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Press Release for December 13, 14, 2016 Growing Pennsylvania Organic Farms -Focus on Growing Organic

Posted 12/5/2016 3:47pm by Bill Oyler, Mary Ann Oyler, Sara Baldwin, Jacob Oyler, Katrina Oyler.

December 13, 14, 2016 Growing Pennsylvania Organic Farms -Focus on Growing Organic Fruit   One of the primary themes of the conference is growing organic fruit.  The PA and the Mid-Atlantic region is an ideal area to grow organic fruit due to a long history of fruit growing, fertile soil, abundant rainfall and a wide diversity of plants to support beneficial insects that suppress pest problems.  The region is also located near several large population centers providing the opportunity for local fruit sales at farmer’s markets and other market outlets. Come to the conference to hear the following speakers.   Jim Travis who has experience as a university fruit specialist and is growing organic fruit on his own farm will discuss how to begin a new organic fruit planting or transition an existing planting.  He will discuss the best fruit varieties to successfully grow organic fruit.  He will also review organic practices that are effective in managing fruit insects and diseases for the beginner fruit grower.   Mike Hagan is a fruit grower from Maryland.  He grows a range of fruit crops to sell at his local farmer’s market.  Mike will discuss his experiences growing fruit including both his successes and mistakes.  He will also provide the steps he took recently to get USDA organic certification for his farm.   Ms. Katrina Hill of Oyler’s Organic Fruit Farms and Market will provide her experiences in marketing several organic fruit crops through multiple market outlets.  She will also discuss how she was able to receive two organic marketing grants.   Art Metzger is an organic fruit grower from northern PA who will wrap up the organic fruit growing session.  Art will discuss the unique challenges of growing fruit in the northern part of the state and provide a discussion of his experience selling his fruit at local markets.  There will be an opportunity for questions and answers at the end of the session.   A special 2-hour sessions will feature Steve Groff, a local farmer and cover crop specialist who will discuss the best cover crop options in fruit plantings.  He will utilize his many years of experience in researching and planting cover crops on farms to provide fruit farmers with the best cover crop options.   The final fruit session of the conference will feature Dr. Greg Krawcyzk, fruit entomologist from Penn State University will present an in-depth discussion of pest insect problems that occur on fruit crops in PA and the Mid-Atlantic region.  He will also outline organic insect control materials and their best use to limit damage on fruit crops.  

Beneficial insects that can be managed to suppress pest insects will be reviewed with specific examples. The intent of this conference is to annually support Northeast and Mid-Atlantic organic farms with information and discussion on the best available organic farming practices. The conference is a collaboration of private, public and government agencies: PA Dept. of Agriculture, Rodale Institute, PA Certified Organic (PCO), Organic Valley Dairy, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), USDA Certified organic farmers, Consumer Advocacy Groups and PA Farm Link.   Growing Pennsylvania’s Organic Farms is held on December 13 - 14, 2016 and you can register online http://www.gpofconference.org/registration/  or by phone by contacting Michele Brookins at 717-787-5319 or mbrookins@pa.gov to register email.  A Student receives $50 off the registration, and they must show student ID when they sign in at the conference.  Lodging is at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel, 4650 Lindle Road, Harrisburg, PA 17111, To register lodging by phone, 717-564-5511 or online http://www.gpofconference.org/location/.  GPOF has a new facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/GrowingPAOrganicFarms/    The website is : http://www.gpofconference.org/