CFAES Impact: May/June 2024

  1. The show will go on for farmers and Farm Science Review

    Ohio farms are known for their resilience, which also holds true for The Ohio State University Molly Caren Agricultural Center, home to CFAES’ annual Farm Science Review (FSR), after it was damaged by an EF2 tornado in the early morning hours of Feb. 28.

    The aftermath of the storm left 46 of the 62 buildings on the grounds damaged or destroyed. This included 13 universityowned buildings and 33 privately owned buildings.

    Like other local farmers impacted by the storm, the focus of the CFAES teams has been on recovery and rebuilding to ensure the show will continue as scheduled. “We are fully committed to hosting this year’s show and coming back stronger than ever, which is in our nature as a farmer-focused facility and event. This is real life for farmers, and we’re right here experiencing it, too,” said Nick Zachrich, FSR manager.

    Before hitting Madison County, the tornado ravaged South Charleston, Ohio, known for its vast farmland. Charlie Troxell, of Troxell Family Farms and a frequent FSR attendee who farms 1,800 acres with his father, Tom, and brother, Jeffrey, lost multiple buildings. Despite this setback, the Troxells remain optimistic.

    “We were fortunate. We lost the two oldest barns on the property: our original shop, which was built in the 70s and not in great repair, and the concrete containment facility,” said Charlie Troxell.

    The Troxells have spent time surveying damage, working on insurance claims, and taking inventory of the equipment, products, and supplies that were salvageable, while focusing on the silver lining.

    “We always thought it would be nice to have one big barn and one big complex for conveniences, but this made us realize that having things spread out made a difference,” he said. “Our quality-built barns withstood the storm.”

    Likewise, FSR will go on as usual, welcoming 100,000 attendees and over 500 different exhibitors to the Molly Caren Ag Center in London, Ohio, Sept. 17-19.

    For more information, visit

  2. Agriculture Innovation Center to support value-added agriculture in northeast Ohio

    One of Ohio’s most vibrant agricultural regions will be the recipient of a “one-stop shop,” developed by CFAES to help value-added agricultural (VAA) producers set themselves up for success.

    The Northeast Ohio Agriculture Innovation Center (NEO-AIC) is the result of an almost $1 million new grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, with matching in-kind funds of nearly $500,000 from Ohio State. The three-year investment was awarded through the USDA Agriculture Innovation Center.

    “Northeast Ohio is a great agricultural region and is home to a diversity of businesses and farms, including the highest concentration of women farmers and small and medium farms in Ohio,” said Shoshanah Inwood, CFAES program director and rural sociologist.

    The NEO-AIC will hire four new staff members, including two new Ohio State University Extension positions focused on VAA business planning and market development. The area is also home to a large Amish population who make up a substantial proportion of the region’s farms. For this reason, the NEO-AIC will bring on the first national and regional Amish and plain people community liaison to help bridge the cultural gap and provide technical assistance to this important sector of the VAA economy.

    “We found that the services available to support VAA producers are disconnected and dispersed throughout the region,” Inwood said. “By connecting the resources, promoting their availability, and cutting down on hurdles, we will make the process more efficient and be better able to support their growth, development, and economic prosperity.”

    Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is also a proponent of the Agriculture Innovation Center.

    “When we give Ohio farm and food businesses more tools to sell their products, we can strengthen local supply chains, bring down prices, and allow small producers to better compete with large corporations,” said Brown.

    The NEO-AIC board of directors includes representatives from Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Ohio Proud, Ohio Produce Growers & Marketers Association, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, Ohio Dairy Producers Association, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, and Green Field Farms of Wooster, Ohio.

  3. Farm to table: OSU Extension launches online Food Business Central

    Are you a baker ready to sell your home-baked goods? How about a farmer looking for value-added opportunities for crops you’ve grown or livestock you’ve raised? Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur aiming to use local agricultural products to make value-added foods?

    If so, then the new Food Business Central online course offered by OSU Extension can help equip you with the knowledge and strategies to launch a successful farm-raised or homebased food business in Ohio.

    Created by members of OSU Extension’s family and consumer sciences (FCS), the online course is designed to serve as a centralized hub to connect participants to information and resources regarding all types of food products they might want to make and sell, said Emily Marrison, OSU Extension educator, FCS, and course development team member.

    “Navigating food regulations, establishing a new business, and applying best practices for food safety can be challenges for food entrepreneurs,” she said. “Many people interested in starting a food business aren’t sure where to turn first.”

    “Additionally, this course can help you develop a food business action plan and learn what you need to start off organized, safe, compliant, and strategic.”

    The self-paced course contains 10 modules — five of which focus on Ohio food laws, food safety basics, legal startup and insurance, and marketing and economics. The other five modules focus on foods including cottage foods and baked goods, canned foods, meat, poultry, eggs, and other foods such as beverages, dairy products, syrups, and more.

    “Throughout the course, participants will consider key questions and develop action steps to take on their journey to start a food business,” Marrison said. “As food entrepreneurs complete the course, they’ll be able to complete a business plan with help from their local small business development centers.”

    The course development was partially funded through a grant from North Central Extension Risk Management Education through the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop resources that help farmers and ranchers effectively manage risk in their operations.

    The course costs $25, and registration is at

  4. Progress is building

    After the January groundbreaking for CFAES’ Multispecies Animal Learning Center (MALC), crews quickly cleared the old facilities and are now preparing for construction. The MALC promises to shape the future workforce in animal agriculture by preparing students for diverse careers in the industry. Imagine hands-on experiences, public engagement, and OSU Extension programs all driving industry progress toward a sustainable future in animal production.

    Plans also include construction of a new state-of-theart autonomous dairy with robotic milkers and manure sweepers, scheduled to be completed in February 2025.

    The MALC is slated to open in fall of 2025:

  5. Cultivating healthy kids

    The Ohio Farm to School program transforms how students and communities connect with local food producers. Growers sell fruits and vegetables directly to schools, creating jobs and strengthening the local economy. Students learn through gardening. Teachers share lessons on food, health, nutrition, and agriculture to further student wellness and promote healthier diets. Managed by OSU Extension’s family and consumer sciences and regional partners, the program has improved food purchasing and student wellness at Ohio schools.

    Learn how you can get involved:

  6. Cooperatives grow success

    Agricultural cooperatives bring multiple farms together for increased buying power and equitable support with packaging, distribution, and marketing. Want to learn more? Start with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives.

    Specialists at the center offer advice and assistance every step of the way. An online Co-op Mastery course explains the cooperative model, how to create a cooperative, and financial concepts for new and emerging co-ops. Use the interactive map to explore other Ohio cooperatives.

    Find the resources and support you need to get started in cooperatives: