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Organic Vegetable Symposium Offered

Posted: December 22, 2014

Penn State Extension addressed the needs of experienced producers during a two-day organic vegetable symposium.

Agriculture is the number one industry in Pennsylvania. In the Lehigh Valley, the local food economy generates $17 million in economic activity. Overall farm gate sales are more than $90 million.

Yet Penn State Extension is the only institution providing research-based information to ensure that the agricultural sector continues to be a profitable economic driver.

Penn State Extension’s Lehigh County and Northampton County sustainable agriculture program works to keep farms profitable through many avenues, including an annual two-day symposium for experienced producers.

This program, Organic Vegetable Intensive – Farm Profitability, draws expert farmers from across the nation to speak about the factors necessary for farm success, including efficiencies, labor management and production. Lead researchers provide science-based information on the latest sustainable production techniques.

The December 2014 symposium was held in Easton, Northampton County, with 47 participants from 33 farms representing more than 200 acres of vegetables and $6 million in sales. As a result of the presentations, participants learned new practices and may use the ideas to improve labor management on the farm, choose cover crops to control soil-borne disease, sanitize stakes, use hot water treatment or purchase new tomato stakes.

In a follow up evaluation to previous years' participants, producers had put the knowledge gained at Penn State Extension’s Organic Intensive to work on their farms by adopting Integrated Pest Management strategies, establishing labor management techniques, investing in equipment or infrastructure, implementing food-safety techniques and identifying biological controls.

These new practices improved profitability, production, food safety and quality of life.