Field Days

Meet up with other farmers and agricultural professionals on working farms to see organic systems in action! Share your successes and your challenges with peers and connect with useful resource providers. OAK's Field Days are on-farm and virtual learning opportunities offered monthly for farmers, ag professionals and local food system advocates. OAK welcomes farmers from all types and scales of farms - large and small scale, organic and conventional, urban and rural. Keep up-to-date with the details of every field day - subscribe to our Field Notes newsletter. View previous OAK virtual events on our OAK YouTube page for recordings, snapshots and lessons learned from host farmers. Read 2022 Field Day summariesHave suggestions for future farms, practices or topics to highlight? Let OAK know

 

Developing a Farm Food Safety Plan - Stop Running the Risk!

Virtual Events on Zoom: March 21, 2023, 10-11am ET and March 28, 2023, 6-7:30pm ET

As most produce farmers and handlers are aware, food safety is a major concern in today’s market for fruits and vegetables. No specialty crop farmer wants their customers to be among the statistics for foodborne illness. Protecting your customers requires a commitment to understanding food safety risks in your operation, and to implementing effective practices to control those risks. Foodborne illness outbreaks also disrupt markets at the local, regional and national levels. In an attempt to minimize this threat, more and more produce buyers are requiring proof that their farmer-suppliers are implementing effective food safety programs all the way to the farm level.

 

Join this two-part virtual workshop to learn the basics of developing a farm food safety plan. In the first session, we will learn the content and structure of a farm food safety plan from Bryan Brady (UK's Food Connection). This will include common policies, standard operating procedures (SOPs), risk assessments, recordkeeping, and corrective actions. Kentucky farmers Maggie Dungan (Salad Days Farm) and Ford Waterstrat (Sustainable Harvest Farm) will share their experiences and recommendations based on developing and implementing their food safety plans. For the second session, Bryan will provide food safety plan templates and log sheets and explore how they can be designed to fit your unique operation in order to reduce risks, minimize costs, and improve efficiency. Morgan Waldner and Tyler Goodlett of the KDA's Produce Safety Program will join both sessions to share information on what your farm needs to do to be in compliance, including information on inspections, exemptions, training, and resources.

 

This workshop is intended for any specialty crop (fruits & veggies) producers - this may include

  • Farmers who want to reduce their customers' risks of foodborne illness;
  • Farmers interested in getting their fresh produce into food service, institutional, and retail markets;
  • Farmers who have completed FSMA food safety training and are actively considering a third party food safety certification such as GAP;
  • Farmers interested in learning from other farmers and food safety experts.

Registration is required and covers both virtual events. The first session will be recorded and shared with anyone who registers; the second session is intended as a time you dedicate to developing your own farm food safety plan with expert assistance and will, therefore, not be recorded. Funding for this project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant AM200100XXXXG144. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

 
Click Here to View Resources from March 2023 Field Day

 

 

Growing Under Cover on a Market Vegetable Farm

Pavel's Garden -- Crestwood, KY -- April 13, 2023, 1-4 pm ET

Pavel’s Garden is a 4-acre diversified market farm and CSA in Crestwood, managed by Pavel and Katie Ovechkin. Using cover crops and natural mulches, minimal tillage, crop rotations, intercropping, and biodynamic methods, they grow a broad diversity of plants to ensure a thriving ecosystem in their soil and an abundant offering for their customers. On leased land in Oldham County, their 1.5-acre market garden uses 6 caterpillar tunnels and a high tunnel for year-round crop production and weather protection.

 

At this OAK Field Day, Pavel and Katie will highlight what they have learned about growing under cover in 15 years of farming (10 years at current location), including:

 

  • Low-cost caterpillar tunnel structures and design modifications
  • Challenges, benefits, and uses of caterpillar tunnels
  • Bed preparation and soil fertility
  • Intercropping, rotations, and crop selection
  • Trellising systems and tools
  • Pest and disease pressures and strategies

Any interested farmer or allied professional is encouraged to join the walk around Pavel’s Garden with Pavel and Krista Jacobsen, agroecologist and sustainable agriculture professor from the University of Kentucky.

Registration is required. Funding for this Field Day was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's (KDA) Office of Agricultural Marketing and Product Promotion through a Specialty Crop Block Grant.

 

Click Here to View  Resources from April Field Day at Pavels Garden

 

Pastured Livestock for Soil Health 

Faul Family Riverside Farm -- Sulphur, KY -- May 9, 2023, 1-4pm ET

 

The focus of Faul Family Riverside Farm in Henry County has always been on regenerating their farm through sustainable practices, using animals to rejuvenate their pastures and increase their soil fertility for land, livestock, and human health. Andre Faul and his family have used these soil-forward approaches for their pastured livestock operation since starting their farm in 2017. After a couple of years scaling up the diversity and number of their animals, they’ve settled into their current work of refining their systems and markets and promoting their on-farm events.  

  

Join this OAK Field Day to learn about the Faul family’s regenerative practices and livestock infrastructure, including:

 

  • Broiler chickens and turkeys, from brooder to pasture

  • Heritage-breed pastured pigs

  • Pasture-raised sheep and cows

Beyond the grass-based livestock, Andre will also share his saltwater shrimp operation and farm-based events such as public tours, farm-to-fork dinners, and hosting private events in their on-farm event barn. This Field Day is geared towards interested and aspiring livestock farmers and allied professionals and will include walking and a hay wagon ride to explore the Farm. 

 

Click Here to View  Resources from May Field Day at Faul Family Riverside Farm

 

 

Integrating Sustainability in a Solar Farmhouse and Organic Market Garden

Cedar Ring Greens -- Frankfort, KY -- June 20 2023, 1-4pm ET

For nearly two decades, Cedar Ring Greens farm in Frankfort has operated with a commitment to sustainability, which includes improving the health of the land, encouraging biodiversity, working for food justice, and powering their home and farm with the sun. Join this OAK Field Day to tour the home and market gardens of Cedar Ring Greens with Andy McDonald and Mehera Baugher. 

 

Andy will share their use of solar energy on the farm, along with their barn, packing shed, site-built walk-in cooler, and two small greenhouses they designed. He’ll also walk participants through sustainable components of the on-farm home that he and Connie Lemley renovated using passive solar design, solar electric and solar hot water, a composting toilet and greywater systems. Mehera will share the farm’s certified organic market gardens, highlighting the minimal till systems of bed prep, seeding and harvesting used in their diverse vegetable production; covered crop protection with row covers and tunnels; cover cropping in rotations for soil health; and hedgerows for pollinator biodiversity.

 

Any interested farmer or allied professional is encouraged to join the walk around Cedar Ring Greens; registration is required, and participation is limited to 25 people.

 

Funding for this Field Day was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's (KDA) Office of Agricultural Marketing and Product Promotion through a Specialty Crop Block Grant.

 

 

Click Here to View Resources from June 2023 Field Day

 

 

Keeping our Balance: Diversified Farming with Steep Hills and Off-Farm Jobs

Hallow Springs Farm -- Mt. Vernon, KY -- July 6, 2023, 9am-12pm ET

Starting a farm business can seem like an uphill climb when balancing time between family, off-farm jobs, and the many hats that farmers wear to get product to customers. When the farm also includes high steep hillsides, shallow topsoil, and rocky terrain, the climb becomes a challenge! Focusing on their local community, driven by strong values, and working hard with the limited time and resources they do have allows Holly and James Robinson to keep their farm business growing and thriving after nearly a decade on Hallow Springs Farm. Building their soil, infrastructure, customer base, and skills along the way, these Rockcastle County co-farmers steward a diversified farm that currently includes:

* Half-acre of vegetable and herb production

* A 30’ x 96’ high tunnel (first season!)

* A consistent, healthy crop of Nugget and Chinook hops

* DIY greenhouse made from repurposed materials

* Herd of 20 Angus and Hereford cattle in rotational pastures

* Herd of mixed milk and meat goats bred for resistance to parasites and size for marketing

* Value-added production of goat’s milk soap, breads, jams and jellies

Using organic practices, natural mulches, and cover crops, they continue to rebuild the shallow soils depleted from years of tobacco farming and logging. Integrating pasture rotations through six sections of their 90 acres of grazing lands, they're restoring the fertility and vitality to their hillsides.

 

Join the conversation with Holly and James to see and hear how they’re bringing their family farm back to life! They will also share their success in bringing a permanent farmers market structure to Rockcastle County and Holly’s experiences working as an Organic Inspector.

This Field Day is open to any interested farmer, aspiring farmer or agriculture professional. Registration is required. Funding for this Field Day is made possible by Grow Appalachia and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

 

Click Here to View Resources from July 2023 Field Day
 

 

 

Restoring the Family Farm with Organic Production

Coleman Crest Farm -- Lexington, KY -- July 25, 2023, 9am-12pm ET

Coleman Crest Farm

 Jim Coleman was raised in Fayette County on his family’s farm, Coleman Crest, which was originally purchased by his great grandfather in 1888 after he and his family had tilled the farm under enslavement. Today, Jim is the 4th generation owner of Coleman Crest Farm. In 2020, Jim began the work of restoring Coleman Crest Farm with three primary functions: achieving certified organic crop production, serving as an incubator farm for aspiring farmers and welcoming visitors as an agritourism site.

 

This OAK Farmer Field Day will highlight:

 

  • Coleman Crest Farm’s 3 acres of certified organic production of vegetables and flowers;
  • Jim’s marketing strategies, serving independent grocers, restaurants, golf venues and catering firms in the Lexington market;
  • The Farm’s use of specialized equipment and tools to reduce operating costs and improve production yields, including a Kubota tractor, bed maker, Ferris Farm Polyplanter, deep soiler, plastic mulch and fabric row cover;
  • The all-natural water well and irrigation system;
  • The Farm’s focus on pollinator habitats (including Monarch waystations), groundwater protection and land stewardship:
  • The role and vision of local farms in community health and education;
  • Jim’s path as an African American farmer into certified organic production.

This Field Day is open to any interested farmer, aspiring farmer or agriculture professional. Registration is required. Funding for this Field Day is made possible by Grow Appalachia and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

 

Click Here to View Resources from July 2023 Field Day

 

 

 

Scaling Up While Lessening the Work: Farmer Collaborations and Efficiencies

Flourishing Herbs Farm -- Scottsville, KY -- September 5, 2023, 1-4pm CENTRAL

After a dozen years growing Flourishing Herbs Farm into a diverse market farm business, Jackie and Larry Berry have settled into systems, tools, and crops that work well for their farming style and help them meet their customers’ needs at multiple farmers markets and a 30-member CSA. Using no-till biointensive growing practices and season extension, they grow nearly 100 different vegetable, herb, and flower crops year-round on their certified organic farm in Allen County.  The Berrys have continually scaled up their markets and growing space by

  • Collaborating with other local farmers to expand their product offerings,

  • Implementing efficiencies into their operations as much as possible,

  • Hiring an experienced grower to accelerate their progress.

Join this OAK field day to visit the Flourishing Herbs’ high tunnels and caterpillar tunnel, open-field crops, drying shed, and greenhouse. We’ll also hear more about collaborative farmer relationships from the Berrys and from Maxwell Farrar and Davida Flowers of Majestic Greens Farm, who have partnered with the Berrys for 5 years via the Growing Together Farm Share.

Funding for this Field Day was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's (KDA) Office of Agricultural Marketing and Product Promotion through a Specialty Crop Block Grant.

 
Click Here to View Resources from September 2023 Field Day

 

CSA Production, Packing and Planning

Rains and Sun Hilltop Farm -- Independence, KY -- September 19, 2023, 1-4pm ET

Anna Raines and her family started Rains and Sun Hilltop Farm in Independence, KY, in 2013 - a 13-acre certified organic farm growing food for their community through two local farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. The Rains and Sun crew delivers weekly CSA shares to 100 local residents, so their crop planning starts with the commitment to providing those CSA customers with fresh-picked, seasonal vegetables.

 

Join this OAK Farmer Field Day to learn Anna’s strategies for satisfying customer needs while building farm systems of efficiency, profitability and environmental stewardship. We’ll visit Rains and Sun’s two acres of produce, tended by Anna and her 4-person (mostly part-time) team with minimal-till practices, broad crop diversity, intentional crop rotations and cover crop use, and an array of tunnels for covered production. Anna will also share her new packshed designed for efficient CSA packing and produce storage.

 

Any interested farmer or allied professional is encouraged this field day: registration is required. Funding for this project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant AM200100XXXXG144. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

 

Click Here to View Resources from September 2023 Field Day