Farm Progress

Oregon event is a flagship event to Oregon State University's educational programs.

January 17, 2017

2 Min Read
BUILDING A BUSINESS: The Oregon State University Extension Service's small farms program is a popular part of an extensive curriculum of material for agriculture. The flagship event takes place Feb. 18©Purestock/Thinkstock

The annual Oregon Small Farms Conference is set for Feb. 18 at Oregon State University in Corvallis. This is the 16th year for the event, which last year drew more than 1,000 attendees.

Considered a flagship educational offering of the OSU Extension Service's Small Farms Program, the event is geared to a wide range of people associated with agriculture. The program targets farmers, agricultural professionals, food policy advocates, restaurant owners, students and managers of farmers markets. Through the program, participants have learned about subjects such as marketing, disease control, economics and organic certification.

This year's program includes a range of speakers including farmers, OSU faculty and representatives from agribusiness and government agencies. The featured speaker will be Ben Hartman, farmer and author of "The Lean Farm." He will conduct a series of sessions on the concept of eliminating waste and introducing efficiency to an operation.

Commenting on the meeting, Hartman says, "There are two pieces to lean production. On the one hand is waste elimination. On the other hand is the intense focus on creating what customers actually want. You're either adding value or you're contributing to waste."

In addition, the conference will feature 24 workshops, including four in Spanish, on topics that include:

• dryland farming
• organic weed control
• specialty crops
• diversifying with cut flowers
• recordkeeping
• agritourism
• field-to-market essentials
• parasite control in livestock
• insurance

Learn more at the Oregon Small Farms Conference website,

Larger range of courses
The conference is part of a bigger-picture series of online and on-site education course offerings from OSU. The Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management series is intended for people considering the idea of starting a farm, those within their first five years of farming and others who may be considering major changes in their farm business.

Melissa Fery, associate professor at OSU, commented, "Growing Farms is an opportunity for them [students] to dive in deeper and consider all aspects of their farm business and how they fit together. We’ll have discussions about goals, consider production and marketing options in the local region and take a close look at profitability. This course will show the reality of having a small farm business.”

The Growing Farms series includes six online modules, three in-class meetings and a full-day farm tour at three locations. The course can be taken solely online. Though developed with an Oregon focus, the class is relevant to novice farmers across the country.

For dates, locations and registration go to the OSU Professional and Continuing Education website, The $295 cost includes a discount to the 2017 Small Farms Conference set for Feb. 18on the OSU campus.

Source: Oregon State University

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