26 Acre Dense Suburban Farm- Pennypack Farm and Education Center

I visited with Andy Andrews from Pennypack Farm and Education Center in the Philadelphia Suburbs. Andy has done a great job of growing the farm over the past 8 years.

Here’s the Pennypack story in their own words:

Pennypack Farm grew from the commitment of a handful of citizens who responded to a letter in a local newspaper (Ambler Gazette, April 2000) suggesting the formation of a community farm for the purpose of accessing fresh, local, organic produce and preserving land within our watershed. Initial dialogues among these committed citizens grew into a vision and a plan for action.

Our Land Host:

In 2001, the Natural Lands Trust suggested that we contact The College Settlement of Philadelphia who own the largest tract of open space in Eastern Montgomery County. The Board of this nonprofit camp had recently completed a land study and was looking for a way to have community based farming on a plot of 27 acres on Mann Road in Horsham. The partnership between us grew. and in 2003 we signed a lease that formalized our intent to farm their land using organic practices and provide farm-based programming for their summer camps and Outdoor School.

The Farm: 2003

The organization gradually took shape over the next two years, finally culminating in early 2003 with the formation of an 11-member Board of Directors, the signing of a lease for land to grow crops, the hiring of a farm manager and assistant, and receiving official charter as a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit corporation.Photo 2003 - Signing the Lease

In spring 2003 we broke ground, and with the generous help of donors and volunteers we built the infrastructure necessary to launch a working CSA demonstration farm. Opening Day at Pennypack Farm CSA was celebrated publicly on June 1, 2003.  For a more detailed history: http://newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org/columns/CSA_notebook/2003/0503/pennypack.shtml

Brian Snyder- Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture

Recently I traveled to State College, Pa for a visit with Brian Snyder. Brian is the Executive Director of The Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture. This “trade association”, focuses on education and advocacy. PASA represents the local, sustainable agricultural movement. It is probably the strongest and largest group of it’s sort in the United States. It is unique because it is primarily funded through member support.

Brian is the driving force behind this organization. He has a thoughtful approach to his points a view. He wields much influence within Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry, the Mid- Atlantic and beyond. I consider it an honor that he took time to talk with me. Thank you Brian.

PASA holds an annual Farming for the Future Conference that is really quite spectacular. This year’s 3 day event, held at The Penn Stater Conference Center in State College, PA will be it’s 23rd. The conference is attended by farmers, friends of farmers and folks in the farming industry. It is loaded with educational seminars about sustainable agriculture. The conference is a winter tradition for many east coast farmers and is typically attended by folks from all over the country and in fact the globe. Attendance is in the thousands.

Over my business career I’ve had the opportunity to go to some powerful conventions including The National Hardware and Home improvement Show, once the largest show in the USA, The National Kitchen And Bath Show, numerous Wholesale lawn and garden shows, Electronics shows and more. I can unequivocally say that the positive vibe and approachable nature of this convention is at the top of it’s class. Quite frankly, it’s really cool.

I am not being compensated for this in any way yet I must say if you are interested or involved in the local food movement, sustainable agriculture in general or even just a proponent of simple living YOU SHOULD GO to the PASA winter conference.

Mike Traud -Drexel University Culinary Arts Program

Mike Traud is an educator/administrator within the Culinary Arts and Hospitality program at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa. The Drexel Hospitality program, which includes the Culinary Arts program is reenergizing itself by bringing on a faculty with high end dinning and business experience.

Mike and I had a meandering conversation about Drexel, the restaurant industry in general and you. Yup all you eaters out there.

What strikes me pretty hard about this conversation is the similarities between the farming industry and the restaurant industry. Remember, my wife and I operate a small certified organic vegetable farm so I know a little about farming. While obvioulsy they both involve food you’re going to also hear about long work hours, low wages, doing a thing for the love of it, and demanding customers all of which happen to be hallmarks of the farming business too.

I have a brand new Facebook page and Twitter account so please like and follow JACK’S FARM RADIO. Thank you for the ratings and the comments on iTunes. They really make a podcaster feel good. And quite frankly motivate me. So keep doing it. Thanks once again to Tin Bird Choir for the intro and outro music.