Ohio Organic Farmer Research Network Monthly Meeting Topics

Upcoming Meeting Topics

Thursday, August 1, 2024 | 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. Eastern Time
On-Farm Organic Vegetable Trials 2025 Working Group Meeting

We invite network members to join us in making key decisions about a state-wide organic vegetable variety trial for the 2025 growing season. Variety trials are a useful and relatively easy entryway into on-farm research. When replicated on multiple farms, the results can offer good information across the variety of growing conditions in our state. Be part of the discussion on August 1.

If you’d like to be part of this working group, but can’t make the meeting, please let us know and we’ll send you other options for weighing in.  


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Scroll down for past meeting topics and links to recordings. 

Connection Details

Farmers, educators, researchers, and other interested individuals are welcome to join us on the first Thursday of each month to discuss a variety of topics related to organic production research. If you have questions or ideas, please contact one of our group leaders: Johnnie Speicher (OEFFA), Denise Natoli Brooks (Central State University), or Cassy Brown (Ohio State). 

Learn more about this network at offer.osu.edu/oofrn.

Sponsored by a USDA-NIFA Organic Research Extension Initiative grant "Building Partnerships For Farmer-led Organic Research in Ohio.


Past Meeting Topics & Links to Recordings

Thursday, July 11, 2024 | 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. Eastern Time
Expanding Your Vision Through On-Farm Research

Jordan Settlage operates Settlage & Settlage Farms in St. Mary's, Ohio, with his father John Settlage. Together they manage 500 acres and 300 dairy cows. The farm is a grass-based organic dairy using rotational grazing. Among several on-farm research endeavors, Jordan has helped trial two different satellite mapping systems for pasture management. Jordan talks about how these and other research partnerships have helped his farm and and discusses future research ideas he'd like to be a part of.

View Recording 


June 2024 
On-Farm Flash Talks
In June we featured two short presentations about current and recent organic on-farm experiments. 

  • Matt Falb, Constant Springs Farm in Orrville, Ohio – organic no-till corn trials and lessons for 2023 and 2024
  • Van Slack and Betsy Rosser, Marshall Greens Farm, Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District – urban small grains variety trial

View Recording


May 2024
Vegetables On Trial
Six years, 40 counties, 175 gardeners, 750 trials--impressive numbers for a variety trial program! Ed Brown, OSU Extension educator in Athens county, will join us on Thursday, May 2 to talk about the variety trial he coordinates with home gardeners around the state. Ed will share insight into how participants, varieties, and results are managed in this trial. As our network investigates starting an organic variety trials for commercial growers, we hope to learn from the experience of others.  Read more about the Ohio Vegetable Trials at https://u.osu.edu/brown.6000/vegetable-trials/

View Recording


April 2024
Quarterly Reflection and Planning Meeting 
Active network participants were invited to reflect on our activities to date. We discussed the goals of our current USDA planning grant and share our successes and lessons, solicited feedback on events and resources under development including a resource guide for farmer researchers, and discussed activities that should be carried on beyond the planning grant timeline. 

View Meeting Slides with Notes

View Notes


March 2024
Investigating Strategies for Infuriating In-Row Weeds in Corn
Elijah Dean of Timberlane Organic Farms in Clyde, Ohio, describes his experiments with using higher seeding rates to combat in-row weeds. Learn how the initial idea for this trial came while experimenting with 60” rows; how he laid out a simple trial on his own farm; what he learned about yield drag, variety suitability, and field variability; and how this led to a larger Ohio State USDA OREI grant proposal. Eli covers it all -- with a sleeping baby on his lap no less!  

View Recording


February 2024
Biostimulants: Expectations and Outcomes 
For our February 2024 meeting, Ohio State vegetable crop production specialist Matt Kleinhenz shares basic information on the regulation, categories, handling, and use of bioproducts. Attendees also share their questions and experiences and we discuss possible tools to help understand and assess the effectiveness and value of these products.

View Recording


January 2024
Variety Trials at Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Ever wonder how seed companies determine what seed varieties to offer customers? Or how seed companies determine what seeds might do well where?  Join us for a presentation from Dana Hilfinger of Johnny's Selected Seeds to find out how they coordinate seed variety trials.  Then participate in a discussion on how our group can get some seed variety trials in the ground in 2024. What varieties might you be interested in trialing and why?  

View Recording


December 2023
Reflection and Planning Meeting

Active network participants were invited to reflect on our activities to date and discuss their ideas to foster more farmer leadership in our group, move on-farm research ideas forward, and plan activities or partnerships that can support the development of this network. 

Meeting Slides (member survey results and thoughts for future)   

Meeting Notes


November 2023
Extending the Season, Extending the Green

The November OFRN meeting will feature our network’s new co-leader Johnnie Speicher from OEFFA. Johnnie is a Sustainable Agriculture Educator at OEFFA where he answers questions from planting to paperwork. But his past includes graduate research on season extension in high tunnel systems. Johnnie’s research at Ohio State examined the use of soil heating cables and different coverings to impact the crop micro-environment in a high tunnel vegetable system. Join us on November 2 at noon to hear Johnnie share research lessons from his master’s studies and how they apply to his work today.  

View Recording


September 2023 
SARE Grant Programs: Tips and Insights to Pitching a Proposal

North Central SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) offers several grant programs to strengthen communities, increase producers’ economic viability, and improve the environment through research and education. Active calls include a Research and Education Grant, Partnership Grant, Youth Educator Grant, and Farmer Rancher Grant programs. Depending on the program, farmers can apply for these grants by themselves, in partnership with other farms and businesses, or in collaboration with non-profit institutions. Beth Nelson walks us through these opportunities, describe the selection process, and share helpful resources, common mistakes to avoid, and strategies for writing a strong proposal. Learn more about SARE grants at https://northcentral.sare.org/.

View Recording


August 2023 
Resistance is not Futile: Collaborative Research on Breeding Parasite Resistance in Sheep

The goal at Misty Oaks Farm in Wooster, Ohio, is to produce hardy, healthy, productive, and parasite-resistant Katahdin sheep that thrive in an easy-care, forage-based system. To get there, they have relied on a mix of personal experience and science-based information. With the help of the SARE grant program, other farmers, and advisors from Ohio State and others, as well as tools such as the National Sheep Improvement Program, farm co-owner Kathy Bielek has been involved in research to advance parasite resistance over the last 20 years--diving into gene pools, comparing methods of identifying resistant animals, and leading multiple grants. We’ve asked Kathy to share her insight into project management with diverse partners and with developing a long-term research agenda. Learn more about Misty Oaks Farm and their management strategies at mistyoakskatahdins.com.

View Recording


July 2023 
Practical Advice for On-Farm Research from Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Stefan Gailans

The July 6 Ohio Organic Farmer Researcher Network meeting will feature Stefan Gailans from Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI). Stefan leads PFI’s Cooperators’ Program, where he helps farmers turn their research ideas into relevant and shareable knowledge--similar to the goals of our emerging group! Stefan will share his experience about successful on-farm research. He’ll also talk about the mechanics of the cooperator program, including funding, participation, partnerships, and communications. The PFI Cooperator’s Program was established in 1987 and has helped more than 240 Iowa farmers conduct on-farm research trials that matter to them. Check out some of their projects and the user-friendly display of project details at practicalfarmers.org/research.

View Recording


June 2023
Growing lettuce through summer heat: tools and techniques from three years of research

There’s nothing like a crisp summer salad! And nothing like the frustration of keeping salad greens in production as the weather warms up! So “lettuce” learn together as Michelle Nowak walks us through Franklinton Farms summer lettuce and spinach trials. Join us for conversation around successes, failures, and questions from three years of research on attempting (and sometimes succeeding!) to produce lettuce and spinach through summer heat while comparing techniques like interval watering, using shade cloth, and planting in caterpillar tunnels. This research was funded by the OSU Warner Grant for sustainable agriculture.

Franklinton Farms is an urban farm operating year-round in Columbus, Ohio, with production at 12 sites. Learn more at https://franklintonfarms.org/

View Recording


April 2023
Tools for Answering the Endless Question, Am I Winning at Pest Control?

Integrated Pest Management runs in the family for Frank Becker. He has spent years assisting and eventually coordinating the area’s Integrated Pest Management Program, a popular scouting program which was previously led by his father Ron Becker. Now serving as the OSU Wayne County Ag and Natural Resources educator, Frank has offered to share the nuts and bolts of pest scouting with us, and techniques that might help us evaluate if our control tactics are making a difference. Frank has formal training in sustainable agriculture and agronomy and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in plant health management. He also has countless hours of field scouting and conversation with farmers and growers of many kinds. Please plan to join us and bring your questions!

Read more about Frank at https://wayne.osu.edu/news/frank-becker-hired-new-anr-educator-wayne-county

View recording


March 2023
Blue Owl Hollow vs. Ailanthus altissima: Lessons from the Fray

When Janell Baran and her husband purchased their forest farm property in the late 1990s, it came with some unwelcome guests: large infestations of invasive woody plants such as Ailanthus (aka Tree-of-Heaven), Japanese barberry, Oriental bittersweet, and multiflora rose. Using a 2007 SARE Farmer-Rancher grant, she trialed non-chemical control measures to be used particularly on Ailanthus altissima. Her research has even more relevance today, as Ailanthus is the primary host species for the destructive spotted lanternfly which is beginning to infiltrate Ohio counties. Janell’s innovative research included not only successful control methods for Ailanthus, but an investigation into using it as a possible farm revenue source at the same time. Janell will outline her research planning process, including partnerships, obstacles, successes, regrets, next steps, and advice for others thinking of applying for a project grant. Please plan to join us and bring your questions!

Read more about Janell’s project at  https://projects.sare.org/sare_project/fnc07-670/

View recording


February 2023
Climate Resilient Silvopasture Project in Ross County

Animal heat stress stands to become a more common problem as our average temperatures and weather extremes increase. Charlie Eselgroth, an organic dairy farmer in Ross County, Ohio, has been working with Rural Action to add trees and raised solar panels to his pasture land. The trees are intended to create shaded grazing areas that can be used on a rotational basis for relief from heat stress and to provide additional feed. This project is in its early stages. It’s being done in conjunction with Organic Valley dairy cooperatives new carbon insetting program. We’d love to share discussion about this project with our group of farmers, educators, and researchers. Please bring your questions, ideas, and resources and join the Rural Action team in collaborative learning and thinking on February 2.

View Recording


January 2023
Choosing and Evaluating Organic Seed Varieties to Meet your Market Needs: Grower Panel & Discussion

We have selected a small but varied panel of Ohio produce professionals to discuss their selection process and priorities, including how variety selection relates to marketing and sales, labor, and other resources. Please join us to hear from our panel, followed by farmer-led discussion about what motivates us to choose certain seeds varieties and how we decide where/how to source them. The primary focus will be on organic vegetable varieties that perform well in Ohio.

View Recording


December 2022
Hirzel Cover Crop Trial Update

Field notes and discussion on the cover crop trial being done collaboratively between Hirzel Farms and Ohio State.

View recording


November 2022
Ohio Organic Farmer Network Planning Meeting

NOSB Meeting Highlights, Review of SARE grant/workshop project idea.

View Recording


August 2022
Discussion on Hirzel Cover Crop Trial

Hirzel Farms has begun an on-farm cover crop trial on 3 fields -- one organic field and 2 that are being transitioned to organic. In this video, Ohio farmers, agricultural educators, and researchers discuss the trial and suggestions for measuring the results. Background on the project is available at https://offer.osu.edu/news/input-sought-farm-cover-crop-trial.

View Recording