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Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network Newsletter

News for women farmers empowering each other through networking

USDA Launches New Features

Today USDA launched two new features on 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 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, 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 ( 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 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, 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,

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: 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!


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 - 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!


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!

New SNAP ruling will cause hundreds of thousands to lose access to nutrition assistance

Read more in the following press release from the National Farmers Union: WASHINGTON – Despite widespread opposition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that it would tighten work requirements for able-bodied Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants without dependents.

Western PA Conservancy is seeking applications for Farmland Access Initiative Program

To help address the challenge of land access, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is working to acquire several farm properties that are highly suitable for diverse, small-scale agricultural operations and are easily accessible to the Pittsburgh market. After properties are acquired, we will work closely with farmers and help them lease the land. We will solicit proposals from farmers who desire to lease the properties, will evaluate these proposals, and will select farmers to lease each property based on the suitability of their proposal for our program. Local partners will play a key role in assisting the Conservancy in selecting tenants for the farms acquired. Long-term leases will be developed to ensure that the farmers can rely on the availability of land while developing their farm operations.

2019 Organic Survey Arriving Soon!

This month, more than 22,000 organic producers are expected to receive in their mailboxes letters from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). NASS is conducting its 2019 survey of certified or transitioning to certified organic farmers, asking for production, marketing, and transitioning information pertaining to their organic operations. The Organic Survey, which is conducted every five years, is hugely important for organic producers and policymakers – so please make sure to respond if you receive a survey! The results of the Organic Survey are used by Congress, USDA and sustainable agriculture organizations to make important decisions about programs and policies affecting organic producers. All respondents will receive survey codes in the mail and will be asked to respond online with their unique code, via the NASS website. The deadline to fill out the survey is January 10, 2020. Filling out the survey online is a great way to not only save paper, but valuable time! The online option will be able to calculate totals and automatically skip questions not applicable to the operation filling out the survey. Results are expected to be available in October 2020.

Application Now Open for Herbalism Apprenticeship

Do you want deepen your connection with plants and people? Take this next step in your herbal education to bring health and healing into your community. Michelle Soto and Cutting Root Farm are offering a free 400 hour herbal apprenticeship program for the 2020 season. This program will include a unique blend of experiences in the herb world including classroom experiences, herb farming, medicine making, marketing, and clinical skills experience. These positions will run from March- October 2020. Read more and apply here:

National Agritourism & Direct Sales Survey Launched

Whether you have a farmstand, u-pick, tastings, school field trips, events, tours, hunting, fishing, overnight stays, or open your farm to the public in any other ways, your experiences are important! This survey is confidential and should take about 10 minutes to complete. Results will be used to develop tools and resources for farmers. The survey will close January 31.

Pennsylvania Enacts Purple Paint Law to Authorize Alternate Method of Providing Trespassing Notice

News in rural landowner rights: On November 27, 2019, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law House Bill 1772, now known as Act 103 of 2019, which allows for the use of vertical purple lines painted on trees or posts to provide notice against trespassing under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. The purple paint lines must be within 100 feet from each other, must be at least eight inches long and one inch wide, must be placed between three and five feet off the ground, and must be readily visible to persons approaching the property.

Upcoming Workshop Series: Developing Personal Risk Management Plans

The objective of these workshops is to teach farmers how to understand and implement farm business planning principles for successful risk management decision making. In this workshop each producer will prepare their own personal plan to deal with the risks they face. More information and register here:

Registration Open for the 2020 PA Veteran Farming Conference

In this first-ever PA veteran farming and agribusiness conference, the emphasis is on growing successful businesses. Veterans, Military, Guard, Reserve, and their Spouses are invited to the full-day workshop. About the day: Beginning farmers (10 or fewer years) and those with established farms or agribusinesses will have the opportunity to interact and get guidance on your particular needs from staff from USDA (NRCS, FSA, Rural Development). Attendees will also hone marketing, risk management, and business planning skills while learning from your fellow veterans and professionals from SBA, Start-up Allegheny, SBDC, and more. There will even be a panel on non-profit farms.

Gathering Fire: A Facilitation Workshop for Rural Women

Applications are now open for the this workshop offered by No Regrets Initiative. This is event is in California but attendance is free for accepted participants!


Every five years (or so), a new farm bill is passed which makes important changes to federal farm and food programs. The 2018 Farm Bill, passed in late December 2018, was no exception. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was one of many programs to receive updates in the farm bill, and now those policy changes are being interpreted by USDA through the farm bill implementation and rulemaking processes. In December 2019, USDA announced its Interim Final Rule (IFR) for EQIP. The IFR guides USDA’s implementation of farm bill changes to EQIP, including the addition of soil health planning to the list of activities eligible for assistance, and the creation of a category of EQIP Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) for soil health. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few improvements, USDA’s IFR ignores or sells short several key aspects of the program.

UN Declares 2020 Year of Plant Health

(From USDA): WASHINGTON, D.C., January 27, 2020 – Plants make the oxygen we breathe and give us 80 percent of the food we eat. But plants are under attack by invasive pests. These pests destroy up to 40 percent of the world’s food crops and cause $220 billion in trade losses each year according to the United Nations (U.N.). That leaves millions of people worldwide without enough food to eat and seriously damages agriculture—the primary source of income for rural communities. To bring worldwide attention to this challenge, the U.N. has declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health. They are calling on people, organizations, industries, scientists, and governments to work together to protect plants against the introduction and spread of invasive pests. The U.S. National Plant Protection Organization—the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Plant Protection and Quarantine—is leading the effort in the United States.

Upcoming Deadline to Sign Up for Conservation Reserve Program

(From USDA): WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds agricultural producers interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) 2020 general signup to enroll by February 28, 2020. This signup is available to farmers and private landowners who are either enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling for another 10- to 15-year term. “This is the first opportunity for general sign up since 2016, and we want producers and private landowners to know that we have just one month remaining,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “It is critical that they make their final determinations and submit offers very soon to take advantage of this popular conservation program.” Farmers and ranchers who enroll in CRP receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”), which can control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands.

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).

Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network


302 Armsby Building
University Park, PA 16802