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Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network Newsletter

News for women farmers empowering each other through networking

USDA Launches New Farmers.gov Features

Today USDA launched two new features on farmers.gov to help agricultural producers manage their farm loans and navigate the application process for H-2A visas. The “My Financial Information” feature enables you to view farm loan information, interest payments, and payment history. And the new H-2A Visa Checklist Tool brings program requirements, fees, forms, and important dates into one location.

State Lobby Day Coming Up April 29th

Want to have your voice heard on issues that matter to you? Your chance is coming up!

Web Soil Survey: A Tool for Your Working Land

Are you looking to purchase new land and interested in productivity? Curious about farmland classifications? Unsure of expected erosion hazards across your operation? Or, maybe you’re just interested in learning more about the basic properties of the soil in your backyard. No matter your needs, Web Soil Survey is a data-driven tool built for you. How could you use it to strengthen management decisions for your working land? Find out today.

Improving Soil Through Cover Crops

Like many farmers, Jeff Frey sees the soil as his livelihood, so he does what he can to protect and improve this vital resource beneath his feet. "I remember one afternoon we had a thunderstorm that washed mud out into the road and I could actually see some of my freshly planted soybeans in with the mud," says Frey, who raises grains on 700 acres in Lancaster County, Penn. "I've been no-tilling for a long time but at that point I knew that what I was doing was not adequate." In this new video, see how Frey's experience prompted him to begin planting cover crops and how, after seeing the benefits, he partnered with a Penn State professor on a SARE-funded project to convince other farmers they should do the same.

Book Release: Coyotes in the Pasture & Wolves at the Door

PA-WAgN members Sukey and John Jamison announce the publication of their collection of stories and recipes from Jamison farm!

2017 Census of Agriculture Data Now Available

(WASHINGTON, D.C., April 11, 2019) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture, spanning some 6.4 million new points of information about America’s farms and ranches and those who operate them, including new data about on-farm decision making, down to the county level. Information collected by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) directly from farmers and ranchers tells us both farm numbers and land in farms have ongoing small percentage declines since the last Census in 2012. At the same time, there continue to be more of the largest and smallest operations and fewer middle-sized farms. The average age of all farmers and ranchers continues to rise.

Less than One Month to Sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program in 2019

Farmers and ranchers across the country have less than one month to sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the nation’s largest working lands program. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that the deadline for applicants to submit an initial application for CSP, in order to be considered for the program is May 10, 2019. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) urges farmers and ranchers to submit an initial application by the deadline in order to be considered this year.

Limits Increase on USDA Farm Loans

The 2018 Farm Bill increased the amount that producers can borrow as direct and guaranteed loans available through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and made changes to other loans, such as microloans and emergency loans, that are financed and serviced by FSA.

Extension offers spotted lanternfly permit training

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. — Penn State Extension, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, will hold a live-streamed Spotted Lanternfly Permit Training workshop from 9 to 11 a.m. on April 25 at the Montgomery County Farm, Home and 4-H Center, 1015 Bridge Road, Collegeville, PA.

Seven Habits of Successful Farmers

Wondering how you can do what you love with less stress and more financial security? Consultant Julia Shanks shares her agriculturally focused take on seven popular business management techniques to help you get your farm business running as smoothly as possible.

Quarantine aims to stop spread of spotted lanternfly

DOUGLASSVILLE, Pa. — The first spotted lanternfly sighting occurred approximately five years ago, and they are now so widespread the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is enforcing strong, but necessary, measures with the hope of containing this destructive bug.

Are buyers willing to forgo quality for locally grown?

West Coast farms produce more than 90 percent of the broccoli consumed in the United States. Because of this, in 2010, Cornell University-with funding from the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the Specialty Crops Research Initiative-began The Eastern Broccoli Project in an effort to create a high quality, year-round supply of Eastern-grown broccoli.

Soil Health and Soil Testing - Making Sense of the Data

We all know that healthier soil equates to greater vitality, resilience and productivity, no matter what we're growing or raising on our land. But how do we figure out what our soil needs, and what techniques are best for improving soil health?

Agriculture and Forestry: 5 Ways Agroforestry Can Work for You and Your Land

Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees or shrubs with crop and animal production. It mixes agriculture and forestry practices to support profitable and sustainable farms, ranches, and woodlands. USDA offers a range of resources to support agroforestry across your working land.

New Farmers.gov Feature Enables USDA Customers to Manage Farm Loans Online

Do you have farm loans through USDA? If so, USDA’s Farm Service Agency has launched a new feature that enables you to login to view farm loan information, history, and payments through farmers.gov, USDA’s new information and self-service website available to agricultural producers.

Alpine Cheese Immersion Tour

Join Penn State Extension as they visit and learn from experienced entrepreneurial Alpine cheese producers in Central Switzerland, ending with two days at the International Cheese Festival in Bra Italy.

New Tutorial From Farm Commons on Farm Insurance

What happens if someone is injured on my farm? Do I really need workers' compensation at my farm? Do I have enough insurance? Too much? What are farmers doing about crop insurance these days? Online and easy to use, this interactive tutorial will assist farmers (and their advocates) in understanding and prioritizing the specific legal risks and insurance needs for individual operations. Have a pen and paper ready, as viewers have the opportunity to develop an action plan for getting insurance coverage that best matches the farm’s actual needs.

Podcast: WHYY Radio Times-Philly Urban Gardens

Hear from Philadelphia's urban agriculture leaders about issues around land access, city planning, community organizing, and cultural preservation.

Check Yourself: Preventing Tick Bites

Tick bites can pose a threat to our health; moreover Tick exposure can occur year-round, but ticks are most active during warmer months (April-September). This site has useful information to help you prevent tick bites and reduce the risk of acquiring Lyme Disease.

Podcast: Understanding the Soil Microbiome with Nicole Masters

In this episode (of Voices from the Field), Kara Kroeger, a sustainable agriculture specialist with NCAT’s ATTRA sustainable agriculture program, talks with Nicole Masters, a New Zealand agroecologist and director of Integrity Soils...They talk about ways in which the “soil microbiome” system that acts as a plant’s digestive system mirrors the microbiome of the human digestive system. They discuss how to understand the health of an agricultural operation’s soil microbiome, and they talk about ways regenerative agriculture with its focus on soil health can help mitigate the challenges to agriculture that come with a changing climate."

NYFC: Finding Farmland Course

Are you a new/beginning farmer wondering where to begin when choosing land to farm and how to get started? This online course is a series of nine free lessons that walk you through business planning, loan options, choosing farmland and much more. This course is brought to you through a collaboration between the National Young Farmers Coalition and several partner organizations.

Small Business Administration Resources

Did you know that the U.S. Small Business Administration has resources that can help you start, protect, and grow your farm business? From resources on cybersecurity, to webinars on brand development and promotional products; funding for start up businesses, to courses on business development. The SBA is available to support your budding farm business needs.

Wanted: Guest Instagrammers

Are you social media savvy? Do you want to share your farm or garden story? Are you looking to commune with female growers across the state and nationally? Then look no further, PA-WAgN has the perfect opportunity for you! PA-WAgN invites you to be a Guest Instagrammer and 'take over' the PA-WAgN Instagram page for a week (pawagn6954). Each week will feature a different female grower who then shares pictures, videos, stories, and inspiration from the field. We encourage growers of all types, styles, and locations to share their story and hope you will consider sharing yours! Interested? Email PA-WAgN Program Coordinator Patty Neiner (prn103@psu.edu) to sign up and 'take over' the PA-WAgN instagram page for a week.

Symposium Keynote: Leah Penniman - Farming While Black

Some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices - from organic agriculture to the farm cooperative and the CSA - have roots in African wisdom. Yet, discrimination and violence against African-American farmers has led to our decline from 14 percent of all growers in 1920 to less than 2 percent today, with a corresponding loss of over 14 million acres of land. Further, Black communities suffer disproportionately from illnesses related to lack of access to fresh food and healthy natural ecosystems. Soul Fire Farm, cofounded by author, activist, and farmer Leah Penniman, is committed to ending racism and injustice in our food system. Through programs such as the Black-Latinx Farmers Immersion, a sliding-scale farmshare CSA, and Youth Food Justice leadership training, Soul Fire Farm is part of a global network of farmers working to increase farmland stewardship by people of color, restore Afro-indigenous farming practices, and end food apartheid. And now, with the new book Farming While Black, Soul Fire Farm extends that work by offering the first comprehensive manual for African-heritage people ready to reclaim our rightful place of dignified agency in the food system. Join us to learn how you too can be part of the movement for food sovereignty and help build a food system based on justice, dignity, and abundance for all members of our community.

Symposium Keynote: Audra Mulkern - Women's Work

Audra Mulkern, founder of the Female Farmer Project and director of the documentary Women's Work, will be one of the keynote speakers for the 13th annual PA-WAgN Networking Symposium in Philadelphia in December. Audra Mulkern is a 2019 James Beard nominee, writer and photographer who is changing the way you look at farming and the food on your plate.

Farm to Table Western PA Lunch and Learn Events

Learn about local food resources from Erin Hart and host partners! This popular series brings together consumers, farms, food producers and a variety of other industry professionals for lunch and networking opportunities. Farms & producers are encouraged to attend & bring samples, business cards & order forms.

Protecting Workers from Heat Illnesses

Exposure to heat can cause illness and death. The most serious heat illness is heat stroke. Other heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash, should also be avoided. There are precautions that can be taken any time temperatures are high and the job involves physical work.

Sustainable Food Systems AmeriCorps opening

The Sustainable Food Systems Program (SFSP) at Penn State is a program of the Sustainability Institute that enables hands-on learning and service across the food system. The SFSP supports the Student Farm, the Lion’s Pantry, course-client collaborative projects, Student Farm Club and diverse community partnerships. The SFSP is seeking a full-term AmeriCorps member to build capacity in support of our community wellness goals to 1) educate people about food system sustainability and health, and 2) strengthen the local community through growing and donating local foods. Under supervision of the SFSP Associate Director, the AmeriCorps member will collaborate with students, faculty, community organizations and volunteers to design, implement and evaluate programs that support local food security, economic development and personal engagement with our food system.

Pennsylvania Vegetable Disease Update for July 17, 2019

Common summer diseases such as early blight and Septoria leaf spot are being reported on tomato as well as Phytophthora blight on peppers and cucurbits in fields that were wet earlier this season.

New Farmers.gov Feature Helps Producers Find Farm Loans that Fit Their Operation

A new online tool can help farmers and ranchers find information on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) farm loans that may best fit their operations. USDA has launched the new Farm Loan Discovery Tool as the newest feature on farmers.gov, the Department’s self-service website for farmers.

Beef Carcass Evaluation Video

Mike Baker, Cornell Beef Cattle Extension Specialist, looks at beef cattle as they hang on the rail at a packer.

Organic control of spotted lanternfly is focus of study by Penn State, Cornell

Could soilborne fungi found nearly everywhere in North America be the kryptonite that can help control the spotted lanternfly? Studies underway in the Philadelphia region — carried out by scientists from Penn State and Cornell University — aim to answer that question, with early findings showing promise against what has been described as the worst invasive pest to hit the U.S. since the gypsy moth.

PA Farm Bill: Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant

The Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program (UAI) provides funding in the form of a reimbursement grant to eligible applicants seeking to improve urban agriculture infrastructure in Pennsylvania. These grants will build out the infrastructure of urban agriculture by investing in the system, filling gaps, encouraging entities to work together, finding ways to bring operations to a greater scale, overcoming food deserts, and opening opportunities for people to become social entrepreneurs. Applications are Due September 6th, 2019. Contact: Scott Sheely, 717-346-0426, scsheely@pa.gov

Upcoming Hemp Webinars with Penn State Extension

Get your questions answered with the convenience of staying on the farm. The Hemp Webinar Series will feature Penn State Extension experts discussing timely hemp production and harvesting issues on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month during the growing season. The first webinar will be a question and answer format of in-season production issues on the 4th Monday of August. The next two webinars in September will focus on harvest issues for hemp fiber and seed production followed by CBD harvest issues.

PA-WAgN Symposium: Lightning Session Request for Proposals (RFP)

PA-WAgN is requesting proposals for short, 5-minute presentations to be part of a Lightning Session at the 13th annual PA-WAgN Symposium on Wednesday, December 18th, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pa. The Lightning Session will last approximately a half hour and include 5 lightning presentations lasting no more than 5 minutes each. Presenters who give lightning talks will then participate in a 30 minute facilitated Q+A and/or small group breakout with conference attendees (exact format TBD). Lighting talks may be on any topic related to women in agriculture, or the conference theme of Growing Rural Urban Perspectives. The Lightning Session will be a plenary session, attended by all conference attendees, and is a great way to share a big idea with a large audience, network and gain support for your work or idea, and to get feedback from PA-WAgN's membership. Questions about this RFP?Email Patty Neiner: prn103@psu.edu. Want to submit a proposal? Click the 'Read More' link below! Proposals deadline is September 27th, 2019.

Mid-Atlantic Women for the Land Learning Circles

Join experts from American Farmland Trust at an upcoming Women for the Land Learning Circle in Pennslyvania and Virginia in fall 2019. These events are intended for women landowners and women who manage farms who are interested in learning more about land conservation and land preservation programs. The day will include a discussion about conservation options and resources with other local landowners and farmers, as well as a free lunch and an optional farm tour.

PA-WAgN Symposium - Updates

PA-WAgN's annual networking symposium is around the corner, mark your calendars, December 18th is the day. We will be hosting the symposium at the Temple University Howard Gittis Student Center, and we are grateful for our presenting sponsor, Temple University's Center for Sustainable Communities, who is working with us to make it all possible. We will have two keynote speakers this year, Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm and Audra Mulkern of the Female Farmer Project, and have planned programming in 5 tracks around the conference theme of 'Growing Rural Urban Perspectives'. From panel discussions, to networking sessions, hands-on workshops, to intergenerational presentations, the PA-WAgN symposium has an jam-packed schedule full of educational, solutions-driven, and networking programs led-by and designed by women growers. Registration is going live in the next few weeks so keep an eye on your news and register early as we have some additional programs and opportunities you won't want to miss!

Upcoming PA-WAgN Programs

PA-WAgN has a number of exciting programs on the horizon happening across the state. PA-WAgN events are a great place to learn new skills, network with women growers from diverse backgrounds, and connect with resources and services to support your agricultural enterprise. Upcoming programs include: Farm Walks and Kitchen Talks, Honeybee Workshops, Pastured Livestock Field Days, Farmers Market Tours, and USDA Service Provider Meetings.

The Female Farmer Photovoice Project - "From Blight to Beauty"

From Blight to Beauty is an exhibition of photographs and narratives created by the 18 women farmers, gardeners, food activists, and activists in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who took part in The Female Farmer Photovoice Project during the spring of 2019. As part of a participatory action research project, the group created a collection of images that shed light on the people, places, struggles, and celebrations that showcase their experiences with urban agriculture. The images document experiences of community, collaboration, isolation, healing, and love, as well as the beauty of "growing food and growing minds" in many of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods.

Veterans in the Valley Open House and Artisan Market

Black Valley Farm and the PA Veteran Farming Project present a community event celebrating Veterans in Agriculture and the Troops-to-Tractors mentorship program. Day to include artisan farmers market featuring veteran owned and operated agricultural entrepreneurs, educational presentations from leading contributors, live music, local food, lunch hour, petting zoo, and children's activities! Come join us in celebrating our veterans and agriculture at Black Valley Farm! Sunday September 29th / 11:00a-3:00p. ​

PA-WAgN Award Nominations Are Open

Every year at PA-WAgN’s annual symposium, we honor women and organizations that exemplify PA-WAgN’s mission to support women in agriculture. The Wagoner Award honors an individual who drives PA-WAgN forward through their work, and the Bolster Award honors an individual, organization, or business that has helped bring a wider recognition of the importance of women as farmers and as growers to their communities, governments, and the agricultural industry. PA-WAgN’s annual symposium is around the corner and we are looking to our membership: farmers, gardeners, food advocates, and supporters of women in agriculture, for award nominations. Nominations will be open until the end of October!

NSAC: LENDING TO FARMERS OF COLOR AND WOMEN: NEW REPORT EXAMINES TRENDS AND BARRIERS

For many farmers and ranchers interested in acquiring land, purchasing major equipment, and even establishing conservation practices, access to credit is a must. However, many producers and aspiring producers of color, as well as female producers, have reported facing discrimination when attempting to obtain agricultural loans from private lenders as well as from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In response to these claims, Congress included a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate and publish its findings on how socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers (SDFRs) are accessing agricultural credit.

Rural Market Success & Next Level Sales

Join Penn State Extension and The Food Trust for a farmer-led workshop focusing on successful retail business practices. Topics include: developing a social media presence, agritourism, and farmer-led discussions. Event is free, registration is required, and lunch will be served!

Garden Tours, Farm Refreshments, & Cut Flower and Dry-Flower Wreath Making Workshops

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and join PA-WAgN and Norris Square Neighborhood Project for a youth-led Farm Walk and Kitchen Talk at the NSNP Gardens. This event will be a culmination of NSNP youth's learning experience this past summer where they trained in an urban garden setting to manage and grow market vegetables, cultivate cut flowers, sell at a bi-weekly farm stand, and lead tours of the NSNP gardens rooted in Latinx and Puerto Rican culture. The program will include: a youth-led tour of the Norris Square Neighborhood Project's six cultural gardens, light farm refreshments, and workshops with Philadelphia-based women ag entrepreneurs Cassie Plummer of Jig-Bee Farm and Amanda Staples of the Germantown Kitchen Garden on 'Cut-Flowers' and 'Dry Flower Wreath Making.’ Hope to see you there!

Garden Tours, Farm Refreshments, & Cut Flower and Dry-Flower Wreath Making Workshops

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and join PA-WAgN and Norris Square Neighborhood Project (NSNP) for day of learning and cultural celebration. This Farm Walk Kitchen Talk event will be a culmination of NSNP youth's learning experience this past summer where they trained in an urban garden setting to manage and grow market vegetables, cultivate cut flowers, sell at a bi-weekly farm stand, and lead tours of the NSNP gardens rooted in Latinx and Puerto Rican culture. The program will include: a youth-led tour of the Norris Square Neighborhood Project's six cultural gardens, discussion with one of the garden founders - Iris Brown, light farm refreshments, and workshops with Philadelphia-based women ag entrepreneurs Cassie Plummer of Jig-Bee Farm and Amanda Staples of the Germantown Kitchen Garden on 'Cut-Flowers' and 'Dry Flower Wreath Making.’ Hope you can join us!

NEW DATE: Farm Walk Kitchen Talk w/ Norris Square Neighborhood Project

**NEW DATE - OCTOBER 26th** Join us for a Farm Walk Kitchen Talk hosted in partnership with the Norris Square Neighborhood Project. For this FREE EVENT, we will meet at El Batey Garden - 169 W. Susquehanna Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19122, on Saturday, October 26th, 2019, from 10a-2p. The event will include: a youth-led tour of the Norris Square Neighborhood Project's cultural gardens, light farm refreshments and community potluck , garden cleanup and installation of a memorial to late garden founder Tomasita Romero, and workshops led by Philadelphia-based women ag entrepreneurs on cut flowers and dry flower wreath making.

NESAWG Annual Conference - Scholarship Deadline Monday (9/23)

NESAWG offers scholarships to keep their conference financially accessible to as many people as possible. For those 25 years and older, full scholarships cover the total registration costs of the main conference (Friday and Saturday), while partial scholarships cover 50% of the fee. You can also apply for scholarships to attend a pre-conference on Thursday...Applications are due: 9/23/2019 at 11/59 pm.

USDA Opens 2019 Enrollment for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs

(Washington, D.C., September 3, 2019) – Agricultural producers can now enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, two popular safety net programs, for the 2019 crop year. Interested producers must sign up for either program by March 15, 2020. The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized and made updates to these two USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs. ARC provides income support payments on historical base acres when actual crop revenue declines below a specified guarantee level. PLC program provides income support payments on historical base acres when the price for a covered commodity falls below its effective reference price.

Survey aims to help citizens protect themselves from vector-borne illnesses

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Extension has established a new vector-borne disease team that focuses on diseases transmitted by ticks and mosquitos. To ensure that its efforts address community needs, the team is launching a survey, the results of which will allow extension educators to deliver responsive programming to educate the public on vector-borne diseases, how to prevent them, and how people can protect themselves. Pennsylvania ranks among the top three states with the highest rates of tick-borne disease. In 2017, for instance, Pennsylvania had the highest incidence of Lyme disease cases in the U.S., with 9,250 confirmed cases and an additional 2,650 probable cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control. These statistics inspired Penn State Extension to develop a team dedicated to helping reduce the risk of vector-borne diseases to citizens of the commonwealth.

Registration Open For PA-WAgN's 13th Annual Networking Symposium - Growing Rural Urban Perspectives

Registration is open for PA-WAgN's Annual Symposium featuring keynote speakers Leah Penniman co-director of Soul Fire Farm and author of Farming While Black, and Audra Mulkern of the Female Farmer Project. The symposium will take place on Wednesday, December 18th, 2019 at the Temple University Howard Gittis Student Center and feature programs on seed keeping, herbal medicine, recipes and growing traditions, land liberation and urban agriculture, equity and actionable research, and more! Registration starts at $25, discounts are available for students, and scholarships are available (email Patty Neiner for more info - prn103@psu.edu). Be sure to check out or new 'Symposium' tab on the website for more program details, directions, speaker bios and more. REGISTER TODAY!

Governor Wolf Announces First Round of PA Farm Bill Grants, $500,000 to Build Urban Ag Infrastructure

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced the approval of $500,000 in Urban Agriculture Grants to fund 28 projects that will help build urban ag infrastructure while providing opportunities for entrepreneurship and community-building throughout the state. “Urban agriculture is about more than just growing food; it’s about growing our communities and our economy, it’s about increasing quality of life,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “In addition to urban gardens providing places to work and learn, they aggregate fresh, local products to combat food insecurity and improve access to healthy, nutritious food.”

Women in Dairy Conference offers opportunity for learning, networking

ATTENTION: Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are postponing the Farm Walk Kitchen Talk Event with Norris Square Neighborhood Project this coming Sunday. The new date and time for the program is SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26th, 2019 from 10a-2p. Apologize for any inconvenience and hope to see you there!

WOMEN ON THE LAND: CHAINSAW 101

Intimidated by the chainsaw? Wondering how to be safe when using a chainsaw? Ever felt that knowing how to use a chainsaw would be a useful skill? Do you want to acquire another empowering land-based skill? If you answered “yes“ to any of these questions, and you identify as a woman, or a cis, trans, non-binary or queer identifying woman, than this workshop with Elizabeth Gabriel of Wellspring Forest Farm, Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming and Rebekah Carpenter of Finger Lakes Renewables Solar Energy is for you! It is a half day workshop, from 10am-2:30pm, at Wellspring Forest Farm. Workshop Cost: $60-$130 ($35 solidarity price for BIPOC, Immigrants, Refugees).

Upcoming Walk a Mile Potlucks

PA-WAgN's "Walk a Mile" potluck series, with hosts throughout the state and meetings throughout the year, is a chance to meet others of like mind in your area, share perspective, stories and food, and grow your knowledge and resource base as well as your personal network. This is real networking, folks: not phone-to-phone, but face-to-face. Showing others how you live, and learning how others live. Teaching and learning and growing stronger and more resilient, together. Our next two gatherings will be in northern Allegheny County (Natrona Heights) and Butler County (Chicora) respectively. The Allegheny program will focus on fall garlic planting and the Butler County program will focus on . Please bring a dish to share, and feel free to bring your children, family and friends. We look forward to seeing you there!

14 Women Changing Food Around the World

Women are the backbone of agriculture and food systems worldwide—according to The World Bank, women make up about half of the agricultural sector in developing countries, but they typically receive fewer resources including land, education, inputs, and financial and banking services than men. Despite these obstacles, women around the world are emerging as leaders in all corners of the food justice movement: from empowering smallholder farmers in the developing world and building food as medicine into the medical system, to re-imagining a more accessible and sustainable grocery store, their work is changing the way we eat all around the world. Here are their stories.

NE SARE Farmer Grant Cycle is Now Open

The 2020 Northeast SARE Farmer Grant cycle is now open. Farmer Grants are for commercial producers who have an innovative idea they want to test using a field trial, on-farm demonstration, marketing initiative, or other technique. A technical advisor--often an extension agent, crop consultant, or other service professional--must also be involved. Projects should seek results other farmers can use, and all projects must have the potential to add to our knowledge about effective sustainable practices. The deadline for 2020 Farmer Grant applications is 5 p.m. ET on December 3, 2019. The online submission system will open on October 22. **Learn more about Farmer Grants at a webinar on October 23 from noon to 1 p.m.**

2020 Western PA Local Food Guide - Call for Submissions

You're invited to submit articles, pictures, recipes or other "Buy Local" content for the 2nd annual Farm to Table Western PA Local Food Guide! Submissions are due November 8, 2019 and the guide will be published January 1, 2020 in time for the PA Farm Show! This directory of farms, farmers markets, u-pick farms, dairies, CSAs, etc. will also contain local food tips, hacks & know how from farms, food businesses and food resource organizations. Click below (Read More) to download the "Call for Content" form for the 2020 Western PA Local Food Guide.

Photovoice project shares strengths and struggles of women in urban agriculture

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A unique thesis project in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences showcases the stories of women in urban agriculture through photographs captured by the participants themselves. Coordinated by graduate student Hannah Whitley in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education, the Female Farmer Photovoice Project explores how socially constructed identities complicate barriers and opportunities for urban growers and connect to broader institutional inequities that perpetuate these problems.

Upcoming Programs and Events

PA-WAgN has a number of exciting programs planned in the upcoming months. From a series of farm tours and potlucks to a cut flower and dried flower wreath making workshop, a webinar on 'The Art of Negotiating' and PA-WAgN's annual Networking Symposium, there are a programs available to help you build your network, grow your skill set, learn from your peers, and become agents of change. Additionally, there are many other workshops and conferences happening across the state and regionally that may be of interest. We have highlighted a few that are on the top of our list to check out!

Announcing new Grant Program for Ag and Youth!

Applications are now being accepted for the #PAFarmBill Ag and Youth Grant Program!

NESAWG Seeking Board Members & Retreat Facilitator

NESAWG is in an exciting transition from being a white-led organization to one that centers those most harmed by food systems injustices. We’re looking for new Board members who are ready for the messy and sacred work of reorientation and transition - and who are grounded in communities most harmed by food system injustice. Sound like you? Please apply! Applications are due February 15th.

NSAC's Guide to the Value Added Producer Grant Program

Washington, DC, January 15, 2020 – In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent announcement of at least $37 million in available grant support via the Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has released a newly updated version of its Farmers’ Guide to Applying for the Value Added Producer Grant Program (The Guide). NSAC’s newly updated guide includes everything interested producers need to know about VAPG to determine if the program is a good fit for their operation, as well as details on changes made in the 2018 Farm Bill, and helpful tips to improve a producer’s chances of obtaining funding from this highly competitive program.

$192 Million in Food and Agriculture Funding Now Available

The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) is the largest federal agricultural research competitive grant program... The purpose of AFRI’s “Foundational” program is to invest in research, education, and extension projects that support more sustainable, productive, and economically viable agricultural systems. Specifically, the program’s focus is to drive innovation to improve farm efficiency, sustainability, rural communities, human nutrition, as well as mitigating food waste and advancing classical breeding. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) estimates $192.6 million will be available in FY 2020 for the foundational and applied science program.

Understanding the SNAP Time Limit

The Trump administration has changed a SNAP rule. Starting April 1, 2020, it will now affect adults without minor children, also called Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDS), in nearly all of Pennsylvania.

Upcoming Conferences & Workshops

From the PA-Veteran Farming Conference to the Farmers Market Managers Conference, there are a bunch of exciting and informative programs on the horizon that can benefit women farmers in Pennsylvania.

Notes from the 2019 PA-WAgN Symposium

Held for the first time ever in Philadelphia, PA the 2019 PA-WAgN symposium was a huge success. There were more than 200 women farmers, growers, and food advocates in attendance making the 2019 symposium our largest yet.  We had diverse representation from rural and urban audiences and across the food systems sector, also making this year’s symposium our most diverse to date.  With more than 30 presenters, 10 workshops, lightning talks and dynamic presentations, this year’s symposium was certainly one for the books!

From FMC: President’s Budget Proposes Elimination of WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program

On Monday, the President’s FY 2021 budget proposal was released. In addition to significant cuts to agriculture and safety net programs, the proposal once again suggests eliminating funding for the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP).

USDA Extends Application Dates for Conservation Assistance

Pennsylvania agricultural producers and landowners now have additional time to apply for technical and financial assistance to improve and enhance natural resources on their farm and forest land, and for conservation easements to protect agricultural land from development and restore and protect wetlands. The last day to submit applications for consideration in the first application review cycle for the following USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation programs in fiscal year 2020 has been extended from January 31,2020 to March 20, 2020: EQIP, AMA, RCPP-EQIP, CSP.

Congresswoman Pingree Introduces the Agriculture Resilience Act to Promote Farmer-Driven Climate Solutions

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA), comprehensive legislation that sets a bold vision of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. agriculture by the year 2040. “Farming has always been a risky business, but unpredictable, extreme weather patterns are creating immense challenges that threaten our nation’s food production and jeopardize the livelihood of American farmers,” said Congresswoman Pingree, an organic farmer of more than 40 years. “Last year, farmers were unable to plant 19.6 million acres of crops due to record-breaking rainfall. We must be proactive to keep farmers on the land and in business.” “The Agriculture Resilience Act is designed as a roadmap to sequester more carbon in the soil and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by supporting farmers where they are. We need to empower farmers with the best available science and provide a range of conservation tools, because what works for one farmer in Maine may not work for another in Iowa or Georgia,” Congresswoman Pingree said of her bill. “I have set an ambitious but achievable goal: to reduce agricultural emissions by 50% before 2030 and make this segment of our economy net-zero by 2040. Challenges of this scale demand bold solutions and, unlike other industries, agriculture has a unique opportunity to draw down massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil.”

USDA extends GAP program for fruit, veg growers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended the USDA Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Assistance Program to remain available to eligible producers until all allocated funds are depleted. The program helps fruit and vegetable growers in 16 states enhance market access by defraying the costs of user fees for voluntary audits.

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Three Sisters

Here at PA-WAgN we are celebrating Women's History Month by celebrating the rich history of women in agriculture. Today we would like to shine a light on the divinely feminine agricultural roots of food production in the United States by highlight the indigenous Three Sisters agricultural tradition.

Women’s History Month Spotlight: African Seed Keepers

Women’s History month celebrates the rich history of women in the United States.  Today we will be celebrating the history of African women, captured and transported to the America’s via the transatlantic slave trade, who held hope for the future through seeds kept in their braids.  We will do this by sharing and reflecting upon the opening of Leah Penniman’s chapter on Seed Keeping in her recently published book, Farming While Black.

2020 NESAWG Conference Call for Proposals

NESAWG is seeking exciting and engaging session proposals for the 2020 NESAWG conference. Their conference will be held in Providence, RI, on November 19th, 20th, and 21st. They are looking for sessions that tackle systemic issues with engaging activities and presentations that prioritize the leadership and voices of those most impacted by the issue discussed. The deadline to submit proposals is May 3, 2020!

Farmers take advantage of $1 Million PA Farm Bill Farm Vitality Grant Program

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding recently announced that Pennsylvania farmers could apply for grants up to $7,500 through the PA Farm Bill’s $1 million Farm Vitality Grant Program for organic transition planning assistance. Farmers interested in taking advantage of the program should apply by April 3

Upcoming PA-WAgN Programs Cancelled/Postponed

Due to the COVID-19 virus, all in-person PA-WAgN events for the next three weeks have either been postponed or cancelled. This includes the potluck at Foggy Blossom Farm in Butler County on 3/18, the seed starting workshop at the Garden Dreams Urban Farm and Nursery in Pittsburgh on 3/25, the Tractor Safety and Maintenance workshop in Brownsville on 3/29-3/30, the Chainsaw Safety and Maintenance workshop in Chicora on 4/1-4/2, and the potluck at Raelynn Snyder's Farm in Chicora on 4/20. The safety of our members and participants is of the utmost importance and we appreciate your understanding. In the meantime, stay tuned for new program dates and upcoming digital programs.

Farminar: Strengthening Our Food System Together in a Time of Crisis

Join PA-WAgN for an upcoming farminar (webinar) to imagine solutions and coordinate action to address the challenges that we face now and will face in the future.

Extension Updates and COVID-19

As of today, all Extension offices are closed to the public, however, Extension educators are still working to support the agriculture industry across the state. As noted by Provost Jones, “Of course, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and there may be new directives issued by the governor and/or other governmental and health agencies in the coming hours and days. We appreciate everyone's understanding and flexibility.” With this being a busy time of year for soil test kits, Extension recommends that members of the public download the required form(s) from the Penn State Analytical Lab; use their own bag for soil; and send the form, sample, and payment directly to the Lab. Detailed instructions are available here: https://agsci.psu.edu/aasl/soil-testing/fertility/soil-fertility-submission-forms.

All ATTRA Publications Now Free

The National Center for Appropriate Technology, home of the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, is pleased to announce it is now providing all the technical resources on the ATTRA website at no cost. This means that you no longer need to pay an annual subscription fee or individual publication fee to access any of our digital publications, videos, podcasts, and other resources and materials at https://attra.ncat.org/.

The Giant Company Announces $250,000 Emergency Grant Program

April 10th, 2020 (Penn State Extension): The GIANT Company announced today a $250,000 emergency grant program, in partnership with Team Pennsylvania, to support small businesses in Pennsylvania’s food supply chain impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic...Applications are now being accepted online through April 24 from any small business involved in growing, making or processing food within the Commonwealth.

USDA Announces Application Deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

(USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service sent this bulletin at 04/14/2020 04:11 PM EDT) The deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications to be considered for funding in Pennsylvania this year is June 1, 2020. Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps farmers and forest landowners earn payments for expanding conservation activities while maintaining agricultural production on their land. CSP also encourages adoption of new technologies and management techniques.

Victory Garden Reinvented! Webinar Series

Penn State Extension Master Gardeners are offering a weekly, 10-week lunchtime webinar series on Tuesdays starting next week. From the registration page: "Shelter-in-place is a new concept for most of us, and as we spend more time confined to our homes, many people are finding that time outdoors in the garden relieves stress and provides needed exercise. And as a bonus, delicious vegetables and fruits can be grown and harvested at a reduced cost. Join us for the Victory Garden Reinvented! Webinar Series to learn up-to-date, research-based information on best practices for growing vegetables." (Although this event has filled to capacity, they are urgently working to obtain a larger webinar room. Please click "register" to be added to the waiting list so they can notify you when additional spots become available. Thank you!)

Penn State Extension Agricultura en Español

April 06, 2020 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Extension is connecting with Latinx agriculturists in essential food businesses to provide timely outreach and science-based education on farm production, food safety and workplace risk management...The initiative is an outgrowth of the new Penn State Extension Latinx Agricultural Network advised by Latinx community leaders. As part of this effort, faculty in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and extension educators set up a Facebook page in Spanish, found by clicking the 'Read More' link below.

Farminar Recording Available: Strengthening Our Food System Together in Times of Crisis

A recording of PA-WAgN's March 27th Webinar, Strengthening Our Food System Together In Times of Crisis is now available. This discussion-based webinar offers perspectives from women growers and food advocates around crisis management and the food system within the context of COVID-19. Nicole Sugerman, NESAWG Policy Associate touched briefly on the federal stimulus package, shared information regarding paid sick leave, highlighted recommendations and resources for farmers markets, and offered insight into Pennsylvania policies in development related to COVID-19 and food and agriculture. Patty Neiner, PA-WAgN Program Manager/Over the Moon Farm + Lyn Garling, Over the Moon Farm highlighted emerging challenges for small direct market farmers and their ability to meet peoples’ food needs, alternative market structures, and leveraging existing infrastructure for food security. Noelle Warford, Urban Tree Connection Executive Director + Nykisha Madison-Keita, Urban Tree Connection Farm Manager shared the contingency plan for their mission-driven, community-based farm in West Philadelphia including organizational, food production, and food distribution planning. To view the recording, click the 'Read More' link below.

Farmer Relief Fund-American Farmland Trust

(From https://farmland.org/farmer-relief-fund/) The coronavirus pandemic is impacting businesses that rely on direct contact with their customers, including farmers and ranchers that primarily sell their products through farmers markets and to restaurants, schools, and other institutions...To help directly support farmers impacted by the current crisis, American Farmland Trust (AFT) is launching a new Farmer Relief Fund. 100% of donations to the fund will go directly to farmers. AFT’s Farmer Relief Fund will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially, eligible applicants include any small and mid-size direct-market producers. These are defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products as inputs...AFT envisions an initial application round extending until April 23, with grants beginning to be made by May 1.

Upcoming Farminar: Mental Health and Stress Management for Farmers During a Pandemic

Today at 12noon. Social worker, Kathy Smith will give tips for women farmers struggling with all the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on their farms, families and personal lives. Click 'Read More' link below to register.

A Secretary of Agriculture to discuss feeding the region during COVID-19 in free webinar

PHILADELPHIA, April 10, 2020 — Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding will join Fox Management ConsultingManaging Director and Temple University Professor TL Hill on Thursday, April 16, at 3 p.m. for the webinar series, Post Pandemic: Stories of Organizational Resilience and Innovation. The webinar is free and open to the public. Farming and the broader food distribution system have been deemed essential businesses and continue to operate during the COVID-19 crisis. Not only is Pennsylvania’s agriculture critical to health and well-being, it is also a major part of the state’s economy that is poised to become a countrywide leader in local and sustainable production. Emerging from the pandemic as a leader will depend on a nimble, innovative response. Secretary Redding, appointed to the post in 2015, will discuss some of the challenges to the supply chain as well as innovations to agriculture business models as the industry adjusts to Covid-19. A native of Pennsylvania, Redding has an innate understanding of production agriculture, stemming from his youth on his family’s dairy farm and his time as a dairy farm operator. He currently serves as Chair of the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture. Redding is the former dean of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Delaware Valley College (now Delaware Valley University). To join the conversation via a Zoom call, click 'Read More' link below.

Penn State Extension to offer free online courses through April

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As a way to support its customers during the coronavirus pandemic, Penn State Extension is offering its library of online courses at no cost through April.

PA-WAgN COVID-19 Community Check-In and Virtual Potlucks

PA-WAgN COVID-19 Community Check-ins are an opportunity to come together (virtually, of course) to share resources, support, stories, and information with fellow PA-WAgN members. Our network is still strong and staying connected with each other is more important now than ever! Feel free to invite children, pets, partners, friends, or whoever else is part of your quarantine family to join. These check-ins are partly meant to take the place of our normal potluck series, so you are also welcome to bring dinner or a snack to "share" (on camera) with the group! Click 'Read More' for a list of upcoming regional potlucks and to register. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Adding A Nylon Stocking Layer Could Boost Protection From Cloth Masks, Study Finds

(From npr.org, April 22, 20201:34 PM ET) - During World War II, nylon stockings disappeared from store shelves as the valuable synthetic material was diverted to make critical wartime supplies such as parachutes, flak jackets and aircraft fuel tanks. Now, new research suggests that nylon stockings could once again play a critical role in a national battle — this time by making homemade cloth masks significantly more protective. Researchers at Northeastern University have found that adding an outer layer made from nylon stockings to a homemade face covering can boost its ability to filter out small particles in the air by creating a tighter seal between the mask and the wearer's face. In some cases, that extra nylon layer helped homemade cloth masks match or exceed the filtering capability of medical-grade surgical masks.

USDA to Purchase Up to $3 Billion in Agricultural Commodities, Issue Solicitations for Interested Participants

(April 19, 2020 - from ams.usda.gov) As part of President Trump and Secretary Perdue’s April 17th announcement of a $19 billion Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program, USDA today announced that it is exercising authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to purchase and distribute up to $3 billion of agricultural products to those in need. USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat products. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will procure an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products and $100 million per month in meat products to provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks and other non-profits serving Americans in need.

COVID-19 Relief Funds Available to Farmers

A recording of PA-WAgN's March 27th Webinar, Strengthening Our Food System Together In Times of Crisis is now available. This discussion-based webinar offers perspectives from women growers and food advocates around crisis management and the food system within the context of COVID-19. Nicole Sugerman, NESAWG Policy Associate touched briefly on the federal stimulus package, shared information regarding paid sick leave, highlighted recommendations and resources for farmers markets, and offered insight into Pennsylvania policies in development related to COVID-19 and food and agriculture. Patty Neiner, PA-WAgN Program Manager/Over the Moon Farm + Lyn Garling, Over the Moon Farm highlighted emerging challenges for small direct market farmers and their ability to meet peoples’ food needs, alternative market structures, and leveraging existing infrastructure for food security. Noelle Warford, Urban Tree Connection Executive Director + Nykisha Madison-Keita, Urban Tree Connection Farm Manager shared the contingency plan for their mission-driven, community-based farm in West Philadelphia including organizational, food production, and food distribution planning. To view the recording, click the 'Read More' link below.

Essentials Class Series

Are you stuck at home wanting to start a new business to make or to grow an “Essential” item to sustain humankind? Why not join PA-WAgN and Rusty and Claire Orner, stewards of Quiet Creek Herb Farm & School of Country Living, to learn such skills for free (each class valued at $50-$125 per person). With each class you will have the opportunity to learn specific skills and items to make your personal livelihood and/or business thrive. You must be registered as a PA-WAgN member (free) and be present on-line or in-person to win. Winnings can be picked up in person at Quiet Creek or shipped. Any shipping costs will be the responsibility of each winner. Classes are limited to 30 participants.

House Advances Ag Coronavirus Bills

Pennsylvania lawmakers have recently taken action on a number of bills that could help farmers and rural people weather the coronavirus pandemic. The House of Representatives on April 30 unanimously passed a bill to help food processing plants safeguard worker health during the coronavirus pandemic. The proposed grant program would cover a percentage of the cost of personal protective equipment, testing thermometers, the installation of physical barriers between workers, extra sanitizing and on-site medical services.

Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) accepting proposals for our 2021 Sustainable Agriculture Conference

Though there remains much uncertainty due to the pandemic, what we know without a doubt is this: Farmers are facing unprecedented challenges, and the need for exploring best practices, sharing lessons learned, and connecting with our peers will be greater than ever.

USDA Announces Cooperative Agreements for Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction

(USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service sent this bulletin at 05/11/2020 04:03 PM EDT) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of $900,000 for local governments to host a Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction (CCFWR) pilot project for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The cooperative agreements will support projects that develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction plans. The agreements are offered through USDA’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. USDA will accept applications on Grants.gov until midnight June 26, 2020. Projects should span two years with a start date of October 1, 2020 and completion date of September 29, 2022.

Pilot Program to Provide Online Purchasing to SNAP Households Expanded

In response to COVID-19¸ the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has expanded a pilot program to provide online purchasing to SNAP households.  In anticipation of Pennsylvania joining the Online SNAP pilot program, interested vendors are encouraged to review the agency’s guidance about how to become an online EBT vendor.

FARMERS IMPACTED BY COVID-19 NOW ELIGIBLE TO DEFER FSA LOAN PAYMENTS

(NSACs Blog - May 28, 2020) USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will now allow farmers with existing FSA farm loans to essentially defer their payments for up to a year. However, there are a few important details and restrictions that farmers need to know about to see if they are eligible for this relief.

INAUGURAL URBAN AGRICULTURE AND COMMUNITY COMPOST FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES ANNOUNCED

(NSACs Blog, May 28th, 2020) In early May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the inaugural round of the Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production (UAIP) Competitive Grants Program. This program makes $3 million in competitive grant funding available for projects that support the development of urban agriculture and innovative production activities. In addition, the USDA also announced the availability of $900,000 for local governments to host a Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction (CCFWR) pilot projects for fiscal year 2020.

Become a Racial Transformer

Racial injustice is one of the many ills of this country that extends far beyond policing and PA-WAgN is committed to identifying and addressing this historical and current oppression through our work and in particular through the work of PA-WAgN's Women's Rural Urban Network (WRUN). There is always more we can do to show up for racial justice and we hope you will consider ways that you can be a racial transformer in your own life.

Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network

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302 Armsby Building
University Park, PA 16802