Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Day at FSR '09

The frenzy and the crowds returned yesterday to the Farm Science Review, the annual farm and agriculture conference that draws thousands of people to the sleepy town of London, OH, population 9,545.

For some scale, that many people will likely have attended the three-day agri-festival by tomorrow afternoon. It's huge, and the snaking line of traffic that greets you as you near the Molly Caren Agriculture Center will tell you as much.

Dessie and I spent our Wednesday at the FSR, small-farm schedules in hand, eyes widened by the number of Cargill hats and Yes! on Issue 2 placards. The overwhelming majority of FSR is geared toward conventional farming, but a small group of tents in one corner of the sprawling grounds is devoted to small farms and sustainable agriculture, so we bee-lined there.

Dessie had circled a farmers' market seminar she wanted to attend called "How to Sell a Whole Truckload: Increasing Sales at Farmers' Markets and Roadside Stands." We decided to split up, because two of the seminars I wanted to sit-in on overlapped with hers. I decided, instead, to listen to "The Power of Local Food Systems," "The Business Climate in Ohio" and "What Makes Main Street Vibrant?" all of which were presided over by OSU extension educators. The first seminar, on local food economies, featured a well-known OSU researcher Jeff Sharp, who had some interesting insight into creating strong and thriving local food systems and what differentiates different markets around the state. All of the lectures were informative, and I was surprised at how interactive they became when the audience was probed for questions.

We made sure to eat some fair fare before leaving, chopped beef steak sandwiches, french fries and slaw. Below are some pictures from the gloomy but otherwise enjoyable day.

Free seeds from the OSU Master Gardeners! (I snagged Cosmic Purple Carrots, Yellow Cherry Tomatoes, Salsifies and Sunflowers)

In the Utzinger Memorial garden.


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