Cooperative Marketing

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Cooperative marketing can be a great way for small farmers to work together to expand their local customer base. At our field day at Silverwheel Farm in Harrisville, we spoke with managers from three co-ops in western PA about how to get involved...

Wild Mushrooms at Shaver's Creek

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We recently visited with Eric Burkhart at Penn State's Shaver's Creek Environmental Center to learn a bit about wild mushrooms. He taught us the basics of mushroom identification on an easy walk through the woods, including what mushrooms to avoid. We found a destroying angel and some cinnabar chanterelles! Check out the video below: 

The Bookamer's Farm Pix

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We've spent some time these past few weeks at the Bookamer Family Farm... and we don't know why we left! We'll be posting soon about the Sheep Shearing to Spinning workshop that Billie Bookamer hosted for us. Until then- enjoy some pix of their impeccable farm, including lots of animals- from Brown Swiss and Jersey cows, to Alpaca, Merino sheep and some rescued horses. The faces may be familiar: Linda from the WAgN 'office' along with Linda Bookamer and her three daughters, Billie, Max, and Michael. Enjoy!  

SNAP at the Farmers' Market

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Recently we visited the 'Farmers on the Square' in Carlisle where vendors have worked together to accept SNAP (food stamps) and other EBT aid throughout the market. Working with Cheryl Burns from Capital Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D), the market managers, Carla Snyder (2010) and Christine Rudalevige (2011), have created a market that is truly welcoming to everyone.

We will be offering a field day later this year on how you can accept SNAP at your market. More info to come....

For now, check out this beautiful market in a short video we created from our visit:




July 28 Exotic Mushrooms Preview

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In addition to the expertise of Tom Patterson and the Orners, Eric Burhart will be on hand to help explain the difference between wild and cultivated mushrooms and the ways people can access wild mushrooms on their land. Eric is Program Director for Plant Science at Shaver's Creek Environmental Center at Penn State. He is an expert in wild forest products including  ginseng, mushrooms, and other edible and medicinal plants. He is knowledgeable about the symbiotic relationship between the mushrooms and the hosts on which they grow. This is helpful is recognizing and managing the types of conditions favorable for mushroom growth.

Eric will also be available to discuss sustainability issues in promoting continued mushroom growth, nutritional and medicinal qualities of mushrooms, ways to prepare mushrooms, and the logistical and legal issues involved with marketing mushrooms.

We hope to see you there!

Our Rodale Tour

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1_Rodale-visit.jpg The sun was shining for our annual visit to Rodale Institute in Kutztown.  WAgN members and friends gathered for a full day of touring and exploring this internationally known organic research center- "the birthplace of organics in North America."

If you haven't been to Rodale yet, do plan a visit! Their work is inspiring; the staff is incredibly knowledgeable and willing to share that knowledge with you in a way that can be applied to your situation. Whether you're running a large dairy or small kitchen garden, you will come away from your visit armed with info that you can use to produce more food, more sustainably. Here are some highlights from the day including the CSA tour, their box of bees and high tunnel, the no-till roller-crimper and Rodale's online organics course:

Annual Tour of Rodale Institute

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ANNUAL TOUR OF RODALE INSTITUTE
for Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network

                               

PA-WAgN's annual tour of Rodale Institute will showcase organic production, organic certification, and new research at the Institute.  The event will be held on June 3  from 9 am to 3:15 pm. 

 

This year's event offers farmers a special opportunity to hear about organic production of a new specialty crop in the Northeast, baby ginger, which is grown in high tunnels in just one season. Susan Anderson, owner of East Branch Ginger, will explain how to grow and market baby ginger at farmers' markets and to restaurants.

 

The day will also include a presentation on organic transition by Jeff Moyer, farm director at Rodale Institute and member of the National Organic Standard's Board; and demonstrations of large-scale composting; organic apple production; community-supported agriculture; and "closed-loop" sustainable farming with animals.

 

Over lunch, participants will have the opportunity network with other farmers across the state.

Community Supported Agriculture: Notes from the Field

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Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a production and marketing system that allows small farmers to maximize income and reduce risk. It provides the farmer with up-front income to cover at least the variable expenses of producing the crops.

 

In a CSA, customers pre-purchase a share of the season's crop. The farmer receives payment for the share before the season begins so he/she is able to cover startup costs. CSA customers benefit as well--they enjoy farm-fresh food throughout the season as they share the risks and rewards of the harvest.

 

CSAs originated on small, diversified organic vegetable farms growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruit. Now, however, the concept has expanded to include other farm products including meat, eggs, dairy products, and even baked goods in their shares.  bethany.jpg 

  

PA-WAgN recently hosted a Community Supported Agriculture Workshop at Plowshare Produce in Huntingdon County. The workshop was attended by many local CSA farmers. At the workshop we toured the beautiful Plowshare farm and then gathered over lunch to share information about

 

  • Marketing
  • Budgeting and Pricing
  • Packing and Distribution
  • Production Labor

 

Preserving Clover Creek, Sustaining Farms

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May 23, 2011 from 10 am to 2 pm

Mill Hill Dairy 161 Mill Hill Road Williamsburg,PA and Ojala Farm 5161 Clover Creek Road Williamsburg, PA

 

milking-cows.jpgThe Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network (PA-WAgN) is offering a field day on May 23 focusing on conservation projects and available conservation funding at two farms in Blair County: Ojala Farm and Mill Hill Dairy.

 

David and Terry Rice at Ojala Farm sell raw milk from the farm, grass-based beef, eggs from pastured poultry, and artisan cheese.  The Rice family owns 126 acres of pasture and woods bordering Clover Creek and milks 60-80 Jersey, Ayrshire, Milking Shorthorn, Holstein, and cross-bred cattle, rotating them to fresh pasture after each milking. They milk in a New Zealand-style swing parlor. This farm has always emphasized sustainable agriculture and is a 2005 recipient of the Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Farm Award.

 

 At Ojala Farm, you will see how grazing with fenced paddocks has made a small dairy farm profitable. Dave and Terry Rice moved to a grass-based seasonal dairy 15 years ago. They turn most of their milk into artisan aged raw-milk cheeses like gouda, cheddar, feta, and blue that are sold at the farm and at farmers' markets throughout the state.. rice making cheese.jpgWe'll tour the grazing paddocks, milking barn, and cheesemaking facility and learn how their grass-based system has benefited their bottom line as well as their water and soil quality. Their farm model, with only 72-head of cattle, requires little equipment and fuel, an advantage in today's environment of rising fuel costs.

 

At Mill Hill Dairy, we'll learn how a 200-year old farm has added 21st century conservation practices to increase its profitability. Mill Hill Dairy, which has been in the Biddle family since 1797, is currently owned by Jim and Carol Biddle. They produce crops and milk 370-head of Holsteins. The Biddles, who were awarded the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Farm Award in 2010, have a long history of implementing best management practices that help reduce soil erosion, streambank protection, and nutrient loss.

 

Sarah Biddle and conservationists Rob Clauto and Rich Huether will demonstrate the environmental practices that the Biddles have installed on their dairy farm over many years. Their newest project, a ½ acre bee pollinator area, includes native wildflowers and wildlife cover that will encourage greater pollination of crops at the same time it protects wildlife. Other projects include a composted manure bedding pack that

no till.jpeg

allows a manure-sawdust mixture to compost over the winter months providing cattle comfort and high-quality fertilizer; paddocks and stream crossings for rotational grazing; and no-till crop production.

 

 

Over lunch, we'll meet at a local Community-Supported Agriculture farm to enjoy local food and hear from the experts on how to fund conservation practices on your own farm. If you would like to fence paddocks for rotational grazing at your farm or add streambank fencing, water lines, or a high tunnel, you can learn about the funding available from the Natural Resource Conservation Service for these and other projects. And for new and beginning farmers (those farming for 10 years or less), NRCS will fund as much as 90% percent of the cost.

 

 

The $15 registration fee inlcudes lunch & materials.

 

Your Feedback: If you plan to attend the field day and/or would just like to talk about the topic, please leave a comment below. You can also post your photos or videos to share with others.

           

Resources:

 

Working Dogs on the Farm

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Steam Valley Fiber Farm in Trout Run, PA, recently hosted a field day for farmers interested in acquiring herding dogs and guardian dogs.

 

steam valley FF.jpgOwner Phyleri Ball and AKC herding judge and dog trainer Cynthia Knowlton demonstrated the use of Border Collies and Australian Kelpie and Australian Cattle dogs to herd the farm's Border Leicester sheep. They also showed the value of Maremmas, an Italian breed of guard dog, for watching over the farm's Nubian and Angora goats.

 

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