Thingamabobs – July 6, 2012

Action Opportunity: Mapping the Farmers Markets

A few weeks ago, I reached out to the Central PA Farmers marketing association about whether they have – or could produce – layout maps of the different farmers markets:

Do you have maps of the layout of each market in the Central PA group, showing how the tents are set up, which farm is located where, and maybe what their main offerings are? I know none of the outdoor markets are as big as the Reading Terminal Market, but something like this is what I’m thinking about. If so, I’d love to get those as pdfs or jpegs or some other electronic form…I think it might be useful for people trying to mentally map farmers market shopping trips.

Haven’t heard back yet, but if any readers who already work or shop at the markets feel like sketching a birds-eye view, including a nearby landmark or cross-streets, and labelling which farm stand is where and what their main offerings are (i.e. seasonal produce, soap, flowers, baked goods…), please do. Send me your drawings to post here at the main page and at the “Markets” page.     -KW

Small Farmers Creating New Business Model as Agriculture Goes Local

(New York Times link from Tim Robinson):

…A looming shortage of migrant workers…could create a kind of rural-urban divide if it continues, with mass-production farms that depend on cheap labor losing some of their price advantages over locally grown food, which tends to be more expensive. From the vineyards of California to the cherry orchards of Oregon, big agriculture has struggled this year to find willing hands. Local farm sales are becoming more stable, predictable and measurable. A study last fall by the Department of Agriculture said that local revenues had been radically undercounted in previous analyses that mainly focused on road stands and markets. When sales to restaurants and stores were factored in, the study said, the local food industry was four times bigger than in any previous count, upward of $4.8 billion.

More predictable revenue streams, especially at a time when so many investments feel risky, are creating a firmer economic argument for local farming that, in years past, was more of a political or lifestyle choice. “How you make it pay is to get closer to the customer,” said Michael Duffy, a professor of economics at Iowa State University, capsuling the advice he gives to new farmers in the Midwest…

Sunday, July 8 – Bellefonte Garden Tours 

From Connie Cousins at the CDT:

The Bellefonte Garden Club will offer tours of nine unique gardens from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. The combination of vegetables, herbs, flowers and edibles in the landscaping promises to give your senses a treat. Visitors can tour the gardens in any order. The price is $12 a person, with children younger than 6 admitted free. Here’s a look at the gardens in the tour:

  • Centre Crest: Quality of Life, 502 E. Howard St. – At Kline Way garden, this lovely courtyard, originally planned as an outdoor space where residents could visit with families, has grown into much more. Residents meet there with master gardener volunteers and enjoy vegetables and herbs in the raised beds.
  • Bellefonte Community Children’s Garden: Where Children Grow, 203 N. Allegheny St., behind the Centre County Library and Historical Museum – This is a beautiful, fanciful garden just for children. There is a butterfly garden, a fairy garden and an “animal garden” where the plants are aptly named — foxtail, turtlehead and goat’s beard. There’s also a vegetable garden where children learn about caring for and harvesting vegetables.
  • Jim and Gay Dunne: A Cook’s Garden, 222 N. Allegheny St. – Experience the aroma of many herbs — winter savory, lavender, tarragon, marjoram and thyme. Then wander along the rock garden and flower beds to see interesting patterns in vegetable plantings. There are cardoon, tomatillos and amaranth, in addition to more common veggies.
  • Talleyrand Park Edible Landscape Demonstration Garden: new section of the park – This garden is in the park’s new Match Factory section and is filled with edible and ornamental plants. The Talleyrand Park committee created this area using organic principles that vegetables can be beautiful as well as healthful to eat.
  • The Queen A Victorian Bed and Breakfast: Enchanted Enclosure – A giant garden in a small space rises up around you as you pass through the arbor. Giant blue hostas, ostrich ferns and nasturtiums appear as you follow the stepped paths and explore the layers of planting, including the raspberry patch and vegetable plot.
  • Dixie Witt: Bird-Lover’s Paradise, 897 Seibert Road – This garden is one of layers and shapes — from tall evergreens to violet smokebush, to miniature hosta and every layer in between. The bright blooms, antiques and birdhouses draw you through the property as the fountain beyond the hedge adds a soothing touch.
  • Cheryl and Rob Fugate: Garden Rooms Galore, 176 Armagast Road – The gardeners of this majestic plot created areas with hostas and container plantings, many of which are edible, and a water garden. The Fugates will share some tricks and gardening secrets with you, as well as their homemade wine.
  • Beth Russell: A Country Garden, 455 Little Marsh Creek Road – This 2-acre mainly vegetable garden produces a plethora of broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes and peppers. There are perennials as well, including bee balm, hollyhocks, lady’s mantle, centaurea and lilies. And there is some unique garden art.
  • Beverly Harader: Cottage Creekside, 473 Little Marsh Creek Road – Themed gardens, a bubbling creek and a European-style cottage are the calling cards for this property. You can choose the rock walls, statuary, wandering ducks, or artwork as your favorite parts. The flowers blooming near the cottage, the outdoor sink, and the shady fern-filled area will please the eye and you can enjoy light refreshments donated by the Bellefonte restaurants.

July 10 – Cooking Demo at Lewistown Farmers Market

Join us Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. for the first CookShop at the REC PARK farmers market in Lewistown: “Beef on a Budget.”  Kristen Stufft, the new assistant Meats Lab manager at Virginia Tech, will show us how to turn low cost cuts of beef into high quality dining! We’ll be grilling, using locally raised beef from REC PARK farmers market vendor Ferguson Valley Farms. We’ll help cook, sample the dishes and leave with the recipes. Join Us – Everyone is welcome! More info: Lewistown CookShop Flier

July 10 – Growing Great Vegetables: Pest ID & IPM for Vegetable Producers

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at PSU Southeast Research & Extension Center (Landisville Farm), Manheim, Lancaster Co.

Researcher/educators Steve Bogash and Tim Elkner will lead participants in learning to identify, prevent and manage a number of common vegetable crop diseases and insect pests. Learn how to get better harvests and increased pack out by choosing appropriate varieties, reducing pest impact, and improving plant nutrition. A fresh, locally prepared lunch is included but pre-registration by July 7 is necessary. Learn more and register by emailing Rebecca at PASA or call 814-349-9856 x20.

July 16 – Organic Growers Meeting and Oil Seed Processor Tour

The next meeting of the Central Susquehanna Valley Organic Crop Growers Network Meeting will be Monday, July 16 at 7PM and will include a tour and discussion at Susquehanna Mills. 519 State Route 87, Montoursville, PA 17754-8987.

Susquehanna Mills is a small scale processor of oil seeds including canola, sunflower, flax, and soybean. They are food grade and are looking at getting into organic. The use small German expeller mills to extract oil from seeds at low temperatures. The meeting is free and open to all interested persons. Please contact Dave Hartman, Penn State Extension/Columbia County Office: 1-800-851-9710 to register. DIRECTIONS: From I-180, take exit 21 at Montoursville. Go north about a quarter mile on SR 87. Susquehanna Mills is on the left.

July 18 – Growing Your Own Farm Market:

(From Ann Stone, PA Women’s Agricultural Network) – 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM at Fisher’s Farm Market in McClure, PA – Learn how one couple has utilized their local resources to make a marketing dream come true. Paula and Jake Fisher started raising pumpkins 11 years ago and this year will open a beautiful roadside farm market to sell their own produce and meats. The $15.00 registration fee includes lunch and materials.  This event was organized in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Women’s Agricultural Network at Penn State with funds by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and USDA’s Farmers’ Market Promotion Program. Registration cancellations must be received one week prior to the event to receive a refund.  All refunds are subject to a $5.00 administrative fee. MORE INFO (Registration, etc.)

July 25 – Hands-on Specialized Equipment for Vegetable Production

3 to 7 p.m. at The Seed Farm, Lehigh County New Farmer Training and Agricultural Incubator, Vera Cruz, Pa

Equipment! Which piece do I buy? What works best? The Seed Farm will showcase soil and weed management equipment and techniques for small to medium scale vegetable producers. Producers will hear from Sara Runkel, Seed Farm Director what worked best in on farm trials this year and have time to try out equipment for themselves.

Equipment and techniques include: Weed Control: mulching (black plastic, straw, landscape fabric), hand hoes (wheel hoe, hand stirrup hoe, cobra head hoe), tractor mounted cultivators (low residue cultivator, Williams’s spring tooth tine system), and flame weeding. Soil Management: Spader, Chisel Plow, Moldboard plow, disc, BCS tiller.

To register visit the website or call Tianna DuPont (610) 746-1970. Cost – $27. Includes dinner.

July 26 – Farm Walk in Lititz

10 a.m. to Noon – Hosted by Bob Keller of Penn Valley Farms, 952 Temperance Hill Road, Lititz, PA 17543, 717-665-7462. The program will include a farm walk with special emphasis on how Penn Valley Farms manages their soil fertility with cover crops, rotations and humic compost. For more information, contact Tianna DuPont, Penn State Extension, 610-746-1970.

August 3 & 4 – Solar-Powered Greenhouse Workshops at PCO Organic FarmFest 

With the support of the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund, the Penns Valley Conservation Association and Envinity present “Produce Year-round in your own Mini-High Tunnel” at the first annual Pennsylvania Organic FarmFest on August 3 & 4 at the Grange Fairgrounds.

Workshop attendees will learn how to grow vegetables and fruits nearly year round in a mini-high tunnel using renewable solar energy. This workshop covers siting and building the high tunnel and installing renewable energy in it. The workshop benefits home and community gardeners, as well as commercial growers. Greenhouses powered by renewable energy on any scale significantly enable local food production by removing nearly all fossil fuels associated with producing and transporting food.

The Mini-High Tunnel workshop is scheduled for 4:30 PM on Friday, August 3 and 1:30 PM on Saturday, August 4. Both Workshops will take place at the High Tunnel site, just off Grange Fairgrounds Main Street between the craft vendors and the children’s area. Seats are limited to 25 people per class. Please contact FarmFest Coordinator Erin McCracken to save your spot.

August 14 – Building Farmer to Chef Relationships Workshop in Pittsburgh

PA-Women’s Agricultural Network: Finding outlets for your produce and still making enough money to support production can be a challenge. During this workshop, Tara Rockacy and Kate Romane will describe both sides of the business relationship between farmer and chef.

Tara owns and operates Churchview Farm in Pittsburgh.  Tara raises produce without the use of chemicals and follows humane animal principles in raising her farm animals. She markets her produce through a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) as well asrelationships with local restaurants, especially E2 Pgh, a local café in the Highland Park neighborhood.

Kate Romane, Executive Chef at E2 Pgh, will describe the importance of using local produce at her restaurant and how she sources it and works with local farmers. Tara Rockacy will describe how she markets to local restaurants and the benefits and challenges that go along with that. She will also describe how her partnership with Kate has also allowed her to offer on-farm dinners and other events to promote the farm. Lunch will be prepared by Chef Kate and Tara. Tara Rockacy is a third generation farmer living on her grandparents’ farm in Pittsburgh. She grows without chemicals and in a manner that respects the natural environment. Kate Romane also lives on the farm and is Executive Chef at E2 Pgh which offers a Mediterranean cuisine that uses local produce whenever possible.

The $15.00 registration fee includes lunch and materials. Registration cancellations must be received one week prior to the event to receive a refund.  All refunds are subject to a $5.00 administrative fee. RegistrationDirectionsPrintable PDF Flyer & Agenda

News from Way Fruit Farm

Peaches and sweet, eating plums are now plentiful!  We have apricots in very limited quantities.  Get them now; as these will be the only ones until next year.  Our own sweet corn is being picked fresh each morning and is great served with any of the local meats in our cooler and freezer case.  All of these items can be seared on the grill to give you a delicious dinner tonight while keeping the heat out of your house!  We also have countless local vegetables including greens beans, green peppers, peas, salad greens, beets, zucchini, cucumbers, and more.  Also enjoy local cantaloupe, Southern watermelon and the final variety of our own apples from last season and fresh-pressed apple cider.

Richard Heinberg writing at Energy Bulletin

Heinberg writes about the collapsing global economy as a function of declining access to easily-extractable oil, and concludes:

Readers are to be congratulated for having braved paragraph after paragraph of unrelentingly dreary information in these two installments of the Update. But of course there are also things happening that are worth celebrating.

The last chapter of The End of Growth recommends community resilience as a primary goal in responding to converging economic and environmental crises. Working at the community level makes sense, as most national political and economic managerial systems are sclerotic and slow to change. Resilience, the ability to absorb shocks and continue functioning, will be an essential quality to foster as ever more economic and environmental shocks line up on the conveyor belt of time headed our way. The past few months have seen a significant upwelling of interest in resilience…

Meanwhile, there is also an upwelling of interest among economists and community activists in identifying and fostering the elements of a New Economy (co-ops, alternative currencies, no-interest banks, etc.)…

Now of course talking about resilience, or a new economy, or a new economic indicator is not the same as actually bringing it into existence. But proactive systemic change has to start with talk, and with small-scale demonstration projects. So it’s important to nurture the discussions and the projects wherever they appear.

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