For more than 30 years, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has used education, advocacy and grassroots organizing to promote local and organic food systems. In addition to their annual conference and workshops, OEFFA has an organic certification program, organizes farm tours and promotes sharing knowledge and investment in farmers.
Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.
Food Tank (FT): How do you contribute to creating a better food system?
Lauren Ketcham (LK): OEFFA presents the state’s largest sustainable agriculture conference, offers workshops and webinars for farmers, publishes a quarterly newsletter and online directory of sustainable farm and food businesses called the Good Earth Guide, provides organic certification services and technical assistance to growers and advocates for policies that protect and benefit sustainable agriculture.
FT: What is a project, program, or result you are most proud of? Please explain.
LK: In 2014, we organized 15 free farm tours drawing more than 2000 people who were able to see, touch, and smell what sustainable food and farming is all about. Consumers were able to gain a better appreciation for how food travels from the field to their dinner table and farmers were able to learn valuable production and marketing tips from fellow growers with years of practical on-farm experience.
That same year, we organized more than 1,500 members and supporters to take action on the food and farming issues that they care about, including genetically engineered food, fracking, the Farm Bill, and more. These actions included calling legislators, signing petitions, meeting with elected officials, and more.
We also certified 831 operations, including vegetable and grain farms, family dairies, and processors, to the National Organic Program standards. One of the oldest and most respected programs in the nation, OEFFA's Certification program ensures that organic crop and livestock producers meet the high standards established for organically grown food.
FT: What are your goals for 2015 and beyond?
LK: We will continue to build on past success and maintain our commitment to our existing programs, staying true to our founding mission. In 2015, we'll be expanding our on-farm workshops and webinar offerings--including offering a robust series of events designed specifically for veterinarians and other livestock professionals working with organic livestock and poultry--working with Ohio State University to expand on-farm research opportunities that serve organic farmers, and more.
FT: In one sentence, what is the most important thing eaters and consumers can do today to support a more sustainable food system?
LK: Support organic and sustainable family farmers by shopping at your local farmers' market or farm stand or by becoming a member of a community supported agriculture program, and by contacting your legislators to tell them you support policies that protect your right to know and access safe, local food.
FT: How can individuals become more involved in your organization?
LK: Go to www.oeffa.org or visit us on social media. Individuals can become members of OEFFA and find out about all the exciting programs and services we'll be offering in the year ahead.
Download the 2014 Good Food Org Guide HERE.
Submit your suggestions for the 2015 guide HERE.