Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Small Farm Conference to be held in Zanesville

Small farm owners who want to learn more about how to make their farms work better for them or expand their operations, or those new to agriculture who are looking for ways to utilize acreage, can attend workshops and presentations on these and more issues during a small farm conference March 23 in Zanesville, Ohio.
The "Living Your Small Farm Dream" conference and trade show is designed to help participants learn more tips, techniques and methods for diversifying their opportunities into successful new enterprises and new markets as a way to improve economic growth and development on their farms, said Mark Mechling, an Ohio State University Extension educator in agriculture and natural resources.
"It may be a person who is new to agriculture, or someone that may have acreage that they aren't using to the fullest, or even someone who has newly acquired land and may not know what to do with it," he said. "What we try to do with this conference is to give participants a smorgasbord of ideas that may interest them by offering a wide variety of sessions in which they can learn more in-depth about an issue, gain resources and learn how to finance a new venture."
The conference, which will be held at the Muskingum County Convention and Welcome Center, 205 N. Fifth St. in Zanesville, kicks off with a keynote address on "Planning and Goal Setting," presented by Mike Hogan, an OSU Extension educator.
OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Following Hogan's address, participants can choose from over 20 sessions from Ohio State and industry experts on issues related to small farms and a trade show for small farmers that will offer information that can benefit a variety of growers, Mechling said.
The overall goal of the event and the mission of the OSU Small Farms Program is to provide a greater understanding of production practices, economics of land-use choices, assessment of personal and natural resources, marketing alternatives, and the identification of sources of assistance, he said.
"Participants will gain awareness and knowledge of different enterprises that they can venture into and how to begin the process of becoming an entrepreneur by exploring some of the different ideas that are out there," Mechling said. "Participants will learn some of the basic information needed to get started and leave the conference with the knowledge of some of the resources of how to start a new venture and what other help or sources are available."
Some of the topics to be addressed include:
Maple syrup
Sheep production
Goat health and production
Livestock nutrition
Direct marketing of meat
Social media
Christmas trees
Legal issues for small farms
Soil basics
High tunnels
Tax issues
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 how to develop a farm structure, among other issues.
The conference is co-sponsored by OSU Extension's Small Farm Program, Farm Credit Mid-America, USDA's Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Agricultural Statistics Service and Rural Development.
The conference starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs until 4:15 p.m. Registration is $50. The deadline to register is March 18. For more information or to register, go to or contact Mechling at 740-454-0144 or

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