Odds & Ends – March 11, 2012

Farm Education Events

Tues., March 13, 2012 – Transitioning to Organic Vegetable Production Workshop

Village Acres Farms, 229 Cuba Mills Road, Mifflintown, PA – 9 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Many producers in the Central PA region have been requesting information about transitioning to organic vegetable production.  This workshop answers the basic questions about how transition begins and outlines the best practices for successful production and marketing.  The farmers at Village Acres will share their organic production story while conservation, soil biology, natural resources, marketing, organic certification and other topic speakers will offer the latest research and information on organic operations and technical and financial assistance.  You will also learn how to create natural pollinator habitats to benefit your crops and overall production outcomes. Cost of the workshop is $10 which includes a local foods lunch and workshop materials.  Attendance is limited to first 30 paid registrations. Request a brochure at workshops@cpartnerships.com or by phone message at 717-248-4901 Ext. 303.

Thur. March 22  – Oil Seed Crops in Your Rotation

Canola Growers Meeting – sponsored by Susquehanna Mills Co. 10am – 2pm, Susquehanna Mills Oil Seed Plant, 519 State Route 87, Montoursville PA 17754. Speakers from: Caldbeck Consulting, Susquehanna Mills Co., Penn State University, Ernst Conversation Seeds. Discussion topics to include Rotational benefits; Winter/spring varieties fertility; Harvest; Increasing yields & profitability; Canola production contracts & sunflower production contracts. Coffee & lunch provided. Pre-registration by March 20th. Contact Josh@susquehannamills.com or 570-433-3595

Tues. April 3 – Organic No-Till Workshop

9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at the Dauphin County Agriculture and Natural Resources Center, Dauphin, PA. Organic no-till represents a relatively new perspective on working the land.  It combines two agricultural practices—organic farming (farming without synthetic inputs) and keeping fields covered with rotational crops to prevent soil and water loss.  The practice strives to do this without using herbicides or extensive tillage. As more producers seek ways to reduce erosion and cut back on the fuel and energy requirements needed for conventional crop tillage, organic no-till is gaining interest as a way to produce organic crops by utilizing cover crops to control insects and weeds while rebuilding soil organic matter.

The cost for the program is $10 per person, which includes workshop resources and lunch.  Pre-registration is requested for the event.  Interested producers may email registrations and request a workshop brochure at workshops@cpartnerships.com or by leaving a phone message at 717-248-4901 Ext. 303.  Callers should leave their name, contact information and the number of people registering for the event.

  • Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute’s farm director and one of the original organic no-till researchers in the U. S., will discuss organic no-till field trials and research over the past decade, as well as new technologies and equipment available for organic no-till farming success. Moyer’s cover crop research and development of a roller-crimper have contributed considerably to the widening interest in organic no-till methods.
  • Bill Curran, Penn State weed scientist, and colleagues Mary Barbercheck, entomologist, and organic no-till researcher Matt Ryan, will present information on weed management, insect and pest control and current organic research in the Northeast U.S.  The team also will guide participants in a special session on weed and insect biology and identification.
  • Kirby Reichart, farmer-researcher and owner of Sunshine Farms, Grantville, will discuss his on-farm field trials combining various cover crops with organic farming techniques.

Both experienced and novice organic farmers, and producers interested in learning more about organic cropping, are invited to attend the workshop. The Resources Center is located at 1451 Peters Mountain Road, Dauphin, PA and driving directions are available here.

News from PASA

March 23 – Beginning Farmer Workshop w/PSU Extension Mercer County, PASA & FarmLink (Mercer, Mercer County)

March 24 –  PASA’s Annual Meeting (Harrisburg)

March 24 – Winter Fruit Tree Pruning (Collegeville, PA; Montgomery County)

March 24 – 25 Springing Good Intentions into Action Conference (Philadelphia, Philadelphia County)

March 26 – PASA’s North Central Region Annual Potluck – 6-9:00pm at Jeremiah’s above the Bullfrog Brewery (Williamsport, Lycomng County)

  • We invite all North Central PASA members, friends and family to join us for fine food to eat, as well as fine food for thought. Our annual potluck celebration is always a great time to reconnect with other producers in the region and see what’s going on in our neck of the woods. This year, the educational spotlight will feature a presentation by John Tewksbury on some of the farm-to-school work he has done at the Muncy School District. Remember to bring business cards or brochures to share with other PASA members. Bring a new friend or co-worker to introduce them to the PASA gang. Please bring a dish to share as well as your own table service/cup. If you like fresh beer, bring a growler to fill up at the Bullfrog Brewery before heading home.
  • Recycling Note from Leah Tewksbury – “We have about 50 food grade 5-gallon buckets, with lids. They were used to hold spent coffee grounds. We do not need them anymore, and if you could use some, you are welcome to them. Let us know and we will bring them to the potluck at Jeremiah’s on March 26.” (Phone: 570-437-2620)
  • Carpooling Note from Brian Burger – “I am planning to attend the NC PASA Potluck 3/26, 6-9PM in Williamsport with the personal requirement that I facilitate or otherwise participate in a ride-share. I am in Eastern Centre County and would most likely travel east on Rt 45 through Mifflinburg to Lewisburg, then north…” (Email Brian at newharmonyfarmstead@hotmail.com or call 814.349.8842)

March 31 – The Dirt on Compost (Boiling Springs, PA; Cumberland County)

April 1 – Inaugural Philly Farm & Food Fest (Philadelphia)

April 12 – Greenhouse Troubleshooting (Sligo, Clarion County)

April 14 – The True Cost of Production (Exton, Chester County)

April 27 – Food Alliance Certification Program Overview & Mock Inspection (Boiling Springs, Cumberland County)

May 20 – 23 – Holistic Management Grazing Planning: An Intensive Workshop for Mobs, Partial Mobs & Non-Mobs (Ligonier, Westmoreland County)

Sept. 23 – 5th Annual Bike Fresh, Bike Local (Downingtown, Chester County)

News from Shavers Creek

PAEE CONFERENCE – It’s that time of year again – where teachers, naturalists, administrators, students, and environmental education professionals gather for one conference: the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators (PAEE) conference, titled: “Earth: The Educator’s Manual.”  Friday, March 16 through Saturday, March 17, 2012. More information, including registration materials, can be found here and here.

Dr. Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Penn State, and host of PBS documentary “Earth: The Operator’s Manual” will be the keynote speaker. Expect workshops and presentations on citizen science, engaging diverse audiences, using storytelling as a teaching tool, how to achieve zero waste at your facility, wildlife forensics and more.  Other highlights include storyteller Jim Hamilton, a panel discussion on Marcellus Shale, and a performance by local band Dreams & Bones.

MAPLE HARVEST FESTIVALVolunteers Needed (Note from Lyric Gibson) – “…I am an Environmental Education Intern at Shavers Creek Environmental Center. I am working as the volunteer coordinator for the 2012 Shavers Creek Maple Harvest Festival, to be held from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 24 and Sunday March 25. I would like to personally invite you to join in the fun and food on the following dates as one of our enthusiastic volunteers.

The Maple Harvest Festival has been celebrated at Shavers Creek since 1984. The current festival features an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast with real maple syrup (free for volunteers!), organic sausage provided by Penn State’s Sustainable Agriculture Club for $2 and a variety of baked goods for sale at our concession stands. At our learning stations, visitors learn the process of making maple syrup. There will also be bird-of-prey and reptile shows, live music, and trail tours. Volunteers are crucial to the success of this weekend as more than 1,000 community members attend the festival every year. This is a great way to get involved in your community. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact me at lyricrgibson@live.com.”

News from Clearwater Conservancy

March 15 – 7th Annual Vernal Pool Tour – This “Adventures in Conservation” event offers a glimpse at the lives of Scotia Barrens amphibians. Salamanders and other ‘phibs are on the move early this year thanks to the warm weather! In order to keep up with them, we will hold our annual Vernal Pool Tour next Thursday, March 15 from 8 to 10 p.m. Space is limited to 30 registrants. Reservations are first-come, first-served by email only to Sarah Edge at sarah@clearwaterconservancy.org

Offered every spring since 2005 and led by ClearWater volunteer Jim Julian, Ph.D., a lecturer in biology at PSU’s Altoona Campus, the event will be an opportunity for a small group to see examples of vernal pools – temporary ponds – and the diversity of rarely seen amphibian species they support, such as dozens, if not hundreds, of migrating spotted salamanders. Vernal pools are required breeding habitat for many amphibians, including spotted and Jefferson salamanders and wood frogs. They are also home to uncommon invertebrates such as fairy shrimp. These seasonal pools offer a reproductive safe haven as they are free of predatory species such as fish. Successful registrants will receive information on the meeting place and further instructions for this event via email prior to March 15.

Alert: Thousands of migrating amphibians are lost each year to road kill. People interested in observing spring amphibian migrations on their own should be careful not to drive on roads in the Scotia Barrens or any wooded area on rainy spring nights in search of animals. Park your vehicle and proceed on foot with a flashlight to help prevent unnecessary road mortalities. 

Marcellus Fracking Contamination Coming To Spring Creek:

(Excerpts from a reader email): “…a notice was posted in a post office in Bellefonte, PA, about a company that is taking over an old metals plant to ‘market services to the Marcellus Shale industry.’

this company has applied for a permit to recycle wastewater and send it into Logan Branch, which is a feeder stream for Spring Creek. Spring Creek runs through State College, is a listed cold water trout stream, and has been the focus of a great deal of environmental work

Spring Creek has been identified as important creek in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and is supposed to be protected… The site of this industrial plant is essentially alongside the Big Spring in Bellefonte, source of Spring Creek (and the name, ‘belle fonte’) right in the middle of town. It is the second largest spring in all of PA, is surrounded by a town park and is the heart of the community’s identity in many ways.

[We are in] an area that has felt fairly secure against the direct impacts of fracking which all of a sudden is facing potential water contamination…”

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