In 2001, the Innovative Farmers of Ohio were awarded a $50,000 grant from the Ohio Environmental Education Fund to educate the agricultural community on how to implement ecologically sound farming practices while maintaining an economically viable farming operation. This unique approach to environmental stewardship teaches participants that farm management choices have a considerable impact on environmental resources in Ohio, as well as the economic resources of farmers due to increased regulation, and encourages farmers to practice holistic farm management through agroecology.
The program is unlike any other because it focuses on the concept of "learning circles", a process which involves peer-to-peer mentoring among individuals with common interests and concerns. The learning circles take place in an informal setting and are facilitated by farmers who have been trained in the techniques and strategies for establishing and maintaining learning circles, and who have successfully applied environmentally sound practices on their own farms. Since many farmers are looking for voluntary solutions to the growing concerns of the general public and regulators relating to the impact of agriculture on the environment, particularly in rural areas, the project proposes to reach the agricultural community in a way that can instill farmer confidence towards developing and adopting innovative, resource conscious, or sustainable farming practice. In addition to the learning circles, a series of four workshops were developed, and sixteen farm tours will be conducted highlighting environmentally sound farming practices from around the state. Successful and innovative farmers representing numerous farm-led organizations will be featured in the workshops and during the tours.
To sustain the project, additional farmers will be recruited in communities throughout Ohio, and new learning circles will be formed. It is believed that the learning circles will promote an ecological/environmental paradigm for agriculture that will translate into more farmers embracing the concept of agroecology.
For more information, please contact:
Innovative Farmers of Ohio
3083 Liberty Road
Delaware, OH 43015
Web site: www.ifoh.org
Ohio EPA Office of Environmental Education
Lazarus Government Center
50 West Town Street, Suite 700
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, OH 43216-1049
Phone: (614) 644-2873
Fax: (614) 728-1275
or visit our offices at the Ohio EPA, Lazarus Government Center, 50 West Town Street, Suite 700, Columbus, OH 43215