February

14

Black Swamp Conservancy Launches Program to Support New Farmers in Northwest Ohio

Posted Feb 14th, 2018 by Julie Pompa  Category: Community Interest, General News

 

Black Swamp Conservancy is launching an initiative to support northwest Ohio’s next generation of farmers. The Northwest Ohio Farm Access Program will serve as an agriculture incubator to reduce the biggest hurdle facing beginning farmers – acquiring farmland. The initiative also aims at connecting them with training opportunities and assistance to increase local and sustainable food production.

The Conservancy has received a grant from Toledo Community Foundation to establish the program, which is the first of its kind in Ohio. “This program will play a key role in helping to identify and support sources for local, sustainable food production in northwest Ohio,” said Keith Burwell, President of the Toledo Community Foundation.

“We are dedicated to protecting our land and water resources, as well as our natural habitats, primarily through conservation easements,” said Rob Krain, Conservancy Executive Director. “This initiative is helping us to continue our ecological restoration efforts throughout northwest Ohio.” Over the past several years the Conservancy has completed several stream and wetland restoration projects, and earned the Ohio Wetlands Association’s Leader in Wetland Restoration award.

“Ohio is losing an estimated 50 acres of farmland a day, and Ohio farmers are an average of 55 years old,” explained Krain. “This is a critical time for farming in Ohio, as today’s farmers are producing commodities for export, while consumers are eating food imported from far away. As farmers plan to retire, possibly without heirs to whom they can pass on their land, aspiring farmers face limited access to land and then high land prices.”

The Northwest Ohio Farm Access Program will be the conduit bringing these two groups together. “There is a growing interest in starting small scale, local agricultural businesses, but existing agricultural land is exceedingly consolidated. And when it is available, land is very expensive, especially as you get closer to population centers,” said Krain. The Conservancy will identify and acquire farms that would be appropriate for these purposes, work to fund ecological restoration activities, and then connect aspiring farmers to this more affordable land.

“We will also connect these new farmers to the business management and farming resources they will need through our connections with local businesses and services,” said Krain.

This program will be beneficial to northwest Ohio by continuing and enhancing:

· Acquisition and protection of prime farmland around northwest Ohio

· Ecological restoration activities in regional farmland, particularly as it pertains to improved water quality

· Establishment of agricultural properties as sustainable operations that grow foods for local consumption

· Education of the community in sustainable farming practices and in the importance of access to locally-produced foods

For information about any aspect of the Northwest Ohio Farm Access Program, contact Program Manager Chris Collier at Black Swamp Conservancy, at ccollier@blackswamp.org, or by calling 419.833.1025.

About Toledo Community Foundation: Toledo Community Foundation, Inc., is a public charitable organization created by citizens of our community to enrich the quality of life for individuals and families in our area. In existence since 1973, the Foundation has more than 800 funds with assets of approximately $271 million. The Foundation provides philanthropic services for individuals, families, businesses and corporations to meet their charitable giving needs. For more information on the Foundation, visit the organization’s website at www.toledocf.org or follow them on Facebook.

About Black Swamp Conservancy
: Black Swamp Conservancy is a land trust dedicated to protecting agricultural land and natural areas, now and for future generations, through land conservation agreements. The Conservancy does this to help ensure clean water, natural habitats, working lands and community access to the natural areas of Northwest Ohio. Since its founding in 1993 (the Conservancy celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2018), the organization has permanently protected more than 17,000 acres of wetlands, woods and working lands across Northwest Ohio, supporting our Clean Water, Good Food & Wild Places. www.BlackSwamp.org

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Julie Pompa - Black Swamp Conservancy

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