Thursday Sessions

We offer two half-day sessions on Thursday. You may register for one or both session slots. You will need to select which you will attend when you register.

The registration desk will open and a continental breakfast and beverages will be available at 7am. Lunch is not included in the registration – you may purchase the conference lunch, pack your own, or take advantage of one of the two on-site restaurants.

Morning Sessions

9am to 12:30pm

Raising Pastured Turkeys for the Holiday Table

Craig Haney, Carversville Farm Foundation

From day-old poults to the the holiday table, Craig Haney will cover the details of husbanding pastured turkeys, giving particular attention to the turkey’s origins, selection of breeds, hybrids vs heritage breeds, economic parameters, brooding, infrastructure, nutritional needs, pasture management, health and common diseases, as well as the special considerations to take into account to process and distribute delicious turkeys for the holidays.

Commercial Production of Certified Organic Apples

Jim Travis, Travis Organics & Tim Clymer, Threefold Farm

Growing organic apples is challenging but very attainable with careful planning and management. This session will provide an overview of what it takes – from identifying markets, choosing varieties, and selecting a tree training system to optimize fruit quality and production. Insect and disease problems will also be discussed, along with control options and strategies to integrate them into an effective program. Natural and organically approved materials will be reviewed along with application and timing requirements. Future commercial organic apple growers in this session will gain an understanding of the factors that impact successful organic fruit production.

Uprooting Racism: Becoming an Anti-racist Accomplice in the Food System

Bri Barton, Marian Dalke, Ari Rosenberg, Sam Spetner, & Nicole Sugerman, Soil Generation Solidarity Group

Join Soil Generation’s Solidarity Group for a training exploring racism in the food system, and the complexities of our roles as white farmers in cities primarily populated by people of color. As a group, attendees will develop constructive ways to take action as white people in the urban agriculture movement. Together, we will learn about the history of urban gardening and land use, analyze the current dynamics of our movements and organizations, and make tangible commitments to ending racism in our lives and work. This training is open to all, though it is intended for white-identified people.

Intro to QuickBooks Online: A Platform to Strengthen Your Business

Rachel Devitry, Elaine Lemmon & Ted LeBow, Kitchen Table Consultants

After an overview of QBO as a highly useful tool for farm businesses, the bulk of this session will be spent in interactive breakout groups followed by a brief conclusion and chance for Q & A. Breakout group 1 will look at General Reporting and Streamlining your Chart of Accounts. Breakout group 2 will explore Troubleshooting Reconciling from Autofeed to Completion and Strategies for Incorporating POS Feeds (Square, Paypal, etc). This session is geared towards the beginner QBO user, who has a subscription and has used it but struggles with troubleshooting and identifying best practices. Attendees should bring a laptop that is setup to access QBO. Session limited to 40 attendees.

Funding provided by Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative.

Developing Your Farm’s Soil Health Strategy

Franklin Egan, PASA; Kristy Borrelli, Penn State University; Trey Flemming, Two Gander Farm; Jarrah Cernas, Chicano Sol; Jenn Halpin, Dickinson College Farm

In this hands-on session, we’ll explore tools to quantify the biological, chemical, and physical dimensions of soil health. We’ll also share insights gleaned from PASA’s Soil Health Benchmark Study into how PASA organic vegetable farmers are improving their soil health. Three farmers will share their results and work directly with workshop participants to plot a strategy for continued soil improvement. Participants will leave with an in-depth understanding of how to interpret soil tests and take action on their farms. Bring your recent soil tests for feedback and discussion.

Funding provided by Wegmans.

Getting the Most Out of Your Greenhouse or Hoophouse

Andrew Mefferd, Growing for Market

Growing in a greenhouse or hoophouse is very different from field growing, and most smaller growers aren’t getting all the benefits of their structures. Learn how to get the most out of your precious protected growing space by embracing the differences from field cultivation. We will cover: crop selection, varieties, propagation, timing and crop cycles, spacing, pruning, trellising, climate and temperature control, keeping plants active, crop steering, and more. The focus is on tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, lettuce, greens, microgreens, and herbs. Material is intermediate to advanced, though beginners are welcome.

Ferment Your Vegetables: Probiotic Pickles & Beyond

Amanda Feifer, Phickle

Fermenting vegetables is so much more than just a fun way to preserve them. We’ll cover the basics of direct salted (i.e. kraut) and brined (i.e. pickles) vegetable ferments and we’ll even learn a way to drink your vegetable probiotics (vegetable kvass!). We’ll discuss equipment, salt, water, the vegetables themselves, food waste, health benefits, and best practices,  and we’ll dive deep into the ways that understanding the basic science of this process will give you the freedom and confidence to dump bad (and boring) internet recipes and push the boundaries of flavor that fermented vegetables can provide.

Afternoon Sessions

1:30pm to 5pm

Advanced Pastured Poultry – from Hobby to Profit

Jeff Mattocks, Fertrell Company

Join Jeff Mattocks to talk all things bird. This session will cover poultry feeding and management information for pastured poultry producers growing from small scale to a profitable poultry business scale. You’ll also get an in depth look at poultry’s nutritional requirements for optimal health and growth performance.

Food Value Chains & Food Hubs

Brian Moyer, Penn State University; Ann Karlen; Diane Staz, SC Harvest Hub; Nathan Holmes, Family Farms Creameries; Emily Best, TOG; Ryan Witmer, Philly Food Works

A lot of us have heard the terms “Food Hub” and “Food Value Chains” – but what do they mean and how can they benefit our ag community? The USDA says, “food value chains represent an innovative business model in which agricultural producers, manufacturers, buyers, and other related supply chain actors…” and “food hubs make it possible for many producers to gain entry into new larger-volume markets that boost their income and provide them with opportunities for scaling up production.” We will explore various business models to help you determine what is right for you and give you the tools and inspiration to start your own food hub or value chain.

Putting Cover Crop Mixtures to Work: Lessons from 8 Farms in PA & NY

Barbara Baraibar, Mary Barbercheck, & Dave Mortensen, Penn State University; Jennifer Glenister, New Morning Farm; Thor Oechsner, Oechsner Farms

Dig deep into Penn State’s cover crop mixtures “farm-tuning” experiment, which has been conducted on six organic farms throughout Pennsylvania and two in New York since August 2016. We will hear presentations from two participating farmers on their experiences with the project, and additional experiments run at their own farms, and give an overview of the results from all eight farms from the first full year of the experiment. We will also conduct an small groups activity in which participants learn how to finetune seeding rates and planting dates to establish a good mixture for a specific farm.

Funding provided by USDA NIFA Grant #2015-51300-24156 & Wegmans.

Virtual Farm Tour: Multi-species Grazing, Low-input Dairying & Nurse Cows

Suzanne Nelson Karreman & Hue Karreman, Reverence Farm

Take a virtual farm tour of Reverence Farm, home of the Karremans. They will share specifics on methods of multi-species grazing: grain-free, grass-fed dairying with diversified income stream from integrated beef/dairy herd; utilizing a nurse herd to raise replacements and for yearling veal calves; co-grazing cattle and sheep; pigs for pasture renovation; integrating layers, broilers, and turkeys into rotation; guard dogs; turning cut-over forest into pasture and importing inexpensive fertility; telling our story and marketing through a off-farm cafe. You’ll get to hear what they tried, what works, what they learned, and where they are going.

Set Your Records Straight: Hands-on Farm Record Keeping Intensive

Brooks Miller, North Mountain Pastures & Mike Stenta, FarmOS/Farmier

Organizing your records can provide invaluable insight into the patterns and history of your farm, and enable you to boost production and profitability. This workshop will provide a hands-on introduction to farmOS, the open source, community-maintained farm record keeping system. Participants will learn how to map their farm, record their daily activities and observations, and manage their plantings, animals, and equipment. Attendees are encouraged to bring a laptop and will leave with a functional, mobile-ready record keeping system. Attendees should bring a laptop.

Advocacy Counts: Getting Involved in Local Government

Judy Chambers, Penn State University; Laura Dininni, Ferguson Twp; Carla Stilson, College Twp; Ron Moule, Carversville Farm/Solebury Twp; Peter Buckland, Penn State Sustainability Institute/Ferguson Twp

This presentation is designed to encourage you to get involved in local government as a means to advocate for and create farm-friendly and sustainable local policy. We’ll discuss civic engagement on several levels, such as serving on planning commissions and other municipal boards, and as elected officials. A panel of local elected officials will share their stories of getting – and staying – involved.

Pollinators & Native Plants: Who They Are, What They Do, & How To Grow Them

Wendy Brister, Harveys Gardens & Connie Schmotzer, Penn State Extension – York County

This session will be broken into 3 components: the insects, the plants, and how to propagate and/or acquire the plants. The insect section will focus on the double life of pollinators; not only are they beneficial for crop production, many of them also provide pest control. The plant portion will focus on plants that are native to the Mid-Atlantic region, and their cultural information. The propagation portion will discuss challenges of growing perennials from seed, vegetative reproduction, and sourcing seed and/or plant material. Attendees should bring (2) empty 1-gallon milk jugs.

Biological Alchemy

Michael Phillips, Holistic Orchard Network

This lively exploration of soil biology and healthy plant metabolism will rouse every gardener and fruit grower to think deeper. How mycorrhizal fungi enhance plant health is absolutely stunning. Nutrients are delivered by means of “fungus-root” synergy. A boost to green immune function helps keep disease at bay. Expansive fungal networks bring resilience to ecosystems. Soil aggregate formation addresses carbon flow. Yet for the longest time, we have ignored basic soil biology and instead disturbed ecosystems at our own peril. Time to change all that, and fast!

Overview of Urban Ecosystem Design: Social & Landscape Considerations

Robyn Mello, Philadelphia Orchard Project

Since 2007, The Philadelphia Orchard Project has designed, planted, educated around, and worked with communities to maintain nearly 60 ecological urban orchards with partner organizations throughout Philadelphia. As this unique organization and Philly’s community orchards have grown, myriad lessons have been learned through interactions with these biodiverse small-scale urban ecosystems and the diverse populations living and working within them. Join Robyn Mello for an exploration of program models, community engagement strategies, design examples, and specific low-maintenance plant species.