agriculture

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.

ASD is a lifelong condition that affects one in 54 people. Symptoms vary but can include trouble communicating, repeated rocking, and strong reactions to sounds, scents, or tastes. It’s common for an autism diagnosis to include other disorders, such as epilepsy, obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. Depending on the severity of someone’s symptoms, it can be difficult to hold a conversation, maintain a friendship, or keep a job. 

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. 

Knapke family

Online review

On any given day, 360,000 chicks roam the high-tech henhouse at Meiring Poultry Farm in Fort Recovery.

The four-story henhouse uses an elaborate lighting system that Knapke can control from his smartphone to simulate dawn and dusk. The system controls individual lights within the building, creating total blackness to bright-as-daylight and back again so the chicks become adjusted to the “natural” dawn and rising of the sun to a sunset that draws them into the roosting module where they nest for the night.

Jim and Amy Duxbury of Lavender Trails

Purple reign

Lavender has been treasured for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, it was used in mummification; in medieval France, to perfume the air and ward off infection; and in 16th-century England, it was cherished by monarchs and mentioned by Shakespeare.

Lavender Trails

The idea for a lavender farm had been rattling around in the minds of Jim and Amy Duxbury — both Orrville high school teachers, of science and English, respectively — for years. In 2018, they leased a 4-acre “brownfield” (a former industrial site) that had been a concrete dumping ground, surrounded by facilities that produced pet food, packaging, and metal fabrication. 

Roger Trump with airplane

Crop duster

Roger Trump, owner of Trump Aviation Inc. in rural Darke County, expects to be busy this year doing his part to support agriculture from high above farm fields.

“Some people mistakenly think flying across the sky and then swooping down over fields to deliver the payload is romantic or glamorous,” he says. “It’s grueling work, and the most important part is bringing the plane home in one piece. There is never an end to routine maintenance.”

Farm safety demonstration

Safety mission

While watching RFD-TV one night, Russ Beckner saw a segment that showed a California mom driving a tractor around with her two young kids in the tractor bucket.

When he retired from P&G, that safety mindset carried over as he started helping his son, Jason, on Jason’s farm. People tend to associate farms with peaceful fields, fresh air, and contented cows, but as all farmers know, agriculture can be a dangerous way to make a living — and a farm is a dangerous place to live.

Between eight and 12 people, on average, are killed on farms every year in Ohio. Thousands more sustain injuries. “I became aware of farm injuries locally, statewide, and nationally, and I thought we could make a difference,” Russ says.