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Penn State Extension to provide free water test kits to dairy farms

Penn State Extension to provide free water test kits to dairy farms

Posted by at Oct 17, 2012 06:25 AM |

Penn State Extension has over 200 livestock drinking water tests available that will be given to Pennsylvania dairy producers, as part of an extension educational program that in part encourages livestock producers to regularly test their water supply. One free water test kit is available for each farm that applies. The test kits will be made available on a first come, first served basis to dairy producers who register online at (preferred method) or call Laurie Porter at 888-373-7232. The registration deadline for this free testing is October 31, 2012 or as long as supplies last.

Producers successfully enrolled in the free water testing program will be notified and sent a test kit in the mail with sample materials, instructions and a one-page survey about their water supply. Farmers can collect and return their water samples through November 30, 2012 using the postage-paid envelope provided.  Each water supply will be tested for pH, total dissolved solids, nitrate-nitrogen, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, sodium, chloride, sulfate and hardness by the state-accredited Agricultural Analytical Services Lab at Penn State University. 

The Penn State Extension Water Testing Program will inform participating dairy producers about existing water quality problems that may be affecting herd health or milk production. Producers will receive their results along with basic interpretation within about four weeks after submitting their sample. Several Penn State Extension educational programs will be offered online and at locations around the state, after the testing is completed, to interpret the water test results and provide producers with recommendations to help solve their water quality problems.

Interested in learning more about land leasing? Join PASA November 3rd in Montgomery County

Interested in learning more about land leasing? Join PASA November 3rd in Montgomery County

Posted by at Oct 15, 2012 01:59 PM |

Join us Saturday, November 3rd to learn more about the land leasing options and learn first hand from those taking part in PASA's Farm Lease Connection program.

Land Leasing for New Farm Enterprises: A Workshop for Landowners and Farmers
Welkinweir Arboretum & Preserve
Pottstown, PA / Montgomery County

This workshop and farm tour brings together landowners and farmers, and provides both groups with useful information to facilitate the creation of successful new sustainable farm enterprises on leased land.

We welcome landowners with any size parcel of land--from ½ acre to hundreds of acres – who want to explore the rewarding possibilities of making their land more productive by leasing it to a sustainable farmer.

We welcome farmers of all levels of experience who are planning a new farm, or wish to expand an existing farm business.

Lunch included, advanced registration required.
Full details & registration available here.

For questions, contact Denise Sheehan, 610-458-3956

Are you a berry grower? Spotted Wing Drosophila - your input requested

Are you a berry grower? Spotted Wing Drosophila - your input requested

Posted by at Oct 15, 2012 08:40 AM |

From the Northeast IPM Spotted Wing Drosophila Working Group

Dear Berry Growers:

The Northeast IPM Spotted Wing Drosophila Working Group (headed up by Greg Loeb at Cornell University), is gathering information on the level crop damage that occurred on grower farms in the Northeastern U.S.

Please take five minutes to take the survey here to help fight the spotted wing drosophila (SWD), a new insect pest that threatens berry crops in the Northeast.

Unlike most fruit fly species that only attack overripe and rotten fruit, SWDs can lay eggs in ripening soft-skinned fruit such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, infesting them before harvest.

An Asian native, SWDs were first detected in North America in California in 2008, and made their way to the Northeast in the 2011 growing season.  In 2012, they were back earlier in the season and appear to have caused widespread damage, especially in late-season blueberry varieties, fall raspberries and day-neutral strawberries.  Extension educators and researchers received questions and reports of SWD damage daily.

So that we can better understand the scope and economic impact of this new pest to berry growers in the Northeast, we request that you to complete a brief online survey.  This information will be invaluable in defining the problem and informing policymakers and funders of the best way to support research and extension efforts to battle SWD.

The survey is anonymous and information about specific farms will not be released to the public. (The only identification information we ask is the county where you observed damage.)
So that we can share the results of our survey at an upcoming strategy meeting, please complete the survey by October 19, 2012. Questions? Cathy Heidenreich, 315-787-2367 or

Take the survey now

More about SWD from Cornell

Get PASA's weekly e-news - we want your feedback

Posted by at Oct 11, 2012 08:19 AM |

Feedback from our readers helps ensure our messages are useful & informative!

All those responding to the survey by Thursday, October 25th will be entered to win a "PASA Gear Pack". The pack includes a PASA t-shirt, stainless steel water bottle & hat.

PASA members in our North Central region invite you to the first annual barter fair

Posted by at Oct 11, 2012 04:45 AM |

PASA members from the North Central Region are invited to participate in the First Annual Barter Fair!

November 10, 12pm-3pm
Professional Development Center
Pennsylvania College of Technology
1 College Ave
Williamsport, PA 17701

The event room is located on a first floor of the Professional Development Center, near easily accessible parking in the Le Jeune Chef parking lot; there will be signs posted to direct participants. Bring a wagon to pull items inside, if that is easier. Each participant will have a 6-foot table space to display their wares for trade. Produce, meat, bakery items, cheese, soaps, canned goods, fiber products, and other farm produced products are welcome. The number of similar goods will be restricted, so variety is encouraged. RSVP early to improve your chances of participation. Please be prompt to set up your space so that as many participants as possible can view your products before the barter commences.

Some of the articles already available:
  • Wool Socks
  • Yarn
  • Blackberry Jam
  • Honey
  • Raw Fleece
  • Hot Peppers
  • Pumpkin Pies
  • Red Onions
Do you like some of the items listed?  Can you add some of your own?  Send us an email and tell us what you might be able to bring.  Help us make this a fun, successful event.
To reserve your space, contact: Leah Tewksbury or 570-437-2620

Your RSVP should include the following information:
- Identify your name, farm name, and contact information.
- List the main products you will bring for barter.
Requirements of Participation:
- Items need to be producer raised or handcrafted.
- Current member of PASA, residing in the North Central Region.
- Products grouped in $5 or $10 increments, to facilitate making trade agreements.
- Participants are asked to barter and avoid the use of cash.

Questions regarding the Barter Fair can be directed to PASA members, Leah Tewksbury, 570-437-2620 or Phylleri Ball, 570-998-2221      .
Grant funding for rural communities through National Endowment for the Arts

Grant funding for rural communities through National Endowment for the Arts

Posted by at Oct 10, 2012 09:51 AM |

On Thursday, October 11, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will post guidelines and application materials for its Our Town funding program. Next year will be the third year of the program that supports creative placemaking projects that

“help transform communities into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. The grantee projects will improve quality of life, encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies.”

In the first year of Our Town, the Wormfarm Institute received a grant to support their Farm/Art D-Tour, which included among its activities mobile farm stands designed and built by artists and interpretative signage about rural culture and the local arts, food, and farming communities. Here is their project description. Last year, 41 of the 80 grants went to communities with populations of less than 50,000 and five grants were made to communities with less than 1,000 residents.


Victoria Hutter
Assistant Director of Public Affairs, Media Relations
National Endowment for the Arts
1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Room 525
Washington, DC 20506
202-682-5692 (P)

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture to visit Penn State's main campus Wednesday, Oct. 10th

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture to visit Penn State's main campus Wednesday, Oct. 10th

Posted by at Oct 09, 2012 01:15 PM |

Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan, plans to visit Penn State's University Park Campus on Wednesday October 10. 

Secretary Merrigan would like to meet with students in the College that evening from 6:30 -7:30 PM in the auditorium of the Forest Resources Building. Merrigan oversees the day to day operations of USDA’s many programs and spearheads the $149 billion USDA budget process.

Specifically, Secretary Merrigan will give a presentation on Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, an initiative that highlights the importance of local foods and aims to strengthen the connection between farmers and consumers. She will showcase the Know Your Farmer Compass and discuss how local food systems strengthen rural economies. Deputy Merrigan will also discuss various career opportunities for students interested in local agriculture, not only on the farm, but also in government, business, and the non-profit sector.

The talk is free and open to the public.

Research leads to profitable, sustainable approaches to onion production

Research leads to profitable, sustainable approaches to onion production

Posted by at Oct 09, 2012 06:47 AM |

From SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education) Outreach

Onions are one of New York's most valuable vegetable crops, but growers face a host of production challenges: For example, bacterial rot cuts deep into profits, and fragile muck soil, in which most onions are grown, is susceptible to up to one foot of erosion every 10 years.

But the toolbox of solutions is expanding fast, thanks to promising SARE-funded research projects by Cornell University Extension Vegetable Specialist Christine Hoepting, who is using a series of grants to investigate new approaches from conservation tillage to mulches to planting techniques to soil fertility.

In one study, Hoepting got unexpected and positive results: She found that halving plant spacing to four inches could reduce yield loss to bacterial rot by 63 percent beyond growers' standards and could boost net profit by up to $258 per 100-foot bed for fresh market onions. Using alternatives to black plastic mulch-which absorbs sunlight and can create favorable, warm conditions for bacteria-yielded similarly positive results.

"A lot of growers became aware of how they can manipulate mulches and plant spacing, so they're experimenting on their own now," Hoepting says.

One of those growers is Matt Mortellaro, who raises 200 acres of onions for retail distribution on his family's Elba, N.Y., farm. "We've increased densities of our transplanted onions," he says. "It sometimes results in smaller bulb sizes, which can earn less on the market, but the increased quality more than makes up for it."

Another unexpected finding helped Hoepting leverage a $10,000 SARE grant into a $220,000 grant from the Northeastern Integrated Pest Management Center: After noticing that onions grown in a low-lying area of one test plot suffered disproportionately high damage, she speculated that nitrogen buildup was feeding soil bacteria. She is now studying the relationship between nutrient levels and bacteria incidence.

Mortellaro, like most of New York's larger-scale onion growers, plants most of his crop in muck soil, which, because it was created from drained wetlands, is rich in organic matter but very friable. Wind damage poses a serious problem under conventional tillage practices, especially during planting season.

"I've seen 4-foot drifts of muck. It reminds me of snow," Hoepting says. "Onions can be decapitated or pulled right out of the ground by strong winds when they're young."

While many farmers plant protective windbreaks of barley between onion rows, in the spring the young onions are vulnerable to wind damage until the barley has grown tall enough to offer protection. With a SARE grant, Hoepting compared minimum-tillage systems that left the residue of fall-planted oat and wheat cover crops on the ground to a conventional system that plowed the residue under. Hoepting, who received another SARE grant in 2011 to continue this research, found the residue left from minimum tillage protected both the soil and the onions: It effectively prevented erosion, and improved net profit by 9 percent compared to the conventional system.

"It's right only for certain acreage," says Mortellaro, referring to a farm's most wind-exposed fields. But on the 30 acres where he takes advantage of cover-crop residue, "it's working to my economic benefit enough that I'm going to continue doing it."

Want more information? Visit SARE's database of projects and do a coordinator-name search for "Hoepting." For practical information, check out SARE's book Building Soils for Better Crops, or Cover Crops and No-Till Management for Organic Systems, a Rodale Institute fact sheet developed as part of a SARE grant.

Congratulations to Keswick Creamery for winning medals during the World Jersey Cheese Awards

Congratulations to Keswick Creamery for winning medals during the World Jersey Cheese Awards

Posted by at Oct 09, 2012 04:50 AM |

Check it out - results from the World Jersey Cheese Awards. PASA member, Keswick Creamery wins a silver medal for Talleginator (tallegio style- this is Mark Dietrich Cochran's creation), bronze for Blue Suede Moo (Mark adapted the recipe) and bronze for Vermeer (PASA Board member, Melanie Dietrich Cochran's creation).

Congratulations Keswick - see all of their products here.

PA Dept of Agriculture Direct Farm Sales Grant application period is open - deadline is November 9

Posted by at Oct 05, 2012 09:20 AM |

The application period for the PA Department of Agriculture's Direct Farm Sales Grant program for 2012 began September 17th and will close on Friday, November 9.

This program awards up to $7,500 with a 25% match to Commonwealth-based businesses operating farm stands or farmers markets for promotion of specialty crop consumption.

For further details, visit the PDA webpage or contact Sandy Hopple, 800-468-2433.

Unblurred event tonight at The Cotton Factory in Pittsburgh to benefit PASA

Posted by at Oct 05, 2012 06:31 AM |

Foodies and spooks unite for a studio open house on Friday, October 5.
10% of sales tonight will be donated to PASA!

Cotton Factory
5440 Penn Avenue 
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Start your holiday shopping early, Halloween of course, during Unblurred on Friday, October 5 from 6:00pm to 10:00pm at the TeeRex screen-printing studio. New hand printed Halloween tees will be on display, and all 2011 tees will be $10.  A variety of $5 spooky designs will be available for on demand printing.
October 5th special guests will include:
·    Chuck Amok, an artist transplanted from the Phoenix area, draws on Mexican influences and pop culture to produce a wide spectrum of projects ranging from pin up girls to the Latin American Dia De Los Muertos. Her art utilizes vibrant colors with an emphasis on detail and mixed media.
·    Dana Valente will bring a beautiful selection of handmade jewelry inspired by nature. Valente creates elaborate assemblage pieces made from salvaged vintage items. Her ultra-cozy hand crocheted items will also be available for purchase.

10% of sales on October 5 will be donated to PASA. PASA Business Member - Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance will be on hand on behalf of PASA providing information about local food production.

Along with these special guests, The Cotton Factory and TeeRex Syndicate will provide East End Brewery Beer, and PASA Business Member - Franktuary will server gourmet hot dogs just outside the studio. The TeeRex Studio is located 5440 Penn Ave.

The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project is always in need of new or gently used totes. Donations of tote bags, canned foods, hygiene products or pet goodies will be accepted. Anyone who donates will be entered to win a free tee from the shop.

About TeeRex Syndicate:
TeeRex hand prints quality apparel with original designs created by a devoted staff of local designers. The TeeRex items found in the storefront are unique, experimental one-offs that can’t be found in their online store, Based in Pittsburgh, PA TeeRex often partners with local groups such as the Grow Pittsburgh, Hello Bully, and more.

Hands-on poultry processing Field Day on October 8th still has spaces available

Hands-on poultry processing Field Day on October 8th still has spaces available

Posted by at Oct 04, 2012 02:13 PM |

Due to the high demand of last year's hands-on poultry processing workshops held in the North Central and South Central regions, PASA is now offering this workshop in the Western Region.

Hands-on Poultry Processing: Health, Nutrition & Regulations
Date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 10am-4pm
Hosts: Jenny & Tom Lisak, Lady Bug Farm
Location: 2975 Rte 410, Punxsutawney, PA 15767 (Jefferson County)
Presentations & Presenters:
Hands-on Processing - Mike & Christie Badger, APPPA
Nutrition & Health - Jeff Mattocks of The Fertrell Company, Susan Beal, DVM of PASA, Tom & Jenny Lisak
Regulations - Susan Beal, Mike Badger

9:45am - Sign in
10am - welcome and introductions
10:30-12:15 - Group 1 - Processing
Group 2 - Health, Nutrition, Pasturing, Housing
12:15-1:15 - Lunch
1:15-3pm - Group 1 - Health, Nutrition, Pasturing, Housing
Group 2 - Processing
3:00-3:30 - Regulations
3:30 - Wrap-up & evaluations

$30 PASA members; $45 all others. Limited to 35 participants. Please pre-register by Friday, October 5 at 12pm to ensure lunch. Walk-ins welcome, but please bring your own lunch.

In partnership with The Fertrell Company; funded in part by the PA Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative.

Register here or call Rebecca Robertson, 814-349-9856 x20

Pittsburgh's Day of Giving today through 11:59PM

Pittsburgh's Day of Giving today through 11:59PM

Posted by at Oct 03, 2012 05:55 AM |

Pittsburgh's Day of Giving is TODAY, Wednesday, October 3 from 12:00am - 11:59pm EST.

All donations made to the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture online during this 24-hour period will receive a pro-rated portion of the Pittsburgh Foundation's $750,000 match pool.

MasterCard & Visa Accepted
$25 Minimum Donation
All Gifts are 100% Tax Deductible

Click here to get started! Be sure to search for "Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture" in the nonprofit sections box.

PASA Member Terry Brett to be honored by the Chester Co Ag Development Council

Posted by at Oct 02, 2012 05:26 AM |

The Board of the Chester County Commissioners and the Chester County Agricultural Development Council (ADC) present two annual awards, Farmer of the Year and Distinguished Agricultural Service. The Farmer of the Year award recognizes a farmer, farm family, partnership, etc., who maintains and exemplifies outstanding farming practices and farm appearance. The Distinguished Agricultural Service award honors an individual(s) who has positively promoted, made significant contributions to, or provided exceptional services for the Chester County agricultural community.

This year, PASA Member, Terry Brett of Kimberton Whole Foods will be honored along with artisan cheesemaker, David Rotelle and Larry Welsch, Executive Director of the Chester County Food Bank.

You can read more about these awards and see other past winners here.

Due to Congressional inaction, we have no Farm Bill

Posted by at Oct 01, 2012 09:49 AM |

With no new Farm Bill or extension, several programs are in big trouble

As of today, our nation’s food and farm policy in the form of the 2008 Farm Bill will officially expire, with no workable replacement. There are many who see this as a better course of events than the passage of one of the new, admittedly imperfect bills passed by the Senate in June and proposed in the House in July. Others view Congressional inaction as no big deal.

The 2008 Farm Bill expiration is unprecedented in over 50 years of farm bills. Congress can and should pass a full farm bill in 2012 – one that includes robust funding for critical programs, meaningful long-overdue reforms, and continues to protect and invest in conservation. And if they must instead pass an extension, they must protect and fund critical programs that lose baseline funding, and make a down payment on meaningful reform.

If Congress doesn’t act to pass a bill (or craft a good extension that funds expiring programs and makes a down payment on reform), it means:
o    The programs that address rural and urban job creation, natural resource conservation, renewable energy, and improved production and access to healthy food are in big trouble.  
o    Farmers will not be enrolling sensitive land in ecological restoration projects.  
o    Training opportunities for the next generation of beginning farmers will dry up.  
o    Microloans to the very small businesses that drive economic recovery in rural America will cease.  
o    Emerging farmers markets in rural and urban food deserts will not have access to startup grants.  
o    Organic farming researchers will not be able to compete for any dedicated research funds.  
o    Grants to encourage on-farm energy conservation, to fund fruit and vegetable research, to assist minority and tribal farmers, to rebuild local and regional food systems, to invest in emerging farmer and community owned food businesses with high consumer demand, and to transfer land to young farmers will also be put on hold.

“Advocates for sustainable farming have worked for decades to get a relatively tiny slice of the Farm Bill pie directed toward programs that serve the future by protecting the environment and building food security, and now we stand to lose those hard-fought gains,” said Brian Snyder, executive director of PASA. “It’s high time that our elected leaders understand we have but one planet to protect, and that their constituents are demanding a higher quality, more resilient food supply for the long-term. The future health of our families and communities depends on a sustainable food strategy that is supported at the highest levels of government.”

The first programs to be shut down starting today are the ones that invest the most in the sustainable and equitable farm and food system we all want to achieve.

Our partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition have also put together a great Farm Bill FAQ page on their website, as to "what happens now."

What can YOU do?
It’s up to all of us to hold Congress accountable and get a 2012 Farm Bill done before the end of the year.  All of our victories in the draft versions of the farm bill thus far – historic commodity payment limitation reform, conservation protection for highly erodible land and sensitive wetlands, grant funding for local and regional food infrastructure, and much more – are on the line. Calls from folks like you will be crucial in November when Congress comes back to Washington.

Help us get the best bill possible for sustainable agriculture – sign up for NSAC Action Alerts today and speak out!

October is Refer a Friend Month at PASA

October is Refer a Friend Month at PASA

Posted by at Oct 01, 2012 06:53 AM |

PASA launched our Member2Member Referral Program in the Fall of 2011 with success - and we hope you will help us expand it even further during the month of October!

Share the benefits of PASA membership with your friends and neighbors, while helping to build our network.

Each current PASA member referring another individual, family or business that becomes a new member will receive:

  • A coupon to attend one Farm-Based Education event in 2013.
  • One 10"x14" PASA member sign.
  • One 1/8th page, business-card sized ad in an upcoming issue of our Passages newsletter to promote your farm, event or business.
  • Be entered in our end of the month drawing to win a $50 gift certificate from PASA Business Member, Johnny's Selected Seeds.

How Can You Participate?

Option 1. Click here to access an email/social media post that you can personally customize and share with your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, whoever!

Option 2. Distribute coupons. Click here to access a special coupon you can customize with your name, and then either print to hand out or email to those you want to refer to PASA. If you choose to email this along, feel free to use the customizable sample email message from Option 1.

Option 3. Go to this web form, and enter the contact information of those you want to refer to PASA. We will send them a customized letter on your behalf noting your referral.

Option 4. Do you use Facebook or Twitter? On October 1st, PASA will make an announcement regarding Refer a Friend Month at PASA, please help spread the word by sharing or "like" our posts, or by retweeting our referral information.

With a verified dues payment by the referral (new member), you will be contacted by PASA for acknowledgement and coordination of your reward! To make a referral or to learn more, visit or contact Michele Gauger, 814-349-9856 x17.

Continue to read & watch fellow members' stories by keeping up with our Fall Campaign

PASA's Fall Campaign kicked off September 1st, as these biannual drives showcase PASA members, our programs and services. Our goals are to raise awareness, grow membership, and inspire more participating and giving. Organizational growth will empower us to continue to strengthen quality educational programs and services, and that is what it is all about. Together we can achieve the food system we all want!

PASA debuted the first video of our Reflections series yesterday, take a look

Posted by at Sep 28, 2012 09:55 AM |

PASA launched our Reflections video project at the 2012 Farming for the Future Conference, where we asked our members to share their stories. Our members are truly representative of our greatest resource.

This week we debuted our interview with Dru Peters of Sunnyside Farm in York County.

Check out PASA Member Maggie Robertson featured as a fearless female farmer

Check out PASA Member Maggie Robertson featured as a fearless female farmer

Posted by at Sep 27, 2012 01:49 PM |

Maggie Robertson of M&M Farms in Sligo, Clarion County, is featured in short video from The Brazen Kitchen.

Mother Earth News Fair: education, outreach & some fun and games

Posted by at Sep 25, 2012 11:25 AM |

Thousands of people attended the three-day Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Somerset County, September 21-23, and for the third consecutive year, PASA partnered with the Mother Earth News Fair to bring sustainable agriculture education to this fun-filled, family-oriented sustainable lifestyle event.

PASA hosted an information booth and stage highlighting our programs and our membership.  PASA members provided educational workshops on the stage to standing-room-only audiences, and the information booth was humming with activity, as hundreds of Fair-goers stopped by to learn more.

The highlight of the Fair was the PASA Farmer Olympics, in celebration of Local Food Month, held on Sunday, September 23. Cheered on by a crowd of around a hundred onlookers, six teams of farmers and students competed in a series of farming-inspired challenges including the Tomato-Trellis Relay Race, Blindfolded Box Building, and a Potato Harvest Scramble.

Thanks to our Olympic volunteers Joe Bozzelli, Greg Strella, and Walker and Ashton Orner.   Special thank you to all our Olympics teams of competitors: Who Cooks for You Farm, Blackberry Meadows Farm, Kencove Farm Fencing, Chatham University Food Studies Students, and the Student Conservation Association.

Congratulations to 2012 Farmer Olympics Champions:
Who Cooks for You Farm!


Farm Aid 2012 - HOMEGROWN Village - thanks to all who stopped by

Posted by at Sep 25, 2012 05:35 AM |

Thanks to all Farm Aid 2012 concert-goers for stopping by the PASA and Buy Fresh Buy Local® activity booth spaces in the HOMEGROWN Village on Saturday, September 22nd. Folks had the chance to take a spin on our Ag Trivia Wheel, join our new social media campaign by telling us why #FarmersRock, paint their own farm animal or get their face (or some cases arms & hands) painted with their favorite animal/vegetable.

PASA staff and volunteers had a great time talking with folks and sharing information about what we do and the importance of supporting our farmers!

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