Agriculture

Creation Care Celebration to be held on Sunday

The Black Swamp Green Team’s second Creation Care Celebration will take place Sunday, April 23 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Peace Lutheran Church, 1201 Martindale Rd at W. Wooster in Bowling Green. The event celebrates local efforts, organizations and leaders practicing good stewardship by increasing awareness and practices for sustainable renewable energy use and healthy living. Lunch will be included, as will music by the Peace Band. Keynote presentation and panel will be on the topic of sustainable and regenerative agriculture by Don Schooner of Schooner Farms, Alan Sundermeier from the Ohio State University Extension Office, and Paul Herringshaw of Bowling Green. There will be recognitions, displays, and electric car test drives. A tour of Schooner Farms will immediately follow the event at 3:30 pm. The Black Swamp Green Team is a collaboration of faith communities, advocacy groups, non-profit entities, and individuals engaged in promoting and practicing good creation care among itself and its constituents so as to: implement energy efficiency; the use of renewable energy; the production and delivery of local renewable energy; and, thereby, improve its overall stewardship of creation.

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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…


Wood County land use plan to steer development

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s land use plans get more colorful as the county continues to try steering development toward the best areas for growth. “It may not happen overnight, but it’s coming,” said Wood County Planning Director Dave Steiner. And the county wants to see that growth going to areas with the roads, waterlines and sewer lines to handle it – while maintaining the agricultural and natural areas that are also important to the county. Last week, the county planning commission unveiled the draft of its latest land use plan. The plan takes into consideration the latest census information, demographics and development. “I didn’t want to work off the old one at all,” Steiner said during an open house on the plan held at the county library. The county had outgrown the last land use plan, which had been adopted in 2007. “There were a lot of changes that hadn’t even taken place yet,” like the CSX intermodal hub near North Baltimore. “I wanted something more substantial.” The plan also looks at “reinvestment areas,” where previous development has “fallen by the wayside” and may need a jumpstart with brownfield development, Steiner said. And the plan defends agricultural areas that are still vital to the county’s economy. “We’ve designated a chunk where we don’t want anything,” he said. “We want to protect agriculture.” The guiding principles of the land use plan are as follows: Support sustainable land use and development patterns, and identify and protect natural and environmental resources. Protect prime agricultural land and support agricultural production. Target economic development areas to support and attract…


Hirzel Canning blends tradition & innovation in products packed with the flavor of Northwest Ohio

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Prohibition knocked Carl Hirzel’s upstate New York brewery out of business, he turned his knowledge of fermentation toward making another product. “He took his technology for making beer and turned it to making sauerkraut,” said his great-grandson Steve Hirzel. By then Carl and his wife, Lena, had joined his brothers in the Toledo area.  “The company literally started in the kitchen,” Hirzel said. Hirzel Canning & Farms continues in operation 93 years later with a fifth generation moving in to keep the firm moving forward. And the company still makes sauerkraut, originally sold under the Deer Lodge brand now as Silver Fleece. Business is good for the tart fermented cabbage, Hirzel, president of Hirzel Canning, told the Bowling Green Exchange Club Tuesday. The company is still looking toward fermentation as a way to develop other products for an increasingly fickle consumer. Hirzel said company’s success is rooted in the Great Black Swamp. “In our backyard we’ve been given a garden to grow our crops. … Half of products we get are within 10 miles of the facility.” Those products now are centered on tomatoes, which the company turns in salsas, pasta and Sloppy Joe sauce and tomatoes in various forms from crushed to whole, in cans and cartons. “Anything you can think of doing with tomatoes we do,” he said, “except paste.” The varieties of tomatoes grown locally are not suited to making paste. They are more like what people would pick from their gardens. They don’t need a lot of processing on their way to the consumer. “We want to heat it…


Stinging and sweet … job of the county apiarist

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Few people probably know what an apiarist is. Fewer still know that Wood County has one on the payroll. But this morning, the county commissioners hired a new apiarist – a beekeeper – to keep an eye on the honey bee hives in the county. Why does the county need a beekeeper? Well it turns out that a lot of crops raised locally rely on honey bee pollination – like pumpkins, apples, tomatoes and strawberries. The role was filled for years by Fritz Gehring, who retired earlier this year. The new apiarist is Michael Horst, who works in the heating and air conditioning business, but who has gardened for years. “As a gardener, it led into that naturally,” Horst said of beekeeping. In fact, he was named Michael after his great-grandfather, who was a beekeeper. He not only inherited the name and the inclination, but also the 50-year-old beekeeping equipment. Horst has already started his rounds in the county, visiting first some of the bee hives in the Perrysburg area and the Wood County Park District. “It’s a lot of education for the newbies, and catching up with the older ones,” Horst said of the local beekeepers. Horst has been inspecting for mites, which are the biggest problem plaguing honey bee hives right now. He also looks for bacterial diseases, which are spread to healthy hives by bees raiding other less healthy hives. “Bees will rob weaker colonies and carry diseases,” he explained. And if diseases aren’t caught, the colony’s health may be threatened. Horst can also inspect commercial bee businesses, to…