One of the goals of Ohio State University Extension is to help farmers explore ways to increase their profitability. Our educational programs and tours are designed to help our farmers stay on the cutting edge and looking for income potential.
During the past five years, our area fruit and vegetable farms have begun to direct-market their produce at local farmers markets throughout northeast Ohio.
More recently, producers and school systems have begun discussions and partnerships to bring more produce into local schools. Personally, I think this is a long time coming.
I am glad to see a few schools in northeast Ohio connecting with local farms to bring fresh, nutritious foods into school cafeterias and by offering students experiential learning opportunities through farm visits, food and nutrition educational activities, and an incorporated nutrition education curriculum. These partnerships help support local farmers and keep food dollars in local economies, and help create a generation of informed food consumers who understand the nutritional significance of their food choices.
To help develop connections between local farmers and our public and private school systems, OSU Extension will be offering a School to Farm Road Trip from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 1. During this road trip, we will explore different ways that local school systems can use local foods. Come and learn about the opportunities to bring fresh local foods to our schools.
We believe we have a great day planned for food service directors, school administrators and school board members to learn about the great local food options in northeast Ohio. We will kick off the day at 8 a.m. at the Trumbull County Extension.
Our first stop will be at the Geauga County Growers Auction in Middlefield. Participants will get to see northeast Ohio's largest wholesale vegetable auction in action. See the quality of vegetables which are being produced in our region and then sold at this auction three times each week. Participants will be able to see the bidding in-person.
From there, we will drop by and visit Middlefield Original Cheese in Middlefield. Here, we will get a birds-eye view on how local milk is transformed into some of area's finest cheeses. The artisan cheese is incredible.
We will then travel over to Kinsman to visit Miller Livestock Co., which specializes in raising grass-fed livestock. We will tour the farm and get a chance to see how the Millers are raising grass-fed beef, chickens, turkeys and pork.
While at the farm, participants also will learn about the Lake to River Cooperative and School to Farm CSA's which can help arrange for local fruits and vegetables to be delivered to local schools.
After this stop, participants will dine on a locally grown-themed lunch with meat, cheese, fruits and vegetables that were raised or grown locally.
After the lunch, we will travel to Lutz Farm in Leavittsburg. Sweet corn lovers from around the world know the finest, mouth-watering and best-tasting sweet corn comes from Ohio. August is when sweet corn is in its prime in northeast Ohio.
From there, we will visit the Victory Garden in Warren. While at the garden, we will learn how school systems can engage their school and community to grow local vegetables. We will learn how Warren City Schools and OSU Extension are producing local vegetables for consumption in the school system. We also will have a Chef in the Garden experience.
We will then return to the Trumbull County Extension office for questions and answers.
The registration fee is $15 per person. Pre-registration is required by July 26. Make checks payable to OSU Extension, Trumbull County and mail to OSU Extension-Trumbull County, 520 W. Main St., Cortland 44410. For information, call 330-638-6783.
The road trip is sponsored by OSU Extension and funded by the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I hope to see many school officials on this trip.
To close, I would like to share a quote from Elizabeth Berry, who stated, "Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables. They probably get jet-lagged, just like people."
Marrison is associate professor and extension educator, agriculture and natural resources, Ohio State University Extension for Ashtabula and Trumbull counties. He can be reached at 440-576-9008 or firstname.lastname@example.org