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Organic Matters Quarterly Newsletter • Fall 2019


Workshop: Production of Birds on Grass


Rodale Organic Farming Field Day


Wash & Pack Station Design Basics


PCO 2018 Annual Report

Celebrating the Organic of Yesterday While Preparing for the Organic of Tomorrow

Diana Underwood, PCO Director of Operations & Interim CoExecutive Director; Kyla Smith, PCO Certification Director and Interim Co-Executive Director; and Luke Howard, PCO Advisory Board President, represent PCO at the Rodale Pioneer Awards at the PCO-Certified Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA.

strengthen organic enforcement. The proposed rule is set to be published this fall. It includes but is not limited to the following topics: increasing handler certifications, generating electronic certificates for all imports, and strengthening accreditation and certification oversight. The oversight component includes more robust inspections through providing more detail on unannounced inspections, inspector qualifications and audits; confirming organic status through additional details related to non-retail labeling requirements, standardized certificates and mandatory data report (e.g. acreage); and overseeing certifiers. In total there are 17 topics included in the final rule. This is set to be the largest rulemaking published in over 15 years. There will be a public comment period, providing you, as a stakeholder and participant in the organic industry, an opportunity to let your voice be heard and help create what the final rule on strengthening organic enforcement looks like. The final rule will impact you and how you implement the organic production practices and requirements on your operation in some way, so be sure to participate in the comment process.


he air is getting cooler as we’ve transitioned from summer to fall. Our staff and inspectors are still operating at max capacity to complete all the site visits and reviews before the snow covers the fields and the cycle begins anew. September allowed us more opportunities to connect with our members and share in industry success stories during the Rodale Pioneer Awards as well as the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Leadership Awards. Well deserving recipients were honored for their contributions to the industry. To learn more about 2019 awardees, visit rodaleinstitute.org/getinvolved/visit/organic-pioneer-awards/ and ota.com/organicleadership-awards/honorees Highlights from Expo The Natural Products Expo took place in September in Baltimore, MD. Alongside the vendor exhibition floor were educational seminars addressing a range of topics in the organic industry. Of particular note was the US Organic food and beverage sales growth of 6% to $45 billion in 2018. While we know that organic dairy has suffered the last couple years, the industry as a whole is still growing with produce sales capturing the largest category of organic food sales at 38%. The anticipated trends for the industry are predicted to be organic, plant-based products, and food as medicine (such as CBD). Rule Making As part of the 2018 Farm Bill, it was mandated that the National Organic Program (NOP) publish a final rule to


Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute Executive Director, presents Organic Pioneer Award to Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding on behalf of Governor Wolf for his efforts toward strengthening the state’s agriculture industry and making Pennsylvania a growing organic state.

Hope to See you at NOSB… The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Fall Meeting will take place on October 23–25, 2019, in Pittsburgh, PA. NOSB is a Federal Advisory Board made up of 15 dedicated public volunteers from across the organic community. Established by the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), the continued on page 8


Organic Matters


president Luke Howard, Homestead Farms, Inc. vice president Tina Ellor, Phillips Mushroom Farms secretary Ron Hoover, Penn State Extension treasurer Dave Hartman, Penn State Extension managing board chair Beth Gugino, Penn State Extension

Fall 2019


Kristy Borelli, Penn State University Ross Duffield, Canopy Growth Bob Eberly, Eberly Poultry Betty Harper, Penn State University Ted LeBow, Kitchen Table Consultants Joe Miller, Trickling Springs Creamery Spencer Miller, Boyd Station, LLC Andrew Smyre, Anchor Ingredients/ Precizion Ag LLC Marketing and Consulting Mike Spangler, Proximity Malt



leadership team director of operations & interim co-executive director Diana Underwood certification director & interim co-executive director Kyla Smith executive assistant Stacey Budd administrative team accounting manager Elizabeth Leah staff accountant Shawnee Matis administrative assistant Lia Lopez human resources manager Sandy Vandeven certification team certification program manager Marissa Evankovich operations manager Reva Baylets senior certification specialist Heather Donald certification specialists Justine Cook Stephen Hobaugh Cathy Jackson Chelsea Johnson Lauren Lewis Marlin Mueller Craig Shroyer Eastlyn Wright program assistants Aleisha Schreffler Kristin Shade

2 | Organic Workshop Explores the Production of Birds on Grass Carversville Farm Foundation shares insights on raising turkeys, broilers and layers on pasture 4 | Wash & Pack Station Design Basics Optimizing post-harvest handling by improving location, flooring, procedures, and layout of your wash/pack station

inspections team


inspections program manager Jenny Cruse inspections program coordinator Ashley Madea

3 | Rodale Highlights Organic Farming at Field Day Demonstration stations feature range of topics from grafting tomatoes and industrial hemp research to pastured pork production and organic grain trials

materials team materials program manager Jennifer Berkebile materials specialist Sabine Carey materials/outreach specialist April Kocis quality team quality systems & it manager Angela Morgan it specialist Garrick McCullough

6 | PCO 2018 Annual Report Statistics on organic certification growth, 20-year trends, strategic plan initiatives and client surveys

106 School Street, Suite 201 Spring Mills, PA 16875

Photo: PA Department of Ag

phone: 814.422.0251 fax: 814.422.0255 email: pco@paorganic.org web: paorganic.org facebook.com/PAorganic

VISION All communities are enriched through organic food and farming MISSION To ensure the integrity of organic products and serve our farming community CORE VALUES 1. People & Service — Keep people at the center of every action, interaction, and decision 2. Organic Spirit & Environment — Promote restorative practices that improve the world for future generations 3. Honesty & Integrity — Embrace transparency and integrity in all our work.


C O LU M N S 7

President’s Message

18 New Members

1 0 Dear Aggy

20 Calendar

1 2 Transitions

23 Organic Matters Survey

1 4 Organic Updates Certification Materials Legislative Standards & Policy New Faces

On the cover: Orchard by Sabine Carey, FreeRanging Photography



Organic Workshop Explores the Production of Birds on Grass Carversville Farm Foundation welcomed fellow farmers for a workshop on how to raise turkeys, broilers and layers on pasture

By Justine Cook, Certification Specialist, PCO


arversville Farm Foundation hosted a PASA Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) Workshop on August 14, 2019 to discuss the ins-and-outs of pastured poultry production with new and aspiring farmers. A growing farm with a big mission, Carversville is supplying food pantries and soup kitchens with PCO-certified organic food raised using sustainable land management practices. Craig Haney, Livestock Manager, and Phil Haynes, Assistant Livestock Manager, manage grazing on between 80 and 90 acres for the beef herd and poultry flocks, which include heritage turkeys, broad breasted white turkeys, broilers and layers. The workshop took attendees through their brooding facility, a pole barn that is used both to brood new batches of birds but also functions as winter housing for the layer flock, and through the separate pastures used for the different groups of birds. Though the workshop ran late, Haney also offered attendees a look at their brand new processing facility, which was recently approved for organic certification and will be used to process certified organic broilers and turkeys. This PASA CRAFT event provided attendees with a breakdown of impor-



Heritage turkeys (Black Spanish, Standards Bronze, and crosses) at Carversville Farm Foundation foraging outside their movable high tunnel coop.

tant flock analyses, housing design options, and grazing strategies that can be used to run a pastured poultry business while building soil and growing food. Although Carversville is a non-profit and grows food for donation, production is managed and tracked for cost effectiveness and efficiency. To that end, the farm regularly looks at the performance measures of their flocks. Haney stressed that knowing the performance measures of the breed you raise is vital to evaluating the health and production of your flock. The Carversville crew does a monthly flock profile, including weights and mortality, to calibrate its performance, course correct as needed, and

improve production from flock-to-flock. Annually, the farm is raising approximately 2,500 broilers, 1,300 layers, and 400 turkeys, both broad breasted white and heritage breeds (Black Spanish, Standard Bronze, and crosses) — all on grass. The pastured birds are protected from ground predators using singlespike portable electric fencing, which is moved weekly or biweekly, depending on the housing and breed. Mobile high tunnel coops provide housing for all breeds except broad breasted white turkeys, who have sheltered perches in their pastures. The mobile coops are also moved; daily for some birds and several times a week for others. continued on page 18


Rodale Highlights Organic Farming at Field Day Demonstration stations feature range of topics from grafting tomatoes and industrial hemp research to pastured pork production and organic grain trials


his summer, PCO hit the road to join Rodale Institute (Rodale) for a field day to learn about Rodale’s research. Participants from 22 states and 4 countries traveled to PCOcertified Rodale, located on 333 acres in Kutztown, PA, to see first-hand its focus on organic production practices, farmer training, consumer education, and rigorous, solutions-based research. From pastured pigs to flowering insectary potatoes to hemp, the demonstration stations highlighted many of Rodale’s current projects. The Rodale Field Day Tour included stops at the side by side trials of organic

and conventional grain and vegetables. The grain trials were established in 1981 to provide information to growers transitioning to organic practices and to help develop improved techniques for those who were already growing organic grains. Although the first few years showed yield declines in the organic grains compared to conventional, there has been no statistically significant difference in crop yields since 1986, and the organic grain yields were higher in both wet and dry years. In recent years, the grain trials have been adapted to include no till and GMO grains, and Rodale intends to measure greenhouse gas emis-

Above: Tara Caton, Research Coordinator, discusses the goals of Rodale’s industrial hemp research, including the collection of fiber, seed, and oil content of each variety and to determine which varieties grow best in southeastern Pennsylvania.

sions from the fields next. The side-byside vegetable trials, which include potato, beans, sweet corn, winter squash, and lettuce, were established much more recently, in 2016, with the same goals in mind. Rodale also highlighted its grafting techniques as a means to prevent diseases in high tunnel tomato production. continued on page 9

Left: Rodale’s grafted tomatoes are grown on a pulley system in their high tunnel, which allows for continuous upward growth. Right: Field Day participants enjoy a wagon ride as they travel between stations.




Megan Gallagher from be.wild.er farm in her wash and pack station. The poured concrete floor makes moving equipment on rollers and cleaning easy.

long driveway to get crops from the field to storage.

2. Set up overhead coverage.

Wash & Pack Station Design Basics Optimizing post-harvest handling by improving location, flooring, procedures, and layout of your wash/pack station

By Dan Dalton, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) How you handle your produce after harvest can mean the difference between a long-lasting, visually appealing, and delicious crop that keeps your customers coming back for more…and a crop that lands in the compost heap. For many farmers, designing an effective wash and pack station can take a backseat to honing crop production methods. Yet, a dysfunctional wash and pack station could diminish the condition of your produce in one fell swoop, despite the many months of work you’ve put into growing a top-notch crop. Many wash and pack areas are do-it-yourself affairs, while others are developed with purpose-built equipment and utilities at the ready. In either case, when you’re designing a wash and pack station, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Locate your wash and pack station close to your production areas. This will reduce the amount of time crops spend between harvest and storage, increasing their quality and shelf life. Jen Montgomery and Greg Boulos from Blackberry Meadows Farm — a PCO-certified organic vegetable, fruit, and pastured livestock farm located outside of Pittsburgh — moved their wash and pack station out of their barn basement to their farmhouse, which is adjacent to the vegetable production fields. This significantly improved the farm’s efficiency, eliminating the time spent driving up and down a hill and a



While it may seem obvious to get your produce into a covered area after harvest, many farmers do some or all of their washing and packing in uncovered spaces. Getting your product out of the sun helps improve your crops’ shelf life and reduce food safety risks. Protection from the elements also improves your and your crew’s comfort and helps maintain energy during Photo: Emily Decker long harvest days. Overhead coverage does not need to be fancy — Montgomery and Boulos used to work under pop-up market tents. More recently, they’ve begun using tarps pulled over a wooden frame but would like to install a rigid, permanent roof to improve protection from rain.

3. Create a functional floor. Montgomery and Boulos use large gravel as ground cover in their wash and pack station. Beneath the gravel is perforated pipe that allows the area to drain water quickly. On the other hand, Megan Gallagher from be.wild.er farm noted the advantages of the poured concrete floor in her wash and pack area, which lets her easily roll around equipment and hose down the floor for cleanup. Gallagher rents land from Montgomery and Boulos, and has set up her wash and pack station in the barn basement that Blackberry Meadows previously used.

4. Create clear systems of procedure. Developing specific systems for how to harvest, wash, and pack each one of your crops will maintain crop quality and significantly cut down on harvest time. Even better, recording these systems in a manual or on posters that the entire field crew can easily access will reduce confusion, improve employee training, and maintain quality standards. Consider taking photos to accompany written instructions, helping to demonstrate correct procedures at a glance. Over time, fine-tune your systems by paying close attention to details — small changes can have significant effects on crop quality. For example, Montgomery and Boulos work to keep crops cool in the field by laying harvest bins on their side to cast a shadow over crops while more are harvested, protecting crops from direct sunlight until they’re ready to be transported. Back at the wash and pack station, they use colorcoded bins to quickly identify which crops are unwashed and which have been processed. Beyond having developed a clear labeling system, Gallagher stores crops on different shelves based on when they were


harvested to easily track which crops need to be distributed next.

5. Optimize your wash and pack station layout. Draw a map of how crops flow through the space of your wash and pack station. At what points do washing or packing get slowed down, and why? What can you do to

mitigate these bottlenecks? Is it a matter of investing in a new tool or piece of equipment, or can you adjust your procedures? Also consider how you and your employees are using the space — will adjusting the height of a table make working more comfortable? Gallagher plans to improve her wash and pack area by hanging or mounting her hoses. This would reduce clutter and tripping hazards, lessen the wear and tear on the hoses, and help keep drains unobstructed. Montgomery and Boulos offered a tip: Keep your equipment flexible so you can trial and adjust different layouts until you find an optimal flow for moving crops — and farmers — through the space before committing to a permanent layout. These tips for designing an effective wash and pack station were gleaned from a workshop PASA coordinated with Jen Montgomery and Greg Boulos from Blackberry Meadows Farm and Megan Gallagher from be.wild.er farm in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania. PASA offers year-round farmer-to-farmer workshops for all experience levels. Want to dig in deeper? PASA will be offering an intensive session on packhouse design and efficiency at its 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Conference, taking place February 5– 8th in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Registration opens in November. Learn more at pasafarming.org.

Jen Montgomery and Greg Boulos from Blackberry Meadows Farm moved their wash and pack station out of their barn basement, which had been inconveniently located far from their production fields, to a closer location. Here, they’re building a wood frame that will be covered with tarps for sun and rain protection. They eventually plan to build a permanent roof.

Check out PASA’s full calendar of farmer-to-farmer events and learn more about Apprenticeship programs at pasafarming.org. PASA is a Pennsylvania-based sustainable agriculture association founded in 1992 working to build a more economically-just, environmentally-regenerative, and community-focused food system through education and research that directly supports farmers.

Advertise in Organic Matters Organic Matters is the quarterly newsletter of Pennsylvania Certified Organic, a non-profit organization serving growers, processors and handlers of organic products. Issues contain articles on the latest news and research in the organic industry, often highlighting our certified members. Approximately 1,500 copies of each publication are distributed directly to members and those requesting information about organic agriculture, and made available to the public at conferences, exhibits and educational programs in the Mid-Atlantic region.



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The above rates refer to a single-issue ad placement and a subscription for ad placement in four consecutive issues. A 15% discount is granted for the purchase of the 4-issue subscription. For more information, please contact newsletter@paorganic.org or call the PCO Office at 814-422-0251.



Growth in Organic Certification

Inspections Conducted New Organic Certificates Issued


2018 Annual Report

1,632 Total Organic Certifications


Poultry Crops 24% 31%

1500 1250

Handling 15% Livestock 30%

1000 750 500 250 0


of client members surveyed gave PCO an overall above average rating.

8.35/10 On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely would you recommend PCO to a friend or colleague, our rating was 8.35 Client members highlighted our high quality customer service and the professionalism in business practices.

1298 335

1529 303

1709 373




“Great certifying agency PCO is the 5th largest that is small enough to be able to have a personal certifier in the US* feeling, but large enough to PCO continues to be the 5th largest certifier in the US — give you great service!” following CCOF, MOSA, OTCO and QAI. 20 Year Trends Revenue ($ in Millions)





Vision — Our vision is all communities are enriched through organic food and farming Core Values 1) Keep people at the center of every action, interaction, and decision. 2) Promote restorative practices that improve the world for future generations. 3) Embrace transparency and integrity in all our work.




Mission — Our mission is to ensure the integrity of organic products and serve our farming community

30 Employees

2000 Certified Clients


1998 2000







0 2018

Strategic Plan

1998 2000














G Goal complete G Significant progress made toward goal. Not complete in 2018.

Customer Service Improve the customer service experience as measured by PCO’s Net Promoter Score from 25–35 by 2020 .................................................................................................... G Financial Viability Identify and build self-sustainable programs based on financial examination ........................ G Build financial reserve according to PCO reserve policy ...................................................... G Develop partnerships that create strategic and financial alignment ...................................... G Advisory Board Development Maintain or grow board self-assessment score ................................................................. G

Develop protocol for exploring partnership opportunities .................................................... G Identify and implement succession planning needs to ensure the continued health and prosperity of PCO. ........................................................................................ G

President’s Message

Welcome to Fall By Luke R. Howard, PCO Advisory Board President Greetings and welcome to autumn. I hope your growing season has been successful and safe. I have been thinking a lot about trust and the consumer lately. Certainly the organic industry has grown in the past few decades. We have all been a part of that incredible growth. A lot of that growth is because our consumers trust the farmers that grow the products. They trust us, their farmers, to produce a safe, healthy product without the use of prohibited substances in a way that gives back to the earth. Whether the consumers are buying an organic chicken out of a large grocery store or buying vegetables from a local farm stand we have their trust. We as an industry have lived up to the consumers’ expectations. But in order to protect the trust for the future we must also have verification. That is where your organization comes into the picture. PCO is recognized as a leader in the industry because of this trust and verification. This is placed in the hands of our staff, board and all of our members. It takes all of us to have positive input to make the big wheels move forward. Let us all work together to protect the integrity of our industry and the trust that the consumer has for us and our products. Our Executive Director Search committee continues to make progress. The committee has been working with The North Group from Lititz, PA. They specialize in sourcing talented individuals and provide guidance for the board to make the best decision for our new ED. We have had great success with finding numerous candidates and hope to select our new Executive Director soon. Autumn is the time of year where we gather for our annual meeting. Once again our meeting will be held in Bellefonte on Wednesday, October 16th. As a board member, I always appre-


ciate the opportunity to connect with our members. We will be giving the PCO version of “the State of the Union” report along with updates on our finances. We will also presenting our membership awards, which will be featured in our next issue of Organic Matters. Next year we will be reconvening for our annual meeting in early 2020. Stay tuned for details. After the annual meeting the Board will be having our annual retreat for two days just outside of Bellefonte. During the retreat we will be working on our strategic plan. It is that time, when it is important to develop a plan for the future for PCO. Your organization has grown a tremendous amount in the past few years and it is time to create the vision for the future. Just like any business we need a plan for the future. Look for updates about our progress. Finally, we are always looking for new candidates for the board. It is great to have a diverse board with members from different areas. But most importantly we want to make sure we have the proper amount of people representing organic agriculture. So, if you have the willingness to participate in a great organization with very passionate people please consider running for a seat on the board or volunteering for a committee. Reach out to the office or feel free to give me a call. As we enter this harvest season remember to be grateful for the goodness we have and continue to produce trusted healthy products that invigorate all of us. I hope to see you at the annual meeting. — Luke R. Howard 410.708.3105 cell • lukerichardhoward@gmail.com

Do you shop online at Amazon? You can support PCO at the same time through a program called AmazonSmile! The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible Amazon Smile purchases to PCO at no adiitional cost to you. To shop at AmazonSmile simply go to smile.amazon.com from your web browser. Then select “Pennsylvania Certified Organic” using your existing Amazon.com account. You may also want to add a bookmark to smile.amazon.com to make it easy to return and start your shopping and supporting!



Organically Speaking continued from inside front cover

Box 361, 119 Hamilton Place Penn Yan, NY 14527 315-531-1038

Above: Pioneer Award attendees gather at Rodale’s historic bank barn to enjoy dinner with organic ingredients sourced from the farm and hear from Organic Pioneers on the past, present and future of the organic movement. Left: Zach Bush MD, Pioneer Awards keynote speaker and triple-board certified physician, tells the story of his recent global education campaign called Farmer’s Footprint that brings consumer and corporate support to farmers prepared to transition from chemical farming to regenerative agriculture.

Certified Organic Feed, Seed & Livestock Products from Northeast organic farmers for Northeast organic farmers ❖ www.lakevieworganicgrain.com

NOSB considers and makes recommendations on a wide range of issues involving the production, handling, and processing of organic products. The NOSB also has special responsibilities related to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. During meetings (which rotate around the country), the NOSB listens to public comments, discusses agenda items, and then votes on proposals to the Secretary in a public forum. We are really looking forward to the meeting being in Pittsburgh as the home state certifier. The meeting is free, open to the public, and a great opportunity for us all to participate and witness part of the regulatory process in action. Additionally, PCO is hosting a reception on Thursday October 24th from 6:30–8:30pm, which is a great time to meet others in the industry including staff from other certification agencies. For more information on the topics the Board will discuss see the Standards and Policy Update on page 16 or call Kyla (info below). Please feel free to reach out to us anytime with questions, comments, and concerns. Diana Underwood Interim Co-Executive Director Director of Operations 704-718-0058 Diana@paorganic.org



Kyla Smith Interim Co-Executive Director Certification Director 215-840-9640 Kyla@paorganic.org


Rodale Organic Farming Field Day continued from page 3

In order to utilize a double leader system, two tomato stems are grafted to one root to increase yield and decrease labor. Plants are grafted in mid-late April, and growth and resource use of the plant are carefully managed. Only one growing tip is kept; all others are pruned, as is every leaf at or below the lowest fruit set. Vines can reach as high as 15 feet, and in the 30x96 foot greenhouse with 5 beds, one year’s record yield was just over 8,000 pounds. Interest in hemp production has increased dramatically in Pennsylvania since the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, so Rodale’s fiber and grain hemp production trials were a popular stop on the field day tour. Rodale is working to determine nitrogen and other nutrient requirements for the crop and to see which varieties perform best at their site. Rodale advocates incorporating hemp growth into existing farm plans as a new tool, not a miracle crop; for example, farmers already producing hay may find the addition of fiber hemp to their crop rotation appropriate, since they would be


Dr. Emmanuel Omondi, Director of Farming Systems Trial, explains that organic systems produce yields up to 40% higher than conventional systems in times of drought and describes the comparison studies that Rodale runs for crops such as corn and soybeans.

relatively familiar with producing a fiber crop and have the tools and equipment in place. Rodale’s motto is “A Destination for Inspiration,” and in this vein, its field day did not disappoint. Rodale also

announced expansion with new centers coming in Georgia, Iowa, and California, so farmers around the country may soon have more chances to see for themselves how Rodale is leading the way in organic and sustainable production systems.



your hands, and air dried. Laboratories usually provide bags for submitting soil samples — make sure to label them so you know which field they are for.

Dear Aggy Readers’ Letters

Choosing a soil testing lab Make sure your test includes the specific parameters you are interested in, such as micronutrients. These may need to be requested as add-ons to the basic test. • Penn State University Soil Lab 814-863-0841 agsci.psu.edu/aasl



Some Options:






1 6 87

• Spectrum Analytic 1-800-321-1562 spectrumanalytic.com

Tips on Testing Your Soil Dear Aggy, I’ve just started farming on a new property, and I’d like to have baseline soil nutrient information for my

• Waypoint Analytical (Previously Agri-Analysis) Leola, PA 717-656-9326 waypointanalytical.com/AgServices

fields. Can you provide any guidance on soil testing? — Sam S.

Hi Sam, Fall is a good time to start with your new soil testing program. Once you start your testing protocol, it is recommended that you continue pulling samples at the same general time during the year, as nutrients do fluctuate during the season. Periodic soil testing is a useful soil fertility management tool and will help you in determining optimum lime and fertilizer requirements of your crops. Using soil tests as part of your decision process also documents that you are monitoring the nutrient requirements of your crops and the value of nutrients being applied, as well as the nutrient removal/uptake rate by crops. It’s a standard practice to test each field every three years. You can either take care of the soil testing yourself, or it can be incorporated into the services of a crop management/agronomist consultant as they recommend and prepare custom blends for your operation. The National Organic Program addresses nutrient management, specifically for the following substances: §205.601(j)(6) Magnesium sulfate — allowed with a documented soil deficiency. §205.601 (j)(7) Micronutrients (including boron, selenium, cobalt, copper, iron manganese, molybdenum and zinc) — not to be used as a defoliant, herbicide, or desiccant. Those made from nitrates or chlorides are not allowed. Micronutrient deficiency must be documented by soil or tissue testing or other documented and verifiable method as approved by the certifying agent. Taking a soil sample Specific soil sampling instructions are usually supplied by the lab you are working with. Generally you will use a clean soil probe, auger, or spade to collect 10 to 20 samples from the top 6–8 inches (or depth of tillage) randomly from an area with similar soils and cropping history. Each soil sample should be mixed together and crushed with a metal or wooden tool, not


Additional resources • agsci.psu.edu/aasl/soil-testing/fertility/soil-sampling-instructions • articles.extension.org/pages/18566/conventional-chemicalsoil-testing-in-organic-farming-systems • attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/soil_testing

A Full-Service Certification Agency Now offering Transitioning Farmer membership!

“Great certifying agency that is small enough to be able to have a personal feeling, but large enough to give you great service!”

814-422-0251 • paorganic.org




Inspiration for Organic: A Q & A with Transitioning Farmers Michael Conner and Marcie Boettger own and operate Sarahsway Farm in Gilbertsville, PA. They farm 280+ acres of hay and are currently transitioning to organic. By Michael Conner and Marcie Boettger

Can you tell us a bit about your operation? Michael: We started this operation in June 2013. We started leasing the farm, just the land and the barn initially. We tried some wheat and rye and didn’t have success with it but that’s because we didn’t know then what we know now. We didn’t like the fact that you had to use the conventional way of chemicals; burn it down, spray this, plant this, spray it again so we just stopped doing it. We didn’t like that and didn’t feel comfortable with it so we quit. We then just grew grass and hay. We were doing hay all along but then just stuck with making hay. We specialize in making really good quality horse hay that’s dry. We don’t usually have people come back with any mold or dust issues because we take the time to get it dry. We don’t spray hay with a drying agent.

What is your inspiration to become certified organic? Marcie: The way I look at it is that you need to work with nature and not against it. I am all about the birds and the bees, the butterflies and the bats, the worms, and the microbes in the earth. We should all be working together. What’s been ringing in my head the last couple days is a Joni Mitchell song, A Big Yellow Taxi. There’s a line in it about “farmer farmer put away your DDT. I’ll take spots on my apples. Leave me the birds and the bees please.” That’s the way I operate. I am the type of person that when there is a spider in the house I put it in a cup and carry it outside. Michael: The motivation is similar but then there are some differences. For me, I just didn’t understand why we had to keep spraying Roundup on a product to then plant it and then spray Roundup on it again. I didn’t feel comfortable with it. I



just chose not to grow those items because I didn’t feel right inside for signing on to that method. The reason to transition and become certified organic…the fact is that we all know there’s a movement but on top of that, through this process of learning, I learned that you don’t have to do that (use chemicals). I didn’t know that before. I had to get educated. The education of going to Rodale and learning about cover cropping. And now listening to Rick Clark, innovative no-till farmer, and his scientific tests of cereal rye and how if we wait a little longer it has all the nitrogen that it needs. That’s what’s gotten me fired up. Let’s do this thing and let’s change the planet. Marcie: My little motto in life is: Learn, grow, mature. Even before we started growing our own crops, it was: How can you justify putting something in your body that’s been sprayed with round up? People wonder why they have so many health ailments, it’s probably because of that.

What has been the biggest stumbling block to certification and how are you working to overcome it? Michael: The hardest stumbling block was the lack of education that was out there about how to become certified. I fell victim to the rumor mill and I had heard guys say for years that “it was $20,000 to get certified and you have to do this and that.” I just listened to the misinformation instead of finding out for myself. The information needs to be more widely available with the details that it’s very inexpensive. If I had known this I would have searched this out a long time ago. I didn’t do my due diligence and I have learned my lesson. With everything we are now doing our due diligence on our own. We listen to people, but then we will go verify and not just “drink the kool aid.”

What advice would you give another farmer considering transitioning to organic? Michael: Read the Lancaster Farming. Read the back of a


Michael would spend summers as a teenager working on the farm. My grandfather taught Michael how to repair all the equipment, use the equipment and to make hay. Michael: To hear a guy like Rick Clark talk- I just want to emulate that. I am looking forward to the day that I can drive into 6ft cereal rye with my no till drill planting green and then I can come back after germination and roll it down. That’s going to be amazing!

Are there any fundamental farming “lessons” that you have learned in your farming career that you would like to share with farmers who will read your interview?

Michael Conner and Marcie Boettger of Sarahsway Farm

Kashi cereal box. Kashi is paying transitional farmers more money even when they are in transition to support them. Bell and Evans is now paying transitional farmers more for their transitional grain because they want everything organic and from Pennsylvania. What they might have thought was a hurdle really is not a hurdle. Plus, the other side to it is, if they are looking at they won’t get paid any more- they don’t have to spend the money on herbicides and pesticides so you are still getting more money because you are saving money. We all know that farming is extremely hard work, often requiring long days in difficult conditions. What motivates you to get up each day and keep going? Marcie: To be out in nature. I don’t care how hard the work is. We have a work ethic to beat the band. The satisfaction at the end of the day when you’ve gotten your crop in and it looks great, smells great and you’ve beat the weather. It’s a really awesome feeling, even if you are exhausted, because you’ve accomplished it. It’s a great feeling to be productive like that and be out in nature the whole time. Michael: If you love what you do it’s not work. I love what I do: number 1. It’s the fact of enjoying what God has given us and being able to meet every challenge. For attitude, I have a never surrender attitude. There’s always a solution and there is always a way to overcome every obstacle. You just have to keep going.

Is there anyone who has influenced you in your farming journey that you want to tell us about? Marcie: My grandfather before I was even around was a dairy farmer and then of course we had horses as little kids.


Michael: Buying new equipment. If you say you can’t afford it, you will never be able to afford it. We had old equipment and were going to start with it. We couldn’t get it fixed fast enough. We were getting ready for our first harvest and started looking and saw a New Holland ad in Lancaster Farming. I traded in all of my old equipment and it was all in pieces. I bought an entire package of new equipment. Because of that I never had the equipment failures where you are in the field working on the equipment until midnight and then you are a day or more behind. There’s a strategy with payments. Let’s say you buy a tractor with a 3-year trade in. You trade it in before the 3rd payment is due you don’t have to pay the 3rd payment because usually the tractor is worth more than I owe. So I never paid the 3rd payment yet I used the tractor for 3 years. If you get an annual payment on the new one, you basically get to skip another payment. It’s the 4th year, you’ve paid only 2 payments and you have had 4 years of new equipment.

Marcie and Michael are working with Sam Malriat, Organic Crop Consultant at the Rodale Institute, through the FREE consulting service program available to Pennsylvania farmers transitioning to organic. Farmers that are interested in receiving consulting services can contact the Rodale Institute directly at 610-683-1400 or e-mail Sam at sam.malriat@rodaleinstitute.org. Wherever they may be in their transition to organic, or if they are starting a new farming endeavor altogether, Rodale aims to support farmers and landowners that strive to be good stewards of the land. Consultations typically begin with a phone call, followed by a site visit and initial discussion session. Sam Malriat, Organic Crop Consultant, Rodale Institute Sam is part of an ongoing, collaborative effort to help farmers transition their agricultural operations from conventional to certified organic systems. Rodale received funding from the PA Dept. of Ag to offer a consulting service to farmers that live in the state of Pennsylvania for free, so that Pennsylvania farmers can start earning a better price for what they produce, and begin adopting a system that will allow them to continue farming well into the future. Sam does everything from helping them fill out their certification paperwork to adjusting their cultivator or finding a new market. Sam is committed to serving as part of a support system for organic farmers, and farmers that are ready to make a change. He earned a B.S. in Agricultural Sciences from Cornell University, and has 12 years of practical farming experience in Pennsylvania and Maryland.



Organic Updates

Certification Update Marissa Evankovich, Certification Program Manager As we wrap up the season for your 2019 inspections, there are a few items that I would like to highlight regarding the happenings here at PCO and in the field. This season you may have had a PCO inspector stop by your operation for an unannounced inspection. PCO is required to conduct unannounced inspections on 5% of our certified operations, which equates to between 80-90 unannounced inspections this year. In some cases, inspectors are asked to perform an unannounced inspection on a farm or handling operation to review a specific high-risk production practice. For example, an unannounced inspection may be performed to verify that DMI intake requirements have been met at the end of the season if an operation was showing issues mid-season or to verify that a handler is using sufficient commingling prevention practices. In other cases, inspectors are asked to respond to complaint-based requests from PCO to verify the validity of a complaint. In other cases still, operators are chosen at random to receive an unannounced inspection. If an operation has not yet had their annual inspection, sometimes there is opportunity to complete their full inspection at the time they are receiving their unannounced inspection if they are prepared. Please be aware that at every unannounced inspection, the inspector will have a hard copy Authorization Memo on PCO letterhead which PCO has given to the inspector verifying they have been asked to perform the unannounced visit. If you are not personally available to conduct the unannounced inspection, the inspection may take place with an authorized representative that is knowledgeable about your operation. Additionally, you may be able to give permission of access to the inspector to your farm or operation by methods such as a phone call. Inspectors are instructed that they are prohibited from entering any facilities without explicit permission from an authorized representative. Alternatively, if you are not available for the unannounced inspection, the inspector will note their attempts and contact PCO. The inspector may also be able to review other aspects of your operation from a publicly accessible road (for example, is it a nice day outside, and if so, are your livestock outside?) and still submit a report to PCO based on this information. In all cases, reports will need to be evaluated by reviewers once returned to the office, so if questions arise, you will be contacted directly by a Certification Specialist. In addition to unannounced inspections, PCO is also required to residue test at least 5% of our operations. Our current program includes testing for residues of pesticides or GMOs. In many cases, unannounced inspections and residue testing occur together. However, there are also times where an inspector is asked to collect residue samples during a routine



annual inspection of an operation. The selection criteria for residue sampling is much the same for unannounced; it could be random, complaint-based, or risk-based. All operations are subject to residue testing; PCO can and has tested crops, livestock feed, and processed products in the past. If you have any questions on this process, please contact the PCO office. Lastly, as an announcement from the Certification Team, you may see two new faces on the staff here. In August, Emily Newman and Colleen Scott departed from PCO to pursue other opportunities, and we wish them well and thank them for all of their hard work over the past several years. Since their departure, we have hired two new staff: Marlin Mueller, who has a long background in organic certification of processing and handling; and Lauren Lewis, who has been at PCO for about 6 months working with our Certification Operations Team as a Program Assistant and also has a background in other regulatory work. We are excited to have both join our team, and they are looking forward to helping continue PCO’s goal of excellent customer service and expertise.

Materials Update Jennifer Berkebile, Materials Program Manager Inspection season is in full swing, and the PCO Materials Team is busy reviewing all of the materials that you had your inspector add to your Materials Used Form. If you want to use any new materials after your inspection, make sure to call Jen at the PCO office, 814-422-0251, for a material review. Make sure you have the name of the product and the name of the manufacturer. PCO recently published an updated Organic Plus Trust Grass-fed Materials List. If you did not receive the list or if you have any questions about it, please contact Jen at the PCO office, 814-422-0251. Finally, for our organic processors — the organic regulations at § 205.605(a) will be updated on December 27, 2019, to require the use of organic natural flavors when commercially available. If you are using natural flavors in your processed product, please contact the PCO office, 814-422-0251, to speak to your certification specialist about this new requirement. Material Review Status Changes Please note the following status changes for materials reviewed by PCO for use by certified operations. n ALLOWED — Contact PCO with any questions about the use or restrictions for these products. Crop Materials • Deter by Genesis Ag is allowed as invertebrate pest control with the following restriction:


Organic Updates –Pesticide. May be used if preventative, mechanical, and physical management practices provided for at §205.206(a)(d) are insufficient to prevent or control crop pests, weeds, and diseases. The operator must document conditions for using the substance in organic system plan. • Organic Poultry Litter by Casella Organics is allowed as a fertilizer/soil amendment. • Organic Seed Starting Mix by Gardener’s Supply Company is allowed as crop growing media. • Star K 7% by Star Dairy Resources is allowed as a crop fertilizer/soil amendment. Livestock Materials • Activated Charcoal Powder by New Lifestyle Health Products is allowed as a livestock medical treatment. • Dairy Nutribalancer #1, #2, and #3 by The Fertrell Company are allowed for OPT as grass-fed feed additive/supplements with the following restriction: –OPT: Restricted Feedstuff. Feed additive or supplement must not be fed above the combined daily limit on a dry matter basis (alfalfa pellets, 5 lbs.). OPT V.E. • Grand Champion PME by Eden Solutions is allowed as a livestock feed additive/supplement. • Keto Treat by IBA, Inc., is allowed as a livestock medical treatment with the following restriction: –Propylene Glycol. Only for treatment of ketosis in ruminants. §205.603(a)(27) • RC Gold 4X by The Fertrell Company is allowed for OPT as a grass-fed feed additive/supplement with the following restriction: –OPT: Restricted Feedstuff. Feed additive or supplement must not be fed above the combined daily limit on a dry matter basis (alfalfa pellets, 5 lbs.). OPT V.E. • Sani Shield by Metz Sales, Inc., is allowed as a livestock medical treatment. • Yellow Jacket Wettable Sulfur II by Georgia Gulf Sulfur Corp. is allowed as a livestock external parasiticide/pesticide. n PROHIBITED — Operators must immediately discontinue use of these products unless otherwise indicated. Crop Materials • Pro Serve Forage Treatment by Conklin Company, In., is prohibited as a crop forage treatment. Livestock Materials • KNS Mineral by Farming Solution is prohibited as a livestock feed additive/supplement. Clients can use up any product that they have on hand. • TDN Rockets by IBA, Inc., is prohibited as a livestock medical treatment.


Legislative Update Kyla Smith, Interim Co-Executive Director & Certification Director Funding to Promote PA Agriculture Industry in Momentous PA Farm Bill Proposal Governor Tom Wolf announced the historic and inaugural PA Farm Bill proposal, which intends to invest more than $24 million in the commonwealth’s agriculture industry. The PA Farm Bill proposal outlines the following initiatives: 1. Develop New Resources for Agriculture Business Development and Succession Planning –Establish a PA Agricultural Business Development Center to serve as a resource to assist in business, transition or succession plan creation 2. Create More Processing Capabilities –Support the dairy industry through continued funding of the Dairy Investment Program and Center for Dairy Excellence –Establish Center for Animal Agriculture Excellence to aid poultry, swine, sheep, lamb, goat and rabbit agriculture 3. Remove Regulatory Burdens and Strengthen the State’s Agricultural Business Climate –Incentivize best management practices through a mix of grants, low-interest loans and tax credits 4. Increase Opportunities for Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Workforce –Funding to increase awareness of and exposure to agriculture jobs in the state 5. Protect Agricultural Infrastructure –Creates a Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account to allow for quick response to agricultural disasters 6. Increase Market Opportunities and Make Pennsylvania the Nation’s Leading Organic State –Create state-specific guidelines for marketing Pennsylvania’s organic products to a global marketplace For more information on the proposal contact the PCO office or visit: governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ 021319-farm-bill.pdf Organic Industry Urges USDA to Take Action on Origin of Livestock The Accredited Certifiers Association submitted a cosigned letter, for which PCO was a co-signee, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requesting that the agency issue a final rule pertaining to origin of livestock. A proposed rule was published in April 2015. The USDA never finalized this rule after the open comment period. continued on page 16



Organic Updates continued from page 15

The National Organic Standards Board passed a unanimous resolution at the fall 2018 meeting which “urges the Secretary to directly issue a final rule for Origin of Livestock that incorporates public comments submitted in response to the Proposed Rule (Docket Number AMS-NOP-11-0009).” In addition, the Organic Trade Association’s Dairy Sector Council also delivered a co-signed letter requesting for a final rule based on the proposed rule from 2015 (never finalized) that would ensure uniform application of the organic dairy standards through the nation.

Court Rejects USDA’s Dismissal of Animal Welfare Lawsuit The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia recently ruled that the Organic Trade Association’s case against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for failure to put into effect the organic livestock and poultry practices rule has the legal standing to contest the agency’s withdrawal of the rule. “The court has recognized the harm to organic producers, to organic businesses, and to the integrity of the Organic seal that the USDA’s arbitrary and capricious stance against this important organic standard has already had, and the potential for even greater damage,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “Our case will now advance. We are confident our case is strong and we look forward to winning this legal battle to uphold organic standards.”

Standards & Policy Update Kyla Smith, Interim Co-Executive Director & Certification Director

Grass-fed Certification Update In January 2019, PCO announced that we would be offering the new Organic Plus Trust (OPT) Grass-Fed certification. As you may be aware, the grass-fed industry moved to adopt uniform standards for organic grass-fed products and the OPT certification is a result of this industry movement. PCO is proud to be an accredited certification agency for this new program. Many of our current and new grass-fed producers have taken advantage of this new opportunity and are transitioning to the OPT certification this year. You may already be one of them! As the OPT Grass-Fed certification becomes more popular among grass-fed producers, the need for PCO’s own 100% Grassfed certification has decreased. As a result, PCO will no longer offer the PCO 100% Grassfed certification effective December 31, 2019. Grass-fed producers who wish to continue their grass-fed certification but have not submitted an OPT application will need to do so immediately. As of Janu-



ary 1, 2020, the PCO 100% Grassfed certificate will not be valid; any current PCO certificate issued in the interim will be replaced when the OPT ones become available to PCO staff.

National Organic Standards Board Meeting is Coming to Pittsburgh You’re invited to join PCO in attending the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting, which will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Pittsburgh City Center in Pittsburgh, PA, on October 23–25, 2019. The NOSB is a volunteer board that considers and makes recommendations to the National Organic Program on a wide range of issues involving the production, handling, and processing of organic products. To access the full text of each recommendation and discussion document, contact PCO for hard copies or visit the NOSB website: (tinyurl.com/y365axj6). At the upcoming meeting, the NOSB will be VOTING on: • Whether the following materials should continue to be allowed in organic production and handling: Crop materials: Hydrogen peroxide (disinfectant and fungicide); Ammonium soaps (animal repellant); Horticultural oils (for pest and disease control); Pheromones (for insect management); Ferric phosphate (slug or snail bait); Potassium bicarbonate (for disease control); Magnesium sulfate (nutrient fertilizer); Hydrogen chloride (for delinting cotton seed); Livestock materials: Atropine (medical treatment); Hydrogen peroxide (disinfectant and teat dip); Iodine (disinfectant and teat dip); Magnesium sulfate (medical treatment); Fenbendazole (parasiticide); Moxidectin (parasiticide); Peracetic acid (equipment sanitizer); Xylazine (sedative); Methionine (feed additive for poultry); Trace minerals (feed additive); Vitamins (feed additive) Handling materials: Alginic acid; Citric acid; Lactic acid; Calcium chloride; Dairy cultures; Enzymes; L-Malic acid; Magnesium sulfate; Microorganisms; Perlite (filtering aid); Potassium iodide; Yeast; Activated charcoal (filtering aid); Ascorbic acid; Calcium citrate; Ferrous sulfate; Hydrogen peroxide (sanitizer); Nutrient vitamins and minerals; Peracetic acid (sanitizer); Potassium citrate; Potassium phosphate; Sodium acid pyrophosphate (leavening agent); Sodium citrate; Tocopherols (antioxidant); Celery powder; Fish oil; Gelatin; Orange pulp, dried; Seaweed, Pacific kombu; Seaweed, Wakame seaweed • Whether the following materials should continue to be prohibited in organic production and handling: Crop materials: Ash from manure burning; Sodium fluoaluminate • Whether the following materials should be newly allowed in organic production and handling:


Organic Updates Crop materials: –Fatty Alcohol (C6, C8, C10, C12 Naturally Derived) — to list at §205.601 for use in organic crop production as sucker control on organic tobacco crops –Potassium hypochlorite — to list at §205.601(a)(2) for use in organic crop production as a chlorine material • Proposals on the following topics: Crop topics: Genetic Integrity Transparency of Seed Grown on Organic Land Livestock topics: –Excluded Methods: Induced mutagenesis and embryo transfer in livestock –Use of excluded method vaccines in organic livestock production Other topics: –NOSB Research Priorities 2019 –Updates to the policy & procedure manual (PPM) • The NOSB will also be discussing, but not voting on, the following topics: Crop topics: –Paper (plant pots and other crop production aids) Livestock topics: –Fenbendazole — petitioned for use as a parasiticide in organic poultry production

New Faces Lauren Lewis, Certification Specialist Lauren joined PCO as a Program Assistant in December 2018 and became a Certification Specialist in October 2019. She has a B.S. in Biology from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, and an M.S. in Biology from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. Lauren currently resides in State College with her husband and three pets. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and running with her dog, volunteering at Centre County PAWS, and reading library books.

Marlin Martin, Certification Specialist Marlin joined the PCO team as a Certification Specialist in September 2019. He has a B.S. in Food Science and Technology from Oregon State University. Prior to starting with PCO he worked for several years with Oregon Tilth Certified Organic in their Certification Program with a focus on Processors and Handlers. Marlin is a native Oregonian, growing up in a suburb of Portland. He now lives in the central Willamette Valley outside the city of Eugene with his wife, Claire, border collie mix Zeke, and cat Evie. Outside of work, Marlin enjoys gardening, hiking, cooking, sewing, gaming and painting miniature figurines for table-top RPG’s.




New Members PCO Welcomes 3rd Quarter New Members!

Little Iowa LLC Sinclairville, NY

Reuben Zimmerman Penn Yan, NY

Matthew Horst Farm Stanley, NY

Robert Martin Beaver Springs, PA

Matthew Shaffer Sunbury, PA

Samuel F. Lapp Allenwood, PA


David S. Mast Fort Plain, NY

Jack Coates Farm Wyalusing, PA

Meadow Valley Farm Holland Patent, NY

Samuel Glick Dornsife, PA

Associated Production Services, Inc. Ivyland, PA

DK America Food Corp. Pilesgrove, NJ

James Stelfox Spring Grove, PA

Meadow View Farm Spring Run, PA

Shaffer Farms Sunbury, PA

Edwin Sensenig Quarryville, PA

Jason Nolt Lewisburg, PA

Melvin Esh Kirkwood, PA

Ehstview Dairy Richfield Springs, NY

Joe Miller Reynoldsville, PA

Michael L. Fisher Millersburg, PA

Elam M. Stoltzfus Copenhagen, NY

John L. Lapp Spring Glen, PA

Natural Hope Herb Farm, LLC Dornsife, PA

Stanley Shirk Telford, PA

Elmer King Quarryville, PA

Jon Clemens Kreamer, PA

New Day Farm, LLC Gettysburg, PA

Steve’s Paleo Goods Pennsauken, NJ

Elon Zimmerman Farm Bangor, NY

Jonas Ebersol Strasburg, PA

Owen’s Farm Plainfield, NY

Steven Glick Dornsife, PA

Faith Farms LLC Moravia, NY

Joseph S. Hoover Narvon, PA

Sue Reisinger Fredericksburg, PA

Fake Farm Organic Windsor, PA

Kenton Wenger Bernville, PA

Paul Dotterer & Sons, Inc. Mill Hall, PA

Ballentine Farms Honesdale, PA Benuel King Dornsife, PA Blue Moon Acres Buckingham, PA Byers Family Farms Somerset, PA Cedar Dream Farm Peach Bottom, PA Clinton S. Sauder Branchport, NY Coblentz Farm Cincinnatus, NY Craig High Scott City, KS Daniel Allgyer Mill Hall, PA Daniel G. Stotlzfus Loganton, PA Daniel L. Glick Dornsife, PA

Farrow Farm Earlville, NY Flintroad Farms Fredericksburg, PA French’s Hybrids Inc. Wakeman, OH G & A Bixler Farm LLC Hegins, PA Galen Martin Greencastle, PA

Dannie D. and Fannie S. Gingerich Jasper, NY

Hall Street Storage Brooklyn, NY

David S. Burkholder Penn Yan, NY

Hopco Farm Services LLC. Oxford, PA

Organic Workshop: Birds on Grass continued from page 2

The housing used for each group depends on the physical characteristics of the birds and their needs, although the housing units were all designed to ensure the birds have access to clean water, freshly milled feed, ample grit, shade, and fresh air. The importance of grit for feed conversion, as well as the importance of a continuous supply of clean water for productivity and livestock health, was stressed. They choose their housing designs specifically to create environments that prevent healthcare issues and allow for caretaking efficiencies, which leads to cost savings on labor and allows for greater production levels. An interesting feature for the broiler housing is a mister set up that is designed to reduce heat stress; two lines



Kline’s Hillside Chambersburg, PA

Penn View Spring Mills, PA

Who Cooks For You Farm New Bethlehem, PA Windy Flats Farm Lowville, NY Winterstein Farms LLC Sudlersville, MD Wood Farm III LLC Ridgely, MD GRASSFED

Shertzer’s Organic Farm Washington Boro, PA Smucker Farms, Inc. Bird in Hand, PA

Ehstview Dairy Richfield Springs, NY Faith Farms LLC Moravia, NY John P. Scanlon Little Falls, NY Sunrise Valley Farm Christiana, PA BUSINESS

Sunnyhill Farm Belleville, PA

Chargrow USA Asheville, NC Mushroom Central Supply Toughkenamon, PA

Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs (home farm) Monroe, NH

Susqua-Valley Farm — Matthew L. Heisey & Daniel L. Heisey Washington Boro, PA

Lamar Ruppert Fredericksburg, PA

Pete & Gerry’s Organics LLC (River Valley Farm) Monroe, NH

Thaddeus McQuaide Saltsburg, PA

Aurora Organic Dairy Boulder, CO

Larry & Bonnie Flook Needmoore, PA

Phares K. Newswanger Kutztown, PA

Titus Wenger Hammondsport, NY

IBA, Inc. Milbury, MA

Laverne Oberholtzer Fredericksburg, PA

Pleasant Pond Farm Canastota, NY

Tom Giovagnoli Boscawen, NH

John Fraser Ligonier, PA

Lehigh Valley Meats Nazareth, PA

Pocono Organics LLC Long Pond, PA

Wendell Hursh Williamsburg, PA


Randall Wenger Bernville, PA

West Ridge Farm Weyers Cave, VA

Harry Jones Allenwood, PA

Lamar Brubacker Fredericksburg, PA

Linford Miller Wooster, OH

of low pressure misters ran the length of building at spacing that allows the birds to avoid or seek out the water. Both the broiler and heritage breed turkey housing used shade cloth as an extra layer of temperature protection, while the layers’ mobile coops are raised high enough to allow them to take shelter underneath while they’re ranging in the pasture. When managing several types of poultry on pasture, biosecurity and disease prevention are an important aspect of grazing management and organic certification. Biosecurity precautions were taken with attendees who work with or own flocks — including parking their vehicles away from poultry management facilities and wearing protective gear, like boot covers. This spring, and continuing into the fall, has seen several infectious disease outbreaks with poultry flocks and these types of precautions can


go a long way towards reducing transmission of diseases that travel on equipment, supplies and clothing. Haney also mentioned that they take measures with grazing timing and species separation to reduce issues with disease. For example, the layers follow the beef herd to take advantage of the clipped pastures, and pastures have a minimum of 30 days between layers leaving a pasture and beef being reintroduced. At Carversville Farm Foundation, putting birds on grass is a healthy part of a grazing rotation that produces certified organic eggs and meat. More information about Carversville can be found at carversvillefarm.org and you can learn about PASA CRAFT events at pasafarming.org. According to a running tally on the Carversville website, they’ve donated 37,016 dozen eggs and 25,308 pounds of meat since 2015.



paorganic.org www.paorganic.org




OCTOBER OCTOBER 21 Building your Farm Team to Build Healthier Soil 9:00am-12:00 pm EST Soul Fire Farm Petersburg, NY nofany.org 315-988-4000 OCTOBER 23–25 National Organic Standards Board Meeting DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Pittsburgh City Center Pittsburgh, PA Ams.usda.gov 202-720-0081 OCTOBER 31 Deadline for cost share application Check your local USDA for submission requirements paorganic.org/cost-share For info on PA Cost Share: 717-787-5319



NOVEMBER NOVEMBER 6 Webinar: Vegetable Production and Soil Health, Updates on Rodale Institute’s Vegetable Systems Trial 2:00-3:00 pm EST Rodaleinstitute.org 610-683-1400 NOVEMBER 7–8 Northeast Cover Crop Council Conference College Park, MD pasafarming.org 814-349-9856 NOVEMBER 7–8 Organic Farming Conference Mt. Hope Event Center Mt. Hope, OH Organicfarmingconf.com 330-674-1892 NOVEMBER 11 Webinar: All About Diversified Vegetable Apprenticeship 1:00-3:00 pm EST Pasafarming.org 814-349-9856 x 710

NOVEMBER 13 Strategies for Successful Selling: Social Media & E-Commerce 9:00am-12:00pm EST Butler, PA Pasafarming.org 814-349-9856 x 710 NOVEMBER 14 Marketing Grass-Fed Milk & Meat 10:00 am–3:00 pm EST Beaver Falls, PA Pasafarming.org 814-349-9856 x 709 NOVEMBER 18 Produce Safety Alliance: Food Safety Training 9:00am-4:30pm EST Edinboro, PA Pasafarming.org 814-349-9856 x 710 NOVEMBER 28-29 Thanksgiving Holiday PCO Office Closed Spring Mills, PA


DECEMBER DECEMBER 3 Women in Dairy Conference Best Western Premier Hotel Harrisburg, PA Extension.psu.edu 877-345-0691 DECEMBER 6–7 Advanced Farmer Gathering: Collaborating to Improve Your Workforce & Your Soil Harrisburg Area Community College Harrisburg, PA Pasafarming.org 814-349-9856 DECEMBER 9–12 ACRES Eco-Ag Conference & Trade Show Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, MN Acresusa.com 800-355-5313 DECEMBER 11 Webinar: Organic Management Options for Allium Leafminer Pest in Onion 2:00-3:00 EST Rodaleinstitute.org 610-683-1400


DECEMBER 17 Webinar: Solutions for the Striped Cucumber Beetle 11:30am-12:30pm EST Rodaleinstitute.org 610-683-1400 DECEMBER 18 Pennsylvania Women’s Agricultural etwork Annual Symposium — Growing Rural Urban Perspectives Temple University Howard Gittis Student Center Philadelphia, PA agsci.psu.edu/wagn/events 814-865-7031 DECEMBER 19 Food Safety Modernization Act: roduce Growers Certification Training 8:00am-4:30pm EST Morrison’s Cove Memorial Park Martinsburg, PA Extension.psu.edu 877—345-0691 SPECIAL NOTE: December 24-January 1 PCO Office will be closed between the Christmas and New Year Holidays. Spring Mills, PA

JANUARY JANUARY 4–11 Pennsylvania Farm Show Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center Harrisburg, PA Farmshow.pa.gov 717-787-2905 JANUARY 7–9 Keystone Farm Show York Fairgrounds York, PA Keystonefarmshow.com 800-218-5586 JANUARY 21 Diversifying the Dairy: From Silvopasture to Market Quarryville, PA Pasafarming.org 814-349-9856 x709








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