Pennsylvania agriculture continues to change. The number of farms that produce agricultural commodities such as milk or most grains has been falling for a number of years. Commodity items tend to be made into processed products and sold at large retailers and restaurants. Some consumers prefer these foods. However, other consumers place strong value on traits such as how or where the food was produced. Some also simply prefer to support their local farmer. This creates a very real market opportunity for smaller-scale farmers.
As winter settles in over Happy Valley, the PSU Community Garden is wrapping up its first and very successful season. Located on the grounds of the Center for Sustainability (CFS), the garden has been a joint project of the CFS and College of Agriculture student volunteers. The garden is now a permanent part of the CFS masterplan and will compliment the MorningStar solar home as a show piece for sustainability on the PSU campus.
Agriculture in Pennsylvania relies upon insects for crop protection and pollination. Unfortunately, many of our crop production practices can have unintended negative consequences for some beneficial organisms and the valuable agroecological services they provide. Given the recent decline in managed honey bee populations, many growers in Pennsylvania are now looking for alternative ways to ensure pollination of their crops. One way that this can be accomplished is by providing or improving habitat for wild bees.
Penn State offers a wide range of courses related to sustainable agriculture for undergraduate and graduate students. From across several majors and departments, here are a selection of course offerings for the Spring 2010 semester.
Now is the time to start making your plans for attending winter meetings and conferences. Penn State Extension and other organizations are offering opportunities to learn about a wide range of topics in sustainable agriculture. There are Extension classes on urban farming, pasture management and intensive grazing, small acreage homesteading, dairy basics for farmstead and artisan processors, business and marketing skills, and resources for farm start-ups. Check out our calendar for detailed listings.