UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Beginning farmers who need to enhance their knowledge about organic vegetable production, ecological plant-disease management and soil basics will find useful information in a new series of fact sheets offered by Penn State Extension.
The series of 10 fact sheets is part of the Start Farming program, led by Tianna DuPont, sustainable agriculture Extension educator.
“The new Start Farming vegetable-grower fact sheets are designed to compliment on-farm learning experience with research-based information, farmer case studies and production basics,” said DuPont, lead author of the series.
“We found that about 80 percent of the new vegetable growers we work with are interested in organic and ecological techniques, so we partnered with Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences researchers, Pennsylvania Certified Organic and local farmers to compile this information.”
With the average age of farmers in Pennsylvania at 57 and many farmers retiring, it is important to support farm startup, DuPont said. Penn State recently has offered more than 50 workshops and courses for new farmers through the Start Farming program.
“With more than 1,300 new and aspiring participants in just three years of this pilot project, there is no lack of potential new farmers,” she said. “I hope this is an additional set of tools that will help new farmers get started.”
Fact sheet topics include seed and seedling biology; potting media and plant propagation; planning a crop rotation; plant disease basics; diagnosing a plant problem; ecological disease management; creating a weed-management plan; selecting the right seeding and transplanting strategies; soil quality; and managing soils.
DuPont said some of the fact sheets also may be of interest to home gardeners.
The fact sheets are available online at http://extension.psu.edu/start-farming under the “Vegetables” and “Soils” menus.
Single printed copies can be obtained free by Pennsylvania residents through county Penn State Extension offices, or by contacting the College of Agricultural Sciences Publications Distribution Center at 814-865-6713 or by email at AgPubsDist<\@>psu.edu.
This series was made possible through grant funding from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
DuPont said she and her colleagues welcome ideas for additional fact sheets. Those with suggestions for future topics can contact her at tdupont<\@>psu.edu.