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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!

Congratulations Kimberton Whole Foods on the grand re-opening of their Downingtown store

Posted by at Sep 24, 2012 02:36 PM |

Congratulations to PASA Permanent Business Partner, Kimberton Whole Foods on the grand re-opening of their Downingtown store in its new location in the Milltown Square Shopping Center.

PASA was proud to be a part of the festivities on Saturday, September 22, and we wish Kimberton success with this new expanded store location!

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.

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