Thursday Sessions

After their broad appeal at our 2016 Conference, we are continuing to offer two half-day sessions on Thursday. You may register for one or both session slots. We encourage you to select which you will attend when you register, but it is not required. 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

Afternoon Sessions

1:30pm to 5pm

Sustainable Strawberry Stories

Emily Lavely, Penn State University; Mark MacDonald, Bee Tree Berry Farm; Whitney Scott, Scott’s Berry Farm

A strawberry is the irresistible sign of early summer, and it can greatly add to your income, but it’s susceptibility to weed and pest pressure makes it a challenge to produce sustainably. Join a panel of strawberry growers to hear what’s working and what’s not. Discussion will range from production to marketing.

PA Department of AgricultureSupported by funds via a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the PA Department of Agriculture.

Evaluating Pastured Poultry Housing for Any Scale: From Brooder to Field

Mike Badger, APPPA/Pastured Poultry Talk & Michael Kovach, Walnut Hill Farm

This session will evaluate the design and use of pasture-based housing models in the context of principled pastured poultry practices, animal welfare, and production economics. We’ll cover housing models for all scales of production using real-world examples for broilers, layers, and turkeys. Whether you build your shelters yourself or buy them, you’ll be able to make informed decisions based on your needs. Construction guidance will be provided for some popular shelter designs.

An Introduction to Lean Farming

Ben Hartman, Clay Bottom Farm

In this workshop, Ben Hartman, author of The Lean Farm, will explain the lean system and how it can be used by any size and type of farm to boost profits with less work. Lean is a production system invented by Japanese automakers that is now used by tech start-ups, hospitals, nonprofits, and others to cut out waste and increase productivity. Ben will showcase examples of lean ideas at work on Clay Bottom Farm, where the author and his wife earn a comfortable living growing organic vegetables on less than an acre of land.
Ben will speak about Lean-based production and management techniques specifically developed for a vegetable operation in his afternoon session.

Making Dairy Products at Home: Cheese, Yogurt, & Butter

Gianaclis Caldwell, Pholia Farm

Learn how easy it can be to make many high quality, healthy dairy products at home using farm fresh milk and grocery store milk. In this class we’ll make butter and two quick cheeses as well as cover the simple steps for making terrific yogurt.

Diversifying Your Farm with Organic Value-Added Grain Production

Heather Darby, University of Vermont; Joel Steigman, Small Valley Milling; Eugene Lapp, Lapp Brothers LLC

Have you ever thought about adding grain into your farming system? Grains can add value to an operation and are being grown by both small and large farmers for direct marketing to consumers. This session will cover basic grain growing information, choosing the right grains for your operation, equipment considerations from planting to processing, feeding livestock homegrown grains, and direct marketing grains. Local farmers will also share grain growing strategies that have been successful on their farms.

Grazing 101: Improving Pastures & Feeding the Herd (or Flock)

Sarah Flack, Sarah Flack Consulting

This session will cover the essentials of how to use livestock to manage pasture plants to improve pasture productivity and quality, while also meeting the nutritional needs of the herd or flock. Topics will include how different plants respond to grazing, how to calculate paddock sizes, stocking density, and stocking rates, and how to decide what pre-grazing height and post grazing residual height to use to maximize pasture improvement & feed intake for livestock. We will also look at a variety of real farm grazing systems and discuss system design, fence, water systems, and lanes. Participation in this session is a prerequisite for attending the afternoon grazing session for those with no prior knowledge and experience with grazing.

PAGLCFullSupported through a grant from the PA Grazing Lands Coalition.

Farm Labor: Law Compliance & Strategies for Success

Jim Crawford, New Morning Farm; Ola Creston & George Brittenburg, Taproot Farm; Don Kretschmann, Kretschmann Organic Farm; Ross Pifer, Penn State Law

This session  will educate producers as to the specific legal requirements and best practices applicable to their operations’ workforce, whether labor is provided by employees, volunteers, interns, or others. The program will provide producers with the tools – including an agricultural labor law self-assessment and fact sheets – to implement necessary actions to ensure their ongoing compliance with all applicable federal and state agricultural labor laws. Additionally, a panel of farmers will discuss other tools and systems they use to manage labor efficiently and legally.

PA Department of AgricultureSupported by funds via a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the PA Department of Agriculture.

Native Appalachian Medicinal Forest Plants: Production, Economics, & Markets

Eric Burkhart, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center & John Munsell, Virginia Tech

In this session, we will provide an overview of the forest botanical marketplace, associated quality and pricing concerns, and discuss current efforts to provide consumers with sourcing assurances via a new forest botanical labeling network (‘forest grown’) that relies upon third-party inspections and verification. We will also provide a foundational understanding of forest farming practice and cropping approaches and review common production practices for forest crops.

Commercial Herb Production from Seed to Shelf

Matt Dybala, Herb Pharm & Linda Shanahan & Eric Vander Hyde, Barefoot Gardens

Spend an afternoon exploring the challenges and rewards of commercial production of medicinal and culinary herbs. Growers from Pennsylvania and Oregon will discuss business models, marketing strategies, production techniques, labor issues, and the challenges faced when competing with global market prices. Time will be given to field planning, record keeping, equipment, harvest and post harvest handling, processing and storage.

PA Department of AgricultureSupported by funds via a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the PA Department of Agriculture.

Reducing Tillage Across the Farm: Permanent Beds in Organic Vegetables

Anu Rangarajan & Ryan Maher, Cornell University – Small Farms Program; Bruce Cramer, Cramer Farm; Liz Martin, Muddy Fingers Farm

Organic vegetable growers are using permanent beds to reduce tillage and improve soils for a diversity of crops. These systems are valuable for managing production while controlling field traffic, and soil compaction, year after year. Learn from growers at different scales that have adopted permanent beds, what benefits they have seen and major challenges they face. Hear the latest Cornell research on how transitioning to reduced tillage practices can impact your soils, weeds, and productivity.

Aging Cheese: The Art & Science of Affinage

Gianaclis Caldwell, Pholia Farm

Aged cheeses are some of the most sought after and valued cheeses in the world. Aging them naturally is a process that can be complicated and creates many questions and challenges for the cheesemaker. In this session we’ll cover how to age several types of cheese and talk about the unique challenges of aging. Bring samples of your cheeses for rind questions.

Agri-Service/Dairy HeritageUnderwriting thanks to Dairy Heritage by Agri-Service LLC.

Farm as Ecosystem

Gabe Brown, Brown’s Ranch

This workshop will focus on how Brown’s Ranch has utilized zero-till, cash crops, cover crops, beef cattle, stockers, grass finishers, sheep, swine, poultry, insects and wildlife as tools to regenerate their natural resources.  Gabe will discuss how all of these “tools” are used and the role they play in a healthy ecosystem.

Support for this session provided by longwood-logo-name-combo

Farm Smarter, not Harder, with farmOS

Dorn Cox, Farm Hack & Tuckaway Farm; Mike Stenta, FarmOS

Knowing what’s happening on your farm is essential to making good management decisions, but that’s a lot of information to track! Join Dorn Cox to hear how he became a data-driven farmer. He’ll walk you through his strategies and systems, which are based in FarmOS, a free, open-source tracking system. Mike Stenna, the FarmOS creator, will give an in-depth look at FarmOS and give you the tools you need to get started on your farm.

Applying Lean Farming on a Vegetable Farm

Ben Hartman, Clay Bottom Farm

This workshop is geared for small-scale vegetable growers. Ben Hartman, author of The Lean Farm, will discuss the innovative growing techniques he and his wife Rachel Hershberger use at Clay Bottom Farm, where they earn a comfortable living on less than an acre of land. The workshop will build on the morning session by focusing on lean-based techniques developed on their vegetable farm to minimize waste and boost production with less work. Ben’s specialty is educating and inspiring growers to pursue small-scale growing as a career.

Yards that Yield

Ira Wallace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange & Michael Judd, Ecologia, Edible & Ecological Landscapes

This session is an exploration into creative, functional, and productive home landscapes. Led by complementary duo, edible landscape/permaculture designer Michael Judd and renown seed saver and gardener Ira Wallace, this workshop covers the full spectrum from design to seed saving. Special focuses on; passive water management and use through raised beds on contour, hugelkultur beds, uncommon but easy to grow fruits, outdoor mushroom cultivation, planning for pollinators, and seed saving.

Taking Grazing to the Next Level: Monitoring the System & Building Resiliency

Heather Darby, University of Vermont & Sarah Flack, Sarah Flack Consulting

In this session, Dr Heather Darby and Sarah Flack will discuss methods to monitor the pasture system and prepare our grass-based farms for drought, high rainfall events, and other challenges created by climate change. Using photos of pastures, different plant species, sheep, goats, and cows, we can learn to better observe and monitor pastures and cattle so that we can better understand if our grazing systems are working the way we want them to. Then we will go deeper into management to improve soil health and fertility and understand when irrigation may be a useful addition to the farm’s infrastructure. Either some prior grazing knowledge and experience or attendance at the morning grazing session is required.

PAGLCFullSupported through a grant from the PA Grazing Lands Coalition.

Weather & Climate Resilience Planning on the Farm

Dan Dostie, USDA NRCS; Rachel Schattman, USDA Northeast Climate Hub; Justin Geisinger, Air Hill Acres; Don Kretschmann, Kretschmann Farm; Matt Steiman, Dickinson College Farm

Join us to hear about successes and lessons learned from three farmers who prepared for, coped with, and/or recovered from impacts of extreme weather and climate change in 2016. We will also help you explore climate change considerations on your farm and prepare strategic response actions to adaptively manage for the future. You will have an opportunity to share your stories about climate and weather challenges and suggest information and decision-support tools that would help you better manage the impacts of climate change.