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FACT's Fund-a-Farmer Project - Call for Applications!

FACT's Fund-a-Farmer Project - Call for Applications!

Posted by at Jan 10, 2014 10:08 AM |

Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) is now accepting grant applications from livestock farmers for its Fund-a-Farmer Project!   The Fund-a-Farmer Project provides grants to qualifying humane farmers who need assistance in improving the welfare of their farm animals. Grants of up to $2,500 will be awarded for projects that (1) help farms transition to pasture-based systems, (2) improve the marketing of their humane products, or (3) more generally enrich the conditions in which farm animals are raised. Working, independent family farmers that raise pigs, broiler chickens, laying hens, dairy cows and/or beef cattle are eligible to apply for any of the three types of grants.  Projects involving goats and sheep are only eligible for marketing grants.  Applications must be submitted online or postmarked by May 1, 2014 for awards made in August 2014. View guidelines and apply online at Contact Lisa at or 773-525-4952 with questions.

FACT will offer two online information sessions on the Fund-a-Farmer grant application process in February. Interested farmers can join us on February 11 @ 1pm CST/ 2pm EST or February 12 @ 6pm CST/ 7pm EST. Farmers can register online for either of these free sessions.

eOrganic Webinar: Late Blight of Tomato and Potato: Recent Occurrences and Management Experiences

Posted by at Dec 14, 2013 01:35 PM |

Join eOrganic for a webinar on late blight of tomato and potato on January 14, 2014 at 2PM Eastern Time (1PM Central, 12PM Mountain, 11AM Pacific Time). The webinar is free and open to the public, and advanced registration is required. A live chat session will follow.

Register now at

PASA Member J. Stephen Cleghorn: An Organic Farmer’s One-Man Fracking Ban

PASA Member J. Stephen Cleghorn: An Organic Farmer’s One-Man Fracking Ban

Posted by at Dec 13, 2013 06:28 PM |

by Caitlin Kawaguchi, reposted from Global Exchange

When J. Stephen Cleghorn realized that Paradise Gardens and Farm, his certified-organic farm in Pennsylvania that sits above the Marcellus Shale formation, was at risk of being “fracked” for shale gas extraction, he knew he had to act. But he did more than just act against fracking when he became the first private property owner in the United States to use a deed easement recognizing the Rights of Nature to ban all activities that would do systemic harm to the ecosystem both above and deep below the surface of his farm.

PASA Members & Chester County Farmers Named Farmers of the Year

Posted by at Dec 13, 2013 06:15 PM |

Congratulations to two PASA Member farmers - Barbara & Thomas Schaer of Meadowset Farm & Apiary, LLC & Pete Flynn of Pete's Produce Farm - for being named Farmers of the Year by the Chester County Agricultural Development Council.

Read more here.

Brian's Latest Blog Post - Letting Nature Lead

Posted by at Dec 04, 2013 08:59 AM |

The past year has been an extraordinary one in the world of sustainable agriculture for many reasons, some of which may not be fully understood for many years to come.  That year (November ’12 thru November ’13) included much attention across the country to labeling of genetically engineered foods, including two high-profile public referendums that went down to defeat in California and the state of Washington. For many, this effort, occurring state-by-state, has become the holy grail of the effort to promote local, sustainable and organic food and farming systems for the future.


PASA Wants to Hear From You! Consider Attending An Upcoming Focus Group

PASA Wants to Hear From You! Consider Attending An Upcoming Focus Group

Posted by at Dec 03, 2013 01:15 PM |

PASA is working to evaluate our communication strategies - our websites, newsletters, blogs, emails and social media - to understand how we can serve our members better and involve new people in our community. As part of this process, we are gathering in-depth input from members and non-members alike to get an accurate picture of our current efforts - what works, what doesn't and what is missing.

PASA would like to invite you (and a friend!) to join us for a focus group discussion!

Please click here to to learn more, select a focus group to attend & RSVP.

Each focus group will last between 90 minutes to a maximum of 2 hours. The discussion will be held in a small group, no more than 8 people, to encourage a lively and productive conversation. The entire process will be extremely informal, think of it as a talk with friends!

All focus group participants will be entered to win a PASA Gift Basket loaded with PASA-themed gear & some local food treats. Refreshments and a light snack will also be offered during the focus group.

Thanks for your interest & participation! If you have any questions, please contact Michele Spencer, PASA's Membership Director (814-349-9856)

Farm Food Donations: The Greenhouse Squash Hunger!

Posted by at Dec 03, 2013 06:45 AM |

A Message From The Greenhouse:

The Greenhouse is at it again!  We are currently planning an event for MLK Day of Service.  Our Second Annual Squash Hunger! event will start with gleaning and/or food pick ups on Saturday January 18, 2014.  We will then gather at the Mechanicsburg Presbyterian Church on January 19 - 20 to turn the food donations into a healthy and delicious soup to donate to the community.

I am writing to find out if you have an interest in partnering with us on this event.

Last year we collected squash, onions, herbs, and carrots from Spiral Path, Joshua Farm and Village Acres Farm.  With that bounty (and a lot of volunteers) we made delicious soup that we donated to the St. Francis of Assisi Soup Kitchen in Harrisburg. Here is a link to an article about last year's event.

We plan to do something similar this year and would love to put some of your overflow vegetables to use if that is a possibility. Thanks for your consideration! 

I can be reached via this email address or by calling 828-230-0451. Please feel free to distribute this request widely.  If you have any suggestions about other growers that might be interested in participating with this or future Greenhouse projects please extend an introduction or share this invitation.  We appreciate the opportunity to expand our reach as an organization and we are grateful for your time and energy!

I hope that you and your families enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving and I look forward to hearing from you.

Ashlee Shelton

The Greenhouse is a community organization dedicated to saving and sharing healthy food. We do this by recovering food that would have otherwise been wasted, preserving it in healthy and creative ways and then distributing it to the community.

NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program Applications Due January 17

Posted by at Dec 02, 2013 12:34 PM |

Popular Farm Bill conservation program seeks producer participation

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2013 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is opening the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for new enrollments for federal fiscal year 2014. Starting today through Jan. 17, 2014, producers interested in participating in the program can submit applications to NRCS.

“Through the Conservation Stewardship Program, farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners are going the extra mile to conserve our nation’s resources,” NRCS Chief Jason Weller said. “Through their conservation actions, they are ensuring that their operations are more productive and sustainable over the long run.”

The CSP is an important Farm Bill conservation program that helps established conservation stewards with taking their level of natural resource management to the next level to improve both their agricultural production and provide valuable conservation benefits such as cleaner and more abundant water, as well as healthier soils and better wildlife habitat.

Weller said today's announcement is another example of USDA's comprehensive focus on promoting environmental conservation and strengthening the rural economy, and it is a reminder that a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is pivotal to continue these efforts. CSP is now in its fifth year and so far, NRCS has partnered with producers to enroll more than 59 million acres across the nation.

The program emphasizes conservation performance — producers earn higher payments for higher performance. In CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, plant resources, animal resources and energy.

Some popular enhancements used by farmers and ranchers include:
• Using new nozzles that reduce the drift of pesticides, lowering input costs and making sure pesticides are used where they are most needed;
• Modifying water facilities to prevent bats and bird species from being trapped;
• Burning patches of land, mimicking prairie fires to enhance wildlife habitat; and
• Rotating feeding areas and monitoring key grazing areas to improve grazing management.

Eligible landowners and operators in all states and territories can enroll in CSP through January 17th to be eligible during the 2014 federal fiscal year. While local NRCS offices accept CSP applications year round, NRCS evaluates applications during announced ranking periods.
To be eligible for this year’s enrollment, producers must have their applications submitted to NRCS by the closing date.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.

Learn more about CSP by visiting the NRCS website or a local NRCS field office.

PASA Member Sunnyside Farm in the News

Posted by at Dec 02, 2013 11:04 AM |

A lot has changed in the last decade for Dru Peters and Homer Walden because of one simple question.

About 12 years ago, the couple was living in Maryland. Peters commuted to a job in New Jersey and Walden worked in the applied physics lab at Johns Hopkins University.

Then one day they paused to ask themselves why.

"Why are we doing this?" Peters said.



PASA Member Oyler Organic Farms in the News

Posted by at Dec 02, 2013 10:59 AM |

The Oyler family has been around Biglerville, PA., for a long time. The family’s fifth and sixth generations are now operating the 360-acre Oyler’s Organic Farms here in the rolling hills of Adams County’s fruit country, and the seventh generation has already made its presence known.


Country Folks Grower Coverage of Our Recent Grains Field Day

Country Folks Grower Coverage of Our Recent Grains Field Day

Posted by at Nov 22, 2013 10:03 AM |

Growing Ancient Grains: Value-Added Production

by Tamara Scully
The Organic Growers’ Research and Sharing Information Network (OGRIN), in conjunction with the Northeast Organic Farmers Association-NY, (NOFA-NY) and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), held a recent workshop on growing and processing grains. Farmer Elizabeth Dyck, founder and coordinator of OGRIN, addressed several dozen attendees interested in small scale grain production, and grain processing opportunities.


Brian's Latest Blog Post - What's In a Farm?

Posted by at Nov 20, 2013 10:08 AM |

Back when the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) first started to move through Congress in 2009, none of us really anticipated that we’d be fighting over four years later to preserve the very idea of a “farm” as defined in the new law.


PASA Member Sara Runkle & Great Bend Farm in the News

Posted by at Nov 08, 2013 11:05 AM |

Read the full Reading article regarding PASA member Sara Runkle.

Brian's Latest Blog Post - There's Something Happening Here

Posted by at Nov 01, 2013 05:33 AM |

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) comes at a time when public interest in knowing more about where and how our food is raised is greatly accelerating.  With that trend, a plethora of new organizations and community-driven efforts aimed at encouraging healthier, locally grown food is also coming into prominence. READ THE FULL BLOG POST HERE.

PASA Business Member - Kreamer Feed Inc / Nature's Best Organic Feeds Opens New Organic Mill

Posted by at Oct 28, 2013 09:44 AM |

The company celebrated its 66th anniversary last week and also opened a new organic grain mill. Read the full article here.

Brian's Latest Blog Post - Consider the Bees of the Field

Posted by at Oct 22, 2013 06:42 AM |

{Blogger’s note: This post completed with the very welcome assistance of my colleague Jo Ann Baumgartner, director of the Wild Farm Alliance located in Watsonville, California. Jo Ann can be reached at}

I was honored to be asked this year to address the annual conference of the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) held in early August in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  With well over 500 professional beekeepers and bee scientists present, it was also a tremendous opportunity for me to learn something about a topic with which I had very little previous experience. I was both amazed and a bit alarmed with what I learned.


Food Safety Webinar Recording Now Available

Food Safety Webinar Recording Now Available

Posted by at Oct 22, 2013 05:55 AM |

Weren't able to attend the webinar hosted by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) on October 10th?

The recording is now available for viewing here.

The Time is Now to Take Action & Comment on the Proposed Food Safety (FSMA) Rules

The Time is Now to Take Action & Comment on the Proposed Food Safety (FSMA) Rules

Posted by at Oct 16, 2013 11:10 AM |

A message from PASA's Executive Director, Brian Snyder:

You've been hearing about this from us for almost 10 months now, but THE TIME IS NOW TO TAKE ACTION AND COMMENT ON THE PROPOSED FOOD SAFETY (FSMA) RULES by the November 15 deadline. Keep in mind it is not likely another chance to affect these regulations this deeply will come around in our is indeed critical that you express yourself now!

A very strong coalition of sustainable and organic farming leaders, working through the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), has been pouring through the thousands of pages provided by FDA to understand what's going on, and while no one fully understands, our team as a whole has the most thorough knowledge of the proposed rules and implications that I've seen out there anywhere.

The most significant issues needing attention have been boiled down for you - particularly the farmers - so that you can choose among them for comment, or maybe work down the list and do them in several pieces over the remaining time. You can file comments as often as you wish (by November 15), but keep in mind that issues of relevance to both the Produce and Preventive Controls rules (as with exemptions) must be filed in both places to be considered separately.

For your convenience, NSAC has also developed templates for both farmers and consumers to follow, at least to get you started.  These, and several other helpful documents, are available on our website. There is also a petition to sign, sponsored jointly by NSAC and Farm Aid - we suggest that everyone do that first, and then proceed to the issues page and templates to make more meaningful comments.  It is particularly important that farmers weigh in as thoroughly as you are able, since yours are the voices and stories that will carry the most weight.

In addition to all of the above resources, I also want to draw your attention back to the Write to Farm blog I started earlier this year to address food safety and other issues.  There are several posts there of relevance, including the most recent entitled FDA's Culture of Fear Threatens Food Safety.  Please consider discussing this issue of institutional culture as part of your comment introduction or summary, as it's probably the most important matter not otherwise covered in the actual written rules.  Other particularly helpful posts would be the following:

The Food Safety Saga and Why It Matters

Comments to FSMA Listening Session

Sustainable Food Safety

Safety Rules Cloud Beginning Farmers' Futures

Strawberries, Raspberries and Bagged Salads

Moment of Truth for Farmers with Food Safety

FSMA Rules Unfair to Farmers, Bad for Public Health

I can't emphasize enough the importance of not only taking action yourselves, but also getting this email, the information on the PASA and NSAC websites, the Write to Farm blog, the comment templates, and at very least the petition, in front of your neighbors, friends, colleagues, customers and other potentially interested parties, while there's still time to make a difference. If you use Facebook or Twitter, we suggest using the hash tag #fixFSMA as well.

We need a flood of concern at FDA headquarters to make this point, that when it comes to food safety, local and sustainable food systems are part of the solution, not the problem!

Thanks, and feel free to be in touch with questions

Brian Snyder, Executive Director

PASA Board of Directions Election Results

Posted by at Oct 14, 2013 01:17 PM |

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) recently held an election to fill five seats on our Board of Directors.

Our newly elected board members are: Andy Andrews, Scott Case, Barbara Gerlach, Jamie Moore (incumbent) and Dave Mortensen (incumbent). Brief biographies for each board member are included below.

Andy Andrews - Montgomery County
Andy is the Farm Director at Pennypack Farm in Horsham, PA. Pennypack is a nonprofit farm and education center that focuses on growing produce for its 500-member CSA and provides education on farming, gardening, and food preparation to the community. Since joining Pennypack in 2005, Andy manages farm operations pertaining to crop and animal production, supervises staff, and oversees the agricultural budget.

Scott Case - Centre County
Scott operates Patchwork Farm and Greenhouse in Aaronsburg, PA. Scott and his wife, Eda, have been running the farm for 22 years and are the second generation of Eda's family to do so. One hundred percent of their income comes from their farming operations. The farm operates a retail greenhouse that produces bedding plants, perennials, and organic vegetable transplants in the spring. During the summer and fall, production focuses on organic vegetables and selling through farmers markets and a local restaurant.

Barbara Gerlach - Bradford County
Barbara, along with her husband Charlie, own and operate Berry Fields Farm in New Albany, PA. The farm is a diversified, organic operation with vegetables, livestock and maple syrup. The marketing for their farm is unique, due in part to the remote location, and allows the focus to be on customers experiencing the farm through farm stays, on-farm dinners and the opportunity to take farm products home with them.  

Jamie Moore (incumbent) - Allegheny County
In 2000, Jamie Moore began his career with Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, a company that has 76 restaurants, 46 healthcare accounts and 44 college and business dining accounts throughout PA, WV, OH, MD, MI and NY. Jamie was instrumental in the development of Eat'n Park's local purchasing program called FarmSource. This program ensures 20% of all site's food supply is purchased in and around their communities.

Dave Mortensen (incumbent) - Centre County
Dave has been on the faculty at Penn State University since 2001. His research and teaching focuses on ecologically-informed agriculture and he's an active member of the transitions to organic team and sustainable agriculture working group. Dave's ecologically-based research has been highlighted in international journals, Congressional testimony and his selection to head up several national competitive grants programs in Washington D.C.

Brian's Latest Blog Post - FDA’s Culture of Fear Threatens Food Safety

Posted by at Oct 14, 2013 06:25 AM |

You really have to hand it to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  They have accomplished a feat in the last 10 months that Secretary Tom Vilsack and his United States Department of Agriculture have not been able to do after five long years of trying . . . uniting America’s farmers of all stripes to stand up for each other and speak with one voice.


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