You are here: Home Blog


PASA's blog.

Read the New Guest Blog Post on

Posted by at Jun 20, 2013 02:10 PM |

Safety Rules Cloud Beginning Farmers’ Futures

By Brian Snyder - I haven't posted anything for a few weeks, being tied up with new initiatives at PASA and family events at home.  But I wanted to share this guest posting, written by my good friend and colleague Roland McReynolds, who is executive director of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. Roland has been active with […]

Read more of this post

Wayne County PASA Members in the News

Posted by at Jun 17, 2013 09:02 AM |

Thanks to a dedicated group of PASA members in Wayne County, more education is being done to remind folks to support local farms under Wayne County Grown!

Read more about their mural project here.

PASA to Host Organic Grains Field Day - June 25 - Open to All Levels of Experience

Posted by at Jun 13, 2013 05:40 AM |

Sow the Grains of Knowledge: Organic Wheat, Spelt, Emmer & Einkorn Production
Workshop in Centre County for Grain Enthusiasts of All Levels

PASA, the Organic Growers Research and Information-Sharing Network and Penn State Extension will present a Field Day on growing organic grain. This workshop is open for anyone with an interest in locally grown heritage grains, from growers to everyday consumers alike.

This workshop will be held on June 25, 2013, and will include a tour of Penn State research fields to observe trial plots of heritage wheat, spelt, emmer and einkorn. Topics to be covered include sourcing and bulking seed of rare grains, equipment and storage needs, grain-processing options, and issues and management of pests, disease and weeds. There will be seed-cleaning, threshing and milling demos, as well as a tasty treat to sample baked goods made with the various grains.

There will be a range of experts presenting including Dr. Greg Roth, a professor and grain crop management researcher in the Department of Plant Science at Penn State; Charlie White, a Sustainable Agriculture Extension Associate with Penn State specializing on soil health and cover crops in organic farming; Elizabeth Dyck, the coordinator of the Organic Growers’ Research and Information-Sharing Network who researches organic growing methods of small grains; Joel Steigman of Small Valley Milling, who specializes in raising and dehulling “ancient” grains and runs an organic mill; and Nigel Tudor of Weatherbury Farm, who grows a variety of specialty and heritage grains and builds small-scale equipment to dehull grain, roll oats, mill flour and make pasta.

Steigman, a heritage grain grower of thirteen years stresses the importance of local grains as they are “very valuable to the local economy; they generate more income for the farmer, and it keeps your dollar at home.”

This Field Day will be held from 10:00am-4:00pm at the Penn State Russell Larson Research & Education Center, Gate D off of Route 45 (near the Ag Progress Days site) in Pennsylvania Furnace, PA.

The event costs $35, is open to the public and includes lunch. PASA members can attend for $20. To learn more and register for this event and others, visit or call (814) 349-9856.

PASA strives to ensure all those interested in becoming a member of the organization or attending an event can do so at a reasonable rate. PASA is offering this field day for free when you purchase or renew your PASA membership. To access this offer, choose the “Membership & Field Day Combo” offer when you register online. This offer gains attendees access to a quality educational program, a delicious locally sourced lunch, all of the benefits of membership for one year and access to PASA’s growing network.

A Scavenger Hunt to Savor - York Co BFBL Chapter

Posted by at Jun 07, 2013 06:47 AM |

Read the full York Dispatch article here.

Bike Fresh - Allegheny County A Success

Bike Fresh - Allegheny County A Success

Posted by at Jun 03, 2013 07:55 AM |

Cyclists took the to roads & hills of Western Pennsylvania yesterday to take part in PASA's first Bike Fresh Bike Local - Allegheny County ride.

Thanks to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for this nice article!

PASA to Participate in Annual Cherry Valley Festival

Posted by at May 29, 2013 07:49 AM |

On Saturday, June 15, the third annual Cherry Valley Festival will be held to celebrate the unique natural environmental qualities of the valley and raise awareness of conservation efforts underway.

The Brodhead Watershed Association (BWA), a non-profit organization committed to enhance public understanding of conservation and water issues is organizing the event in collaboration with the Josie Porter Farm.  Sponsors include The Pocono Visitors Bureau and Stroudsmoor Country Inn.  This year's event will feature "Bird the Ridge – Conservation through Observation", a public outreach program presented by Audubon PA.  Overall, the festival is dedicated to preserving, protecting and enhancing the natural and cultural resources of Cherry Valley while promoting healthy living options for residents and visitors.

The Festival, held at the Josie Porter Farm, Cherry Valley Road, Stroudsburg, PA., will run from 10 AM to 5 PM, rain or shine.  This will be a fun-filled day with family activities designed for the participation of children and adults.  Planned events include educational speakers, nature walks, demonstrations, and environmentally themed vendors, arts and crafts.   In addition, there will be: food and beverages available, a variety of raffle items, and a silent auction with proceeds benefiting BWA.  Live entertainment throughout the day will include strolling musicians from the Pocono Bluegrass & Folk Society.  The festival is free to the public.  Directions and more information on the Farm and the Festival are available on the Farm's website HERE.

The Brodhead Watershed Association is a non-profit environmental organization formed in 1989.  BWA is dedicated to protecting and preserving water resources and the environment of the Brodhead watershed and the water quality of the Brodhead, Cherry, Marshalls, McMichael, Paradise and Pocono creeks and their tributaries. In addition, the BWA assists municipalities, residents, businesses and groups with protecting natural resources through education, workshops, seminars, public programs and stream monitoring.

PASA Offers Renewable Energy Workshop in Bedford County

Posted by at May 23, 2013 06:11 PM |

Micro-Hydro Can Be a Reliable, Low-Cost Supplement for Farms & Small Businesses

PASA and Saint Francis University’s Renewable Energy Center will present a Field Day on micro-hydro June 6 in Bedford, PA. This Field Day will help farmers, small business owners and landowners determine whether a small hydroelectric generating project may be a feasible energy alternative for their operations.

While large scale hydroelectric power stations are common in PA and there is potential for hydro power in many locations, few micro-hydro systems are currently in use. For land along waterways with enough elevation change and flow, a micro-hydro system can be a reliable, low-cost energy solution. These micro-sized systems can provide anywhere from 1 to 100 kW of power.

The event will be held at Whispering Creek Retreat in Bedford, a corporate retreat center that produces twice the energy it needs through energy efficiency, a geothermal heat pump, a vertical axis wind turbine, a solar array and biodiesel. The center completed a feasibility study for a micro-hydro project and the proposed site will be explored as part of the workshop’s sessions.

Robert Honders, of Honderosa Valley Consulting, who is a retired electronics engineer, educator, businessman and builder of micro-hydro installations, will present.

Attendees will learn hands-on and through lecture how to determine power potential, evaluate sites, choose equipment, and store or share extra electricity. More topics will include: the pros and cons of hydro power, environmental considerations, financing, permitting, and safety.

Funding for this project has been provided in part by the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the PA Department of Environmental Protection and the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission.

This event is open to the public and includes lunch for $35. PASA and Saint Francis students and faculty can attend for $20. To learn more and register for this event and others, visit or call (814) 349-9856.

PASA strives to ensure all those interested in becoming a member of the organization or attending an event can do so at a reasonable rate. PASA is offering this field day for free when you purchase or renew your PASA membership. To access this offer, choose the “Membership & A Field Day Combo” offer when you register online. This offer gains attendees access to a quality educational program, a delicious locally sourced lunch, all of the benefits of membership for one year and access to PASA’s growing network.

Pasturing Hogs on Field Peas & Barley

Posted by at May 23, 2013 05:42 PM |

Check out this video of a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Farmer Grant project - FNE09-674 - Pasturing hogs on field peas and barley. Hanne Tierney, Cornerstone Farm

Updated Fact Sheet on Marketing Poultry Slaughtered Under USDA Exemption

Posted by at May 23, 2013 09:44 AM |

Learn more about the 20,000 bird exemption in Pennsylvania - view or download the fact sheet here.

Learn To Create a Customized Food Safety Plan Webinar

Posted by at May 22, 2013 10:52 AM |

Click here to register, space is limited!

Produce farmers interested in creating an on-farm food safety plan are invited to join and GrowNYC/Greenmarket for the free Creating a Customized Food Safety Plan Webinar on Monday June 10, 2013 at 11am-12:30pm EST.

The webinar will also address topics covered in the manual Wholesale Success: A Farmer's Guide to Food Safety, Postharvest Handling, Packing and Selling Produce, which is available for purchase. Click here for more information.

You will learn:
•    How to identify food safety risk areas on your farm
•    Ways to manage risk
•    The importance of food safety for growers selling into or hoping to sell into wholesale market
•    How to create and follow a personalized food safety plan

If you're interested in creating a food safety plan for your farm or selling into wholesale markets, you'll learn the basics and have access to free resources to make it happen.

The trainer is Atina Diffley, former co-owner of Gardens of Eagan Farm and the author of the award-winning memoir, Turn Here Sweet Corn. Atina draws on her decades of experience in vegetable production and marketing to provide operators of produce farms of any size with useful, practical, profit-making guidance.

PASA Members Maria & Justin Dreese In the News

Posted by at May 22, 2013 10:41 AM |

PASA members Maria & Justin Dreese of Townville (Crawford County) will be hosting one of our Western Region Master Classes on Tuesday, June 18th.

A lovely photo was included in the Titusville Herald.

Learn more about the Master Class here, including registration details.


Animal Handling Field Day for Farmers Offered in Bradford County

Posted by at May 15, 2013 11:21 AM |

Event Focuses on Helping Farmers Move & Handle Livestock Safely & Humanely

PASA is teaming up with the PA Women’s Agricultural Network and Endless Mountains RC&D to offer a field day aimed to help farmers learn proper and safe animal handling practices. This educational workshop “Animal Handling for New & Beginning Farmers” will be hosted by The Sundance Life Farm in Towanda, PA on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 from 10am – 4pm.

The field day will cover basic animal handling for new & beginning farmers - or for anyone who wants to improve their animal handling knowledge and skills. Through a series of demonstrations and discussions, we will emphasize humane practices and safety for both farmer and livestock. Topics to be covered during the day include moving and loading animals, aids for moving animals, multi-species interactions, feeding behaviors, multi-species grazing and pasture management for weeds and noxious plants, and managing parasites. Animals used for the on-farm demonstrations will be cows, sheep, goats, layers, rabbits and possibly the donkey and emu.

Presenters for the day are Brenda Coe and Dave Wolfgang. Ms. Coe, Adjunct Professor in Animal Science at Penn State University, specializes in Animal Behavior and Livestock Handling. She is a Senior Inspector and Scientific Committee Member at Humane Farm Animal Care. Mr. Wolfgang is an Extension Veterinarian at Penn State University. He specializes in disease prevention, herd health promotion and on-farm problem solving.

This event is open to the public and includes lunch. To learn more and register for this event and others, visit or call (814) 349-9856. PASA strives to ensure all those interested in becoming a member of the organization or attending an event can do so at a reasonable rate. PASA is offering this field day for free when you purchase or renew your PASA membership. To access this offer, register for the field day online and choose the “Membership & A Field Day Combo” offer.

This special offer gains attendees access to a quality educational program, a delicious locally sourced lunch, all of the benefits of membership for one year and access to PASA’s growing network.

Miss Our Field Day on April 26 Regarding Charcoal Production?

Posted by at May 13, 2013 09:40 AM |

Thanks to Scott Mann for creating this podcast that is now available detailing PASA's recent Field Day on April 26, 2013 at Village Acres Farm. This workshop detailed sustainable charcoal production for power & fertility.

Download here.

PASA's Bike Fresh - Allegheny County Featured in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PASA's Bike Fresh - Allegheny County Featured in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Posted by at May 13, 2013 09:14 AM |

Our first Bike Fresh Bike Local ride of the season is coming up Sunday, June 2nd in Allegheny County. Online pre-registration will be available through May 30. The $40 fee goes up to $45 for those who sign up June 2. Proceeds support PASA's work in Western Pennsylvania on behalf of family farms.

Read the article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here.

PASA Members Sara Runkel & Andrew Dohner Help Preserve Great Bend Organic Farm

Posted by at May 10, 2013 06:10 AM |

Tami Shimp, VP Development & Communications
Berks Conservancy
25 North 11th Street, Reading 19601
610-372-4992 ext. 110

For Immediate Release: Over 169-acres in West Brunswick Township (in Port Clinton) along the important Kittatinny Ridge in Schuylkill County are now permanently protected from development. The Great Bend Organic Farm contains sourcewater, wetlands, woodlands and over a mile of frontage on the Schuylkill River. This important property will remain as open space for future generations to enjoy. The proper management of this property makes significant contributions to water quality and quantity of the Schuylkill River – as more than 60% of the land is woodlands, wetlands, and Schuylkill River frontage. The farm contains great land and water habitat with local breeding species of animals and birds. With its close proximity to the Kittatinny Ridge and the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary it also serves as a habitat for migratory species of birds and aquatic life. In addition, it contributes to the preservation of the historic Schuylkill Canal Lock.

The operators of the farm, Sara Runkel and Andy Dohner have high standards for management of the farm and the wetlands. Their combined knowledge and experience enables them to specialize in sustainably grown vegetables, specialty cut flowers, and hay. Starting this year, Great Bend Organic Farm is now growing a wide variety of specialty cut flowers. They are committed to sustainable agriculture and are in the process of applying for organic certification. They supply these locally grown fresh flowers to florists, brides-to-be, and they run a Flower CSA along with a very popular Winter CSA. We encourage you to visit the farm and learn more about their sustainable practices! You can contact Sara and Andy at or by phone at 610-780-2579.

The owners of the farm, John Spang and his wife, Tanya Russ, worked with the staff of the Berks Conservancy to develop conservation easement language that will permanently restrict the property from development. The conservation easement also ensures that the property will be managed organically.

This project was completed in partnership with the Schuylkill County Conservancy, the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, and of course, the landowners and farm operators. “The Berks Conservancy values partnerships like this one to protect important places in and around our local region. We hope this is the first of many organic farms that we see protected in this area of Pennsylvania!” said Kim Murphy, Berks Conservancy President.

On May 27th the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is sponsoring a Paddle for Preservation canoe trip along the Schuylkill River to directly raise funds for projects like this one. For more information visit the events page at

Visit the Berks Conservancy’s website at to learn about other conservation projects involving your community. We’re Saving a Place for You…

PASA Member Glade Run Adventures, Helps Provide Healing Through Horses & Nature

PASA Member Glade Run Adventures, Helps Provide Healing Through Horses & Nature

Posted by at May 10, 2013 06:01 AM |

The therapeutic animal, horticultural and agricultural programs are offered through Glade Run Lutheran Services, a nonprofit organization that provides behavioral health, education, and social services to the Pennsylvania communities of Beaver Falls, Butler, Pittsburgh and Zelienople, according to Wahlenmayer.

Annual Farm Tour with Anne & Eric Nordell

Posted by at May 03, 2013 10:05 AM |

Annual Farm Tour with Anne & Eric Nordell of Beech Grove Farm in Trout Run, PA.
Monday, October 14, 2013
10am - 4pm

This tour is intended for growers who have studied the Nordell's Weed to Soil booklet or video. Please send a letter of interest by mid-September to Anne & Eric Nordell, Beech Grove Farm, 3410 Rt. 184, Trout Run PA 17771.

If you are interested in purchasing the Nordell's Weed to Soil booklet ($10, plus $3 s&h) or video/DVD ($15, plus $3 s&h) - please write to the Nordells.

PASA Field Day for Small Ruminant Producers Offered in Carlisle

Posted by at May 01, 2013 05:03 PM |

Event Focuses on Healthier Sheep & Goats with Parasite Management Training & FAMACHA Certification

MILLHEIM, PA. [May 1, 2013] PASA is teaming up with Dickinson College Farm in Carlisle, PA to offer a Field Day for small ruminant farmers. This educational workshop “Hands-on Small Ruminant Health: FAMACHA & Parasite Management” will be held at the Dickinson College Farm on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 10am – 4pm in Boiling Springs (near Carlisle).

Parasite control and management can be a major challenge for sheep and goat producers. Integrated pest management (IPM) approaches are most successful by coupling nutrition, pasture and grazing management with selection for parasite resilient genetics. Along with regular animal assessments including FAMACHA testing (a non-invasive method of assessing potential parasite loads), producers can better manage their animals for overall health.

This Field Day will combine classroom time with hands on. Participants will gain skills in body condition assessment, certification in the FAMACHA method and experience in microscopic analysis of manure samples for parasite eggs. Discussions will cover the life cycles of worms, action thresholds, treatment options, and long-term management strategies. Farmers are encouraged to bring samples of sheep or goat manure for analysis.

Dr. Susan Beal is the Agricultural Science Advisor for PASA. Dr. Beal brings over 25 years experience in holistic veterinary practice, ranging from mixed practice through emergency medicine, equine and companion animal practices. Before joining the team at PASA, Dr. Beal was employed by Big Run Healing Arts, a veterinary practice dedicated to providing holistic care for animals and the environment.

This event is open to the public and includes lunch. Pre-registration is required. For more info about these events and others, call 814-349-9856 or visit

Conservation Stewardship Program Applications Due by May 31

Posted by at May 01, 2013 05:00 PM |


Washington, D.C., May 1, 2013 -- Today, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2013 sign up of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) will be due by May 31.  USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will accept slightly more than 12 million acres into the program.

While CSP enrollment is continuous, interested farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners must complete the initial application form by May 31 to compete for a spot in the 2013 enrollment class for the program.

Earlier this month, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which helped develop the program and has followed its progress closely, issued an Information Alert on the 2013 sign-up.  In addition to providing the timeline for the sign-up and enrollment process, the Alert includes basic sign-up information and describes changes made to the program for this sign-up, including new conservation enhancements being offered.  We encourage interested organizations and individuals to post or forward the Information Alert to help get the word out to farmers and ranchers about this pending opportunity.

“This is a great opportunity for producers to enhance and build upon the conservation that they are doing on their land,” said NSAC Policy Associate, Greg Fogel.  “However, we are operating under an extremely tight deadline, so farmers and ranchers must act quickly to complete their initial application form.”

This year’s enrollment was delayed for six months while Congress negotiated and passed a final “continuing resolution” to fund government programs through the end of this fiscal year.  The delay means that this year’s cut-off date for applications is much later than usual.  It also means that the agency will have to move very quickly through the enrollment process in order to finish on time.

CSP is an innovative working lands conservation program that rewards farmers and ranchers for the conservation and environmental benefits they produce.  CSP is administered by NRCS and available on a nationwide basis.  CSP offers technical and financial assistance to farmers for adopting and maintaining high standards of resource conservation and environmental stewardship.  Assistance is geared to both the active management of existing conservation systems and to the implementation of new conservation activities on land in agricultural production.
In the first four enrollment years for CSP (2009-2012), more than 39,000 farmers and ranchers have enrolled over 50 million acres of farm and ranch land.  Land that is now under five-year, renewable CSP conservation contracts is valued at $680 million a year.

In addition to information available in the newly released Information Alert, producers will find more detailed information about CSP in NSAC’s Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program, available for free download at  The Guide provides clear information on conservation activities eligible for CSP payments to improve conservation performance and environmental benefits.  It also includes step-by-step enrollment guidance, key definitions, and helpful hints.



Agriculture at the Crossroads - New Blog Post by Brian Snyder

Agriculture at the Crossroads - New Blog Post by Brian Snyder

Posted by at May 01, 2013 07:33 AM |

With food safety work on a bit of a hiatus right now - the 120-day extension for public comment on Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules confirmed - I have a chance to think and write about the situation we are facing within agriculture more broadly. A recent trip to Washington DC also pushed me in this particularly pensive direction.

Read more of the blog post here.

Document Actions
  • RSS feed

Tool Shed

Buy Fresh Buy Local SOIL toolshed image