Workshops will help farmers grow businesses

There is a growing trend in Ohio agriculture toward the direct marketing of agricultural products featuring locally grown food products. Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of buying local and buying fresh.

As the demand for local food products increases, so does the interest in growing and producing a variety of agricultural products for these markets. Perhaps this is something that you have considered for your small acreage but do not know where to begin.

To help land owners decide what to grow or raise on their excess acreage, The Ohio State University Extension offices in northeast Ohio are conducting the Northeast Ohio Small Farmer College for new and aspiring farms.

The college will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 12 and 24 and Oct. 3 and 10. On Oct. 12, we will visit two local farms to learn how they have gotten off to a successful start.

This college is designed to help landowners increase their profits from their small acreage. This college is open to all new or aspiring farmers, new rural landowners, small farmers and farm families looking for new ideas.

The small farmer college is split into five sessions designed to challenge participants to plan for success.

The first session on Sept. 12 titled “Getting Started” will help participants build the foundation for their farm business. Some of the session topics will include developing real-life expectations for your small farm, developing goals and objectives, developing an agricultural business plan, and tax and financial management secrets for small farms. This class will be held at the Ashtabula County Extension office.

The second session on Sept. 24, titled “Enterprise Selection,” will help participants decide what to raise or grow on their farm and how to develop realistic budgets for agricultural enterprises. This session will be tailored-made based on the interests of the group. Learn more about vegetable, greenhouse, fruit, nursery and bio-fuel crops, as well as aquaculture, livestock, hay, traditional and alternative farm enterprises. Let your passions lead you to the right agricultural enterprise to raise or grow.

This class will be held at the Ashtabula County Extension office.

The third session on Oct. 3 will be a “Work Session” to help the participants get their documents in order. We will work on enterprise budgets, EIN numbers, farm name, mission statements and farm goals. Each farm will begin building their farm business plan. This class will be held at the Geauga County Extension.

The fourth session on Oct. 10 titled “Marketing and Resources for Small Farms” will help participants build a marketing direction for their business. Learn how agricultural products are being marketed across northeast Ohio. This class will be held at the Geauga County Extension office.

The fifth session titled “Learning from the School of Hard Knocks” will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 12 at two small farms in northeast Ohio. Participants will take tours of each farm to learn about raising, selecting and marketing agricultural crops. The host farms will be selected based on the interests of the class.

Call the Ashtabula County OSU Extension office at 440-576-9008 to make your reservations or to receive more information. Reservations are requested by Sept. 5. Space is limited to the first 35 registrants. Registration forms can be found at

Marrison is associate professor and extension educator, agriculture / natural Resources, The Ohio State University Extension. Marrison call at 440-576-9008 or