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Please join us for an eXtension CoP Community, Local, and Regional Food System webinar.

When: Wednesday, September 6, 12 - 1 pm Pacific Time/3 - 4 pm Eastern Time

How can we apply equity and anti-racism principles to our food system work? In answer to this question, this webinar provides three examples from the Cooperative Extension System of efforts to promote equity and undo racism in local food systems. These examples from North Carolina, Michigan, and Pennsylvania offer a range of experiences and strategies.

 Kaitlin Wojciak, from Michigan State University Extension, will describe a recent training and learning group dedicated to exploring issues of power, privilege, and racial equity for the state’s Community Food Systems team. Shorlette Ammons, from North Carolina’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems, will discuss the Center’s efforts to embed an equity lens and practice into all areas of its work. Heather Manzo, from Penn State Extension, will describe work with an urban food policy council to engage diverse community members and positively impact equity issues in the metropolitan food system.

 Please register here and be sure to include any questions you have for our speakers about their work.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
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If the proper assets are in place a farmers market can create activity in building local economies and leveraging assets for mainstream redevelopment projects, enhancing relationships between business, increasing access to fresh food, and making social services more visible to community members.
Farmers markets have historically played a role in weaving together the social and economic fabric of communities. Farmers markets today still play the role of creating a sense of place and community.


Penn State Extension partnered with Sustainable Pittsburgh and the Local Government Academy to deliver this program to help Community / Economic Development organizations, municipal leaders and staff, and farmers market managers decide how a well managed market can benefit any community.

The archived webinar can be found by following this link.
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By John Berry, Penn State Extension Educator, Lehigh County

Many of the farmers I work for have a tough time with the process of getting their business into the hands of the next owner/manager. The reasons for this are many; no time, unwilling to think about mortality, not aware of what should happen, and uncertainty about losing control are some of the primary reasons often heard. Because of the intimate relationship between most farms and the families that work and live there; the unknowns around a broad family conversation on business transition can be a bit scary.

 

When is the best time to start the discussion?

 

If succession planning has been on your mind remember there are just six weeks left in 2016 and some holiday celebrations coming up. This could be a great time for a discussion with family regarding farm transition and succession planning. It's great that you're thinking about succession planning, but remember, conversations about farm succession are conducted from a business standpoint. Do you really want to turn your Thanksgiving table into a business conference table?  Do you want to take your time around the Christmas tree and turn it into a water cooler discussion on strategic planning?

 

While it may be tempting to start these discussions while family is home and together, make sure you're keeping family time for family and setting aside a special time for holding a family business meeting. If it needs to be connected to a holiday to have family present, think about sending out a formal invitation and agenda to the meeting ahead of the holiday, with a set time and date for the meeting later in the holiday weekend.

 

When should I start planning?

 

You may have heard the old Chinese proverb. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second bet time is now.” That same principal can be applied to succession planning.  It really is NEVER too early to start planning for the future, but it can become too late to start!  Almost everyone knows a family torn apart by disagreements following the passing of a loved one. This often happens because they never found the time to put their plans down on paper.

 

You can never tell what tomorrow will bring. Starting your succession plan early in your agriculture career can help you save money and can make sure your business continues as you see fit in the case of retirement, death or disability.  If you create a plan early in your career, it does not mean you are done.  A good succession plan is reviewed and improved often to make sure it still fits with the wants and needs of everyone involved in the operation.

 
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By John Wodehouse, Penn State Extension Educator, Chester County

Hundreds of fruit and vegetable growers and industry exhibitors gathered in Chocolate Town for the 2017 Mid Atlantic Fruit & Vegetable Convention.

 

Take heed, chocolate, there’s a new sweet in town. For four days in early February, vegetable and fruit producers met at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Centerto learn more about the fruit and vegetable production business.

 

This is the first of three related articles. I encourage you to journey through the fruit and vegetable convention experience with me in the weeks to come. It’s more than just fruits and vegetables; it’s about sharing knowledge.

 

Back in mid-November, a fellow educator, John Berry, reached out to me with a question.

 

He said, “How’d you like to get involved at the Fruit & Vegetable Convention in Hershey this year?”  He quickly added: “The hot chocolate up there is the best.”

 

“Sure, sounds good,” I responded.

 

As I agreed to help, I was thinking: What a great opportunity to learn, while building and fostering networks. And who could pass up the great hot chocolate?

 

My charge was to assist Tom Butzler, of the Penn State Extension. This year, he and his team took care of the equipment set-ups for all the speakers. Tom asked me to load each presenter’s slides and make sure all the other technologies worked seamlessly. As you’ll see, I got a chance to do a lot more.

 

The first person I met when I arrived at the registration desk at 7:25 a.m. on Tuesday was Bill Troxell, of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association.  He happily greeted me and helped me with the registration process. Complete with a name tag, I was on my way.

 

Over the coming days, topic-specific research discussions, concerning either vegetables or fruits, in both English and Spanish, were offered each half-hour from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Presentations were held in various rooms in the Convention Center. Some were given by the farm owners and growers themselves, while others were given by scholars and educators from such entities as Penn State and the Penn State Cooperative Extension, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, the University of Maryland Extension, Michigan State, Virginia Tech, the Virginia Cooperative Extension, University of Delaware, University of Minnesota and North Carolina Extension. 

 

On Tuesday, more than 56 different session topics were offered through the day. Much of my time was spent in the Organic Vegetable session room.

 

At 8 a.m. sharp, I helped Tony Ricci load his presentation titled Organic Herb Production. Tony owns and operates the organic-certified Green Heron Farm and CSA in Huntington County, Pa. His discussion centered on adding herbs to your production mix, to add cash flow back into your business.

 

As I loaded his speaking materials into the computer, Tony and I talked about the beautiful herb pictures included in his slides. We then talked about the pros of planting herbs in addition to vegetables. The best part of Tony’s presentation - to the 60-plus growers in attendance during the first organic session - was that he gave away some of his best-kept secrets. He shared a few of his proven methods with regards to producing great, not just good, sage, parsley and Greek oregano.  

 

“Plant your herbs in double rows on black (not red) plastic, and treat them as annuals,” Tony recommended.  “This is done to preserve quality, disease resistance, and yield.”

 

Next up on in the Organic session room was Dr. Gladis Zinata of the Rodale Institute. Her  report was titled Adding in Rotational No-Till and Insectary Strips for Organic Cucumber Production. Dr. Zinata described the results of a cucumber test-plot she and a team planted and documented at Rodale. The experiment focused on this question: Does increasing species diversity by planting grass and perennial insectary strips between cucumber rows allow for improved natural insect and pathogenic resistance? My take after hearing her findings: Definitely yes. Dr. Zinata’s research supports adding grass strips and incorporating other vegetative diversity into your fields to offset the pressures of insect and disease.

 

Growers next met Jennifer Glenister, a senior staff member at the organic New Morning Farm in Hustontown, Pa. She has worked nine seasons at New Morning. She gave a very well-designed and well-delivered talk entitled Organic Snap Bean Production, followed by a lively Q&A session.

 

Jennifer shared her tried-and-true organic snap bean production strategies, along with her sowing and growing schedules. Especially valuable were her succession planting tips for longer harvests, and remedies she suggested for dealing with deer.

 

“We tried many things on the farm, but the one that worked for deer was the 3D electric fence,” Jennifer said, as a slide showing a three-tiered, offset, poly-wire fence came up.

 

While scouting, Jennifer said the minute she sees certain insect levels, she immediately deploys beneficial insects (a species of parasitic wasp) as a strategy to manage the yield-robbing pests.

 

Jennifer’s snappy presentation was followed by another inspiring discussion. This one, from Elsa Sanchez, Ph.D. and associate professor at Penn State, was entitled Using Cover Crops. Elsa talked about the benefits of diversifying cover crops. She encouraged the organic growers to combine different cover crops into their field rotations. Additionally, Elsa went into detail about choosing cover crops with alleopathic characteristics, such as wheat and grain rye.

 

“Wheat and rye cover crops both contain beneficial natural weed suppressants,” Elsa said.

 

The term alleopathic refers to cover crops with natural weed suppression characteristics. During her discussion, Elsa also gave the group per-acre cover crop seeding rates and biomass tonnage per-acre estimates for cover crops.

 

An informative discussion given by Abby Seaman of the New York State IPM Program, on Managing Late Blight on Organic Farms, followed Elsa’s cover crop discussion. Abby mentioned the need for producers to scout the field for fall-offs and/or leftovers. Her recommendation:  try to eliminate any volunteer tomato and potato plants before they germinate to reduce the likelihood of late blight outbreaks in the next season.

 

“Late blight on potatoes and tomatoes needs living tissue to overwinter, so I recommend removing any leftover product from the field,” Abby said.

 

During Abby’s presentation, we also learned about two internet-based resources designed to help producers report and monitor late blight in Pennsylvania and New York.

 

I met Dr. Julie Grossman, professor and originator of The Grossman Lab at the University of Minnesota while helping her set up in the Organic session room. She delivered two afternoon presentations. Her first was entitled Overcoming Tunnel Vision – Using Cover Crops in High Tunnels. Her second presentation, Zone Tillage for Organic Vegetables, wrapped up the organic sessions on Tuesday.

 

Dr. Grossman shared her research findings and the beneficial outcomes of her research team for planting cover crops directly inside high tunnels. She provided cover crop planning strategies growers can employ right away in their tunnels to not only improve soil health and limit soil compaction, but also to better manage weeds and help prevent insect damage.


Of the 56 fruit and vegetable presentations delivered on Tuesday, I had the joy of attending seven of them. The experience was amazing. So many enthusiastic presenters, all in one place at the same time. The knowledge attendees gained from scholars, educators and growers will no doubt be put to work on farms across the commonwealth.

 

For future reference, feel free to explore the following informative and educational resource links:










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