farm College, an eight-week program created by OSU Extension that offers an introduction to the business of small farming for those who are new to the industry. The program offers information on budgeting, business planning and developing a farm structure, among other issues.

Registration for the “Living the Small Farm Dream” conference is $60. The deadline to register is March 20.

For more information or to register, go to or contact Nye at 937-382-0901 or

Tracy Turner
For more information, contact: 

Tony Nye