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.”
What are the multifunctional benefits of agriculture? What new project could help grow them?
Explore the questions, and give your concrete, specific ideas for such a project (which will be backed by up to $10,000 in funding), at the 11th annual Stinner Summit on Sept. 29 in Findlay.
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.)
Past Stinner Summits (scroll down to our previous post or click here) have supported, for example, projects aimed at getting more local foods into schools, eliminating child hunger in Youngstown, creating regional value-added food-processing hubs and establishing urban soil-production sites by diverting local food waste into composting. Read the list here (scroll down to the links). The late Ben Stinner was the first coordinator of CFAES’s Agroecosystems Management Program, which is the host of the summits, and was a leader of our college’s first steps toward sustainable agriculture. As has been said by many more eloquently than this: What a great person. Mentor. Downright human being.
CFAES’s Agroecosystems Management Program holds the 7th annual Stinner Summit this Friday, Oct. 4, in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Peninsula. The event, says its website, “is a highly engaging and participatory event where attendees from all backgrounds work together to develop projects that will address healthy agroecosystems and sustainable communities. At the end of the day, the Ben Stinner Endowment pledges $15,000 in support of one or more projects.” Registration, unfortunately, is now closed; email AMP’s Ben Kerrick if you have any questions.
Distinguished University Professor Rattan Lal of CFAES’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) is a co-editor of the new book Principles of Sustainable Soil Management in Agroecosystems. Chapter authors include, among others, Lal, other faculty in SENR, and faculty in CFAES’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics. (Hat tip to OARDC Librarian Connie Britton and the OARDC Library website, where the book is currently featured. OARDC is CFAES’s research arm.)
Free online registration ends tomorrow (Sept. 28) for the sixth annual Stinner Summit, which is Oct. 5 in Athens in southeast Ohio. Participants “work together to develop projects that will address healthy agroecosystems and/or sustainable communities,” the event’s website says. “At the end of the day, the Ben Stinner Endowment pledges $15,000 in support of one or more projects.” The Agroecosystems Management Program, which is part of our college, is the host. Register here. Details on the Ben Stinner Endowment for Healthy Agroecosystems and Sustainable Communities here.