The Farmer Advocates for Conservation project, developed by The Nature Conservancy and funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, aims to reduce nutrients that are leaving northwest Ohio farms, while building up the sustainability of individual farms. Due to the water quality issues that have been seen in Lake Erie and the rivers that feed into it, the project is focused squarely on the Maumee Watershed, and one of its major components is creating peer networks with other farmers who want to learn from each other.

“We think it’s really important and it’s what we heard loud and clear from farmers, that they want to learn from other farmers who are doing the practices that we’re all recommending,” said Stephanie Singer with The Nature Conservancy. “We could talk all day about how great soil health is or how great the best management practices are from a scientific standpoint, but farmers want to hear from other farmers how they’re doing it, how they thought about it and how they’re troubleshooting.”

Training opportunity

The Farmer Advocates for Conservation project is currently taking applications for more farmer advocates to add to their initial 18 farmers who have gone through training. Funding used for this project is also used to pay the farmers to attend the training. Then, the farmers also have the opportunity to be paid to continue to teach other farmers about what they’re doing.

“If you’re a farmer and you’re interested in moving to no-till or maybe thinking about incorporating cover crops on your farm or another best management practice, and you have questions about that practice, we want you to know that there is a farmer advocate that is willing to talk to you about that, another farmer who is doing these practices on their farm and who has signed up to be that person who is there to walk you through it,” Singer said. “With this project we are creating more of a network, getting that information sharing going back and forth and especially for farmers who are getting more creative and advanced with cover crop options, it could get pretty complicated, so we want that knowledge sharing to be not only continued but available to people.”

The next training opportunity will take place Aug. 9 and 10 at Sauder Village in Archbold  and will feature all of the farmer advocates as well as soil health expert Ray Archuleta.

Singer said those interested in attending don’t have to be complete experts on conservation, but if you are a farmer who is excited about building soil health on your farm and you are somewhere in the process of doing that, this project is for you.

To learn more about the project, register for the upcoming training and to meet the farmers already involved, visit

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
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