Organic cucurbit growers face two main challenges, managing insect pests and using organic nutrient sources. Researchers at Penn State are investigating innovative strategies to manage cucurbit problems more sustainably through a multidisciplinary approach that integrates key components of pest management and soil fertility. The goal is to optimize promising strategies which apply to organic cucurbit production throughout the eastern United States.
Misha Moschera, a graduate student in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education, shares her path to sustainable agriculture and the work she is doing to build sustainable local food systems in low-income communities.
What is in a seed? Some may answer germ or starch; but others, such as Tim Mountz , president of Happy Cat Farm, would answer culture. Mountz inherited a mason jar filled with beans of every color from his grandfather. “It was just that last little connection with my grandfather that I had,” Mountz recalls. Mountz’s grandfather had grown the beans, saved them, and now years later his grandson would attempt to grow the same beans his grandfather had sown. Mountz didn’t have experience with gardening like his grandfather had, but he did have determination to not lose his cultural link.
Increasingly, Pennsylvania farmers are using cover crops to limit erosion from fields, control weed growth, fix nitrogen in the soil, feed livestock and produce biomass for energy. But depending on an agricultural producer's needs, all cover crops are not created equal, according to Bill Curran, a professor of weed science in Penn State's Crop and Soil Sciences Department. To help farmers determine how best to integrate cover crops into their operations, Curran and colleagues Eric Nord and Rich Smith, both postdoctoral associates, and Matt Ryan, a doctoral degree candidate in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, recently published a new fact sheet titled "Suppressing Weeds Using Cover Crops in Pennsylvania."
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program of the USDA recently announced its funded projects for 2010. Twelve projects were funded in Pennsylvania for a total of $536,000.
Check out the wide variety of sustainable agriculture events organized by Penn State, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network, and others.