Workshop promotes preparedness, emergency management

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Operators of agritourism ventures will have the opportunity to learn how to prepare for and handle emergencies, and minimize risks that might arise when the public is invited onto farms, during an Ohio State University Extension workshop and tour.

The agritourism workshop and tour are designed for farmers, producers, business owners and operators of farm markets, pick-your-own operations, wineries or festivals. It will be Aug. 15, 1-4 p.m. at the Leeds Family Farm, 8734 Marysville Road, Ostrander.

With 80 acres, Leeds Farm is one of Ohio's most successful agritourism farms and has offered tourism for more than 20 years, said Julie Fox, direct marketing specialist for OSU Extension.

The tour, which is free and open to the public, will focus on strategies for farm markets and agritourism operations to assess and minimize risks that may arise when the public is invited onto the farm or agritourism venue.

"As you prepare fun experiences for your farm, you also need to prepare for potential emergencies, such as fire, natural disasters, injuries or other disruptions," Fox said. "This workshop and tour will allow participants to see how an emergency management plan can help them deal with the 'unthinkable' if it ever happens when visitors are on their farm. People in agritourism have to be prepared for the best and the worst of times."

The workshop and tour are sponsored by the Sustainable Agriculture Team, which will host a total of four tours this summer on urban agriculture, agritourism, farming research and farmers markets as part of the 2012 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.

The series is a unique opportunity for growers and other interested people to experience what alternative production systems are all about from farmers themselves, said Alan Sundermeier, an OSU Extension educator who is also a member of the Sustainable Agriculture Team.

Organic and ecological farms are the focus of the tour, he said, noting that the main goal of the series is sharing and updating information among growers and people trying to promote sustainability and move the issues forward throughout Ohio.

"We try to highlight farmer-friendly research and education," Sundermeier said. "Sometimes the best way to learn is to see it in action or experience it in person. Not everything can be learned in a classroom; sometimes you need to go to the site to understand the entire farm system."

The Sustainable Agriculture Team works to get people to consider the economy, the environment and social structure when farming, he said.

Complete details and a list of all 23 tours in the series can be downloaded at http://www.oeffa.us/oeffa/pdfs/farmtour2012.pdf

To register for the Leeds Farm tour, contact Charissa McGlothin at 740-289-2071, ext. 123, or e-mail mcglothin.4@osu.edu. The deadline to register is Aug. 14.



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