Start Farming Blog
Join us for Introduction to Vegetable Production, a course for people planning to make the leap from vegetable gardening to production for profit and beginning vegetable producers who are ready to refine their techniques in order to optimize their production and profit. Penn State Extension is offering this course in Eastern and Western PA.
Spring is in the air. “What?” you say, “It is the coldest day of the year.” Well that may be true but as farmers I am sure you are all busy thinking about spring already.
If you have not done it yet, now is the time to finish up your crop plan for next year. Soon it will be time to start seedlings and the whirlwind will begin. At a recent CSA day organized by Lehigh County Extension’s Brian Moyer, I shared some tips for crop planning. What follows is a teaser, just the first few steps of the crop planning procedure I put together based on the great crop planning information Josh Volk from Slow Hand Farm recently shared with us. For the full procedure and example spreadsheets click the links below.
USDA Finalizes New Microloan Program Microloans up to $35,000 aim to assist small farmers, veterans, and disadvantaged producers
It seems that we are experiencing more unusually warm periods during mid- and late-winter, so trees may be more susceptible than in the past to moderately low winter temperatures. Lessons from years in which there was a sudden drop in temperature indicate that trees most injured were those that lacked adequate vigor, those that were too vigorous, and those that had been pruned before the cold event.
On January 4, 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a draft Produce Safety Rule as required under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011. This proposed regulation would establish mandatory practices that farmers must take to prevent microbial contamination of fresh produce. Below are highlights of requirements FDA would issue in the final regulation.
As effective marketers we are comfortable with the practice of being at our best when we produce and market what the customer actually wants. Unfortunately, these wants are a dynamic mix that is influenced by many factors. Trying to get a handle on shifting of our many customers’ needs can be a challenge.
Think about who your ideal CSA member is. Find them and keep them.
With five times as many farmers over 55 than under 35 and more than a thousand farmers planning to retire in Pennsylvania in the next ten years; we need new farmers to feed the world local food. In 2009 Penn State Extension launched the Start Farming Program, responding to the need for new farmers and an overwhelming interest in farm start-up from community members. After three years, thirteen hundred participants in fifty three Penn State Extension Start Farming programs have learned tools for success.
There is an affordable way to guarantee income flow from your farm operation. The key is to be certain your farm has a recognized record keeping system in place. Historical farm performance is the basis for your guarantee.
Equipment is expensive but often can pay for itself quickly if you get the right piece for your farm. We would like to share a few considerations and tips we have learned through a recent equipment demonstration at the Seed Farm New Farmer Training and Incubator Program in Emmaus, PA as well as from our wonderful farmer neighbors and a few good resources. This is the second of three articles.
Meadow and pine vole populations can erupt periodically unless food sources and habitat cover are reduced and their numbers are kept in check. Control of vegetation around tree trunks and regular mowing limit cover and food sources and expose voles to natural predators. Population reduction strategies are applied after harvest before damage begins and before snowfall. To successfully manage deer damage, it is important to monitor behavior and apply controls before feeding or antler rubbing habits are established.
Zaprionus indianus Gupta (Diptera: Drosophilidae), commonly known in Brazil as the African Fig Fly (AFF), is an invasive species recently found in Pennsylvania for the first time. First discovered by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in early October in Grape and Tomato Pest Survey traps, it was found immediately after by Dr David Biddinger at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville. Adult flies were found in apple cider vinegar traps used for the seasonal monitoring of Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), another recently introduced invasive pest of small fruit crops in Pennsylvania that Dr. Biddinger first detected in Pennsylvania and Maryland in July of 2012.
Tomatillos (Physalis ixocarpa) are in the solanaceae family which includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers.
Beginning farmers who need to enhance their knowledge about organic vegetable production, ecological plant-disease management and soil basics will find useful information in a new series of fact sheets offered by Penn State Extension.
If you are new to farming or thinking of starting your farm next year, soil testing is probably the last thing on your mind. But come winter, when you are doing your planning for next year, you will want to have that soil test in hand. You will need the results to calculate what nutrients to apply and how much you need so you can complete your orders and have your crop plan ready. Fertile soil is the basis for healthy crops, don’t leave it as an after-thought.
The Seed Farm launches four new vegetable equipment how-to videos designed to help vegetable farmers choose appropriate equipment and use new equipment successfully.
Farm record keeping is usually not the reason we became farmers. However, there is much value to be had when we establish a system that not only meets our legal obligations, but also allows us to study and explore how we can become what we want to be.
Last month Gayle Ganser, co-owner of Eagle Point Farm, shared tips to farm market success from good signage to managing customer flow at a meeting for farm apprentices hosted by the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) in collaboration with Penn State Extension, Start Farming.