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OFFER Spring Symposium, April 7, 2014
OFFER's Mission Statement:
To provide outstanding research and educational support for sustainable production, processing, and marketing of organic foods from the field to the table for farmers, gardeners, processors, retailers, and consumers.
What is Organic Agriculture?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Standards Board defines organic agriculture as "an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity." It is based on minimal off farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, or enhance ecological harmony. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil, life, plants, animals, and people.
About the OFFER Program:
The OFFER program was established in 1998 in response to requests by organic producers and supporters to provide science-based information to Ohio’s existing organic farmers and to newcomers to organic production and marketing.
The OFFER program team consists of Ohio State University researchers, Ohio farmers, and other stakeholders who share a goal of enhancing the vitality of organic agriculture in Ohio. This interdisciplinary team works together to develop research initiatives to better understand the principles behind organic agriculture, particularly in terms of underlying crop-soil relationships, pest control, economics, and system management.
About 40 acres of land near the OARDC's Wooster Campus were originally allocated to the program. Today OFFER's land resources include land on three farms near Wooster and at the John Hirzel Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems Research Site in northwestern Ohio.
· Studies examining the changes that occur in farming systems during the transition of conventional agricultural land to certified organic production.
· Other experiments, both on cooperators' farms and at the research stations, investigate weed control, nutrient management, and variety performance, during and after transition, on a variety of agronomic, vegetable, and fruit crops.
· Innovative marketing research addressing local marketing of high-value crops and international “relational” marketing.
· Food quality issues relating to nutritional content of organic fruits, vegetables and grains, as well as consumer preference.
Education and Outreach Activities
· Field days - provide an opportunity for the public to tour our field plots and learn about the organic research being done at the OARDC.
· Stakeholder Meetings - These meetings provide valuable opportunities for us to strengthen the ties with our stakeholders and receive feedback on the research that growers would like to see in the OFFER Program.
· Extension training
· Education - An undergraduate course, Organic Farming and Gardening (T220, 3 credits), is offered at the OSU-ATI in the winter quarter of odd numbered years. This course is a study of organic production methods in agriculture including crop management, pest control, and marketing certified organic products.