Mishmash – May 14, 2012

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Photos of this past weekend’s weaving and canning workshops. Serendipitously, some participants could use their new potholders to carry their hot jars of strawberry jam home!

Upcoming Reskilling Workshops:

The Hands-On Beekeeping workshop in Warriors Mark on May 19 (rain date May 20) is now full – if you’re still interested, please email to sign up for the waiting list in case enrolled participants are unable to attend last minute.

Space is still available in Hugelkultur (a German gardening technique using mounds of tree branches and other woody plant debris, layered over dug trenches to create water-holding planting beds) and Building a Chicken Coop – both meeting May 26 in Lemont. Please call 237-0996 or email to sign up.

We’re still working on the Summer 2012 workshop series. General registration for all summer workshops will open June 1. Tentative schedule below (still in discussions with potential instructors for home cheesemaking):

  • Sat., June 23 – Beginner Home Beer Brewing – Part 1 – Brewing with Malt Extract
  • Sat., July 7 – Beginner Home Beer Brewing – Part 2 – Racking and Bottling
  • Sat., July 14 – Cold Summer Soups
  • Sat., July 14 – Advanced Home Beer Brewing Part 1 – Building a Mash Tun.
  • Sat., July 15 – Beginner Wild Edible Plant Identification.
  • Sat. July 15 – Introduction to Magic: the Gathering (Non-electric Entertainment Series)
  • Sat., July 21- Whole Animal Butchering
  • Sat., July 21 – Advanced Home Beer Brewing Part 2 – All Grain Brewing.
  • Sun., July 22 – Introduction to Dungeons & Dragons
  • Sun., July 22 – Cooking with Greens
  • Sat., August 4  – Fruits, Berries and Herbs – Use & Winter Storage
  • Sun., August 5 – Clay Oven Building and Bread Baking.
  • Sat., August 11 – Everything Corn! Chowder, Salsa, Roasted…
  • Sun., August 12 – Building a Rain Barrel System
  • Sat., August 25 – Everything Tomato! Tarts, Soups, Salsa, Roasted…

Friends & Farmers Co-op – Next Meeting Wednesday May 16

(From Sarah Potter) – Just a note to remind you that we will meet in our subcommittees (Legal/Finance and Membership) next week on Wednesday, May 16th at 7 p.m. in Webster’s Bookstore Cafe (133 E. Beaver Avenue, main entrance on Humes Alley). Invite a friend or foodie off the street and let’s get to work!

Very simple agenda:

  • Review vision or at least share vision and we can follow up in the full meeting at the end of the month
  • Make To-Do lists in subcommittees and then start checking things off!

P.S. Please feel free to bring your computer or any research to share and discuss that would help as we shape the Friends and Farmers Co-op.

Speaking of which…

(From the CED 475 students) – Local Food Shopper Needs Assessment

(From Kari Sorensen, PSU LArch student) – Local Food Vendor Needs Assessment

(From Elizabeth Crisfield) – “These are the stats comparing Centre County to the Nation and the State for a number of statistics that indicate the health of a community. Access to healthy food is the second to last stat in the list, and surprisingly Centre County has 13% of our low-income population does not live close to a grocery store. This compares to 0% nationally (though I question this) and 7% within the state. Also, apparently 48% of our restaurants are considered fast food (same as the state), as opposed to 25% nationally. I did not dive into the origins of these data. I feel a little dubious of them, but maybe they are real…”

(From Ellen Dannin) “…I was rereading the latest newsletter from a food coop I belong to (the Ann Arbor food coop) and thought that the issues raised in the newsletter track many of the issues being raised here – with the difference that the AA food coop has been in existence for decades now – and for much of that time in its current location in what used to be a sketchy neighborhood. Now there is a weekly and lively farmers market a half block away – and the place is now a vibrant part of town. For some time now, they have had a cafe which also provides food for sale in the coop. They provide classes, and their newsletter carries small notices and advertisements for relevant services and goods. I thought its operation could provide a useful model and source of ideas – pro and con – as people here debate goals and next steps. Here is a link to their website and here is a link to the most recent newsletter.”

(From Laura Dininni Cusumano) – Forwarding an announcement about potential USDA programs to support food hubs and another about the Regional Food Hub Resource Guide. Are you a food hub or thinking of creating one? Are you interested in supplying one or buying from one? Want to know how hubs have significant positive impacts on communities?

The USDA worked with the Wallace Center, its National Good Food Network, the National Association for Produce Market Managers and Project for Public Spaces to study food hubs and create this recently released Regional Food Hub Guide. The guide presents a series of key questions about the current state of food hub development and examples from operating food hubs. It also outlines the role that food hubs can play in regional food systems; their innovative business models; and their economic contributions to local communities. It describes dozens of funding opportunities and other resources, best practices, and additional strategies for anyone interested in developing regional food hubs. Other Food Hub Resources: NGFN Food Hub Collaboration and USDA’s Food Hubs

May 19 – Friends Meeting Community Garden – Huge Workday Saturday – Rain or Shine

This coming Saturday, May 19, will be a big-ass workday for renovating the Friends Meeting House Community Garden. We’ve finally got all the sheet mulching ingredients lined up: cardboard, compost, alfalfa hay and switchgrass – and will meet from 9 a.m. to noon to spread the cardboard, add a 3 to 4 inch layer of compost, then a layer of hay, then a layer of switchgrass, and finally a top layer of hay, to cut back the accumulated weed pressure and improve soil fertility ahead of the 2013 growing season. We’ll also be installing wooden gates, and, if we have time, we’ll be adding a four-foot wire fence around the whole garden. If you can help out, please sign up by email.

Centre Region Permaculture Guild Update:

(From Jackie Bonomo) – “I know it has been some time since we met for the Learning Garden Permablitz and I haven’t been updating all of you with information but I haven’t been idle about this Permaculture Guild. Lindsey Aumiller and I went to a prospective host’s site to explore the possibility of doing a blitz there  and I’ve been working on a design for a Montessori school’s site here in State College which is likely to happen but needs to be approved by a church Board of Trustees before we can progress further. Once the design is approved, I will send you a copy of the site plan and a picture of the existing site.

Another opportunity for sheet mulching a site has come up for May 19, a Saturday, sheet mulching the State College Friends Meeting community garden area. This would be a 9 am – 12 noon blitz to spread the compost, layer the hay/switchgrass/hay and then install a wire fence. Please reply to Katherine at the Spring Creek Homesteading site if you can participate.

What information about permaculture – classes, workshops, etc. would you most like to learn? Are people interested in an introductory class covering ethics and design principles or specific site situations and design components? If any of you have projects or a site on which you’d like to have us do a group blitz, please offer your suggestions. I’d like to keep us active and learning as a group throughout the year. Spring is difficult because we all have much to do in our yards and gardens but after May is over, I will have more time available to plan permablitzes…”

SCHF Finances

Here’s an overview of Spring Creek Homesteading Finances roughly between Sept 2011 and early May 2012.

Thank you super-much to all our fantastic instructors and workshop participants! 

Also, we also have plenty of T-shirts available – $20 each, available colors are maroon, dark brown and bright orange, adult sizes from small to extra large. Contact Josh Lambert for more info.

This Week at Central PA Farmers Markets:

  • Tuesday May 15 – Downtown State College (11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Locust Lane)
  • Tuesday May 15 – Boalsburg (2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the PA Military Museum)
  • Wednesday, May 16 – Lemont (3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Granary)
  • Friday May 18 – Downtown State College (11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Locust Lane)
  • Saturday May 19 –  Bellefonte (8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Gamble Mill)
  • Saturday May 19 – Millheim (10am to 1pm at the American Legion)
  • Saturday May 19 – North Atherton (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Home Depot)

What’s in season?

  • Rhubarb & Asparagus
  • Morels… if you can find them!
  • Hothouse tomatoes (yes, really) from Kreider Farm
  • Spring greens, including kale, spinach, arugula, mustard, mache and more
  • Radishes, Turnips, & Potatoes
  • Onions & Garlic
  • Apples & Fresh Apple Cider
  • Fresh herbs like chives, cilantro, and parsley
  • Potted vegetable, herb, and perennial plants
  • Year-round products like milk & dairy, honey, wine, meats, cheese, eggs and baked & canned goods

Boalsburg Farmers Market Preview:

(From Jim Eisenstein) Gemelli’s pizza oven will be back!  As usual, a variety of artisan breads and other baked goods will be sitting right next door. Gaffron’s Sunrise Bakery will bring its popular whole wheat English muffins, and if you have a request for a favorite product, call Marge Gaffron at 364-2650.

In the almost unheard of event that it rains, Bee Kind Winery will offer a 5% discount to lighten your mood. Byler’s Goat Dairy has live culture goat milk yoghurt and black walnuts. Jonas Beiler Family Farm will bring more sheep yoghurt, spring onions, and pork spare ribs plus many other cuts of pasture raised meat. If you like veal but don’t like the way most of it is raised, Stone Meadow sells guilt-free veal, milk fed directly from mother Bossy the cow. Eden View will bring cream of asparagus soup and fresh chickens. Bill Calahan will also have fresh chicken and pork, and promises to bring sunshine into everyone’s life. Ardry Farm has eggs and white radishes (and potatoes). Clan Stewart will bring beet greens, lettuce mix, kale, and other vegetables. Clover Creek will feature its Smoked Galen’s cheese (and gouda) and at least nine other cheeses. Jade Family Farm will bring beets for the first time, asparagus, many kinds of head lettuce, sorrel, arugula, and seven or eight other classic spring greens.

This is just a sample of the variety of local products our vendors will have.  Piker and Papa play and sing from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m..  Shopping at the market is a good experience (helped by the free parking right next to the market). Tuesday, 2:00 to 6:00 at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg.

(From Centre County Buy Fresh Buy Local) – Partner The Garden, located in Centre Hall will open for the season on May 11th this year. They offer fresh home-grown veggies, herbs, cut-while-you-wait greens (lettuce, chard, etc), fresh floral bouquets, eggs, and lots of canned goods. Make sure you stop by because they have expanded this year and are striving to be even more sustainable. Visit Amy & Cindy and see where your food is grown!

Hours:  Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.;  Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Holidays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

News from Way Fruit Farm

Pennsylvania has begun to harvest some delicious fruits and veggies already.  We’ve gathered the freshest, & sweetest of the crops and brought them to our farm store for you to enjoy. Sold by the quart, PA strawberries are sweet, delicious and ready to be enjoyed already!  Or, maybe you’d enjoy making a fresh salad with organic salad greens and PA tomatoes and portabella mushrooms. Or, fire up the grill and roast some PA asparagus, potatoes and pork cuts of your choice!  These fresh items and so much more await you this weekend and are only available while limited supplies last.  Come on out today!

May 19 – Last Minute Opening In Sheep Workshop

(From Owens Farm in Sunbury) We have a last-minute opening for one or two people in our one-day workshop this Saturday, May 19, called Jumpstart Into Raising Sheep. 8 am to 4 pm. Very hands-on workshop with a panel of experienced shepherds for novice and future sheep-raisers to get a great start and avoid common beginner mistakes. This day will definitely shorten your learning curve and save you money and/or frustration if you are just getting into sheep. Full info on our website  or contact us: 570 898-6060 or by email.

May 21 – Deadline for RFP For Local Food System Research

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania recently released our 2013 Request for Proposals (RFP).  The PDF and letter of intent cover page are available on our website.

If you are interested in one of our targeted topics or in an open topic that aligns with our mission and focus on applied policy research, we would be happy to discuss a possible project with you prior to official submission. The deadline for submitting a letter of intent is Monday, May 21, 2012 and the proposal deadline, for those invited to submit, will be September 10, 2012.

June 21 – Soil Assessment and Management for All Producers, All Farm Systems and All Farm Sizes.

Thursday, June 21, 2012 – Two sessions:  9 a.m. to Noon and 1 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.  Attend either session or the full day. Hosted by Barefoot Organics Farm, 80 North Cornwall Road, Lebanon, PA  17042

Soil is a key component in the productivity and sustainability of a farming system.  How soil is managed impacts many aspects of an entire farming operation.  This workshop will cover how to conduct soil tests and sustainably manage your soil from a number of perspectives including plant nutrients, diseases, beneficial and pest organisms and soil’s physical qualities.  Whether you farm 500 acres or 5 acres, this hands-on workshop will give you the tools and knowledge to know how to improve — and where to improve your soil FROM THE GROUND UP!

Topics Include:

  • Soil Health Overview
  • Hands-On Soil Assessments
  • Pollinator and Conservation Buffers
  • Filling Soil Health Prescriptions with Cover Crops
  • Using Winter-Killed Cover Crops to Facilitate Organic No-Till Planting
  • Observing Mycorrhizal Fungi and Nematodes Under a Microscope

Email interest to: Melissa Piper Nelson at  or call 717-248-4901 Ext. 303.

For more information, see the attached brochure. Soils Workshop Brochure 6-21-12

This workshop is sponsored by Capital Resource Conservation and Development Area Council Inc. (RC&D) in cooperation with Penn State Extension and other soil, crop and entomology researchers and extension staff.

News from Shavers Creek Environmental Center

The 2012 Birding Cup Results Are In! The Birding Cup—Shaver’s Creek’s annual fund-raising tournament—is in the books for 2012. The weekend of May 4 – 5, 18 teams comprised of over 80 birders competed to identify as many bird species in the central Pennsylvania region as they could within a twenty-four-hour period.

A new team to the Cup—Nemesis Birders—won the overall Birding Cup category for most species seen with an impressive 151. Shaver’s Creek’s own Bad Optics and Red-rumped Reducks took top honors in the County Cup with 136 species and the Birding Boot with 103 species, respectively. For the Potter Mug category—for a team with mostly novice birders—the team 3-Dog Night took the prize with 125 species seen. The total number of bird species seen by all teams this year was the second-most ever— 186!

Our goal for this year’s Birding Cup is to raise $12,000, which will go towards our efforts to incorporate native plants and a larger, safer water feature in front of the Nature Center. We are well on our way there, but pledges can still be made—either per identified bird species or as a flat donation. As always, donors can choose to support a specific team’s results, or the total species seen by all teams. For more information on the Cup, you can visit our website.  To see pictures of the winning teams, click here.

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