Sustainable Farming Conference Features 17 Ohio State Presenters, Feb. 14-16


COLUMBUS, Ohio – From stink bug and weed management to recruiting farm labor and agricultural marketing trends, researchers and industry experts from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will present the latest information on some of the key issues in organic and sustainable agriculture next month during Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 35th annual conference, “Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground,” is Feb. 15-16 in Granville, Ohio. With 13 workshops and a full-day pre-conference event featuring Ohio State scientists, specialists and students, participants will get an updated look at some of the key issues facing growers in organic and sustainable agriculture, organizers said.

“This conference will be rich with information and networking opportunities, drawing on the expertise of both nationally recognized agricultural professionals and local farmers and educators,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “Whether you’re a full-time farmer, backyard gardener or local food enthusiast, this conference has much to offer you.”

The Ohio State presenters are from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, which are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the college.

[In all, the conference features more than 100 workshops plus a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally sourced and organic homemade meals; and keynote talks by Atina Diffley, an organic farmer and writer, and Kathleen Merrigan, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.

The conference will also feature a daylong pre-conference workshop, “Eco-Farming, Biodiversity and Soil Health: A Systems Approach to Enhancing Productivity,” presented by  CFAES experts Rafiq Islam, Randall Reeder, Jim Hoorman, Brad Bergefurd, Harit Kaur Bal, Alan Sundermeier and Vinayak Shedekar.

Other workshops offered by CFAES experts include:

  • Celeste Welty, entomologist with OARDC and OSU Extension, “Stink Bug Management in Peppers, Berries and Other Organic Crops,” Saturday, 9:30-10:25 a.m. 
  • Brian McSpadden Gardener, plant pathologist with OARDC and OSU Extension and director of OARDC’s Organic Food and Farming Education and Research Program, “Biofertilizers for Organic Production,” Saturday, 9:30-10:25 a.m.
  • Doug Doohan, weed management expert with OARDC and OSU Extension, and Dave Campbell of Lily Lake Organic Farm, Illinois, “Weed Management Practices for Organic Field Crops,” Saturday, 9:30-10:25 a.m.
  • Francisco A. Espinoza, program coordinator for OSU Extension’s Agricultural and Horticultural Labor Education program, “Recruiting and Retaining Farm Labor,” Saturday, 9:30-10:25 a.m. 
  • Mike Hogan, OSU Extension, “Top Ten Food and Agriculture Marketing Trends,” Saturday, 9:30-10:25 a.m.
  • Brad Bergefurd, educator and specialist with OSU Extension and OARDC based at the Ohio State University South Centers, “Hops: A New Specialty Crop for Ohio,” Saturday, 10:35-11:30 a.m.
  • Rafiq Islam, also with OSU Extension and OARDC based at the OSU South Centers, “Use of Cover Crop Cocktail Mix to Sustain Organic Production,” Saturday, 10:35-11:30 a.m.
  • Gustavo Schuenemann, assistant professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, “Dairy Herd Health: Risk Factors and Transition Cow Management,” Saturday, 10:35-11:30 a.m.
  • Jeff Suchy, Ohio State lecturer, and Dee Jepsen, OSU Extension state safety leader, “Small Farm and Garden Safety,” Saturday, 10:35-11:30 a.m.
  • Jim Jasinski, OSU Extension’s Integrated Pest Management program, “Good Bugs and Bad Bugs in the Home Garden,” Saturday, 10:35-11:30 a.m.
  • Alan Sundermeier, OSU Extension, and organic grain farmers Dave Shively and Jake Schmitz of Organic Valley, “Organic Corn Production: Guidelines for Success,” Sunday, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Shirron LeShure, Ohio Statedoctoral student, “Using Grape Pomace as a Natural De-wormer in Sheep,” Sunday, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
  • Mike Hogan, “Utilizing SARE Grants and Resources to Achieve Your Farm Goals,” Sunday, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Early bird registration ranges from the $65 one-day student member rate to $205 for both days for an adult nonmember of OEFFA. Early bird registration ends Jan. 31, after which rates increase. Meals, the kids’ conference and the pre-conference workshops are purchased separately. Register online at

The soil health pre-conference workshop will be held Feb. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cherry Valley Lodge, 2299 Cherry Valley Road SE, Newark, Ohio. Pre-registration is required and costs $60 for OEFFA members and $70 for nonmembers.

Editor: Members of the press can attend some or all of the conference free of charge, but limited spots are available. To arrange a press pass, contact Lauren Ketcham at or 614-421-2022, ext. 203.


Tracy Turner
For more information, contact: 

Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA
614-421-2022, ext. 203