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Editor’s Note: James wrote this Unpaid Field Hand piece before our sudden spring preview this week, but as we all know, winter likely isn’t dead just yet.
While you might be shivering quietly cursing Punxsutawney Phil and lusting for spring, the local farmers we rely on for locally grown food are already getting to work. Decisions about what to grow in 2017 are nearly complete, seed ordering is largely done, additional fruit trees and berry plants ordered, and CSA brochures for the coming season printed. The list of uncompleted tasks on the winter “to do” list is barely shorter than in December. The problem is that most of the items are “too far down on the to-do list.”
So the time has come to start getting to work. Onions are “day sensitive,” which means that in order to bulb up, they have to be already growing as the days begin to lengthen. At Jade Family Farm, John and daughter Evelyn began seeding onions in January with lettuce to begin soon.
Continue Reading: Unpaid Field Hand: Intimations of Spring
Posted by James Eisenstein on 02/21, 2017 at 09:00 AM
The Penn State Student Farm is quite an endeavor; we wrote about them on Local Food Journey and WPSU did a radio piece on them. Tucked away just off I-99, you’ve probably have driven right past the farm and never knew it.
Well, here’s your chance to visit the farm on Wednesday, Sept. 7 for the Penn State Student Farm Harvest Festival. The event will be held at the farm from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Continue Reading: Penn State Student Farm Fall Festival coming Sept. 7
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 08/31, 2016 at 08:42 AM
Editor’s Note: Local Food Journey was experiencing tech issues, but we are back after our unscheduled break. Thanks for your patience.
One of Penn State’s best kept secrets is the fact that the University has a student-run farm. Located near where Fox Hollow Road runs under US 322, this summer is the first growing season for the Student Farm Club.
This season marks the return of the student run farm after a few decades, as the previous student farm was transferred to a faculty-led program in 1989. The farm features tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, basil, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
Continue Reading: Penn State Student Farm grows awareness of sustainability, local food
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 07/20, 2016 at 10:52 AM
The 25th Annual Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) Farming for the Future Conference is underway starting today and will run through Saturday at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center. The event’s theme is “Farming in a Changing Climate”, and will feature climate expert Richard Alley and agricultural sustainability expert and author Laura Lengnick.
If you missed pre-event registration, no worries, as walk-in registration for one, two, or three days of the conference is available starting tomorrow. You can find rates for the event here.
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 02/03, 2016 at 10:58 AM
30 days of rain: when my sister, a rising freshman at Penn State, arrived for her orientation during the first weekend of July, this is what they told her. While since that weekend State College has had some relief from the wetness—notably, Arts Fest weekend saw sunny skies and high temperatures—since then, some inevitable showers and storms have passed through the area. The continual precipitation not only poses problems for those people worried about a potentially frizzy hair day (me), but also for another, unexpected group: farmers.
It seems strange that too much water could be an issue for food growers, but in fact it is a serious threat. Certain crops are susceptible to unusually wet weather, and depending on what a farmer grows, excess rain can destroy an entire yield. Kim Tait, from Tait Farm Foods in Centre Hall, tells me that when there is a lot of rain, tomatoes in particular are a cause for concern.
Continue Reading: Rainy summer leads to challenges for growers at Tait Farms
Posted by Anna Lombardo on 07/23, 2015 at 09:35 AM
I am really fed up. And it isn’t just because I am an increasingly irascible, old curmudgeon.
I’m fed up with the behavior of government agencies like the FDA, the USDA, and the EPA, dancing like puppets in the hands of Monsanto, ConAgra, Dow, Big Pharma and their ilk. The FDA dilly-dallies by continuing to allow antibiotics in animal feed to promote “efficiency” and profits, when it is clear that the practice promotes the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten our health.
I’m fed up with the EPA constantly approving new pesticides that are known to kill pollinators. (Who needs insects anyway?)
Continue Reading: I’m Fed Up With Industrial Food
Posted by James Eisenstein on 05/27, 2014 at 09:52 AM
For twenty-three years, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, otherwise known as PASA, has been gathering for its very own Farming for the Future Conference. Last week vendors from all over the country congregated at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center to attend workshops, participate in auctions, listen to guest speakers, receive awards, and to simply share their appreciation of farming as a whole.
Lauren Smith, director of development for PASA, says her favorite aspect of the annual conference is that it’s like “a huge family reunion.” Indeed, the majority of farmers and businesses in attendance have previously come to the conference, so many of them are familiar with one another. Lauren explains, “We have an amazing community of farmers. They become a network of ideas and inspiration.”
Posted by Jordan Reabold on 02/10, 2014 at 10:37 AM
Food Entrepreneurs Will Find Wealth of Resources at Annual PASA Conference
Farmers and other food entrepreneurs are set to acquire tools for success at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s (PASA) 23rd Annual Farming for the Future Conference, Feb. 5-8 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA.
On Feb. 6, PASA hosts “Raising Dough: Financing Your Food Based Business,” an intensive, day long track aimed at farmers looking to amass capital for farm-based businesses.
Continue Reading: Farmers Get Down to Business
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 01/30, 2014 at 10:14 AM
The following is a press release for the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s 23rd Farming for the Future Conference. Look for more about this event on Local Food Journey in the next several weeks, as this is a major happening for our local food community…
MILLHEIM, PA January 6, 2014 – The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) hosts the 23rd Annual Farming for the Future Conference next month, February 5-8 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA. Farmers, foodies, artisans, activists and other members of the sustainable agriculture community will gather around the theme “Letting Nature Lead” as the debate over the future of agriculture continues to garner widespread attention, from dinner tables to the halls of Congress.
Continue Reading: Sustainable Ag Community to Reflect, Rally at Premier Gathering
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 01/23, 2014 at 10:15 AM
The frost hit hard last week, which did a few crops in, but made others perk up a bit. Anything in the cabbage family just got sweeter.
Continue Reading: Greenhouse Woes
Posted by Tony Ricci on 10/17, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Tags: farming |
Last night I attended a Local Harvest banquet put on by the Student Food Initiative at Juniata College where we feasted on the bounty of many of our local farms including our own. The students also invited me along with other farmers to talk about farming. Of course I lied out of my teeth because I didn’t want to dampen the enthusiasm these folks have for the idyllic life style which they believe we lead.
We really need young people to get involved in farming if we want to continue enjoying fresh local food. A little deception is necessary to keep the tradition going, so I avoided talking about the first 15 years on the farm.
Continue Reading: Real Life on the Farm
Posted by Tony Ricci on 10/07, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Tags: farming |
It’s official. The “we’ve crossed the threshold of the autumn equinox and stepped into what should be a leisurely stroll towards winter.”
Most people think this is the end of the growing season, but for farmers, it’s really the busiest time of year.
Continue Reading: It’s the Busiest Time of the Year
Posted by Tony Ricci on 09/26, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Tags: farming |
It’s hard to keep focused on a farm in the middle of August. Most people think of it as the beginning of harvest time, with smooth sailing into bucolic fall days as we stuff our coolers, barns and root cellars with nature’s bounty.
In reality it’s always harvest time on a vegetable farm and August poses a special challenge because after months of ceaseless activity fueled on the previous winter’s lethargy, the farmer has to pull out of some unmentionable orifice the energy and enthusiasm that made spring planting seem so appealing.
Continue Reading: Potato Patch
Posted by Tony Ricci on 08/22, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Tags: farming |
The rain has finally let up, but not before it brought imminent danger to certain crops. The word in the farmosphere is that late blight has been sighted in certain central Pennsylvania counties.
Continue Reading: The Disease That Must Not Be Named
Posted by Tony Ricci on 06/15, 2012 at 08:00 AM
Tags: farming |
It’s raining again. The intermittent stream that runs by our house is so full I could kayak down to the pond. Nothing like a little white water rafting after a brief interlude of weeding the beets. That’s just the way it is on a farm, you go with the deluge.
Continue Reading: It’s Raining Again
Posted by Tony Ricci on 06/06, 2012 at 08:00 AM
Tags: farming |
Signs of spring are appearing a little early this year, as can be seen from the picture above showing new garlic shoots poking through the soil. Garlic is always the first crop to make an appearance and has more credibility in predicting the beginning of spring than pampered rodents.
Continue Reading: Early Signs of Spring
Posted by Tony Ricci on 02/23, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Tags: farming |
Green Heron Farm still has a nice supply of greens this week, but order early for those items – they fly off the shelf this time of year:
Baby Chard – Green, Red and Gold
Italian and Red Rib Dandelion
Continue Reading: Late January Greens
Posted by Tony Ricci on 01/23, 2012 at 09:20 AM
Tags: farming |
Last week’s flooding was an adventure—one that I would prefer not repeating once every 15 years or so. We got off easy by some accounts. Most of our crops are still in the ground, although about a third of our lane was redistributed to the entrance of our house.
Living on a slope has its advantages and as long as the water keeps flowing through the basement, we’re doing OK. Getting off the farm in a flood is the tough part.
Continue Reading: How Floods Affect Farms
Posted by Tony Ricci on 09/13, 2011 at 11:23 AM
The season is tilting decidedly toward fall, and the crops are shifting toward soup ingredients and fall fruit.
Continue Reading: Turning Toward Fall
Posted by Tony Ricci on 09/07, 2011 at 01:58 PM
The week wouldn’t be complete without a natural disaster. Last week we hit the jackpot with two – an earthquake and a hurricane – although it was our eastern neighbors who were most affected.
Continue Reading: When Natural Disasters Strike
Posted by Tony Ricci on 08/29, 2011 at 11:07 AM
Every once in a while I’ll get a question from someone who feels the need to engage me in agricultural discourse in order to spotlight my complete ignorance of farming. And quite honestly, I’m the first to admit that I don’t know everything about farming. That’s why I love this business – there’s something to learn every day.
Continue Reading: The Great Divide
Posted by Tony Ricci on 07/19, 2011 at 11:02 AM
If you bite into a tomato between the months of October and June, chances are that tomato came from Florida. And it tastes dramatically different than the varieties you might grow in your backyard or pick up at your local farmers market during the summer.
Freelance food writer Barry Estabrook looks at the life of today’s mass-produced tomato — and the environmental and human costs of the tomato industry — in his book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit.
Continue Reading: NPR: How Industrial Farming “Destroyed” the Tasty Tomato
Posted by Emily Wiley on 07/13, 2011 at 11:32 AM
There are several milestones during the year that mark dramatic shifts in the growing season. For me, it’s always the garlic harvest, which coincides with the first full week of summer. The harvest brings to a close the long wait for the king of alliums that started back in November when the final clove was tucked in the ground for the winter.
Garlic is a precise, no-nonsense crop that sticks to its preordained schedule whether you like it or not. It’s not going to wait around for a distracted farmer to fit it in to his daily planner. Wait a week too long and tough luck, it’s on to its next phase of development without so much as a by-your-leave.
Continue Reading: Garlic Harvest
Posted by Tony Ricci on 06/29, 2011 at 12:07 PM
After the June harvest of strawberries, patches should be renovated in preparation for the following year. Penn State Senior Extension Educator Kathy Demchak explains why these renovations are important and how to complete them.
Continue Reading: Three Minute Gardener: How to Renovate a Strawberry Patch
Posted by Emily Wiley on 06/28, 2011 at 10:05 AM
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