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USDA Farm to School Grants - Deadline April 30

Posted by at Apr 02, 2014 11:55 AM |

FY’15 USDA Farm to School Grants request for applications was released earlier this month- applications are due April 30th.

1. Planning grants are intended for school districts or schools just starting to incorporate farm to school program elements into their operations.
2. Implementation grants are intended for school districts or schools to help scale or further develop existing farm to school initiatives.
3. Support Service grants are intended for state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers or groups of agricultural producers, and non-profit entities working with school districts or schools to further develop existing farm to school initiatives and to provide broad reaching support services to farm to school initiatives.

Proposals for planning, implementation, and support service grants are due at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, April 30, 2014.
A 25% cash or in-kind match of the total project cost is required.

Tegan Hagy

Farm to School Program Specialist
Mid Atlantic Regional Office (MARO)
USDA Food and Nutrition Service
(609) 259 5071

Intern Guide for Producers

Posted by at Apr 01, 2014 02:46 PM |

from The Capital Resource Conservation & Development Council

For Immediate Release

For More Information Contact: Cheryl Burns, 717.241.4361

Intern Guide for Producers

Available online at

(Carlisle, PA) – More farms are utilizing interns and apprentices than ever before, not only to satisfy farm labor requirements but to share important agricultural knowledge. These educational opportunities are in demand and when well planned to incorporate hands-on education they can be mutually beneficial, yet without standardized requirements it can be difficult for farm businesses to know if they meet the legal and educational requirements for these positions. Capital RC&D developed the “Guide to Internships and Employment for Pennsylvania Farms” in response to this need and to help reduce the confusion experienced by both farmers and employees participating in internship and apprenticeship opportunities. 

The “Guide to Internships and Employment for Pennsylvania Farms” surveys legal requirements   and provides an overview of legal definitions of intern and apprenticeships, wage and compensation details, and housing considerations. It is not a replacement for direct legal counsel but builds a strong foundation for farmers considering the hire of or already employing an intern or apprentice. Farmers will also find references for additional information from appropriate state agencies, national scope nonprofits and programs showcasing successful intern and apprentice programs.

The guide is available online at no cost to all Pennsylvania farmers at

For more information contact Cheryl Burns at Capital RC&D at 717.241.4361 or via email at

Funding support has been provided by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

The Capital Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Area Council is a seven-county, non-profit that provides leadership to promote regional partnerships for the responsible use and conservation of our natural, community, and economic resources. The Capital RC&D serves Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, and York.

Volunteers Needed for Philly Farm & Food Fest - April 13

Posted by at Mar 31, 2014 01:56 PM |

We are looking for volunteers to assist with the 3rd Annual Philly Farm & Food Fest coming up on Sunday, April 13th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Full details are below!

3rd Annual Philly Farm & Food Fest
Sunday, April 13

11am - 4pm

Philadelphia Convention Center Annex

1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia

Philly Farm & Food Fest (PF3) brings together regional farmers, unique food producers, sustainable food businesses and organizations under one roof for a day of sampling, shopping and learning in support of our region's diverse and delicious food system.

Philly Farm & Food Fest is a joint project of Fair Food & PASA, presented by Whole Foods Market.

If you are interested in volunteering at Philly Farm & Food Fest, please click here & select "sign up" for the shift you prefer.

Here are the details of volunteer duties for each shift:
- Vendor Load-in
- Handwashing Station set-up
- Signage Placement

- Final Vendor Load-in
- Classroom Management
- Libations Lounge Management
- Shellfish Salon Management
- Demo area Management
- Customer Service
- Registration
- Wayfinding

1pm - 5pm
- Classroom Management
- Libations Lounge Management
- Shellfish Salon Management
- Demo area Management
- Customer Service
- Registration
- Wayfinding
- Clean - up of Hall G
- Exhibitor Load-out assistance

New Pennsylvania CSA Guides

New Pennsylvania CSA Guides

Posted by at Mar 28, 2014 05:10 AM |

PASA's Pennsylvania CSA Guides promote our members and Buy Fresh Buy Local® partners who offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Thanks to all those farms that elected to be included in the guides this year!


Grace Lefever, founder of Sonnewald Natural Foods & PASA Member, Passes at the Age of 91

Grace Lefever, founder of Sonnewald Natural Foods & PASA Member, Passes at the Age of 91

Posted by at Mar 28, 2014 05:02 AM |

PASA was saddened to learn of Grace Lefever's passing earlier this week. Grace was a long-time member of PASA and she supported us in various ways; from teaching workshops to donating her beautiful finger paintings to our conference auction and to always be a smiling and generous face to see at our many events.

Grace will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with Grace's family during this difficult time.

York Dispatch

York Daily Record

Local Markets at Whole Foods Jenkintown - Vendors Needed

Posted by at Mar 27, 2014 02:06 PM |

A message from Dana Mensah, Marketing Team Leader at Whole Foods Market - Jenkintown:

Hi local producers and artisans!

Whole Foods Market Jenkintown has decided to continue their new tradition of monthly indoor markets. The “From Around Here Showcase” will take place on the first Saturday of each month from 11am-3pm beginning May 3rd. (5/3, 6/7, 7/5, 8/2, and 9/6). You are invited to sell your wares directly to the customers, just like you would at an outdoor market. We have space for 7-10 vendors each month and hope you will be one of them!


After receiving feedback from some of last year’s vendors, we have decided to make some small changes. This year, we will be concentrating all of the vendors into one area of the store so we can create more of a destination for shoppers. We also ask that everyone package their goods in a bag so we know that the items have been paid for. We are open to other suggestions as to how to make your day more profitable and enjoyable. Please let me know if you have any thoughts.

Here is the application if you are interested. You can apply for all 5 dates or just one… whatever works best for you! And feel free to pass the application along to other artisans. Plus, we’re looking for local musicians to join us at each event so please send any talented friends my way!


Have a great day!
Dana Mensah
Marketing Team Leader
Whole Foods Market
1575 The Fairway
Jenkintown, PA 19046

Niche Pork Survey - Participants Needed

Posted by at Mar 27, 2014 01:55 PM |

Jamie Picardy is a graduate student of Ag, Food and Environment at Tufts University in Boston, MA.  She is researching both the production and consumption side of niche meat (pork in particular) for her dissertation, which is detailed more below. She is specifically collecting data on performance metrics at all life phases. In addition, her study will attempt to define the term "niche" from the priorities of the producers and the understanding of the consumers - seeing where the two intersect.

Jamie is looking for pork producers who would be willing to complete her short survey on your production practices/experiences. Deadline is April 30th. Participation is vital to her project and responses will be kept anonymous.  She will share results with participants and producer cooperatives to strengthen productivity.

The survey takes about 10-15 minutes.  Here is the link to the online version:
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Jamie:
Jamie Picardy
Agriculture, Food and Environment doctoral candidate
Phone: 215-360-5885
Email: (preferred) or
Address:  251 St. Paul St. Unit #1, Brookline MA, 02446

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  Additional information on Jamie's  study ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My dissertation research study has three components:  (1) production characteristics to determine land requirements of pastured pork, (2) consumer preferences toward production characteristics to estimate retail demand, and (3) site suitability to calculate production capability. Please note that the survey was reviewed by Dave Stender and Mark Honeyman (Iowa State University), Silvana Pietrosemoli, Jim Green and Niki Whitley (North Carolina State University), pork producers in New England, and my advisors Chris Peters and Tim Griffin (Tufts University).
By completing the survey, the niche pork community (farmers, aggregators, marketers, advocates and researchers) will have a better understanding of common production metrics to examine your farm's productivity and efficiency against other niche and commodity pork producers.  This type of information is currently not available for niche pork productionOnce survey information is collected, I will aggregate the information in a form (like 1 page hand-out or flyer) easy for farmers to read/obtain.  Then, I can also create a spreadsheet whereby the production metrics from the study can be in one column and farmers can "track" their data in additional columns -- this style of data sharing will help the producer compare how their farm performs against the rest and over time.  In addition to the immediate project results of performance metrics, the application of the results will indicate the land requirements of an alternative meat production, thereby reinforcing the need to conserve working lands.
One comment that I heard from past farm conferences was the lack of printed information shared with the farmers at the conference sessions. Thus, I will make available my study results in various forms: (1) hand-outs for the farmers/aggregators/advocates, (2) electronic Excel spreadsheets for the farmers/aggregators/advocates, and (3) dissertation/funding report to be written for a peer-reviewed journal article.
My study is completely anonymous.  The only personal information that I collect is your STATE of production (like MI, IA, MA or NC). Your information will be INCORPORATED INTO THE WHOLE DATASET. This dataset also includes producers from North and South Carolina who completed the survey in November and December, as well as my farmers in Michigan (connections from my home state), New England and California. Working with your farm would be key!  I am excited to share the results back with you -- in terms of production (Part 1) but also Part 2 of my dissertation research on retail consumer preferences for niche meats.
Thank you for your time and expertise!

Jamie Picardy
Agriculture, Food and Environment doctoral candidate
Phone: 215-360-5885
Email: (preferred) or
Address:  251 St. Paul St. Unit #1, Brookline MA, 02446

Cover Crop Research Participants Needed

Posted by at Mar 27, 2014 12:45 PM |

Abbe Hamilton is a student at Penn State University currently beginning a research project on the topic of cover crops. She is recruiting farmer participants now, for both this spring and next spring for her work - please read her full announcement below and be in touch with Abbe directly if you are interested in participating.

Do you have a cover crop growing on a field in your farm? Will you be planting one this year?

I’m looking for farmers of all types interested in learning more about the quality of their cover crops (as measured by biomass, growth stage, C:N ratio and flowering density, if applicable) and willing to allow me to conduct a short, one-time study on one of their cover cropped fields. I’m especially interested in farmers growing a polyculture cover crop. I’ll be sampling this spring, as well as late this fall and next spring, so there will be future opportunities for participation.


Participation would involve answering a few questions about how your cover crop was managed, and I would take a small destructive sample (7.5 square feet, distributed throughout a field) with two weeks prior to the termination of the crop.


I’m scheduling farm visits for this spring now, so please contact me as soon as possible to answer a couple of preliminary questions!
Abbe Hamilton

Check Out Brian's Latest Blog Post - The Regenerative Power of Restraint

Posted by at Mar 26, 2014 08:35 AM |


If we were lacking an adequate appreciation for the concept of power and the ways it can be used in both constructive and destructive ways, the world has certainly given us an abundance of opportunities in the past several years to remedy that situation. From the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Arab Spring, leadership transitions in North Korea and the Catholic Church, and right up to the current Ukrainian crisis, we’ve had a chance to examine and contemplate the alternative expressions of power on an international stage numerous times.

Read the full blog post here.

PASA/FMC Webinar Recording Available - Your Edge in a Changing Marketplace: Thinking Like a Retailer

Posted by at Mar 21, 2014 12:25 PM |

This webinar was the 3rd in a series planned through a joint partnership between Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture and the Farmers Market Coalition, supported by a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant. 

Farmers markets are no longer the only option for shoppers seeking locally grown foods. Is your markets’ brand, products, and shopping experience keeping pace with an evolving marketplace? Learn about savvy retailer strategies to understand and promote your best assets and make your customers feel special.  This session will offer a variety of strategies to help put your market in the spotlight and grow customer loyalty to keep you on the cutting edge of the changing local food landscape.

Presenter: Eric Barrett, Ohio State University Extension

Moderator: Brian Moyer, Penn State University Extension

From Northeast SARE - How To Guide for Aspiring Urban Micro-Agriculture Entrepreneuers

Posted by at Mar 20, 2014 04:50 AM |

The How-to-Guide for Aspiring Urban Micro-Agricultural Entrepreneurs was created by Sustainable Urban Development for residents of West Philadelphia who want to increase their access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. The guide equips anyone interested in urban farming with the information they need to reclaim vacant lots in the city and build a for-profit urban farm.

The guide contains information on building raised beds and maintaining healthy soils; zoning, code and permit requirements for community gardens; and business and market planning. While the guide is based off of research in West Philadelphia, it is intended to be a replicable model for individuals in other urban areas.


Tickets On Sale for Philly Farm & Food Fest!

Tickets On Sale for Philly Farm & Food Fest!

Posted by at Mar 19, 2014 11:49 AM |

Fest is a unique opportunity for local farmers and producers to connect with thousands (this year upwards of 5,000 are expected) of visitors offering samples and products for sale while enjoying a full schedule of informative presentations and workshops.

Philly Farm & Food Fest is a joint project of Fair Food & PASA, presented by Whole Foods Market.

Tickets on sale now!

Check out the Fest Program Book!

PASA's Comments to the USDA on Coexistence

Posted by at Mar 07, 2014 12:51 PM |

The Honorable Thomas Vilsack, Secretary
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20250

March 4, 2014

Re: Docket No. APHIS-2013-0047

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is one of our nation’s largest member-based, sustainable farming organizations, with about 6,000 mostly farmer members located primarily throughout Pennsylvania and across the Mid-Atlantic region. Our mission is to promote profitable farms that produce healthy food for all people while respecting the natural environment. In keeping with this mission, we wish to express our grave concerns regarding the issue of “Enhancing Coexistence” as framed by the Report of the AC21 Committee in 2012.

Read PASA's Full Letter Here

Read the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's Comments

Read the National Organic Coalition's Comments

Brian's Latest Blog Post: Letter to the USDA on Coexistence

Posted by at Mar 06, 2014 08:21 AM |

The Honorable Thomas Vilsack, Secretary
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20250

March 4, 2014

Re: Docket No. APHIS-2013-0047

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is one of our nation’s largest member-based, sustainable farming organizations, with about 6,000 mostly farmer members located primarily throughout Pennsylvania and across the Mid-Atlantic region. Our mission is to promote profitable farms that produce healthy food for all people while respecting the natural environment. In keeping with this mission, we wish to express our grave concerns regarding the issue of “Enhancing Coexistence” as framed by the Report of the AC21 Committee in 2012.

For the more detailed substance of our comments, we will merely refer to those being submitted by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and endorse those for your consideration, since supporting the process of assembling those comments has been where the bulk of PASA’s time on this issue was spent. However, we also have several brief comments to make for the sake of emphasis, as follows:

  • PASA feels very strongly that a crop insurance model is not the appropriate path for USDA to follow in compensating for the effects of genetic drift and contamination on organic and sustainable farms that are otherwise free of genetically engineered (GE) seeds and other materials. Apparently, the AC21 Committee agrees with us on this, since the individual comments contained in the 2012 report indicate significant and consistent displeasure for this approach, even if for varying reasons. Compensation does need to happen, but through a fund developed from a surcharge on the seeds, chemicals and technology fees associated with GE farming techniques. It would be unprecedented and frankly unethical to expect a damaged farm to bear the cost of defending itself against aggressive technology doing harm with no offsetting benefits to the aggrieved party.

Read the full blog post here

Time for Action on Coexistence and 2,4-D

Posted by at Feb 26, 2014 09:34 AM |

Dear PASA Members & Friends,

If you heard my annual address at our recent Farming for the Future conference, or have otherwise been paying attention to policy matters of importance to sustainable agriculture, you will know that an important public comment deadline is fast approaching.  You must submit your thoughts to the USDA on the issue of agricultural coexistence by next Tuesday, March 4. In order to do so, I suggest that you consult each of the following links, in this order:

  • NSAC Coexistence Info Page – The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has provided critical background information and links to alerts from other organizations regarding this issue.
  • Federal Register Notice – The actual notice of request for public comment, starting in the third column of the first page. The USDA provides specific questions concerning which comments are invited, though comments may go beyond the specified questions.
  • Comment Submission Page – This is where comments must be submitted, beginning by hitting the “Comment Now” button.

Why is this important?  Because we cannot accept the idea that organic and non-GMO farmers must bear all the risk of cross-contamination of their crops with GMO varieties, and the even greater threat of pesticide drift from one farm to another. It is simply not okay to absolve companies that produce GMO seeds and the accompanying proprietary chemicals of any responsibility under the guise of a “coexistence” euphemism!

And while you’re at it, you may also want to comment on the pending approval of new GMO seed varieties resistant to 2,4-D – an outdated herbicide that is noxious to many common fruits and vegetables, and is known to drift as far as a mile or two from where it is applied. Background info and comment instructions can be found in an alert at Rodale News. The comment deadline has recently been extended to March 11.

There are many challenges we face in achieving sustainability for our food and farming systems, and those stemming from new industry-friendly regulations seem to be coming at a quickening pace these days. It is everyone’s responsibility to be heard through the channels that have been provided, and some channels that we have to create ourselves. Please lend your voice to the growing chorus of those who wish to maintain a clean environment and healthy food supply for generations to come.

Thanks for your prompt attention and action on these matters!

Brian Snyder, PASA Executive Director

Two Additional Training Opportunities with AgSquared

Two Additional Training Opportunities with AgSquared

Posted by at Feb 25, 2014 07:45 AM |
PASA & our partners at AgSquared are hosting TWO additional training opportunities in the coming days - please join us:

Planning and Record Keeping for a Better Growing Season

Saturday, March 1
Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock (Butler County)

Monday, March 3
Lackawanna College Lake Region Center, Hawley (Wayne County) 
2:00pm - 8:00pm

More Details:
Looking to be more organized in 2014? Aiming to have an effective crop plan that sets the course for a successful season? Hoping to keep better farm records this year that could help you understand ways to make your farm more productive and more profitable?

Come to our all-day workshop to learn about how to use AgSquared’s online software tool kit to easily gather the information you need to better manage your farm and make both day-to-day and strategic farming decisions.

You do not need to have already created an AgSquared account to join this training - you will have the opportunity to create a free AgSquared account during the workshop. 

Please register as soon as possible. If these events do not have a minimum number of registrants, it may be cancelled.

About the Presenters:
Drew Katz, AgSquared’s Director of User Support and Farmer Engagement, and members of the AgSquared Team, will train you in how to get started with AgSquared. In this class you will learn how to set up your AgSquared account, create a crop plan, manage your day to day schedule with AgSquared, and review your records for better decision making. You will also get to hear from Joe Bozzelli of Five Elements Farm about his experience using AgSquared.

Joint PASA/FMC Webinar Recording Now Available

Posted by at Feb 21, 2014 11:35 AM |

In case you missed the second in a series of three webinars PASA is hosting in collaboration with the Farmers Market Coalition - you can now view a recording of the February 19th webinar here.

Farm Manager Sought - Carversville Farm Foundation - Bucks Co, PA

Posted by at Feb 17, 2014 06:25 AM |

The Carversville Farm Foundation (CFF), a 501 (c) (3) public charity, will be a fully diversified, 150-acre farm with a threefold mission of providing 1) nourishment to people with limited means and access to fresh and healthy food; 2) educational outreach to the general public regarding how food is grown in a setting based on principles of sustainability, and 3) experimentation and demonstration for fellow farmers with respect to innovative approaches that are sustainable from an economic, environmental and social perspective.

We are currently searching for the right individual who will have a huge impact in the development and functioning of a highly ambitious and unique farm. This individual will lead in the development and management of CFF’s agricultural operations. This experienced and highly-competent individual will be responsible for the successful start-up and management of a diversified farm enterprise that encompasses more than 150 acres and wide variety of agricultural processes. The ideal person for this position will have the confidence and skill to function independently; have the spirit of a social entrepreneur; be creative and visionary; and be able to effectively lead a dynamic team comprised of farm employees, student interns and volunteers.




Applications: Please send letter of interest, statement of educational and work history, and contact information for a minimum of three professional references by electronic means to Interviews by phone and in person will begin on Monday, March 3, 2014, although applications will be accepted continuously until the position has been filled. CFF is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer.

Online Conference to Focus on Crop Planning Strategies for CSA Operations

Posted by at Feb 12, 2014 08:26 AM |

CSA Expert Exchange will feature discussion by Pam Dawling

MILLHEIM, PA. February 11, 2014 -  The CSA Expert Exchange is an online conference co-presented by Small Farm Central and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA). Nationwide, the conference is expected to engage between 250-300 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers. The conference will be accessible via any web browser; attendees will be available to view slides and interact via chat to ask questions. This year’s pricing and registration are available at

The CSA Expert Exchange will feature sessions over the course of two days, Thursday, March 6 (7:00-9:30pm EST) and Friday, March 7 (11am-3:30pm EST). You can choose to participate live or watch the archived version at your convenience. Sessions on March 6 will be targeting beginning farmers in the early stages of setting up and managing a CSA operation.

The main event on March 7 will offer four, one-hour sessions with shorter presentations in-between focusing on topics such as marketing & social media, legal issues around CSA operations, crop planning and CSA coalitions.

Many farmers would list proper crop planning, management and consistent quantities as a main challenge in operating a CSA. Pam Dawling of Twin Oaks Community in Louise, Virginia, will present a step-by-step approach to closing the planning circle.

An avid vegetable grower for almost 40 years, she has lived at Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia for over 20 years, growing vegetables and berries for 100 people on 3.5 acres, and providing training for members in sustainable vegetable production.

Dawling’s book, Sustainable Market Farming, is a comprehensive manual for farmers raising organic crops sustainably on  few acres. As well as providing detailed profiles of a full range of crops, common pests and diseases, harvest & storage; information about season extension & disease resistant variety; and farm business skills to ensure a profitable enterprise. Her presentation will be part of the CSA Expert Exchange agenda on Friday, March 8.

Conceived by Robyn Van En as an antidote to industrial, mono-crop agriculture, the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) concept offers farms the opportunity to become centers of more sustainable communities. CSA has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Generally a farmer offers a certain number of shares or memberships to the public for purchase. Each share may consist of a box of vegetable or other farm products that the member picks up on a scheduled basis.

Other presenters for the CSA Expert Exchange include:
David Liker of Gorman Farm, Columbia, MD
Karla Pankow of Bossy Acres, Northfield, MN
Rachel Armstrong of Farm Commons
Chris Brockel of FairShare CSA Coalition
Michael Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Family Farm, Middle Granville, NY

Full details about the CSA Expert Exchange: An Online Conference are available at


About Small Farm Central

Small Farm Central is a leading technology provider to small-scale farms across the U.S. and Canada. Started by an former CSA farmer, Small Farm Central provides farm websites, CSA member management services, and more to help increase the economic sustainability of small-scale farmers by creating professional and engaging experiences for the farm’s customers. Small Farm Central’s Member Assembler technology is built to manage the office side of the CSA from online member signup and payment processing to box packing and delivery logistics.  For more information, visit

Share Your PASA Conference Experiences!

Posted by at Feb 04, 2014 11:25 AM |

Attending our Farming for the Future Conference this week?
Help us share information & experiences with those who aren't able to be there!

PASA is interested in short workshop summaries, photos, good thoughts, etc that could be posted to PASA's website, featured in our print newsletter and via social media outlets in the interest of sharing conference information to many more members.

Please share your experiences, photos and workshop summaries to our email address!

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