MILLHEIM, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture has announced the 2018 recipients of its PASAbilities Award, which honors businesses and individuals making meaningful contributions to sustainable agriculture in the state and beyond.
This year’s recipients are The Family Cow in Franklin County and farmer-educator Lyn Garling from Centre County.
The awards will be presented at PASA’s 27th annual Farming for the Future Conference, to be held Feb. 7-10 in State College.
Located just outside of Chambersburg, The Family Cow is as much a community as it is a business or farm.
The beginnings of what today is a growing, diverse, multifamily farm enterprise lie in what was once a small, historic Pennsylvania dairy looking to respond to market forces and consumer demands.
It all began by putting the cows out on pasture, and beginning to work with the land as a steward, through managed grazing techniques.
Raw milk sales eventually gave rise to egg requests, which gave rise to customers interested in whole chickens and later pork.
As farm operators worked to increase the diversity of their products, not only did their agricultural ecosystem diversify but the diversity of their social community grew, too.
When the farm ran out of land, a neighbor volunteered to raise the hogs, and another asked to bring honey into the business.
Eventually, bakers, fishermen, kefir and kombucha brewers, and others joined in, creating a farm enterprise knitting together not just one family, but an entire community, and serving hundreds of families across Pennsylvania and beyond.
The Family Cow is an example of a business that has realized the triple bottom line — enriching both social and ecological communities while maintaining profitability.
Garling, the second award recipient, began her love affair with agriculture in college, working on an 80-cow, 800-acre dairy farm in Colorado while earning a bachelor’s degree in zoology.
She later earned her master’s degree in Connecticut and spent time in California, as well, coordinating the apprenticeship in ecological horticulture at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Garling has traveled widely, teaching ecology in Nicaragua and conducting biological studies in Costa Rica and Mexico.
It is in Pennsylvania, however, where she has set down her roots. An entomologist by profession, with a fierce passion for the insect world, ecological literacy and human justice, Garling spent decades as the program manager for the Pennsylvania integrated pest management program at Penn State.
She is widely known for not only helping growers at all scales understand and manage pests on their operations but also for her outreach to inner city residents at risk from exposure to toxic pesticides.
Garling has also worked as an independent organic inspector for Pennsylvania Certified Organic, and served several terms on PASA’s board of directors.
She is a founding member of the Women’s Agriculture Network, also known as WAgN, and for the past 20 years has been an owner and operator of Over the Moon Farm in Centre County, specializing in organic hay, broilers, hogs and turkeys.
Pre-registration for the 2018 Farming for the Future Conference is open through Jan. 30. Walk-in registrations at a higher rate are also permitted.
For more information or to register, visit pasafarming.org/conference or call 814-349-9856.