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The SOIL Institute

PASA's 5-Year Plan to Advance
Sustainable Agriculture Education

Our region faces major challenges in food and farming, including insufficient access to healthy food, soil degradation, and an ongoing loss of farmers and farmland.

To bring real change, we need to train a new generation of farmers, advance innovative practices for better farmland stewardship, and effectively communicate our achievements to our customers, neighbors and policymakers.

SOIL InstituteWhile there is much work to be done, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) has led the way in organizing efforts to meaningfully improve our food systems for nearly 25 years. Now, PASA is taking the next step to increase its impact with the creation of the SOIL Institute (Strategic Outreach for Innovation and Leadership ) and a robust sustainable agriculture educational program for a better and healthier future.

The SOIL Institute is aptly named, reflecting our dual intention to improve agricultural soils while also growing a community of innovators and leaders for a sustainable future.

The plan has three core elements:

Farmer Training and Development

Named in Honor of Jerry Brunetti
PASA will offer credentialed training programs for aspiring farmers, beginning with the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, the only formal, registered federally-approved apprenticeship for farming in the United States. These apprenticeship programs will integrate intensive on-the-job training under the guidance of a master farmer with a curriculum of academic courses in agroecology and farm-business planning. PASA will also provide assistance to apprentices transitioning into management positions on existing farms or starting their own farm businesses. Learn More

Farmer-to-Farmer Exchange

Named in Honor of Shon Seeley
PASA will expand educational events and online resources to help our farmers connect and explore new strategies to improve their sustainability performance. PASA's most experienced and accomplished farmers will shape our educational agenda, and use their insights to guide concrete demonstrations of innovative farm management practices. Topics, speakers and activities will reflect local context and help address the specific challenges that our farmers face today. Learn More

Farm-Based Research

PASA will develop pragmatic tools to help our farmers monitor and improve their performance in Economic, Environmental, Energetic, and social Engagement aspects of sustainability. PASA’s Four E system will be built with the guidance of our farmers, to ensure that we capture meaningful and measureable aspects of a holistic farming system. We will also develop platforms and graphics for farmers to add value to their businesses and communicate their achievements in the Four Es to their customers, peers, and broader agricultural community. Learn More

Sustainability Hubs: an Institute Without Walls


The program elements of the SOIL Institute will be delivered through a network of Sustainability Hubs that are designed to maintain consistent quality of programs while adapting them to the bioregions and communities they serve. Each Hub has a central office with PASA staff, but no discrete geographical boundaries. Instead, PASA members in Pennsylvania and bordering states can engage with the Sustainability Hub, or multiple Hubs, that are delivering programming that reflects their needs and interests.

Interested in taking part in the SOIL program?
Please complete this form.

PASA Members can connect to a Hub by:

  • Serving as a mentor for our Farmer Training and Development programs.

  • Enrolling in the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship and other programs for aspiring farmers.

  • Sharing data from your farm for our Farm-Based Research projects.

  • Hosting, attending, or speaking at field days and

  • events.

  • Participating in meetings and discussions to shape our programming.

  • Accessing webinars, research results, and other resources through our website.

  • Engaging with other PASA members and helping to grow our community.




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Get Involved!

We invite all advocates of sustainable farming & food systems to explore this program, become involved and consider investing to move our Building the SOIL initiative forward.

Complete this online form or contact:

PASA - SOIL Institute
Franklin Egan
Director of Educational Programs
814-349-9856 ext. 21

PASA - SOIL Campaign
Lauren Smith
Director of Development
814-349-9856 ext. 22


View the SOIL Institute Brochure here.

Thank You SOIL Investors!

We are pleased to thank and acknowledge the following early investors who have contributed to Building the SOIL

This list is continually updated:

Agri-Dynamics Inc • Andy Andrews • Austelle FoundationSara & Bruce Baldwin • G. Carl Ball Family FoundationMary Barbercheck • Bellows Health Systems • Donald Chip BlackKate & Bob Boyce • Pat & Terry BrettJennifer Brodsky & Eric TheesfeldTerra & Mike Brownback • Debra Brubaker & Hannah Smith-BrubakerJulie & Roy Brubaker • Corey BrunettiJerry Brunetti • Jennifer & Yuri BrunettiPat & Bill CallahanDean Carlson • Carversville Farm Foundation • Eda & Scott Case • Claneil Foundation • Tracey Coulter & Chip MeffordMoie & Jim Crawford • Eugene Creany • Melanie & Mark Dietrich Cochran • Earthworks Natural Organic Products • Eat'n Park Hospitality Group • Helen & Bill Elkins • E-Tech Industrial Corp. Farm Aid The Fertrell Company Four Seasons Produce, Inc • Fullers Overlook FarmBrian Futhey Lyn Garling & Patty Neiner • Barbara & Charlie Gerlach • Aimee & John GoodJennifer Halpin & Matt Steiman • Mena Hautau & Steve DeBrouxThe Heinz Endowments • Debra & Wayne Herring Sr • Julie & Nathan Holmes • Todd & John Hopkins • Eleanor & Stock IllowaySukey & John Jamison •  Kimberton Whole Foods • Christine & William Kitsch • Mary & Aaron Kolb Becky & Don Kretschmann • Dave & Sonya KunkleLady Moon Farms • Laurel Foundation • Jennifer & Ted LeBow • Glenna Malcolm & Franklin Egan • Regina Marinelli • Martin Family FoundationMary-Howell & Klaas MartensFran McDermid & Sylvia FeldmanWendy & Wade McDevitt • MidAtlantic Farm Credit • Dianne & Kim Miller • Susan & Ken Miller • Jamie Moore • Jessica & Jonathan Moore • Libby & Dave Mortensen • National Farmers UnionNatural Dairy Products • Anne & Eric Nordell • One Straw Farm • Organic Valley/Cropp Cooperative Inc • Claire & Rusty Orner Family • Paragon Foods • Pennsylvania Dept. of AgriculturePhilly CowShare • Bernadine & Raymond Prince • Rita Resick & Rick Stafford • David & Terry Rice Marti & Bill Roberts • Audrey Gay Rodgers • John Rodgers • Charlotte & Henry Rosenberger • Marjorie Roswell • Carolyn Sachs • Susan & Don Sauter • Anna Santini & Brooks Miller • Louise Schorn Smith • Heidi Secord & Gary Bloss • The Seeley Family • Ward Sinclair Memorial • Michelle & Micki Slingerland • Catherine & John Smith • Christine & Lawrence Smith Charitable TrustJessie L. Smith • Lauren & Ian Smith • Paula & Brian Snyder • Sandy & Gary Sojka • Sota Construction • Karen & Ron Stark • David Tait Memorial • Three Springs Fruit Farm • Candy & Lloyd Traven • United Organic Services • US Dept. of AgricultureVictory Brewing • Violet Rose Farm/Terry Brett • Eliza Walbridge • Walbridge Family Foundation • Walnut Acres Foundation • Wayne County Grown • Wegmans Food Market Inc • The Weston A. Price Foundation • WhiteWave Foods • William Penn FoundationGary Zimmer • Anonymous - 3

PASA Farm Apprenticeship Directory

PASA’s Apprenticeship Directory helps connect people wanting to learn sustainable farming skills with experienced farmers willing to share their expertise.

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