Early Friday morning before dawn, in brisk February air on the Wood Farm in Fort Wayne, Indiana, farmhands Dom and Jack arrived at the farm for their workday: first to deliver a load of organic hay to a customer and then returning to attend to chores on the farm.
At the same early hour, Dennis Wood, farmhand Cathy Bartz, and fellow farmer from down the road at Dick's Organics, Rick Ritter, climbed into a farm pickup truck and turned the wheel toward Dayton, Ohio. It was the weekend for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Conference, and Dennis Wood of Wood Farms was asked to present a workshop at the enormous event in Dayton's conference center for the second year running. His presentation to a capacity crowd was entitled, "Marketing Farm-to-Table Beef," something Wood Farms knows a thing or two about.
In addition to Dennis' humoring and educating during his presentation about the challenges and successes of marketing beef, he also explained how the farm's beef production complements his organic hay operation. The Wood Farms contingent also hit the floor of the large organic farming trade show, and took in other workshop presentations, including one in which Chef Steven Williams, a James Beard chef, of Bouquet Restaurant in Covington, Kentucky, spoke. Chef Williams shed light on what he and other chefs of Farm-to-Table restaurants look for when buying directly from farmers.
Ironically, there was a second conference booked into the Dayton Convention Center and running concurrently with the Organic Farming one. Are you ready? It was the 2017 Ohio Commercial Pesticide Applicator Recertification Conference. I couldn't make this stuff up.
So winter time on the Wood Farm includes plenty of education time, networking with other farmers and those who serve them, as well as camaraderie. Farm tasks back home meant the contingent couldn't stay at the Conference through the weekend. By 5:00, everyone climbed back into the truck for the journey home through Ohio and Indiana farm country. A spectacular winter sunset was our reward.
The slideshow below takes you through the day. Scrolling over the images displays captions.