By Casey Hoy, Agroecosystems Management Program, CFAES
Small and medium-sized farms have a tough time competing with larger farms when it comes to economies of scale. Yet the number of small farms has more than doubled in the last few years in Wayne County, the home of CFAES’ Wooster campus and its Mellinger Research Farm.
Working at the Mellinger farm, CFAES researchers are studying how smaller farms can maximize their unique strengths by diversifying their production and markets, a strategy termed economy of scope and an alternative to expanding the size of their farm.
CFAES’ 324-acre Mellinger Research Farm, whose roots go back two centuries, hosts an Agricultural Diversification Research Tour from 6–8 p.m. Aug. 21. Featured will be topics such as scales of diversification and markets; ecosystem services in diverse systems; ecosystem and landscape pressures on small farms; diverse vegetable production; oilseed crops; and pastured poultry and chicken tractors. Find the full list of topics and speakers.
Admission to the event is free and open to the public. Find the farm at 6885 W. Old Lincoln Way near Wooster. (Photo: Flax, grown as an oilseed crop, in bloom at the Mellinger farm, CFAES.)
Update (7-31-2019): For more information, read “Deeper details on diversification tour.”
The 10th annual Stinner Summit, whose theme is “Working Together for Healthy Agroecosystems and Sustainable Communities,” is Friday, Oct. 14 at the Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, Ohio. When you register, you’ll be asked to suggest issues for discussion at the summit. Then, during the event, working with the other participants, you’ll propose, discuss and eventually decide specific projects for funding in the year ahead, with the funding coming from CFAES’s Ben Stinner Endowment, the summit’s sponsor. For details, go here. The life, work and vision of the late Ben Stinner touched farmers, the land, and his friends and colleagues in CFAES. Read more about him here.
An unusual study at CFAES’s Mellinger Research Farm in northeast Ohio is measuring the health of the farm through its sounds. A goal is to see — er, hear — how the farm’s biological diversity changes as its farming practices change. “In a healthy agricultural ecosystem, farming sounds should coexist with sounds of the natural world, says a fact sheet on the study. You can hear “Spring Peepers and Toads, Drainage-way: March” and other recordings on the study’s webpage. CFAES’s Agroecosystems Management Program helps run the farm and is doing the study. AMP, according its website, “seeks to discover balance on Ohio farms” in part by using ecological principles on the farms. (Photo: Eastern meadlowlark, Purestock.)
A 2014 EurActiv article called “France backs agroecology to fight climate change” quotes French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll:
“The agricultural sector has a responsibility to reduce its emissions, but it can also offer solutions for greenhouse gas reduction.
“This is about considering the ecological challenge of the fight against climate change, the challenge to food production and the challenges of agriculture and forestry as one entity.
“The answer to the big environmental questions is not to reduce agricultural production, but to adapt.”
He speaks on his country’s carbon sequestration work this Saturday at Ohio State.