Win a Community Fruit Orchard & More News & Events

New Events Calendar

Thank you to Elizabeth Crisfield, for setting up a GoogleCalendar of Spring Creek Homesteading workshops, potlucks and other events. To get there, click on the “Calendar” image in the sidebar.

PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Considering Funding Community Gardens

From Wes Farringer, Recreation and Parks Advisor, PA-DCNR (

I work with the PA-DCNR in the Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. Among other things, we provide grants and technical assistance for recreation and conservation in PA. Recently we have been looking into the recreation value of community gardens on public land such as urban and municipal parks.  We have been developing  policies on how we view funding these sorts of projects. Although gardening is a very old form of recreation, it is rather new to us in the Bureau when we consider funding…

We have also developed some “greening principles” for scoring criteria in all of our grant applications, including things like rain gardens and planting of non-invasive plants, and habitat improvement and storm water management. I’m interested in seeking partnerships and linkages with [other agriculture groups interested in gardening for recreation and conservation], and getting ideas on how to include gardens in municipal park development.

Win a Community Orchard for Your Town – First 100 Applications Eligible for Competition

From Robyn du Pré, Director of Outreach and Development at Pittsburgh-based Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (360-318-7639)  

The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) and Dreyer’s Fruit Bars are planting orchards across the country in a collaborative program called Communities Take Root (CTR). Through this exciting program, communities compete in a nation-wide vote to win a complete community orchard. FTPF orchards are a wonderful way for communities to grow fresh fruit, beautify neighborhoods, strengthen relationships, and build community food security—all through the simple act of planting fruit trees.

In 2011, twenty communities around the country won orchards for public parks, community gardens, food banks, homeless shelters, and community centers. To see information about this year’s winners, go to: are now inviting applications for 2012. The first 100 qualified applicants will be in the running to win a free orchard, including orchard design, arborist expertise, and a fun community planting event. And, orchard recipients also receive a free community workshop on planting, pruning and caring for fruit trees.

Every organization that participates in this year’s program will receive 3 fruit trees, tree guards, and myco-paks to ensure soil health—all free as a thank you gift from FTPF. Help us spread the world—please tell your friends and colleagues about this exciting community food enhancement program. I have attached a flyer about the program, along with an orchard application for your convenience. Thank you for your help—Communities Take Root!

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is now.” –Chinese proverb

Jan. 17 Rally for Clean Water, Clean Air, Public Health and Local Rights

From David Masur at Penn Environment:

State legislators in Harrisburg ended 2011 by attempting to pass a proposal that would allow gas drillers to run roughshod over our communities even faster than they already do, polluting our environment and threatening the health of Pennsylvanians. Help welcome legislators back on Tuesday, January 17 by attending a rally in Harrisburg’s capitol building calling on them to protect clean water, air, public health, and local rights. Can’t attend the rally? Join the virtual rally the same day.

Both House Bill 1950 and Senate Bill 1100, which could come up for a final vote this month, diminish the power of communities to protect themselvese from the negative environmental, health, and quality-of-life effects of Marcellus Shale gas drilling; set one of the lowest gas extraction taxes in the nation; and set environmental safeguards that don’t do nearly enough to protect the environment. January 17 is your chance to take action and stop this harmful proposal from reaching the Governor’s desk.

Jan. 22 – How Green Is Happy Valley? League of Women Voters Environmental Fair

How Green Is Happy Valley (PDF Flier)

Spring Creek Homesteading Fund will be tabling at this event, Sunday Jan. 22 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Jan. 31 – Green Drinks at Otto’s Pub & Brewery

Ed Perry

Ed Perry writes:

Clean Energy and Climate Change Enthusiasts are invited to a gathering of like-minded people to discuss issues related to climate change and clean energy over a delicious local beverage, Tuesday January 31 at 6:30 p.m. at Otto’s, 2235 North Atherton St, State College. (As you come in to the reception desk at Otto’s, we’ll be in the room to your left.)

As you know, this Congress (the House) has constantly attacked any environmental initiative advanced by this administration. As a result, there will be no legislation on greenhouse gas pollution and/or clean energy until at least 2014. However, the Environmental Protection Agency has forged ahead with rules designed to slowly reduce CO2 emissions. Just recently, they finaled their mercury rule, which will cause some old, carbon-spewing plants to close down and others to clean-up.

On January 19, there is a public hearing in Philadelphia to take testimony on EPA’s clean car rule, which will significantly reduce CO2 emissions. Light trucks and cars will be required to obtain an average, industry, fleet-wide gas mileage of 54 mpg for model years 2017 through 2025. And finally, EPA has sent their greenhouse gas rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review that will begin ratcheting back CO2 emissions for coal and oil-fired power plants.

The fossil fuel industry and it’s allies in Congress are not going to take this lying down. They are going to come after EPA and try to stop them from implementing any of these rules. And the only thing standing between them and their success is us.

2012 USDA Conservation Stewardship Program Sign-Up – Applications due Jan. 27

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced that the fiscal year (FY) 2012 ranking period cutoff for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has been extended to January 27, 2012.

Interested farmers and ranchers have until Friday, January 27, 2012, to complete the initial application form to compete for a spot in the 2012 enrollment class for the program. To sign up, producers should visit their NRCS local service center.

Coming Soon – Farm Safety Questionnaire to Guide Future Workshops for New Farmers

Linda Moist

From Linda Moist of the PA Women’s Agricultural Network:

Farming can be dangerous. This is especially true for new and beginning farmers, many of whom lack experience. Particularly worrisome is farm equipment safety for family workers and employees.

Penn State’s Farm Safety for New and Beginning Farmers Program has developed a questionnaire with the support of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, PA-Women’s Agricultural Network, and Start Farming, using SurveyMonkey to determine specific safety needs of new farmers in Pennsylvania. Results will shape hands-on workshops and resources for summer and fall, focusing on:

  • Equipment operation
  • Maintenance
  • Identifying hazards
  • Employee training
  • Safety regulations

When it’s available – just click on the link in the email and complete the survey. Your input will make new farm operations more safe and successful. Thank you!

Also: the Lancaster County Career & Technology Center is looking for a person with expertise in the dairy cattle industry to substitute teach in the Lancaster area for three or four weeks starting next week. This person cannot be a retired member of the PA school system who is drawing retirement from PSERS. Please contact if interested or for more information.

March 17 – Lambing Clinic at Owens Farm in Sunbury

lamb photo by tom pokorny

From Owens Farm:

On Sat. March 17 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Owens Farm in Sunbury PA – Condense years of knowledge into one day with veterinarian Dr. Jackie Rapp, a panel of experienced shepherds, and a barnful of lambs. The morning session will cover Decision-Making at Lambing, Top Ten Tips for Saving Lambs, and a demonstration of a necropsy to determine “Why Did This Lamb Die?” Then we’ll head to the barn to demonstrate management practices such as ear-tagging, tube feeding, tail docking, nursing difficulties, and other common problems. Even more important, we’ll show you how to recognize the behavior of healthy newborns who need no intervention.

How many lambs? We have 67 Coopworth and Katahdin ewes who will be lambing all month, giving you the opportunity to observe and discuss many different scenarios.

March is cold–what about food and warmth? The morning session will be inside a church, followed by a shared covered dish meal. The lambing barn is actually pretty warm with all those critters, and the coffee pot will be on all day!

Where Are We? Owens Farm is between Sunbury and Danville, PA, on Mile Post Rd.

More Info, Pics, Registration? For more information and to register, visit our webpage.

You may also be interested in Jumpstart Into Raising Sheep, and Pastured Pork Day, both upcoming one-day workshops at Owens Farm.

New Manure Management Rules from DEP

PASA’s Susan Beal writes:

… PA Department of Environmental Protection recently enacted some long awaited rules and regulations about manure. Anyone who produces manure on farm or uses imported manure needs to have a manure management plan  written down officially, not in their heads or on the back of an envelope…

Depending on the the size/intensity of the farm, this plan can be self generated or, in the case of those situations deemed CAFOs, will need to be formulated by a manure management specialist. This will impact many folks – from the backyard horse and chicken farmers to those with small herds and flocks to the veggie folks and market gardeners and field crop people who are importing manure….

More information. (District conservation offices will also have hard copies of the workbooks available.)

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