From stress on the farm to composting, Farm Science Review covers it all

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Messenger photos by Theresa Hennis
An Ohio State University “Ask the Expert” team leads discussions about stress in farming and resources available to farmers and their families during the annual Farm Science Review, held Sept. 17-19 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London. The team included: (from left) Dee Jepsen of Amanda, agricultural safety leader for OSU Extension; moderator Chris Bruynis of Greenfield; Jami Dellifield of Ada, Family and Consumer Sciences educator; Jenna Beadle of Columbus, director of state policy for Ohio Farm Bureau; and Dr. Justin Trevino of Tipp City, medical director for Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services.

(Posted Sept. 24, 2019)

By Theresa Hennis, Staff Writer

Farm Science Review, held Sept. 17-19 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, offered educational talks, activities, and opportunities to speak with experts from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The Review adds new exhibits and educational talks every year to reflect the needs of an ever-changing farming culture and the communities it serves.

During an Ask the Expert session titled “We Got Your Back,” experts addressed the increasing need for resources for farmers under stress. Challenging weather conditions during this year’s growing season added to the many stressors farmers already bear. Finding healthy ways to manage that stress was a key topic.

Not dealing with emotional and physical stress can lead to addictions, abuse, and even suicide. The “We Got Your Back” experts handed out pamphlets about OSU’s gotyourbackohio.org online resource that points farmers to a multitude of services geared toward support for them and their families.

“My father farmed and I farmed, and the stigma was that you didn’t ask for help. You just sucked it up and moved on,” said moderator Chris Bruynis of Greenfield.

Bruynis talked about the Healthy Mind Platter concept, which addresses seven daily mental activities to create well-being: focus time, play time, connecting time, physical time, time in, down time, and sleep time.

Another stressor farmers face is public perception of the farming industry. Some consumers mistrust what they perceive as science-driven farming. They want a more hands-on approach to their food and to have actual conversations with the farmers who produce it.

“When we look at the technology coming down the pike, will those technologies be accepted by consumers?” Bruynis asked. “Farmers find that they have to adapt to alternative sources for income, such as shifting from commodities to consumable food products at farm markets and stores. Farming is becoming more bi-modal.”

Thom deHaas, an OSU Extension agriculture and natural resources educator, presents “Composting and Bad Jokes: A Rotten Combination” at the Gwynne Conservation Area at this year’s Farm Science Review. Visitors got to see different samples of soil after it is amended with compost and a slide presentation outlining the steps to take to make composting a success.

With the shift toward exploring more sustainable living modes and people’s interest in growing their own food, Ohio State University tapped Thom deHaas, Lake County’s agriculture and natural resource educator, to talk about composting at Review’s Gwynne Conservation Area.

“Composting is in vogue right now,” deHaas said. “People want to be kind to the environment and live sustainable lives.”

Those who attended the presentation got to see a working compost system and ask questions about starting their own or improving the home systems they already use.

“Composting at first blush looks like a daunting task,” deHaas said, “but my message is that everybody can do something, even if it’s a plastic coffee container on their counter that they can put vegetable scraps and banana peels into.”

Farm Science Review once again offered exciting new ideas and concepts. The educational programs it showcased provided farmers and consumers alike the chance to learn more about each other’s viewpoints and concerns for the future of farming.

For more information on resources and support for farmers and to see the healthy mind platter handout, visit www.gotyourbackohio.org. For free and confidential 24/7 crisis help, text “4hope” to 741741.

For more information on composting, call Thom deHaas, OSU Extension-Lake County, at (440) 350-2269 or email dehaas.2@osu.edu.

Resources are also available locally through OSU Extension-Madison County. Call (740) 852-0975.

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