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Bike Fresh Bike Local - Chester County a success!

Bike Fresh Bike Local - Chester County a success!

Posted by at Sep 24, 2012 02:05 PM |

Thanks to everyone who made PASA's 5th Annual Bike Fresh Bike Local event a success. We had record-breaking participation this year with 900 riders, and we were lucky to have a wonderful event partner in Victory Brewing Company that was able to serve so many with a local food lunch and of course a Victory brew!

PASA hopes to see you again in 2013 for another "great ride for a great cause."

Please be sure to check out our Bike Fresh page, and support our Event Partners & Sponsors!

Photo Caption: Special thanks to the amazing crew from event partner Victory Brewing. Shown here sporting PASA gear is Executive Chef Eric MacPherson (left), General Manager Diane Desiderio (center), Vice President Matt Krueger (right).

Looking for something to do this weekend? Join PASA at the myriad of events we have across the state

Posted by at Sep 17, 2012 06:22 AM |

PASA announces an exciting array of events and opportunities to support your local farmer while enjoying the lovely fall weather in Pennsylvania. To celebrate the harvest season, PASA is hosting and attending farmer-focused and family-friendly events throughout the Commonwealth. Read on to find an event near you or mark your calendars for a PA road trip!

South Central PA:
Join PASA at Farm Aid 2012 on Saturday, September 22, at Hersheypark Stadium. The concert will feature Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds, Kenny Chesney, Jack Johnson, ALO, Pegi Young & The Survivors and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. Farm Aid is much more than a concert – there are plenty of events leading up to the concert, including the following:
•    Farm Aid’s 2nd National Gathering of Farm Advocates on Thursday, September 20, is a working meeting that will bring together new and established farm advocates and financial, legal and farm policy experts for a day of training and skills development. Register at
•    The Farm Aid Forum – Shale Gas Extraction & the Family Farm is an educational session provided to discuss the range of impacts, resources and protections for those facing unconventional natural gas extraction on their land or in their community. This open meeting will be held Friday, September 21st from 9:00am – 12:00pm at the Holiday Inn Harrisburg East (4752 Lindle Road, Harrisburg PA 17111). RSVPs are required – please email to RSVP.
•    Farm Aid’s HOMEGROWN Village is open from noon to 5:30pm on Saturday, September 22, and is a lively space where concert goers enjoy interactive and experiential exhibits about soil, water, family farmers and good food! Stop by and visit PASA’s three exhibits in the HOMEGROWN Village. Play ag trivia, help recreate a mural of the Buy Fresh Buy Local® logo, learn about backyard conservation and homesteading in the Skills Tent, try out our bicycle powered generator at our Good Food Neighborhood™ booth and enter to win amazing raffle prizes donated by PASA member farms and businesses.

ART on the FARM at Dickinson College Farm in Boiling Springs on Sunday, September 23, from 4:00pm to 8:00pm is a collaborative fundraiser to benefit PASA & the Carlisle Arts & Learning Center (CALC). Art on the Farm provides a unique opportunity for the Cumberland Valley to experience local flare through art, education and agriculture.

Area painters, ceramicists, fiber artists and performance artists will be engaged “en plein air” work from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Guests will be given a map of the Dickinson College Farm for an opportunity to interact with artists in action. Educational programs will run concurrently with the “en plein air” sessions, allowing visitors to gain a deeper perspective and appreciation for key topics relating to sustainable land management and food production.

Hors d’oeuvres made by local restaurants will be provided along with samplings of craft beer and wines. This will be followed by a light dinner made with fresh, local ingredients. The night will culminate with a live and silent auction. The cost is $40 per Individual or $75 per couple. To purchase tickets visit or call 717-249-6973.

Eastern PA:
PASA’s 5th Annual Bike Fresh Bike Local ride offers 25, 50 or 75 mile route options to make this the perfect ride for those who haven’t been on their bike in a while to cyclists looking for a challenge. Get your family, friends and co-workers out to appreciate the beautiful rolling hills of Chester County and see where our food comes from! The ride starts & finishes at event partner and Chester County’s famous beer destination, Victory Brewing Company. All participants receive a delicious locally sourced lunch and an award winning Victory draft beer (for riders 21+ years of age) after the ride!
Walk-in registration ($45) is available at the event. PASA also gratefully welcomes additional donations, which you can add at the time of registration.

Join PASA from 11:00am – 3:00pm on Saturday, September 22, for an amazing event celebrating the official Grand Re-Opening of Kimberton Whole Foods’ Downingtown store in its new location! Come for the expanded organic produce section, the larger selection of great healthy groceries, the green building features throughout the store and the free samples, bike raffle, kids activities and food demos! The new Downingtown store is 2 doors down from the previous Downingtown location in the Milltown Square Shopping Center. 

Western PA:
September is Local Foods Month in Western PA, and to add to the fun and celebration, PASA is hosting a Farmer Olympics at the Mother Earth News Fair! The Farmer Olympics brings local farmers and their supporters together for some friendly competition in fun, farming-inspired challenges. Teams of farmers and community members will test their skill, agility, teamwork and knowledge in competitions like the potato harvest scramble, tomato-trellising relay, box building, fence moving and farm trivia. Teams receive free admission to the Mother Earth News Fair on Sunday, September 23. Fun for all, and prizes to the winners!

The Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs Mountain Resort is a fun-filled, family-oriented sustainable lifestyle event. The Fair features practical, hands-on demos and workshops on topics like renewable energy, small-scale agriculture, livestock, gardening, green building, and natural health in addition to vendors of organic food and drink, books and magazines, tools, seeds, clothing and more. In 2011, over 9,000 people attended the Fair, and this year the event has been extended from two days to three.

Farm Aid 2012 - Farm Tours

Farm Aid 2012 - Farm Tours

Posted by at Sep 13, 2012 07:05 AM |

As part of the Farm Aid 2012 activities coming up next week, there are two farm tours taking place on Friday, September 21. Be sure to register today!

This is a great chance for PASA members to tour these two excellent operations! All farm tours depart promptly at 12 noon from the Holiday Inn Harrisburg – East (4751 Lindle Rd, Harrisburg, PA 17111). Contact Alicia Harvie at with questions.

Spiral Path Farm
Loysville, PA
12 noon – 4:30pm, boxed lunch included
Join us for a special tour of Spiral Path Farm, a unique and innovative family farm that includes 80 acres of vegetable production, an extensive solar energy program and worm composting project, large greenhouses for seasonal extension, a packing facility and a CSA program serving over 2,000 shareholders. Participants will also visit Sunset Valley Farm, an Amish family farm with a grazing dairy and processing facility for its state-licensed raw milk operation. Ice cream and other delicious dairy products will be served! Discussion of direct marketing, value-added production, and food safety policy will be featured on this tour.

Rodale Institute Experimental Farm
Kutztown, PA
12 noon – 6:00pm, boxed lunch provided
Visit the birthplace of organic agriculture in the United States. Explore the Rodale Institute's Farming Systems Trial – a 30-year research study comparing organic and conventionally managed farm plots, see heritage livestock demos for small scale poultry, hog and goat production, and enjoy a wagon ride to a neighboring dairy farm that just transitioned to organic in 2012. A discussion of organic farming practices and the history of organic agriculture will be featured on this tour.

Maryland Pesticide Network needs volunteers for their pesticide study in the state

Maryland Pesticide Network needs volunteers for their pesticide study in the state

Posted by at Sep 06, 2012 08:22 AM |

The Maryland Pesticide Network is looking for volunteers to contribute to their study quantifying total body pesticide burden in Maryland residents. Ruth Berlin, the Executive Director of the Maryland Pesticide Network, says contributing to the work involves collecting urine for twenty four hours, then submitting that to the laboratory for analysis for some common agricultural and household pesticides. The Pesticide Network will cover all shipping & testing costs.

Maryland residents are conspicuously absent in any similar work that has previously been done on this subject. The current Maryland study will sample individuals from a variety of backgrounds, from urban dwellers to farmers.

For more information about this study or to clarify any questions you might - or to volunteer - please contact:

Ruth Berlin, LCSW-C
Executive Director
Maryland Pesticide Network
410-849-3909, ext. 1
544 Epping Forest Road
Annapolis, MD 21401
1209 N. Calvert Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

Stanford research confirms health benefits driving consumers to organic

Posted by at Sep 06, 2012 04:30 AM |

Organic foods have lower pesticide residues, lower chance for antibiotic-resistant bacteria

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 4, 2012) - A review article published September in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirms that consuming organic foods reduces consumers’ exposure to pesticide residues and to bacteria resistant to antibiotics, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) notes. These are among the top reasons consumers cite for choosing to buy organic products.
“Consumers seeking to minimize their exposure to pesticide residues will find that foods bearing the USDA Organic label are the gold standard. This is because organic foods have the least chemicals applied in their production and the least residues in the final products,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO. “And, because organic livestock practices forbid the use of antibiotics, including the routine use of low level antibiotics for growth, organic meat contains less antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

Key conclusions in the meta-analysis conducted by Stanford University researchers reviewing published results from 17 human studies and 223 studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, eggs, chicken, pork, and meat included three main findings:

•    Conventional produce has a 30 percent higher risk for pesticide contamination than organic produce.
•    Conventional chicken and pork have a 33 percent higher risk for contamination with bacteria resistant to three or more antibiotics than organic products do.
•    There is no difference in the food safety risk between organic and conventional foods.

The latest Stanford University research review confirms the health benefits that 78% of American families choosing organic foods, at least occasionally, seek. OTA’s 2011 Attitudes and Beliefs Study cites reducing exposure to pesticides and avoiding antibiotics in the food supply as top reasons for choosing organic.

Pointing out that published literature lacks broad evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods, the Stanford University researchers, however, did cite higher levels of total beneficial phenols in organic produce, omega-3 fatty acids in organic milk and chicken, and vaccenic acid in organic chicken.
The link between agronomic practices and nutritional profile of foods is an emerging research topic, Bushway noted, adding, “We are optimistic that in the future, good applied scientific research on organic food and farming will show that healthy soils produce healthy foods.”

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.

Resource Guide for Value-Added Producer Grants

Posted by at Aug 30, 2012 09:42 AM |

If any PASA members are interested in applying for funds under the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant program, PASA staff would be glad to provide some assistance. If you are interested in learning more, contact Michele Gauger, 814-349-9856.

NSAC Releases Applicant Resource Guide for Value-Added Producer Grants

Washington, DC – Today, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition released a Farmers’ Guide toValue-Added Producer Grant Funding.  This guide is being released on the heels of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement of $14 million in available funds for fiscal year 2012 for Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG). Applications for the competitive grants program are due at USDA State Rural Development offices by October 15, 2012.

VAPG awards funding to producers to help them develop farm-related businesses that add value to basic agricultural products through processing, product differentiation, commodity segregation, on-farm energy production, labeling and certification, and local and regional food marketing.

“This program is one of the best USDA programs for boosting farm income, creating new job opportunities, and aiding rural economic renewal,” said Helen Dombalis, NSAC Policy Associate.  “We know farmers and ranchers across the country have been anxiously waiting for this year’s VAPG funding announcement and are confident that NSAC’s resource guide will be useful in assisting first-time and seasoned applicants alike.”

The Guide, available for free download online, includes clear information on new program rules and contains a step-by-step description of the application and ranking processes, with helpful hints to improve a producer’s chances of obtaining funding from the highly competitive program.  It also describes the program priorities for small and medium-sized family farms, beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and mid-tier value chains (regional supply networks with active farmer participation).

VAPG is a farm bill program and as such is up for renewal in the new farm bill Congress has been debating this year. To date, both the Senate-passed and House Committee-passed 2012 Farm Bills renew VAPG and both would provide it with $50 million in total new mandatory funding for the next five years.

“We applaud Congress for renewing VAPG in the new farm bill it is debating,” said Dombalis. “The funding level proposed in both bills, however, is only half of the historic VAPG funding levels. We hope that the total funding level is doubled to $100 million for the next five years in the final version of the farm bill. That would be a surefire way to accelerate economic recovery, create long-term sustainable income streams for farmers and farming communities, and meet consumer demand for high quality agricultural products.”

Download the free Guide on NSAC's publications page:

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities.

Local dairy farm finds success in cheese making business

Local dairy farm finds success in cheese making business

Posted by at Aug 24, 2012 05:12 AM |

Local Dairy Farm Finds Success in Cheese Making Business
6th generation Wayne County farm to share experiences in diversifying the family dairy

Join PASA on Thursday, August 30th at Calkins Creamery & Highland Farm in Honesdale, Wayne County, for an informative farm tour as part of PASA’s 2012 Farm-Based Education (FBE) schedule.

In today’s economic environment small, family farms often have difficulty sustaining their operations. Farms willing to add a value-added operation, such as making cheese or yogurt, can improve their odds of survival by producing, marketing and distributing their own products regionally.  

This program, “Diversifying the Family Dairy Farm for Profitability & Sustainability”, will give participants a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to build and manage a successful value-added dairy business. Emphasis will be on the production, marketing & distribution of farmstead/artisan dairy products. Points of discussion will include herd management, the economics of various shipping methods, whey-fed pork production, agri-tourism, small scale dairy equipment suppliers, training, industry trends and more.

“Our goal is to empower farmers to implement practices that improve profitability and reduce environmental impact while producing safe and healthy food for the community,” stated Rebecca Robertson, coordinator of PASA’s FBE programs. “We do this by facilitating opportunities for farmers to learn from other farmers. These innovative farmer leaders who share their time, experience and operations are the key components of our programs."

Highland Farm, established in 1841, is a 260-acre, preserved, family dairy farm that raises Holsteins in Northeastern PA. Calkins Creamery, a joint family venture, was constructed on the farm in 2006. The creamery produces and distributes 30,000 lbs of raw and pasteurized cheese each year to Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh and everywhere in between. Bill Bryant and son Zack manage the farm, and daughter Emily Montgomery manages the creamery.

“Calkins Creamery specializes in farmstead, artisan cheeses, using only fresh milk  from our own closed herd of registered Holstein cattle,” says Emily.  “Our cows are well cared for and comfortable. Cow comfort reduces stress and results in an increase of milk production and butterfat, resulting in a higher quality product.”

In addition to producing quality cheeses, Emily hopes their consumers will come to know where food is raised and manufactured. “Today, many people take food sources for granted, and we want to show them where it all begins,” Emily explains.

This event is sponsored in part by PASA Business member, Agri-Service LLC of Hagerstown, MD and Town & Country Energy of Equinunk, PA. To register for this event, click here.

NRCS Accepting Applications for 2013 Conservation Programs

NRCS Accepting Applications for 2013 Conservation Programs

Posted by at Aug 23, 2012 10:35 AM |

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2013 financial assistance to help implement conservation practices that improve natural resources on farms, forestland, and wetland areas throughout Pennsylvania.

The deadline to submit applications to be considered in the first ranking period for Fiscal Year 2013 funding consideration is Friday, October 19, 2012.

Applications received after that date will be accepted and considered for funding if funds are available after first cycle applications are processed.

While the 2012 Farm Bill has not yet been approved, and it is not known if a short-term continuation of the 2008 Farm Bill will be approved, NRCS is making contingency plans to continue to work with farmers and landowners who want to implement conservation practices. Based on proposed legislation, it appears that the same types of conservation practices that are currently available for assistance will continue to be available. The name of the program that provides funding is subject to change depending on legislation.

Practices that reduce soil erosion and nutrient loss on cropland; help farmers manage manure and nutrients associated with livestock production; help forest land owners better manage woodlands; improve wildlife habitat, or improve grazing systems are anticipated to continue to be eligible for funding assistance. Individual practices that have been historically popular include: waste storage facilities, grass waterways, no-till, cover crops, streamside buffers, prescribed grazing, feed management, nutrient management, and forest stand improvement.

Applicants can request funding through the same programs that have been available through the current 2008 Farm Bill, and if changes are made as a result of the 2012 Farm Bill, NRCS will transfer those applications to the appropriate program for consideration. Applicants do need to specify what they are requesting assistance for at the time they are filing their application.

Some special initiatives expected to again be available for 2013 include habitat improvement for the Eastern Bog Turtle and for the Golden-Winged Warbler; farmstead energy audits, seasonal high tunnels, and installation of conservation practices to benefit organic farming operations or those transitioning to organic.

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers incentive payments for producers and forestland owners who are practicing good conservation measures and are interested in improving and adding practices to enhance their conservation efforts. The application deadline for the CSP ranking is also October 19th.

To take advantage of our technical assistance and expertise or federally funded conservation on your farm or land, please contact your local USDA NRCS Field Office, or visit their website for applications and program information.

Penn State Rural Sociology survey needs current or former farm intern/apprentice input

Posted by at Aug 21, 2012 09:18 AM |

The Rural Sociology Department at Penn State University is collecting feedback from workers' experiences. To date, internships and apprenticeships have played an important role within the sustainable farm community, yet the public knows little about the people who work in these programs and their impact on growing sustainable food. Their study will focus on the work that interns and apprentices do on farms in exchange for training and alternative forms of compensation. 

If you are a current OR former farm intern or apprentice, please contribute a few minutes of your time to complete their survey.

And please forward this survey to anyone working as an intern/apprentice who may wish to participate!

Are you working as an intern or apprentice in Pennsylvania?

They are also conducting interviews with interns and apprentices working in Pennsylvania. Email Stephanie at or Kathleen at or call 719-671-3509 to participate in the conversation about internships/apprenticeships on sustainable farms.

Western PA cheesemakers tell how they will use scholarship funds

Western PA cheesemakers tell how they will use scholarship funds

Posted by at Aug 21, 2012 04:51 AM |

Two Western Pennsylvania cheesemakers will access the training they aspire to thanks to fundraising efforts by Pittsburgh's top sous chefs, with matching money from Slow Food Pittsburgh and contributions by PA Made Cheese and Wild Purveyors.

Winners of the region’s first Pittsburgh Cheesemaker’s Scholarship Grants are Sam Byler of Riverview Dairy in Clarion County, an Amish dairyman who makes goat cheeses on a farm that operates with no electricity, and Lori Sollenberger of Hidden Hills Dairy in Bedford Country who creates cow cheeses from the rich milk of her Jersey herd.

Each will receive a $2,500 grant on the basis of essays they wrote describing how training them would take their cheesemaking to a new level.

Contestants were required to live in Western Pennsylvania and to be professionally engaged in making farmstead cheese, meaning they operate an artisan operation, using milk from animals living on the farm.

Mr. Byler will use his award to bring a herd of sheep to his farm. He will begin milking in the spring, with a plan to make sheep and sheep/goat cheeses, honing his skills with teacher/consultant Peter Dixon of Vermont. The Riverview Dairy sheep cheese will fill a gap, as Mr. Byler’s will be the first sheep cheese to be made in Western Pennsylvania.

Ms. Sollenberger expects to be in France come winter, “the easiest time to leave her farm,” to study cheesemaking with an artisan master. She’ll focus on alpine cheeses: Reblochon, a delicious soft Brie-like cheese with a velvety rind and Morbier,  glossy semi-soft layers separated by a thin layer of ash.

Judges for the 2012 competition were big Burrito Restaurant Group Executive Chef Bill Fuller; Chef/Owner of Legume Bistro Trevett Hooper; Chef/Owner Keith Fuller, Root 174; David Lagnese, owner of PA Made Cheese; Kevin Costa, owner, Crested Duck; Melanie Dietrich Cochran, nationally recognized cheesemaker/teacher of Keswick Creamery in Newburg in South Central Pennsylvania; Amy Thompson, cheesemonger at Lucy’s Whey in Manhattan and Long Island; and representatives of Slow Food Pittsburgh and PASA.

The effort to bring more and better local cheese to Pittsburgh is expected to be annual, with yearly cheesemaker grants.

For the inaugural event, Slow Food thanks Legume Bistro for hosting the Sous Chefs Cook for a Cause dinner and chef de cuisine Jamilka Borges for recruiting sous chefs Chad Townsend, Salt of the Earth; Matt Huggins, Spoon; John Heidelmier, then at Root 174, now at Bar Marco; Dustin Gardner, Casbah; and Sarah Susan and sommelier Caroline Matys of Legume.
Slow Food and Legume plan an event next year to showcase the winning cheesemakers'  new training.

Information supplied by Virginia Phillips & Slow Food Pittsburgh.

The PASA family is saddened to announce the passing of long-time member, Wendy Rickard. Her friend & colleague, Rita Calvert, wanted to share this tribute

The PASA family is saddened to announce the passing of long-time member, Wendy Rickard. Her friend & colleague, Rita Calvert, wanted to share this tribute

Posted by at Aug 15, 2012 02:10 PM |

The Gifts that Wendy Gave

Wendy Rickard Yampolsky, 54, passed away Monday evening, August 13, 2012 after a heroic battle with cancer. Wendy was passionate about sustainable agriculture which was evident in the the publishing company she founded, Eating Fresh Publications. Fresh From the Mid-Atlantic, The Grassfed Gourmet, The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up!, and the charming pamphlet-The Great News About Grass, were her major releases.

As this is written on Julia Child's birthday with "giving" as the headline, it brings to mind all the gifts Wendy gave to sustainable agriculture and to those around her. In her publishing business, Wendy always said the farmers were her best customers and she actually continued to publish books to help our sustainable farmers educate their customers. She told me that if a customer bought a side of beef from a farmer, one of the cookbooks was a perfect thank you gift. Wendy also served on the FoodRoutes Network board for years.

As Eating Fresh was a niche venture for Wendy, her main career was working with Internet Society Members and Chapters across the globe. Wendy initiated the OnTheInternet magazine (OTI) in 1996. OTI was published first in print and then online until 2001 and was one of the first periodicals that covered the broad range of technical, policy, and development topics relating to the Internet. She was the initial and long-time editor of the Internet Society Annual Report and contributed to many other Internet Society publications. She also served until very recently as the Associate Editor of the IETF Journal.

Beyond her sustainable farming and Internet-related accomplishments, Wendy is remembered for her incredible passion and the seemingly endless creative and positive energy she brought to everything she did.

Contributions in her memory may be made to PASA and mailed to Box 419, Millheim, PA 16854 or you can donate here.

Last week to take advantage of Dine Fresh, Dine Local for PASA

Posted by at Aug 14, 2012 05:14 PM |

Harrison's Wine Grill & Catering is a quintessential Buy Fresh Buy Local® (BFBL) Partner and long-time PASA supporter. This August, you can help support local agriculture by taking part in an event that has already raised over $1,000 for PASA in years past.

Harrison's will donate 20% of each participating guest's check (before tax and gratuity) to PASA between Monday, August 6th and Sunday, August 19th. Simply download, print & bring a copy of the flyer above (click on the image for full file) or mention intended support of PASA or BFBL to your server when you pay your check. There is no limit to the number of times you can dine in or carry out in support of PASA (excludes catering).


Do you want to eat apples that have been genetically modified to resist browning?

Do you want to eat apples that have been genetically modified to resist browning?

Posted by at Aug 10, 2012 06:55 AM |

The USDA is accepting comments on the deregulation of this genetically modified apple through September 11, 2012.

Voice your opinion here

Learn more about the proposal here.

Researchers discover the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug's winter hideout

Researchers discover the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug's winter hideout

Posted by at Aug 10, 2012 05:49 AM |

Researchers believe they have identified where brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) gathers in natural landscapes during winter, and their findings could help farmers manage this invasive insect. Doo-Hyung Lee, a postdoctoral research associate with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, wants to understand precisely what the risks are to growers from BMSB overwintering in natural landscapes. Lee works with a team of scientists led by Tracy Leskey at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in West Virginia.

“We know BMSB aggregate inside human-made structures in very high numbers,” Lee explains. “However, in the natural landscape, BMSB are spread out. They can be anywhere. They can remain unchecked by any management strategies, spreading randomly and building their population.”

Read the full article online...

IPM travel grants available via the Northeast IPM Working Group

Posted by at Aug 10, 2012 05:05 AM |

Would you like to learn more about integrated pest management (IPM) for vegetables or strawberries, but don't have funds for travel? Is there a meeting or conference with a focus on IPM that you would like to attend? Do you have a commitment to sharing what you learn with growers?

The Northeast Vegetable IPM Working Group, funded by the Northeastern IPM Center, offers an IPM Travel Grant that will pay up to $800 for qualified expenses to help agricultural professionals in the Northeast learn about and share integrated pest management practices in vegetables and strawberries. You may apply to travel to any educational program related to IPM that is outside your state—either within the Northeast or outside the region. You may also apply to make a special visit to another lab, research station, or region in order to learn about a special project or new working IPM that you want to bring back to growers in your area.

Learn more.

PASA Member Rodale Institute gearing up for their Organic Pioneer Awards ceremony

Posted by at Aug 10, 2012 04:35 AM |

The Organic Pioneer Awards ceremony will be held Saturday, September 14 at the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA (Berks County.

The event will begin at 6:00 with organic hors d'oeuvres and cocktails in the organic gardens. Guests are invited to enjoy a wagon-ride tour of our farm–complete with champagne–on their way to the landmark site of the Farming Systems Trial, where we will honor our first  award winner. A seasonal, organic feast will follow. Attire is "Farm Smart" meaning comfortable cocktail attire. Flat shoes are advised.

Honorees are selected based on their pioneering efforts in various aspects of the organic movement, but they have all made the connection between healthy soil, healthy plants and healthy people. We are pleased to announce our honorees:

Kim Tait (PASA Member) is a third-generation farmer and is owner and operator of Tait Farm in central Pennsylvania, a certified organic farm that operates 10 acres of vegetable, fruit and greenhouse production and a specialty foods line of 55 value-added products created in their on-farm processing facility. Kim has played an active role in supporting the organic movement and, in 2011, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on the role specialty crops and organics play in agriculture, and the opportunities posed for those industries in the next Farm Bill.

Carla Castagnero (PASA Member) is co-founder and President of AgRecycle, Inc., a composting operation headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1991, AgRecycle is one of the oldest composting companies in the United States.  As the first company to be issued a Pennsylvania General Permit for composting, AgRecycle boasts the largest source-separated composting enterprise within Pennsylvania and has clients such as the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Zoo

John Teasdale has been a USDA Agricultural Research Service scientist stationed at Beltsville, MD, for 34 years. He was the founding Research Leader of the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Lab which addresses the complex, systems-level research needed to define sustainable agricultural methods. He has conducted long-term systems research demonstrating that a reduced-tillage organic cropping system could improve soil productivity more than a conventional no-tillage system, and has documented the importance of longer, more phenologically diverse rotations.

Go here for registration details.

Ohio first to participate in USDA's cooperative interstate shipment program

Posted by at Aug 09, 2012 12:04 PM |

Ohio is the first state where state-inspected processors (who sign up for the program) can ship over state lines.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces New Opportunities for Small Meat and Poultry Processors

Ohio First to Participate in USDA's Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program

WASHINGTON, August 9, 2012 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced today that Ohio will be the first state to participate in USDA's Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program. Under this program, Ohio's small, state-inspected meat processors will be able to ship their products across state lines. The cooperative interstate shipment program will expand economic opportunities for America's small meat and poultry processors, strengthen state and local economies, and increase consumer access to safe, locally-produced food.

"This agreement allows a small processor in Ohio to sell products to neighbors in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, and beyond," said Deputy Secretary Merrigan. "Expanding market opportunities for meat from local processors makes these small businesses more viable, while also ensuring that participating establishments have robust food safety systems in place to produce safe food for consumers."

Under the cooperative agreement, small, state-inspected businesses with 25 or fewer employees will be allowed to sell meat products across state lines. Meat products produced in selected establishments will be subject to the same regulatory sampling programs as those established in the Federal inspection program.

The Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program was established by the 2008 Farm Bill. In 2011, USDA finalized regulations to allow state employees to administer federal regulations and use federal marks of inspection at selected establishments. Prior to the establishment of this program, state-inspected businesses could only sell products within their state.

State-inspected establishments interested in shipping interstate should contact their state's meat inspection program. In addition, USDA will shortly publish a directive detailing how states and small businesses can join the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program. The USDA's Small Plant Help Desk is also available to help small meat businesses understand regulatory requirements. The Help Desk can be reached between 8am and 4pm EST, Monday through Friday, at 1-877-FSISHelp.

Today's announcement is reflective of USDA's ongoing focus on strengthening the critical connection between farmers and consumers and supporting local and regional food systems. USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, launched in September 2009, coordinates USDA resources and expertise on local and regional food systems. Through this initiative, USDA integrates programs and policies that:

•             Stimulate food- and agriculturally-based community economic development;
•             Foster new opportunities for farmers and ranchers;
•             Promote locally and regionally produced and processed foods;
•             Cultivate healthy eating habits and educated, empowered consumers;
•             Expand access to affordable fresh and local food; and
•             Demonstrate the connection between food, agriculture, community and the environment.

For more information, visit the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food website at

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

Lauren Gwin, Ph.D.
Research Associate
Agricultural & Resource Economics
Oregon State University
213 Ballard Hall
Corvallis, OR 97331

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PASA Member Delaware Valley College set to open sustainable ag center this fall.

Posted by at Jul 25, 2012 09:40 AM |

PASA Member, Delaware Valley College is opening a 140-acre center for sustainable agriculture in North Wales, Pa., this fall to prepare its students to serve as leaders in sustainable agriculture and provide a hub for community education, and partnerships.

At the core of The Roth Center for Sustainable Agriculture is a new specialization in Sustainable Agriculture Systems, which will prepare students for careers in sustainable agriculture.

The specialization offers students the unique opportunity to learn about both plant and animal agriculture through classroom, lab, and farm experiences. Students from all majors will have the option of completing a minor in sustainable agriculture.

“DelVal students will be prepared to lead the conversations around sustainable agriculture in an informed way,” said Dean of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Russell Redding. “Food and natural resource demands are growing, and we’ll have to do more with less water, land, and energy. Sustainable agriculture principles are important today and critical to our future.”

“There’s growing student and public interest around sustainable agriculture,” said Redding. “Students can now come to DelVal and look at organic, sustainable, and conventional practices, learn about the science, and gain the hands-on experience.”

The Center and the new specialization are part of the College’s commitment to educating students about the full spectrum of agriculture production options.

Through the Center, students and faculty will now have an area committed to sustainable agriculture where they can experiment with different production and management techniques to see sustainable principles in action.

Read more here.

On-Farm Poultry Slaughter Guide

On-Farm Poultry Slaughter Guide

Posted by at Jul 24, 2012 11:58 AM |

This recently released guide is specific to New York state, but there is lots of useful information no matter your location.

The Cornell Small Farms Program is pleased to announce a new " On-Farm Poultry Slaughter Guide". Designed to complement a hands-on training in how to properly kill and prepare a poultry carcass for sale, this guide focuses on the critical points for producing a product that is safe to eat.

This 28-page guide contains sections on the 1,000-bird limit exemption, where you can legally sell your birds under this exemption, labeling requirements, sanitary operating procedures and more. It includes several appendices, such as a sample flock record log and a questionnaire that your insurance company may use to assess your knowledge of safe poultry processing practices.

The Guide is available either by viewing online at the Northeast Beginning Farmers Project Website.

For more small farm news and information, visit

Recent rabies reports - reported cases are increasing

Posted by at Jul 17, 2012 11:20 AM |

There has been a spate of positive rabies cases reported in PA over the past few months, particularly in the northwestern regions of the state. Most of these cases are from the raccoon strain of rabies – even though we are seeing the disease in other species (cats, groundhogs and even cattle, for example). 

Karen Martin, the PDA field veterinarian from Region I (Meadville), says, “Properly vaccinated (and regularly boostered dogs) are often the best way to find rabid raccoons. In both cases where we have had multiple rabid cattle on the same property in our region of the state, the people did not have a dog.”

She goes on to say, “Curious animals will explore odd things, especially with their noses – and that’s how many animals such as deer, cattle and horses are exposed to rabies.”

Dr. Martin also reminds folks that children should be taught to leave wildlife alone, all bite wounds should be thoroughly cleaned with copious soap and running water immediately (and reported to the health department) – and any and all bats found in bedrooms need to be tested for rabies. Testing for rabies is provided at no charge.

Farmers may want to consider contacting their primary care veterinarians to discuss whether rabies vaccination for their stock is appropriate, given the risks in their local areas.

For more information about rabies in Pennsylvania, including maps and historical data, take a look at the PA Dept of Agriculture website.

View map of reported cases as of June 30.

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