Agriculture

Young African leaders visit community garden, discuss sustainability

Submitted by THE COMMON GOOD Members of the Young African Leaders Initiative’s Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders gathered with local volunteers at the community garden this past Saturday to see an example of small-scale sustainable farming on Saturday. The YALI members took some time to work the garden and harvest some vegetables before coming together to partake in a roundtable discussion about sustainability. The group discussed comparisons of agriculture in Africa versus agriculture here, as well as cultural views and practices embracing sustainability. The presence of different perspectives provided insight on global views regarding sustainability. To catch a glance of small-scale sustainable farming yourself, stop by the community garden located at the Peace Lutheran Church (1021 W. Wooster St. Bowling Green, OH 43402). Take a look at the communication board at the garden or visit commongoodbg.org for more information.

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Rebecca Singer, new leader at Center for Innovative Food Technology, is rooted in farming

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In her new position as CEO and president of the Center for Innovative Food Technology, Rebecca Singer has to deal with the entire spectrum of the food industry, from seed to package. She brings just the right mix of experience the job requires. Singer, who took over the leadership role about a month ago, has a degree in agri-business and applied economics from Ohio State, and she managed the state’s Ohio Proud program before taking a position with CIFT 15 years ago. All that is grounded on the farm. She grew up on a farm in Defiance County, and when she moved back to Northwest Ohio to join CIFT, she decided settle back there. She and her brother now manage the operation while their father stays involved in the chores he enjoys like driving the tractor. They grow soybeans and ponder all the issues that farmers face. Do they have enough acreage for a viable soybean operation? Should they transition into vegetables and specialty crops? “It lends a lot of authenticity that these are the kinds of things that go through our minds on our operation,” Singer said. Like Ohio’s weather, the agriculture sector is ever changing. Recently “there’s been such a tremendous amount of interest in local foods,” she said. This effects the farmers who grow the food those who process it. That’s been seen at CIFT’s Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen outside of Bowling Green on Ohio 582.  The facility serves as a launching pad for local food products. “A lot of people enjoy making food for other people,” Singer said. “They enjoy…


County asked again to take stand against big dairy, for Lake Erie

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After six months of silence from the Wood County Commissioners, a couple activists were back before the board Tuesday asking for support. The commissioners heard again from Vickie Askins about suspected manure violations from a large dairy, and from Mike Ferner about the need to protect Lake Erie. The two made the same requests as last summer to the commissioners: Write a letter to the Ohio EPA about the dairy, and sign a resolution declaring the lake as impaired. Again, the commissioners asked a few questions, but took no action Tuesday on either request. “This is happening in your county,” Askins said. “I just think this is terrible.” According to Askins, the dairy on Rangeline Road southwest of Bowling Green, has repeatedly violated manure lagoon and manure application regulations during the last 13 years. “There has been a history of violations,” she said of the former Mander Dairy which is now owned by Drost Land Co. Askins informed the commissioners last summer that when Manders Dairy went bankrupt four years ago, it left behind about 10 million gallons of manure it its lagoon. Federal law requires that the manure must be taken care of when a CAFO closes, Askins said. And Ohio EPA requires that no manure be applied to farm fields unless up-to-date soil samples and manure analyses are obtained. Askins, a watchdog of mega dairies in Wood County, said neither has been done. The lagoon is nearly full, and no field application study documentation can be found. Yet, she had seen evidence of “manure irrigators” being constructed near the site….


Rezoning sought for ‘smiley face’ barn site

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For decades, the giant smiley face on the big white barn welcomed motorists on Interstate 75 as they traveled north of Bowling Green. The message advertised no product – just simply offered a happy greeting, signed Joe & Gertie. Though the smile has faded, the barn still stands at the northwest corner of I-75 and Ohio 582. But Joe and Gertie Carpenter are long gone. The barrel of water at their driveway with a jug for filling strangers’ stubborn radiators is no longer there. And so now it is up to the Carpenters’ three children to decide what to do with the 95 acres the family owns at the site. The land has long been farmed, but developers have approached the offspring about the acreage with easy access to I-75 and Route 582. So Joe and Gertie’s children have asked that Middleton Township change the zoning from A-1 agricultural to M-1 light industrial. “They want to make the property more marketable for industrial and commercial end users,” explained Dave Steiner, director of the Wood County Planning Commission. The zoning request came before the county planning commission on Tuesday on its way to the Middleton Township Trustees, who will make the final decision on the zoning request. There is no specific plan yet for the site, “but they would rather have it zoned and ready to go,” Steiner said. “We’re seeing this more and more.” Other acreage in the area has already gone through the same preparations, such as the property at the southwest corner of Route 582 and Mercer Road. A couple…


Study: More farmers need to take steps to reduce phosphorus feeding toxic algae

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Many northern Ohio farmers have already taken steps voluntarily to cut down on toxic algae blooms – but not enough, according to researchers. The U.S. and Canada have agreed to cut phosphorus discharge into Lake Erie by 40 percent in the next decade. But that goal won’t be met unless more farmers make some changes, according to researchers from Ohio State University. The OSU project found that the following steps by farmers would help reach that 40 percent reduction in phosphorus discharge, which feeds toxic algae in the lake: Apply fertilizer below the soil surface. Plant cover crops which prevent rain from washing fertilizer into waterways. These crops are grown in fields that would otherwise go unplanted. Plant buffer strips, with grass or non-crop plants surrounding the fields. These also keep the fertilizer from going into ditches or creeks, and ultimately into the lake. The OSU study found that 39 percent of farmers in the Lake Erie watershed already use subsurface fertilization, 22 percent grow cover crops and 35 percent plant buffer strips. Those steps have all been taken on a voluntary basis by farmers. However, those efforts are not enough, according to the researchers. To cut the phosphorus discharge in Lake Erie by 40 percent, each of those three preventative steps must grow by at least 20 percent. “A lot of farmers have already taken the risk … to help move the needle,” Jay Martin, project leader and director of OSU’s Field to Faucet water quality program said recently, according to the Associated Press. “That’s really encouraging. But we need to…


Ditch cleanup stirs up conflicting interests

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Farmers between Bowling Green and Perrysburg don’t take kindly to their fields being flooded out by plugged ditches. But it appears that people living in neighboring housing developments also don’t take kindly to being told how to handle the ditches that meander through their backyards. The two sides of the issue butted heads last week during preliminary hearings on clearing two ditches in Middleton Township. The opposing sides did a lot of eye rolling and head shaking at each others’ testimony before the Wood County Commissioners. The proposed ditch projects, petitioned by farmers Gerald Moser and Doug Pratt, start on Five Point Road and head north through the River Bend housing subdivision. Flooding already occurs in the Five Point Road ditch area, and is expected to get worse once nearly 300 homes are constructed in the development. According to Wood County Engineer Ray Huber, the watershed for the projects includes 764 acres. “This office feels that the quicker the ditch in question can be placed under county care, the better,” Huber stated in his report to the county commissioners. “In other words, this would lessen the impact on developed lots and facilitate ditch construction where home construction has not started.” Prolonging the ditch cleanup will only exacerbate construction issues later, Huber said. But attorneys representing the River Bend development said putting the ditches under a county maintenance program is unnecessary. The homeowners association can properly maintain the ditches, they stated. “The assumption is government can do a better job” than the homeowners, attorney Jerome Parker said. “That’s not true.” Brian McCarthy, developer…


CIFT appoints Rebecca A. Singer as president and CEO

From CENTER FOR INNOVATIVE FOOD TECHNOLOGY TOLEDO – The governing board of the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT), the northwest Ohio affiliate of the Ohio Manufacturing Partnership, and a recognized leader in providing technical innovations and solutions to regional manufacturers with special expertise in the food processing industry, appointed Rebecca A. Singer as president and CEO effective Jan. 1, 2017. After more than eight years at the helm, current CIFT president and CEO Dave Beck announced his retirement in August.  Beck has been with the organization since its inception in 1995. “Rebecca is the perfect choice to lead CIFT on its continued path of success,” stated William J. Hirzel, chairman of the board, CIFT.  “Rebecca recognizes the importance of the manufacturing sector to our region, and understands the tools that can be used to help it grow.” One of the senior staff members at CIFT, Singer has identified and evaluated numerous strategies to advance emerging technologies, provided direction to many small business initiatives, and helped to establish a network of regional partners to represent the Ohio MEP throughout the 19 counties of northwest Ohio. Prior to joining CIFT in 2001, she worked with the Ohio Department of Agriculture as the OHIO PROUD coordinator and direct marketing specialist.  A graduate of the Ohio Leadership Education and Development program, Singer participated in tours of various statewide and international businesses.  In 2006, she traveled to Israel at the invitation of the Negev Foundation, touring various agricultural and food technology facilities.  She was a recipient of the 2007 Young Professional Achievement Award given by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and…