Trub – February 2, 2013

(“Trub” courtesy of Matt Poese…)

Action Alerts

News from Spring Creek Homesteading

  • Homesteader’s Handbook – The first edition of the Homesteader’s Handbook is finished and at the printer, ten copies to be ready by next Tuesday and one copy to be included in the basket of goodies up for auction at next week’s PASA Farming for the Future conference. (More info soon about how & where to buy the handbook if you want a copy.)
  • PASA Auction Basket – Thank you to Dana Stuchul, Chris Uhl, Justin Wheeler, Nellie Bhattarai, Ed Lambert, Mary Lambert, Stephanie Hertel, Steve Bookbinder and Joshua Lambert for the homemade items they’ve donated to the PASA auction fundraiser basket. The display will go up Thursday morning (Feb. 7) at the PASA conference, and will include a jar of honey, a wooden honey dipper, six bottles of beer, two pottery bowls, a knitted hat, two woven placemats, two bars of soap, one pound of  charcuterie, a cold frame, a jar of herbal body cream, a jar of orange marmalade, a  native bee nesting block, a Spring Creek Homesteading T-shirt and a first-run copy of the Spring Creek Homesteading Homesteader’s Handbook.
  • Taproot Kitchen Fundraiser – Our first community kitchen fundraising campaign will run from February 6 through April 6 and our goal is to raise $7,777.77. We’re trying to figure out how to set up a PayPal account for online donations. Details coming soon…
  • Next Homesteader’s Hangout – Saturday, February 16 at 9:30 a.m. at Webster’s Bookstore Cafe.
  • February Reskilling WorkshopsMaking Sauerkraut – Intro to Vegetable Lactofermentation, with Scott DiLoreto and Matt Sullenberger – Sat., Feb. 9, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the State College Friends Meeting House. Winter Garden Sowing: Milk Jug Greenhouses with Justin Wheeler, Saturday, Feb. 16 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 301 South Garner St. Basic Bicycle Maintenance & Repair with Justin Wagner – Sun., Feb. 17, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Freeze Thaw Cycles, 109 South Allen Street. Email or call 237-0996 to sign up. More workshop listings.
  • CSA Farm Fair – March 6 – PASA’s Annual Centre County CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farm Fair. 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the State College Friends Meeting House, 611 E. Prospect Ave.
  • Spring Potluck – March 22 – 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Community Room (201) at the State College Borough Building, 243 South Allen St.

Backyard Chickens in College Township – Update

(From Scott Stilson)

After the January 24 College Township Council meeting, the Council remanded our request over to the Planning Commission so that we and the Commission can address the concerns Council expressed in the backyard hens draft ordinance and move forward at a later date. (Follow the campaign progress at Facebook.)

February 5 – Boalsburg Indoor Winter Farmers Market Preview

(From Jim Eisenstein)

There is always some special at our markets, and next week is no exception. 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Boalsburg Fire Hall, 113 E. Pine St.

  • For those who like to knit, Tamarack Farms has two wonderful yarns available – Tunis (the first time they have offered it) and a new batch of Islamic. Both are produced from their own animals. You can’t get more local (or higher quality).
  • Byler Goat Diary has a special offer – a free package of its blue cheese with the purchase of any of its other raw goat milk cheeses.
  • Jade Family Farm will have fresh kale (in February!) from its high tunnel, along with cabbage, potatoes, carrots, radishes, and turnips.
  • Ardry Farms still has beautiful red cabbage, along with its usual selection of green cabbage and potatoes. Beiler Family Farm makes its own maple syrup, and last spring’s production is available, along with a few sweet potatoes.
  • Bill Callahan will bring both fresh and frozen pasture-raised meats, and he still has a few turkeys left.
  • You can get hand crafted raw milk aged cheeses from both Stone Meadow and Clover Creek.
  • Way Fruit Farm has a half-dozen varieties of apples still available, along with apple sauce, apple butter, and cider.
  • Eden View has a variety of baked and prepared goods for sale, including sprouted spelt cupcakes and stuffed pitas.
  • Fasta Pasta and Gemelli’s Breads will have their usual assortment of fresh products.
  • Our musicians are back. Next week, Richard Sleigh will be singing and playing.

February 5 – Sustainable  Housing Series Continues in State College

(From Scot Chambers)

Join us for a series of interactive seminars related to sustainable housing, including panels of experts to provide information and field questions from the audience. All events will be held in downtown State College on Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (RSVP by email to Scot.)

  • February  5  -­  Systematically improving the efficiency and value of your home. (Schlow Library)
  • February  26  -­ Expanding the value of your property by improving the exterior. (Schlow Library)
  • March  19  -­  Open discussion on sustainable housing issues of importance to the audience; review and expand on previous topics. (State College Borough Building)

News from Envinity

Envinity E-Newsletter – January 31, 2013 Edition, including financial assistance currently available for home energy efficiency improvements:

  • First Energy Whole House Program – The Whole House Program will help you identify energy efficiency improvements that may qualify you for up to $1,200 in total rebates, including a $150 rebate to have an Envinity energy audit performed.
  • Federal Tax Credits – Several tax incentives were extended and changed through the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, also known as the “fiscal cliff bill,” which passed Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. The residential tax incentives for existing homes, including purchases made in 2012, were extended through 2013.
  • Keystone HELP – the Keystone HELP® program offers low-rate loans to help make affordable energy efficiency home improvements (such as heating and cooling systems, insulation, windows, and “whole house” improvements and geothermal heat pumps) available to all eligible Pennsylvanians…

News from the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture 

  • Walk-in registration for Friday & Saturday at the Farming for the Future conference at the Penn Stater is still available. More conference info.

News from the Centre County Beekeepers Association

(From Sylvia Feldman)

Meeting schedule for February and March is now posted at their website:

  • February 20 – 7 p.m. at the Central Pennsylvania Institute for Science and Technology (CPI), 540 North Harrison Rd, Pleasant Gap, PA.  Topics: Meet and greet and welcome new members, getting started in beekeeping, late winter and early spring preparation and obtaining equipment.
  •  March 20 – 7 p.m. at CPI. Topics: Matching mentors with new beekeepers, hiving a package, late winter/early spring management.

News from Tait Farm in Centre Hall

Tait Farm E-Newsletter – Late January 2013 Edition, including information about garden seeds now available:

  • High Mowing Organic Seeds: High Mowing offers the highest quality, 100% organic seeds that are selected for exceptional performance in organic conditions, as well as for flavor and consistency. We use High Mowing seeds ourselves and can attest to their excellence!
  • Botanical Interests: This is a family-owned company, committed to providing tried and true as well as new varieties, heirloom and organic seeds. Detailed growing and harvesting tips on each packet ensure a successful and rewarding harvest.
  • Renee’s Garden: This year Renee’s offers a new line of organic vegetable and herb seeds that we are happy to be able to include along with their high quality standard heirloom, open-pollinated and hybrid seeds.
  • Franchi: Franchi is Italy’s oldest, family-owned seed company, founded in 1783, offering up heirloom Italian veggie and herb seeds, many certified organic. Franchi is known for the quality of its seed, resulting in especially high germination; generous seed counts; vigorous plants; and delicious food!

Penn State’s Sustainable Agriculture Working Group – Upcoming Events

For more information, contact Charlie White (phone 814-863-9922) or visit the PSU-SusAg website.

Spiral Path Farm Seminar

  • February 15 – Spiral Path Farm: 35 years – Then and Now – 1:30-2:30 PM at 215 Armsby Building, University Park. Come hear about the journey of Terra and Mike Brownback, who as young suburbanites with no farm background started Spiral Path Farm thirty-five years ago. The Brownbacks started their farm as a 100 sow farrow-to-finish operation and for the past 20 years have been raising organic produce. The Brownbacks will discuss the history and motivations of their farming enterprise along with the role that family and community engagement have had in making their operation successful. This is a story that will be sure to inspire and encourage all who have an interest in sustainable agriculture.  

CoverCrop Innovations Webinar Series

The webinars will take place on selected Mondays from 12-1 p.m. throughout February and March and are free and open to the public to attend. To register, fill out the registration form at the webinar series homepage.  Detailed instructions  are available at this link.

  • February 4 – Spring Seedbed Characteristics After Winter-killed Cover Crops – Dr. Ray Weil and Natalie Lounsbury of the Cover Crop Innovation Center, University of Maryland, have been investigating the possibility of no-till planting early spring vegetables such as spinach and lettuce after a forage radish cover crop without the use of herbicides. They will discuss soil moisture, temperature and nutrient status in early spring as well as seedling emergence and yield. Equipment limitations and new opportunities for small scale farmers will be addressed.
  • February 11 – Update on the PSU Cover Crop Interseeder and Applicator, by Dr. Greg Roth, Penn State Extension – The PSU Cover Crop Interseeder and Applicator is a piece of farming equipment designed at Penn State that can seed a cover crop into standing corn while applying sidedress nitrogen and a post-emergent herbicide to the corn crop in a single pass operation. Operation of the equipment will be discussed along with a consideration of suitable cover crop species and mixes, compatible herbicide programs, and weather conditions that will affect success of the cover crop establishment.
  • February 11 – Cover Crops for Soil Health and Nutrient Management, by Dr. Sjoerd Duiker, Penn State Extension – This presentation will discuss recent research on the use of cover crops to provide erosion control, nutrient retention, and supplemental forage on small dairy farms. A review of successful strategies for planting cover crops after corn silage harvest, corn grain harvest, and soybean harvest will also be provided. 1 Pennsylvania Nutrient Management credit.
  • March 11 – Invertebrate pests and their natural enemies in high-residue, conservation tillage cropping systems, by Dr. Mary Barbercheck, Penn State Extension. – Learn the basics about key early season insect and slug pests that can pose problems in conservation tillage systems with high amounts of cover crop residues and how crop management practices can help reduce pest damage. Also, learn about ongoing research into naturally-occurring predators of early season insects and slugs and how best to conserve them. 2 category pesticide credits (Pennsylvania).
  • March 18 – Optimizing weed suppression and nutrient use efficiency in cover crop-based no-till organic corn, by Dr. Steven Mirsky, USDA-ARS Sustainable Agriculture Systems Lab and Hanna Poffenbarger, University of Maryland –  Many organic grain producers seek weed management tactics that will allow them to reduce tillage in their cropping systems while maintaining weed control and efficient nutrient delivery. In this webinar, University of Maryland and USDA-ARS researchers discuss optimizing cover crop mixture composition and manure application to achieve weed suppression and adequate, efficient nitrogen delivery in a cover crop-based no-till corn system. 1 Pennsylvania Nutrient Management credit.
  • March 25 – Nitrogen Management with Cover Crop Mixtures, by Charlie White, Penn State Extension – This presentation will review how the characteristics of different cover crop types, including winter-hardy and winter-killed grasses and legumes, can be used to assemble a mixed-species cover crop planting that balances nitrogen retention over the winter with nitrogen supply to the next crop. Tools to assess nitrogen supplied by cover crops to the next cash crop will also be discussed. 1 Pennsylvania Nutrient Management credit.

February 15 – “For the Love of Art & Chocolate” Clearwater Conservancy Fundraiser

February 22-23 – Lambing Slumber Party in Sunbury

(From Owens Farm)

Ever wondered what life is really like at a sheep farm during that magical time of year when the lambs are coming thick and fast? At our Lambing Slumber party, you’ll be part of a small group staying over from Friday night till Saturday morning, involved in everything that comes along. We’ll be into a 140+ lambing season from 85 ewes. You’ll share dinner, chores, breakfast, and lambing-barn drama with other adventurous families ages 7 to 70. Piglets may also pop out. You’ll cozy up in your sleeping bag in a warm, carpeted floor overlooking the lambing barn.

Although some dates are sold out, we have openings on Feb. 22-23 and private dates may be arranged for groups of 10 or more. Cost is $25 per person, preregistration required. For info and online registration, visit our website. Owens Farm is located in Sunbury, PA. Phone 570-286-5309.

February 13 & March 6 – Southeastern Pennsylvania Organic Field Crop Growers Network Study Circles

Penn State Extension is teaming up with local organic crop growers to offer educational opportunities for farmers interested in organic and/or biological farming. The meetings will focus on organic production of agronomic crops. Both events will be held at Shady Maple Conference Center, 129 Toddy Drive, East Earl, PA, 17519. For each event, registration for the first thirty farmers is free including lunch. Additional guests can pay $15 at the door. For more information contact Tianna DuPont. Call 610-746-1970 to register.

February 13 – New Organic Grower – 10am-2pm – Experienced farmers will share their experiences and answer questions on start up and production. The panel will include:

  • Bob Keller—Penn Valley Farms is a 95-acre farm just outside the town of Lititz in Lancaster County, PA. Field crops, organic free-range egg laying chickens, and compost are all produced under organic certification at the farm.
  • Wade Esbenshade—Summit Valley Farm. Wade grows corn, soybeans, spelt, hay and produce.
  • Tim and Ann Bock from Wills Daal Farm have been raising organic row and forage crops for 18 years.
  • Dairy Farmer—TBA.
  • Pennsylvania Certified Organic Certification Specialist

March 6 – Soil Quality and Weed Management Trade offs –  10am-2pm – Soil quality and effective weed management are both important goals for organic production. But too much tillage/ cultivation reduces soil quality and too little can encourage weeds. Dr. Matt Ryan from Cornell will talk about results or recent research where producers and researchers implemented systems with varying levels of cultivation and measured soil quality. The second half of the session will be round table discussion of grower experiences with different cultivation and tillage regimes and the soil quality and weed management on their farms.

April – Introduction to Vegetable Production Workshops in Eastern PA (Allentown area) and Western PA (Allegheny County). This is a course for people planning to make the leap from vegetable gardening to production for profit and beginning vegetable producers who are ready to refine their techniques in order to optimize their production and profit. Penn State Extension is offering this course in Eastern and Western PA. The objective of this course is to introduce aspiring and new vegetable producers to diverse production strategies and provide a framework for effective farm production planning. Appropriate for farmers and market gardeners at ½ acre to 20 acre scales. Will cover organic and IPM techniques.

Sessions will cover: Seeding and Greenhouse Management, Direct Seeding and Transplanting, Disease Management, Ecological Weed Management, Insect Management and Soil Health and Preparation. Participants can expect: farm visits, presentations by Penn State Extension Educators and experienced farmers, film presentation of weed control and other techniques, interactive discussions, afternoon trips to the Seed Farm, Lehigh County’s Agricultural Incubator, hands-on experience trying new techniques, tools appropriate for both small and large farms, and more. For more information and to register, visit the PSU Extension Start Farming website.

February 20 – 21 – New Jersey Farm Women Conference

News from Penn State Center for Sustainability

PSU Center for Sustainability E-Newsletter – January 28, 2013 Edition

  • Penn State hosts first-ever Sustainability Summit – In an effort to unite students committed to environmental preservation at Penn State, several student organizations on campus organized a “Sustainability Summit” that took place in Heritage Hall at the HUB-Robeson Center on January 25.
  • Selling Green Wine: Not Just for Dr. Seuss – Penn State students Michael Fasano, Melissa Jones, and George Riccardo, along with fellow students, visited the winery in the hills above the Tiber Valley on Friday on a field trip for their course, The Business of Food in Italy.
  • THON works to be more environmentally friendly – In addition to spreading awareness about pediatric cancer, THON’s overall committee is hoping to make the organization more environmentally friendly…
  • Penn State Water Colloquium Series announced –  The speaker series will be held on Fridays from 12:15-1:15 p.m. in 217 Forest Resources Building (unless noted otherwise). The series began Friday, January 18 with Tony Buda from USDA’s ARS presenting “Hydrologic and Water Quality Research in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”
  •  Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference to take place in April – The 2013 Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference provides the setting to learn, share, and explore how campuses are using their passion for innovation to develop technologies, infrastructure, programs, and curricula that address the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges. Student applications are due by February 15, 2013.

News from SEDA-COG

SEDA-COG E-Newsletter – February 2013 Edition -SEDA-COG is a publicly funded development organization based in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and serving an 11-county region. We help the counties ─ and the communities and citizens within them ─ address challenges related to their economies and infrastructure, and we assist them in responding to new opportunities in such areas as energy, technology, market development, transportation, and locally-based resources.

News from Farm to Institution New England

(From Sarah Potter)

FINE E-Newsletter – Winter 2013 Edition – “Farm to Institution New England (FINE) is a six-state collaboration working to strengthen our regional food system by increasing the demand and use of New England food by New England institutions such as schools, government, corporations, hospitals and colleges. FINE has strong roots in the National Farm to School Network and we are actively forging connections with many other organizations, agencies, businesses and funders with similar goals. FINE partners are working to conduct research, pilot projects and collaborative strategies related to critical elements of the regional food supply chain, including production, processing, distribution and food service. More information about our past and current projects is available on our website.”

News from FracTracker

  • FracTracker E-Newsletter – January 31, 2013 Edition, including a new advisory suggesting “that Ohio landfills statewide – including 17 industrial residual waste, 40 municipal solid waste, 36 orphaned landfill facilities along with 64 transfer stations – should prepare to start receiving solid Utica and Marcellus shale drilling waste, ‘including drill cuttings, drilling muds, and frac sands’… This advisory is concerning because the same regulatory bodies have been conveying to other media outlets that such activities are strictly prohibited and that injection of Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM) is “almost the perfect solution…”
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