By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Agriculture is big business in Wood County. And while local residents are surrounded by rich farmland, many may still be unaware of locally grown foods served at their kitchen tables and those shipped round the world.
To help spread that information, the first Wood County Ag-Venture self-driving farm tour is being held on Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Seven local farms and agricultural companies are opening up their barns and businesses for local residents to tour.
“Agriculture is our number one workforce, so we want people to understand what we do and how important it is,” said Lesley Riker. “A lot of people don’t know where their food comes from.”
The tours are open to the public, and every stop will have activities for children.
This is the first time for a county-wide tour to be organized, said Julie Lause, of the Wood Soil & Water Conservation District, which is one of the sponsors.
“We were inspired by some of our neighboring counties,” Lause said.
“Agriculture in Wood County is the top business and people don’t realize how extensive agriculture can be,” she said. “They don’t realize what it takes to create the products we eat.”
Some of the stops on the tour ship their products internationally.
“They want to tell our story,” Lause said of the farms on the tour. “They really want people to know what goes on behind the scenes.”
Also sponsoring the Ag-Venture tour is the Wood County Economic Development Commission.
“It’s a great opportunity for tourism in the county, and making people aware of ag-businesses in the county,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the economic development commission.
There are more than 1,000 farms in Wood County. Here’s how they rank with the rest of Ohio’s counties:
- 1st in value of grain sold.
- 5th for soybean crops planted.
- 6th in total value of agricultural products sold.
- 8th in total value of vegetables sold.
- 13th in total value of greenhouse sales.
- 17th in total value of aquaculture sales.
- 181st in the U.S. for total grain value.
Following is a description of each agricultural site on the tour.
Luckey Farmers, 11330 Avenue Road, Perrysburg
Luckey Farmers is a grain marketing and farm supply cooperative that serves about 2,000 members with grain marketing, plant food, seed feed, general farm supplies and petroleum products.
The seed and feed lines feature Luckey Farmers own brand of products called Gro-Mor. The current facilities consist of seven grain locations, eight agronomy facilities, a feed manufacturing plant, seed processing facility, three petroleum stations and four fuel delivery trucks to service farm, home and light industry.
Moser Farms, 24062 Hull Prairie Road, Perrysburg
Moser Farms is a fifth generation run grain farm operated by Bob and Maribeth Moser, alongside their son John and his wife Casey. Their operation includes corn, soybeans and wheat.
Aside from their day-to-day farming duties, the Mosers are also the host for the Technical Development Research site for Monsanto. The site is home to thousands of research trials on new corn and soybean traits coming down the pipeline to help farmers of the future.
Hirzel Canning Company, 411 Lemoyne Road, Northwood
Producers of Dei Fratelli products, Hirzel Canning Co. was founded in Wood County in 1923 by Carl Hirzel. With excess cabbage from his harvest, Hirzel produced his first product – sauerkraut packed and sold in wooden kegs and barrels.
By the third year in business, Hirzels began packaging whole tomatoes in cans to be sold to the local general stores. Today, the third, fourth and fifth generations of the Hirzel family carry on the legacy.
Vetter Family Farms, 19604 Mercer Road, Bowling Green
Vetter Farms is a family farm operated by Fred and Amy, along with sons Shane and Ashley, and Garett and Melissa Vetter, north of Bowling Green. They farm corn, soybeans and wheat, as well as operate a farm drainage and tile installation company serving other farmers in Wood County.
With roots in 4-H and FFA, the Vetters are heavily involved in area agricultural organizations.
Pioneer Seed, 15180 Henry Wood County Road, Grand Rapids
Pioneer Seed is one of the world’s leading developers and suppliers of plant genetics, providing seed to farmers in more than 90 countries. The Grand Rapids location has more than 60 full-time employees who help to support the growing, harvesting, conditioning, packaging and delivery of soybeans and wheat across the U.S. and Canada.
Black Swamp Ag, 12057 Mitchell Road, Bowling Green
Operated by Scott Apple and his sons, Henry and Mason, Black Swamp Ag’s mission is “farmers first, working to help promote and improve soil health.” Black Swamp Ag provides custom gypsum and lime application, sells corn, soybean and wheat seed hybrids, as well as promotes cover crops to help enhance farmers’ soil profiles.
Schooner Farms, 14890 Otsego Pike, Weston
The idea behind Schooner Farms was to raise chemical-free pick your own raspberries and blackberries. The farm is a giant experiment – crops are planted on mounds, there is a 75-foot diameter lavender labyrinth, natural pond, you-pick berries, an apiary, and fresh water lobster and shrimp.
The farm offers a wide variety of classes and workshops.