Heather Neikirk

The bright warm sunshine feels and looks great!

Daylight savings time is coming, the arrival of spring is less than 30 days away and gardeners everywhere are ready to dive into a new season of promise, hope and harvest.

Some of you out there may be thinking about expanding your horizons a bit, and entering into the world of market gardening, direct farm marketing, or getting your small farm (urban or rural) established. You may even be considering starting a food or agri-tourism based small business. If you are, then I canít wait to share some great upcoming programs and events that you wonít want to miss.

Free webinars

The Ohio Direct Marketing Team combines the latest in food and agricultural market research with educationally minded professionals in its free monthly webinar series focused on marketing topics related to people, product, promotion, place and plan.

A listing of 2016 webinars can be found on the Ohio Direct Marketing website at http://southcenters.osu.edu/marketing/direct-marketing-webinars. Previous webinars have been recorded and can be viewed there as well. All webinars are one hour and begin at noon.

Ohio Proud

The Ohio State University Extension Direct Agricultural Marketing team in collaboration with the Ohio Proud Program, the Ohio Department of Agricultureís Marketing Program, are offering several half-day workshops focused on assisting Ohio Proud Partners and Value-Added agricultural producers with increasing the effectiveness of their online marketing and promotions.

The workshops will be offered in four locations throughout Ohio. OSU Extension Summit County will host one of the four workshops on March 24. Registration deadline is Monday and the cost is $15. To register or obtain more information, contact Lori Panda at Ohio Proud, or your local county extension office.

Small farms

This year OSU Extension and its USDA sponsors (Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) will offer two small farm conferences. The Southwest Ohio Small Farm Conference and Trade Show will be held on March 11 and 12 at Wilmington College in Wilmington.

The Northeast Ohio Small Farm Conference and Trade Show will be held on April 2 at the Shisler Center on the OARDC Campus in Wooster. Detailed brochures featuring the agenda, breakout session topics and super sessions can be found by visiting http://agnr.osu.edu/small-farm-programs/small-farm-conferences-and-trade-shows or contacting your local OSU Extension office.

Women conferences

OSU Extension will host the third annual East Ohio Women in Agriculture Conference on April 1 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the R.G. Drage Career Technical Center in Massillon.

The conference is open to all women and young women (high school age) who are interested, involved in or want to become involved with food, agricultural or natural resources production or small business.

The conference program features a networking fair and 16 breakout sessions presented by OSU Extension educators, producers and partner agencies.

Sessions are focused around five themes: Finance, Livestock, Special Interest, Food & Family, and Partner Agencies.

For more information contact 330-832-9856, option 2, ext. 476, or register online at www.regonline.com/womeninageast.

The Northwest Ohio Women in Agriculture Conference offered by the Women in Agriculture Committee and OSU Extension Wood County will be held on March 11 at Nazareth Hall in Grand Rapids.

The conference is open to women involved in farming in Ohio and nearby states. The conference program features 15 breakout sessions on a variety of topics and a special session, Women in STEM for students.

For more information or to register, contact OSU Extension Wood County at 419-354-9050.

Market Gardener

The Market Gardener Training Program is a training program offered by OSU Extensionís Urban Agriculture Program in Cuyahoga County.

The 12-week program provides a foundation in urban agriculture and small business development to prepare participants to start their own enterprises growing produce and other agricultural products for market. For more information and an application, visit http://cuyahoga.osu.edu/program-areas/agriculture-and-natural-resources/market-gardening-and-urban-farming/market-gardener.

Master Urban Farmer

The Ohio Master Urban Farmer Program is an intensive educational program featuring a series of workshops and field visits designed to assist interested individuals in learning how to produce and market various kinds of food products in urban settings.

The program is currently designed to meet the needs of participants in a region or county area.

A few general topics include soils, amendments, direct marketing, business plans, good agricultural practices, integrated pest management, season extension and crop selection and rotation.

For more information, contact your local OSU Extension office.

Heather Neikirk is a Stark County Extension Educator in agriculture and natural resources for Ohio State University. Neikirk also serves as co-leader for Extensionís Local Foods signature program. If you have questions about local foods, farm to school, food production or food gardening, contact her at 330-832-9856 or neikirk.2@osu.edu.