Ragbag – August 31, 2012

News from Centre County Buy Fresh Buy Local

News from Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture

News from Way Fruit Farm – Apples!

Apples have arrived!  Currently, we have picked Honey Crisp, Gala, Ozark Gold, Ginger Gold and McIntosh. In our Apple Bin Sale, you can find both Honey Crisp and Gala for the choosing.  (McIntosh coming soon!)   We hope you’ll come out to the farm store soon and enjoy these fresh apples or try a fresh-baked apple pie from our bakery! End of summer vegetables including bell peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, fall squash, pie pumpkins and more are also available at the farm store for your Fall dinner plans.

Intro to Sustainability Online Course at University of Illinois

  • More info (8 weeks, started August 27) – “This course introduces the academic approach of Sustainability and explores how today’s human societies can endure in the face of global change, ecosystem degradation and resource limitations. The course focuses on key knowledge areas of sustainability theory and practice, including population, ecosystems, global change, energy, agriculture, water, environmental economics and policy, ethics, and cultural history. This subject is of vital importance, seeking as it does to uncover the principles of the long-term welfare of all the peoples of the planet. As sustainability is a cross-disciplinary field of study, this foundation requires intellectual breadth…understanding our motivations requires the humanities, measuring the challenges of sustainability requires knowledge of the sciences (both natural and social), and building solutions requires technical insight into systems (such as provided by engineering, planning, and management).”

Tonight – Blue Moon Walk at Millbrook Marsh

ONGOING – Survey of Farm Apprentices & Interns

The Rural Sociology Department at Penn State University is collecting feedback from workers’ experiences. To date, internships and apprenticeships have played an important role within the sustainable farm community, yet the public knows little about the people who work in these programs and their impact on growing sustainable food. Their study will focus on the work that interns and apprentices do on farms in exchange for training and alternative forms of compensation.

If you’ve been an intern or apprentice on a sustainable farm we want to hear from you! Calling on interns or apprentices (current and former) in the northeast US, please take this survey about learning sustainable agricultural practices by doing the work via internships/apprenticeships.

We are also conducting interviews with folks in Pennsylvania. Share your experiences and talk with others who work/worked as interns/apprentices. Please contact Stephanie or Kathleen or call 719-671-3509 to participate in discussion groups, personal interviews or farm journaling. Your voice and your experience are important to a sustainable food system – join our conversation!

Action Alert – Support EPA Soot Pollution Standards

“To be in compliance with the Clean Air Act, the EPA must create a new standard to limit small-particle pollution, also called soot. They have proposed a standard, but it could be weakened or stopped in its tracks without strong support from the public.”

New Meal Prep Business in Boalsburg

  • Laura’s Home Cooking – “A working mother with decades of experience in the restaurant industry, Laura is excited to bring her passion for family meals to your home. Let her help you relax with your family over a table of great food.” Profile in CDT

Similar local businesses include The Sustainable Kitchen Supper Club (Andrew Monk) and My Foodie Chef (Kristi Brandstetter)

TED Talk on Gardening on Vacant Urban Parcels

Sept. 2 – Crickfest in Coburn

Sept. 6 – Safe Equipment Operation and Maintenance Workshop in Natrona Heights.

Topics to be addressed during this hands-on workshop will include tractor safety, maintenance, and operations. Participants will learn what to look for when purchasing used equipment, how to hitch safely to drawbars and with 3-pt mounted attachments. Pre-operation inspections of equipment will be demonstrated and practiced.  An opportunity to operate small and mid-size tractors and attach equipment will be provided. Instructors, Dennis Murphy and Sam Steel, are with the Agricultural Safety & Health Program, Penn State University. The $15.00 registration fee includes lunch and materials.

Sept. 7 – Deadline to Apply for Job with PennFuture in Harrisburg

PennFuture seeking Central Pennsylvania Outreach Coordinator to manage water-quality focused issue campaigns and coordinate other outreach responsibilities.

Job Duties:

  • Coordinate Choose Clean Water campaign and serve as the staff lead for multi-state coalition work as part of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, Delaware River Basin Coalition, and other relevant coalition efforts
  • Lead outreach and education efforts around water quality improvements related to agricultural activities in the region;
  • Build and maintain a diverse coalition of organizations, businesses and individuals to support and engage in the Choose Clean Water campaign and other water-focused issue campaigns;
  • Cultivate relationships with elected officials and relevant agency staff at the local, state, and federal levels within central Pennsylvania;
  • Provide assistance in researching and developing organizational policy positions and in assessing pending policies at the local, state, and federal levels;
  • Generate support for PennFuture’s policy campaigns in the Central Pennsylvania area, develop membership and organize events;
  • Design and conduct educational presentations on a variety of priority issues including water quality, natural gas drilling, climate change, and clean energy issues to targeted constituencies;
  • Place letters to editors, produce podcasts/vidcasts, and coordinate other local media efforts;
  • Provide assistance to legal staff on local issues, including file reviews and community engagement.

Qualifications: The ideal candidate will have a working knowledge of water quality and agricultural issues and the Central Pennsylvania region, and be positioned to network easily within key constituencies. Prior experience and demonstrable ability for project coordination, public speaking, presentations and community organizing required. Proficiency with basic computer skills including word processing, presentations, email, social media, and Internet applications required. The successful candidate must be self-motivated, a leader, and able to handle multiple tasks at once. Further, s/he must support PennFuture’s mission to protect and enhance the environment.

Specifications: This position is located in our Harrisburg, Pennsylvania office. Evening and weekend hours are occasionally required. Candidates must have a valid driver’s license and be willing to travel within the region on a regular basis. Competitive salary and benefits — health, life and disability insurance, and generous vacation are included. The salary range for this position is mid $30s to low $40s. PennFuture is an equal opportunity employer.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until September 7, 2012. To apply: Send cover letter, resume, two writing samples, and a list of at least three references by September 7, 2012 to Heather Sage, vice president.

Sept. 8 – For Hunters: Venison 101 Course at Penn State 

Venison 101 is a one-day, intensive hands-on program designed for hunters who have an interest in expanding their knowledge of deer diseases, processing venison, and preparing delicious venison for friends and family. The workshop begins with an evaluation of deer diseases (including Chronic Wasting Disease), followed by proper field dressing, an opportunity for hands-on processing, and cooking/canning demonstrations. There will be plenty of opportunities to taste venison products and interact with speakers. The registration fee is $139 per person and will cover printed materials, breaks, lunch, venison, and processing supplies. The workshop will be held at the Penn State University Meats Lab on Porter Road at University Park. Click here to register.

Sept. 17 – Deadline to Apply for Job with PA-Interfaith Power & Light

Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light seeks to hire an Americorps worker. Starting October 2012 and running until August 2013, the half-time position involves working with PA IPL in association with congregations throughout the state on programs to encourage energy conservation, to educate people on the ethical and moral dimensions of climate change, and to work with student organizations on weatherization projects. This is a half-time paid position that also confers an education award.

The successful applicant will be a committed, responsible individual who works well with others and communicates effectively. Duties might include: initiating contacts with congregations, helping to carry out energy audits, giving presentations on energy efficiency, and helping to recruit for and coordinate projects with the Penn State student chapter of IPL.

For further information, contact Sylvia Neely. To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to the same email address. Applications received by Sept. 17 will receive full consideration. For information on Americorps and benefits associated with the position, see Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps.

Sept. 20 – 2nd National Meeting of Farm Advocates

Following last year’s unprecedented national gathering of farm advocates, Farm Aid has has established the Farm Advocate Link, a new national farm advocates network dedicated to training, supporting and nurturing a new generation of direct service, lay and legal farm advocates, meeting on September 20 at the Purcell Friendship Hall of the Milton Hershey School in Hershey PA. Come for the meeting and stay for the Farm Aid concert and other Farm Aid activities taking place Friday & Saturday, September 21-22! This year’s meeting agenda includes interactive training, support, mentoring and networking workshops and opportunities for all who would offer direct, one-on-one services to family farmers and ranchers. There is no charge to attend, but registration is required.

Sept. 26 – Deadline for Small Business Grants for Pollution Prevention and Energy Efficiency

From Michael Krancer, Secretary, PA DEP: This grant program provides PA small businesses with fifty percent matching reimbursement grants of up to $9, 500 to implement pollution prevention or energy efficiency projects and assists various business sectors to transition into competitive markets.

Examples of eligible projects include HVAC and boiler upgrades, high-efficiency lighting, solvent recovery systems, waste recycling systems, and auxiliary power units deployed as anti-idling technology for trucks.

The Small Business Ombudsman’s office (717 772 8909) is accepting applications and will do so until September 26, 2012 – or until the funds are exhausted – which ever comes first. Applications are reviewed in the order received until the monies are depleted or until February 8, 2013. Funds will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Oct. 15 – Deadline for USDA Value-Added Grants (VAPG)


USDA Rural Development is making up to $14 million in grants available for projects that help farmers and ranchers produce bio-based products from agricultural commodities. The grants, which are competitively awarded, are available for planning activities or for working capital expenses, but not for both. The maximum grant amount is $100,000 for planning grants and $300,000 for working capital grants. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities and increasing producer income are the goals of the VAPG program.

For example, Unruh Greenhouse LLC in West Union, Iowa received a VAPG working capital grant to process and package local produce for nearby grocery stores, universities and hospitals. Schmidt Farms Inc. in Rawlins County, Kansas received a working capital grant to expand the market for their product lines which includes beef, chicken, and eggs. The company is a family farm that has been in the meat business for the last 25 years. They have been marketing their home grown beef directly to customers. Schmidt Farms is building and expanding the market not only for their beef, but also for their chickens and eggs. The product lines will be marketed as being produced locally and produced farm fresh. Beef produced is promoted as being all natural and chickens as being free range and antibiotic free.

Businesses of all sizes are encouraged to apply, but priority will be given to operators of small and medium-sized farms or ranches that are structured as family farms, beginning farmers or ranchers, or those owned by socially-disadvantaged farmers or ranchers. Grants are available for projects up to 36 months in duration. For information on how to apply, see page 48951 of the August 15, 2012 Federal Register.

Nov. 7  – Bradford County Agriculture Conference

There will be an Ag Conference at the Wysox Fire hall on November 7. Information about this is starting to be distributed, two resources are the event Website and Facebook page.

The Goals of this Conference include:

  • Call awareness to the integral part agriculture plays in the  culture, environment, quality of life and economy of Bradford County
  • Develop support for the future of Bradford County Agriculture
  • Provide a forum for participants (voices of agriculture) to provide  input and assemble an “agriculture viability strategy” and diverse  coalition that is capable of moving the strategy forward
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