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Montgomery County Hosts Keep Farming in Montgomery County Conference

Posted: March 1, 2013

Marketing, farm transition, food processing regulations and community supported agriculture were the key topics at the fourth Keep Farming Conference.
Montgomery County Commisioners (L - R) Bruce Castor, Leslie Richards and Josh Shapiro greet attendees at the fourth Keep Farming Conference.

Montgomery County Commisioners (L - R) Bruce Castor, Leslie Richards and Josh Shapiro greet attendees at the fourth Keep Farming Conference.

The first conference started in 2001 as an effort to maintain sustainable farm businesses in the suburban county where urban sprawl was paving over farmland at an alarming rate. Montgomery County Commissioners; Leslie Richards, Bruce Castor and Josh Shapiro, welcomed the more than 125 participants, followed by Pennsylvania Agricultural Secretary George Greig who spoke on the importance of farms, farmland preservation and marketing local agricultural products. 

Presenters from Wegmans and Bryn Mawr College addressed the topic “What do consumers want?” They gave guidance on how farmers can approach a supermarket or food service department at an institution to extend a farm’s reach in the market place.

PA Department of Agriculture Center for Farm Transitions, Jared Grissinger and CPA and farm owner James Rittenhouse had suggestions for farm families to think about how to start planning for the next owner of the farm property. "The time to plan is now, while everyone is healthy so to avoid needing to react hastily from an illness or death in the family."

Speakers from PA Department of Agriculture, Montgomery County Health Department and Penn State Extension helped farmers understand the food processing and farmers’ market regulations for those farms interested in direct marketing their farm products to consumers.  Direct marketing poultry and meat products is popular, but requirements need to be followed to ensure food safety.

Lastly, three farmers that manage Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms spoke about their operations. Each spoke from their unique perspective on geographic location, years of operation and membership size. Just like other farms, no two CSAs are the same. 

The conference was cosponsored by:

Montgomery County farming conference focuses on sustainability