You are here: Home Blog


PASA's blog.

Brian's Latest Blog Post - Strawberries, Raspberries & Bagged Salads

Posted by at Aug 21, 2013 06:04 AM |

Strawberries, Raspberries and Bagged Salads

by Brian Snyder

This is a guest post coming from two very experienced PASA farmers regarding the potential impact of the rules being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). I have learned that it is often best to just step aside and let the farmers we work with do the talking, and this piece helps to prove that point!  Readers should keep in mind that the FSMA rules are open to public comment through November 15 of this year.  To learn more, please look elsewhere on this blog, or check the National Sustainable Ag Coalition website on this matter.


Local Farmers Worry About New Food Safety Guidelines - Listen to the WPSU Interview

Posted by at Aug 01, 2013 02:14 PM |

Listen and learn more here!

Read Brian's Latest Blog Post on, Including an Update on Food Safety

Posted by at Aug 01, 2013 05:18 AM |

Our Lives in the Balance
by Brian Snyder

Well folks, we received word last week of yet another extension of the deadline to comment on the proposed rules related to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  The new deadline will be November 13 of this year.  We are told that this is a “final” deadline, and we have every reason to believe that description, since the courts are now involved in limiting FDA’s ability to extend the process any further. We can at least be happy that the month of August will not be spent trying to motivate farmers and the general public to respond in great numbers to the proposed rules – the fall season will work much better for that, and we’ll still be done by Thanksgiving!

Read more of this post

PASA Request for Proposal: Capital Campaign Feasibility Study & Campaign

Posted by at Jul 30, 2013 08:28 AM |

Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), a grassroots 501(c)(3) non-profit entity, requests proposals from qualified firms or consultants to work with its Board of Directors, Capital Campaign Committee and Management Team to conduct a feasibility study related to PASA’s desire to raise capital for the implementation of “The Institute for Agrarian Leadership and Innovation”.

PASA plans to launch a capital campaign to raise a minimum of $3.0M to $3.5M for the establishment of The Institute for Agrarian Leadership and Innovation (ALI). This move will focus and deepen PASA’s farm-to-fork educational programs, strengthen farmer-to-farmer learning and facilitate farmer-driven research. The ALI  Institute will not only provide a unique and powerful resource to the sustainable farming and agricultural research communities in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, it will also constitute a huge step for PASA as an organization, in assuring both its permanence as a nationally recognized and respected food system leader, and our traditional and proven focus on farmer-centered educational programming.


Smithsonian Seeks Farmers' Stories for New Exhibition

Posted by at Jul 26, 2013 09:28 AM |

Smithsonian National Museum of American History is seeking farmers' help in telling stories of the innovation and experiences of farming and ranching across the United States.

Farmers are invited to share their personal stories about the ways innovation and technology have helped to continually improve the industry at

The museum is currently seeking stories, photographs and other memorabilia to feature in its upcoming "American Enterprise" exhibition, which will paint the picture of American business through agriculture, consumer finance, information technology/communication, manufacturing and retail/service.

Innovations in Wastewater Management for Small Meat Processors - Webinar Recording

Posted by at Jul 26, 2013 09:25 AM |

Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network webinar

Finding an affordable and legal way to manage wastewater can be very challenging for small meat and poultry processors. On this webinar, you will learn about an innovative, economic approach that a small, USDA-inspected processor in rural Indiana is using with great results: a constructed wetlands system.

Greg Gunthorp of Brushy Prairie Packing and Gunthorp Farms, and Craig Chivers, environmental sanitarian with LaGrange County Health Department, explain how the system is designed and how it works, give data about its effectiveness in improving water quality, and discuss costs, the permitting process, and other aspects of using this type of system for a meat plant.

More details are available here.

Centre County Local Foods Week Activities Connect Eaters with Growers

Posted by at Jul 25, 2013 01:42 PM |

August is a month of cookouts, family gatherings, and finding creative ways to beat the heat. Did you realize that all the ingredients you need for your next summer get-together—mouthwatering burgers, juicy watermelons, crisp salads, and refreshing ice cream—are produced right here in Centre County? They’re closer than you think, and the growers are eager to meet you in person. Buy Fresh Buy Local® Centre County Chapter is presenting Local Foods Week from August 3rd through August 10th,which will offer events for the whole family to explore and connect with the county’s vast agrarian offerings and sustainability practices. The week’s happenings will appeal to anyone with an interest in local foods at any level, from backyard gardening, homesteading, or cooking with sustainable ingredients right up to larger scale farming. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, Local Foods Week will help you and your family appreciate and understand what it takes to bring your meals from the farmers’ fields to your fork.   

The importance of celebrating our local food economy has long been acknowledged by the Centre County Board of Commissioners, which has officially declared a Local Foods Week each year since its inception. They will announce Local Foods Week 2013 at their meeting on July 30th. This is done in recognition of the abundance of fresh, wholesome food produced in the county and the wish of consumers to access healthy foods while supporting local farmers. By declaring Local Foods Week, the Board of Commissioners helps provide an avenue to build strong relationships between farmers and consumers throughout the county, bringing growers and consumers together to celebrate the harvest and rich agricultural heritage. This year, they will issue in a week filled with lots of great events!

Local Foods Week will kick off with Pennsylvania Certified Organic’s (PCO) Farm Fest on August 2nd and 3rd at the Grange Fair grounds. This community-building event will include educational sessions on organic agriculture and sustainable living, live music, a silent auction, a Homemade & Homegrown market, children's activities, a 5K Run &  Fun Walk, and delicious local food. Learn from the expert keynote speakers including Gary Zimmer, co-founder of Midwestern BioAg, a consulting company focused on biological agriculture; Jerry Brunetti, founder of Agri-Dynamics, a holistic product supplier and consultant for livestock and crops; and Brian Snyder and Susan Beal of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA). Both days of FarmFest are free and open to the public.

After learning about the area’s sustainable and organic environment, see it for yourself—by bicycle! PASA’s Bike Fresh Bike Local will take place here in Centre County for the first time, and you won’t want to miss out. The ride, your choice of 25, 50, or 75 miles, will start and end in Millheim, PA, and encompass the farmscapes, woodlands, and villages of Penns and Brush Valleys. After the ride, sit back and enjoy a sumptuous locally sourced, seasonal lunch provided by event partner Elk Creek Café + Aleworks, including a brew for riders over 21 years of age. Bike Fresh Bike Local will take place on Sunday, August 4th and is open to beginner and advanced cyclists. The cost of this event is $40 for advanced registration, or $45 for walk-ins.

Fresh air and exercise are enough to boost anyone’s appetite, and what better place to stock up on fresh grown foods than a farmers market? If you’ve ever brought home a bag of market goodies but been at a loss for what to make from them, come learn from the experts at the Boalsburg Market Golden Basket Chef Competition. Watch nine chefs from local restaurants compete to prepare the best main dish and two sides out of ingredients they find right there at the market. Judges will score each dish on taste, texture, presentation, and creativity, then declare a champion. Be sure to get there early to watch the chefs at work—and snag some samples! The competition will take place at the Boalsburg Farmers Market on Tuesday, August 6th from 2:00 to 4:00pm, and is free to the public to watch.

Once you’ve learned about organic farming, pedaled through valleys, and tasted market-fresh culinary masterpieces, it’s time to experience the farms themselves. Join us for PASA’s 8th Annual Farm Tour, when seventeen farms will be open to the public on Saturday, August 10th from 12:30pm to 5:00pm(some farms will be open earlier for visitors who have purchased a Farm Tour Pass, available for pre-sale only and not on the day of the tour).

Each farm will offer unique opportunities to get up close and personal with agriculture: meet the farmers, see sustainable growing in action, get hands-on farming experience, interact with animals, and take home tasty items straight from the fields. Stop by the Buy Fresh Buy Local® table at a farmers market or a BFBL partner business to purchase a Farm Tour Pass. Passes are $15/car and$10/bike, are good for entrance at any of the listed farms, and include special deals for dining and shopping at BFBL partner locations. Don’t have a pass? Don’t worry—non-pass holders will be asked to pay $5 per vehicle at each farm visited.

Details about the week’s events can be found at

Nominations Sought for PASAbilities Awards

Posted by at Jul 23, 2013 12:54 PM |

PASAbilities - Nominations Needed for Sustainable Ag Leadership Awards for 2014

One of the highlights of PASA's annual Farming for the Future Conference is the presentation of the Sustainable Ag Leadership Awards exemplifying the spirit of sustainability in agriculture and food systems. The PASA Board is currently accepting nominations for two leadership awards, one to an individual farmer (or farming couple) and another to a business proprietor. Award winners will each be asked to prepare a 18 to 20-minute presentation for one of the plenary sessions and will receive a plaque and modest cash prize.

The PASAbilities series is designed with three distinct objectives in mind:

•    Hear the stories of our successful leaders and innovators in the sustainable ag community.
•    Inspire farmers and business owners in the audience to improve their operations and/or begin transitioning to more sustainable management.
•    Provide outreach to the public in promoting sustainable agriculture.

The Organizational Leadership Committee of the Board of Directors will be receiving and reviewing the nominations for awards. Nominations are being accepted for either category (farm or business) via this web form, you can also mail submissions to the PASA headquarters office at the address below. Surface-mailed nominations should also include a brief statement explaining why the nominee is qualified. All nominations should be received by September 30, 2013.

If you choose to mail in a nomination, please use this address:

Attn: Awards Nominations
PO Box 419
Millheim PA 16854

Present on PASA's Stage at the Mother Earth News Fair! Application Deadline is July 19

Present on PASA's Stage at the Mother Earth News Fair! Application Deadline is July 19

Posted by at Jul 12, 2013 10:40 AM |

Mother Earth News Fair

Seven Springs, Pa. | September 20-22, 2013

Seven Springs Mountain Resort

Seven Springs, PA

The Mother Earth News Fair is a fun-filled, family-oriented sustainable lifestyle events. FAIRS feature practical, hands-on demos and workshops on organic gardening, renewable energy, modern homesteading, and more!

At the Fair, PASA hosts a stage with workshops and presentations led by PASA members, and an informational booth where members can volunteer and also promote their products. Over 10,000 people visit the Fair annually, and hundreds of people attend workshops on the PASA Stage!  Read more about the Fair here.

PASA Stage Presenters
PASA members are invited to present a 60 minute presentation on a topic related to sustainable agriculture. The Fair audience is mainly small scale farmers, family homesteaders, and people interested in sustainable living.  Presenters receive free admission to the Fair for the weekend, and a Mother Earth News Gift Bag. Once you have expressed interest in presenting, PASA will contact you to connect you with Mother Earth News Fair staff for scheduling.

If you have questions about presenting, please contact Leah Smith, 412-365-2985.

Fill out the PASA Stage Presenter Form Here. Deadline: July 19

PASA Seeking Volunteers to Help at Ag Progress Days Booth

PASA Seeking Volunteers to Help at Ag Progress Days Booth

Posted by at Jul 10, 2013 10:15 AM |

PASA will once again be hosting an informational booth (complete with quiz wheel this year!) at Penn State's Ag Progress Days, coming up Tuesday, August 13th - Thursday, August 15th.

We are looking for a few PASA member volunteers to help staff our booth during this three-day event. If you are interested in helping us out, please contact Michele Gauger, 814-349-9856 x17 directly or visit the Volunteer Page of our website to sign up for a shift.

And if you want to volunteer on a day with other activities happening that you may be interested in, here is the full Ag Progress Days' schedule of events.

PASA to Hold Workshop to Help Herb Growers Improve Profits & Find Their Niche in the Herb Market

Posted by at Jul 02, 2013 09:49 AM |

A Pinch of This and a Dash of That...
Workshop to Help Herb Growers Improve Profits & Find Their Niche in the Herb Market

PASA and Herbalist & Alchemist will be hosting a Field Day to explore ways to make a profit with an herb growing enterprise. This event is designed for anyone interested in entering the growing market for cultivated culinary and medicinal herbs at any scale. The event will be hosted at Quiet Creek Herb Farm in Brookville, Jefferson County on July 10, 2013 from 10am to 4pm.

Herbs have been found useful to humanity since ancient times. Even with the onset of modern conveniences and technology, herbs have held their place as the tried and true turn-to for perfumes, as natural cures for aches and pains and, most commonly, for a burst of flavor in any dish. Expanding markets for herb growers include restaurants, community supported agriculture programs, farmers markets and holistic medicinal businesses. Join us at this Field Day to learn how you can get the biggest bang for your basil.

This Field Day will include presentations by Claire and Rusty Orner, stewards of Quiet Creek Herb Farm, and by Beth Lambert, CEO of the reputable company Herbalist & Alchemist. The day will include a tour of Quiet Creek Herb Farm to observe growing methods for high-demand herbs and propagation techniques for their top-selling herbs. Discussion topics will cover a wide range including production estimates, direct sale versus wholesale versus retail markets, value-added production, strategies for successful marketing and effective communication with consumers. There will be ample time to network with fellow herb growers and share ideas.

For a company like the Alchemist and Herbalist, it is critical to have reliable, knowledgable quality suppliers. “As the industry is expanding, we are experiencing changes in land ownership and seeing long time growers retiring or cutting back,” Beth Lambert reflects. “It’s really very important to have young farmers coming in and looking into growing medicinal herbs, and is especially exciting when people who are local within our bioregion are interested in growing herbs.”

If you have any qualms about adding an array of herbs to your list of goods and wares, Rusty Orner assures that you won’t regret it. “As a marketing aspect, herbs are a good thing to add to your business because they’ll sell year round. Many are perennial, and people are always buying them. You can sell them [to plant] spring through fall, then the ones you haven’t sold can be processed into a value-added product like dried herb mixes or teas,” he advises.

The event costs $35, is open to the public and includes a networking lunch incorporating herbs and veggies from the farm. 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.

Read Brian's Latest Blog Post on

Posted by at Jun 26, 2013 09:26 AM |

Time for the Whole Enchilada

The recent failure of the Farm Bill to pass the U.S. House of Representatives has been widely touted as another indication of how nothing useful can get done by Congress these days, and that interpretation has plenty of merit.  But this unexpected collapse in the process may also signal just how far away from the needs of ordinary farmers the “Farm” Bill had drifted.  Much has been said about the divisiveness of SNAP (i.e. food stamp) benefits in the bill, but the real potential losses to rank-and-file food producers came in the guise of one successful amendment to please the dairy industry (contrary to most dairy farmers), and another failed one that would have put limits on crop insurance subsidies for larger farms. Combined, these factors left the legislation without much of a cheering section, which proved fatal in the end.


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

Document Actions
  • RSS feed

Tool Shed

Buy Fresh Buy Local SOIL toolshed image