The Mellinger Farm, located 8 miles northwest of Wooster, OH, is a recent addition to the OSU-OARDC system. The 324 acre farm, established about 200 years ago by Wayne County pioneer Benedict Mellinger, was donated in 2002 by Patricia Miller Quinby and the estate of her late sister, Virginia Miller Reed, both descendants of Mellinger. (Learn more about the land’s history.) The Killbuck Land Trust holds a conservation easement that ensures the Farm will remain in agricultural use. Full ownership of the Mellinger Farm was transferred to OSU in 2009, and an advisory committee led by AMP is planning the farm’s development as a showcase of sustainable agriculture research and practice.
Mellinger Farm is currently in transition to an organic farm. Woodlyn Acres Farm, LLC., of Dalton, OH, is working in cooperation with OSU-OARDC to complete the transition. Chemical fertilizers are being replaced with animal manures, legume crops and cover crops, mined soil amendments such as gypsum, and carefully planned crop rotations to manage fertility. Some fertilizers are applied by sprayer to the crop leaves with fish-based emulsion to aid absorption. Weeds are managed by tillage and planned competition with crops. Crop choices along with their rotation are used to manage pests and diseases.
Current research on small and medium sized farm diversification at Mellinger Farm is being run by the Agroecosystems Management Program at OARDC. Four replicates of five plot treatments are currently installed west of the farmstead. Three years of pasture are in rotation with hulless oats and an oilseed crop such as sunflower or camelina. Half plots of the 3rd year pastures are planted in vegetables and half plots of the 1st and 2nd year pastures are grazed by chickens. Careful accounting of all inputs, outputs and costs will add to understanding of how diversification proceeds and where difficulties in transitioning to diverse agricultural systems may require careful attention.
The Mellinger Farm is envisioned to be a place where:
- Scientists can experiment with, test, and develop technologies that enable production efficiencies relevant to small-scale farming.
- Students and the public can learn about new technology and approaches for small scale farming in a farm setting.
- Entrepreneurial farmers can try new and relatively high-risk ideas in a setting devoted to research hand education, taking the critically important first steps to commercialization.
- Enterprises are profitable enough to enable self—sustaining research, demonstration, and education.