The “Connections: Agriculture, Conservation, and Community” agricultural tour kicked off its three-day trip around Northwest Ohio on Tuesday.
The day started at the Logan Soil and Water District Office where participants met to greet each other and have a bite to eat before loading the charter bus. After boarding, district conservationist Bob Stoll welcomed and briefed passengers on what the day had in store for them.
The guests were treated to a quick stop at Hurley Farms shortly after leaving to look at a new barn under construction. The building is being made from ash trees owned and harvested by the family.
Canal Junction Natural Meats and Farmstead Cheese was the next visit of the day. The farm (pictured) is owned by Ralph and Scheila Schlatter and specializes in grass-fed meats and homemade cheeses. The unique farm milks close to 100 cows and uses the milk to supply their small cheese manufacturing.
The farm is distinct in its complete pasture feeding of its cattle and their involvement in other areas like chicken and swine. Canal Junction sells their cheese and grass-fed meat in various farmers markets as well as a store on their homestead.
Owner Ralph Schlatter said in soil tests their land proves to have higher organic content, which is thought to be from the conservation practices they have used.
The tour then moved onto Forrest Woods Nature Preserve. Forrest Woods Nature Preserve is made up of 292 acres and is considered one of the most important conservation sites in the Great Lakes Region.
A conservationist from the Black Swamp Conservancy gave the group a tour of the area as the bus drove around it.
Forrest Woods is home to at least 32 rare, threatened, and endangered species. It is one of the few sites the Cuspidate Dodder, a carnivorous plant native to Ohio, can be found.
The next stop on the agenda was the historic Sauder Village in Archbold. Sauder Village is a reenactment town made to emulate daily rural life in the 19th century. The village uses actors to portray an 1800s town while educating visitors. Sauder Village is also home to many craftsmen in areas ranging from glass blowing to blacksmithing.
The group then moved onto supper that was followed by another set of unique agricultural presentations.
Dan Litchfield, Senior Project Developer for IBERDROLA Renewables, spoke about the new Blue Creek Wind Farm. The wind farm consists of 152 wind turbines spread out over 80 square miles. Litchfield explained the efficiency and cleanliness of wind energy undoubtedly beats other kinds of energy plants throughout Ohio.
Listen to Dan Litchfield comment on wind turbines in Ohio.
The turbines are 100 meters tall, and each produce 2,700 horsepower. The towers use over 97 miles of underground wiring and can power about 75,000 homes.
IBERDROLA Renewables is the #1 wind energy operator worldwide.
Sarah Brokamp, Advancement Coordinator for the Black Swamp Conservancy, was the final speaker of the day. Brokamp outlined the purpose of the Black Swamp Conservancy and then spoke in further detail about conservation easements.
Conservation easements are perpetual agreements landowners sign with the conservancy to establish proper conservation techniques and a positive habitat for wildlife. These easements do not prohibit agricultural use of the land, but do ensure proper conservation practices are being followed.
The first day of the “Connections: Agriculture, Conservation, and Community” Ohio Education Ag Tour was noted as a success. Participants are in store for two more days of agricultural and conservation education.