Transforming Agriculture in Pennsylvania

For 20 years, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) has worked to transform agriculture and food systems in Pennsylvania and beyond. Established in 1992, PASA grew out of the need for an educational and support system for farmers interested in non-conventional agricultural practices, as well as the desire to create local markets for sustainably produced food.

PASA is now the largest statewide, member-based farming organization in the United States, with more than 6,000 members, all dedicated to the mission of promoting profitable farms that produce healthy food for all people, while respecting the natural environment.

According to community outreach coordinator Hannah Smith, PASA programming is rooted in education, support and outreach—from small community meetings and workshops to coordination of the Buy Fresh Buy Local program, which promotes local businesses and farms and helps consumers find, choose and appreciate local foods.

Numerous Farm-Based Education events are held each year, including a Farming for the Future conference and a full season of Field Days and master classes on sustainable farming methods. Smith says the programs offer insight into real-life agricultural operations and gives both new and seasoned farmers a chance to learn from and support each other. “It is a great way to get together and discuss new and innovative ways that we can help each other move into the next generation,” she notes.

Recognizing that farming extends beyond the fields, PASA established the Good Food Neighborhood community outreach program, so that consumers, farmers, businesses and organizations can network around local foods and sustainable food systems. This community of people provides a vital voice to the local foods movement.

Smith says PASA considers it a responsibility to be at the forefront of the sustainable food movement, and therefore, the group will continue its quest to ensure that our food system is reliable for generations to come.

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