agriculture

Around 200 elk are home on the range at Dave Flory’s Quiet Harmony Ranch in the rolling Preble County hills.

Antler ag

Around 200 elk are home on the range at Dave Flory’s Quiet Harmony Ranch in the rolling Preble County hills. 

After viewing an informational movie, visitors can drive through the elk park to view the statuesque animals lounging in pastures and paddocks or opt for the 50-minute Outback Encounter, which affords a closer look and commentary. The inquisitive elk often approach fences for a peek at visitors or simply watch from their open shelters.

Hamid Ahmed's biodome project occupies a small space at Mezzacello (photo courtesy of Mezzacello).

Future farm

A stroll through this Ohio farm leads you past a lovely formal garden, a koi pond, and two fountains before you reach the medicinal, culinary, and potager gardens.

Ten years ago, the property was an abandoned 1868 Italianate house and two adjacent overgrown lots. After much planning, digging, and planting, Mezzacello now produces high-quality, nutritious food and serves as a learning lab where Bruner and local students test ideas. The name Mezzacello (“little Monticello”) pays homage to another lifelong innovator: Thomas Jefferson, and his agricultural experiments at his iconic Virginia estate.

Cathann Kress with members of OSU CFAES.

Pioneer in ag

Cathann Kress’ introduction to American life and American agriculture didn’t happen until she was well into her teenage years. Before then, her family lived wherever her parents’ Air Force careers took them — mainly the Middle East and Brazil.

Kress took to farm life right away after she moved to Iowa. She enjoyed baling hay and all the chores required for raising hogs, sheep, corn, and soybeans. Like many farm kids, she belonged to 4-H, where she showed sheep and did public speaking. 

Rick Moore with his flock.

Sheep-shape

Ohio, believe it or not, is the largest wool-producing state east of the Mississippi River. Sheep farms here come in all sizes, from larger commercial operations to small boutique plots. 

Multigenerational

Rick Moore is the seventh generation in his family to raise sheep at Cottage Hill Farm near Cadiz in Harrison County. The farm began as a land grant signed by James Madison in 1816. 

Moore’s son Steven and his father, Stanley — still active at 88 — farm with him. The foundation of Moore’s flock is 250 purebred Merino ewes. In alternating years, some are bred to purebred Merino rams and continue the line of high-quality wool production, while others are crossed with other breeds to produce lambs for meat.

In his signature bib overalls and white shirt, Lee Jones slices open an heirloom tomato for customer Mara Ghafari.

Tiny, tasty, healthy

The specialty crops on Lee Jones’ 350-acre farm are myriad: beets, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, tomatillos, honey, potatoes, corn, beans, squash, edible flower blossoms — the list numbers into the hundreds. 

The pandemic, however, completely changed his business model. “We made a lot of lemonade last year trying to swing for base hits,” Jones says. “We had to, because we were desperate to keep the farm going and, most importantly, keep our team safe, fed, and employed.”

Jones says he’s proud to have kept 136 families gainfully employed through the pandemic. His family already lost one farm in the 1980s after a devastating hailstorm finished off what the 1980s American farm crisis had already begun, and so he was determined to make it work. 

He did it in ingenious fashion.

Jennifer Osterholdt

Fresh face

From an early age, Jennifer Osterholdt recognized the importance of farming and agriculture. She lived on a livestock and crop farm and participated in 4-H, where she learned to cook. 

Along the way, Osterholdt realized that there was a lack of both understanding and positive information available about farming and agriculture. So she decided to start a blog dedicated to her life on the farm. 

Eventually, she began sharing recipes, which she says afforded her the opportunity not only to share her love of cooking with the world, but also to offer that positive information about farming and agriculture. 

Buckeyeman Larry Lokai

Superfan

Between Ohio State University football and agriculture education, Urbana resident Larry Lokai has been wholeheartedly living his passion for 23 years.

Now, as football season approaches, he’s ready to go all-in and plans to be there once again — a favorite of both fans and television cameras at the games. 

Along with the hair and face paint, Lokai’s Buckeyeman is best known for handing out buckeyes, the fruit of the Ohio buckeye tree. As he’s expanded the role, he says he’s handed out more than 1.8 million of them.

Residents of Safe Haven Farms tend to a variety of seasonal tasks that rely on repetition and routine.

Serene acres

Tucked away in the western part of the state is an idyllic 60-acre farm, complete with chickens, horses, alpacas, and a miniature horse named Jack. The human residents here — like all farmers — tend to a wide variety of daily and seasonal tasks.

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Wooly Pig Farm Brewery

Wooly Pig Farm Brewery

On Fridays, Wooly Pig Farm Brewery officially opens at 3 p.m., but by 2:30, friends and neighbors are already sitting down at the natural-edge wooden tables that brewmaster Kevin Ely and his family made from a prodigious el

When the farm was for sale in 2014, Jael was finishing her Ph.D. in biology at the University of Utah, and Kevin was the brewmaster and production manager at Salt Lake City’s Uinta Brewing Company. Kevin, who has a brewing science degree from the University of California–Davis, often traveled to Bavaria to obtain equipment for Uinta. While there, he also explored historic farm and village breweries in northern Bavaria’s Franconia region. Photos of Franconia that Kevin sent to Jael reminded her of Coshocton County, but the wooly pigs in the photos really caught her eye.

Tom Graham with pigs

YouTube sensations

The sign posted outside the biosecure barn where Tom Graham raises some 2,400 pigs at a time says “NO ENTRY.” Nonetheless, Graham has given tours of his wean-to-finish operation at Oaklawn Farm to hundreds of children in grades K–12. How does he do it?

“We used to bring in busloads of kids, but after we got a biosecure barn, there wasn’t much they could see,” says Graham. He built the facility in 2004 in order to raise gilts and barrows on a contractual basis for Johnstown-based Heimerl Farms. The arrangement not only frees Graham from worries about market fluctuations but also furnishes income that has helped his close-knit family remain on their farm. “I always tell people my wife teaches at Zanesville High School so I can keep farming,” he says with a grin.