Sodexo brings the table to farm
5th annual Farm-to-Table Dinner & Auction for The Seed Farm
Emmaus, Pennsylvania (October 28, 2015) - Chef Jon Middleton and his team from Grow Lehigh Valley (Grow LV) by Sodexo did it again for the second year in a row… hors d'oeuvres and three mouth-watering courses featuring the bounty of local farms. Prepared out on a farm, no less!
Grow LV is a consortium of Sodexo culinary teams in the Lehigh Valley sourcing fresh, local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients to serve guests and partners at DeSales University, Lehigh University, Moravian College, Muhlenberg College, Northampton Community College and Lehigh Valley Health Network.
This year's Farm to Table dinner featured Chef Nicholas Elmi, owner of Laurel Restaurant and winner of season 11 of Bravo's Top Chef, along with the team of chefs from GrowLV by Sodexo.
Over 150 influential movers and shakers of local sourcing and foodies in the Greater Lehigh Valley were in attendance for the dinner and auction benefiting The Seed Farm, an organization which provides new farmers with valuable, practical experience and skills on its training farm; as well as the opportunity to launch sustainable farm businesses in Emmaus, PA.
The mission of GrowLV is to enrich the quality of life in the community by connecting with the traditions of local agriculture. The organization supports local farms and educates its clients and customers on the benefits of nutritionally dense food that is good for both people and the environment.
Photographs from the event can be viewed here.
For more information, contact Todd Snyder, District Manager, Sodexo Campus Services, firstname.lastname@example.org, 610 217 5378.
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Warm summer greetings!
Enterprise Farmer Mark Nuneviller and his daughter Elizabeth in front of a Nuneviller Farm high tunnel.
It's high season at The Seed Farm. Our apprentices are busy in the fields, harvesting, planting cover crop, and learning valuable lessons in weed and soil management. They're also devoting time to tractor and equipment training, as well as selling produce to restaurants and individuals across the Lehigh Valley. Our incubator farmers, meanwhile, are balancing production and marketing demands on their farms, and even making media appearances.
And while it may feel like the farming season has barely begun, it is already time to start formulating farming plans for next year and working on preliminary business plans! Within the next month, The Seed Farm will begin accepting applications for the 2016 season of our new farmer training program and farm business incubator...
[Please click here to read the rest of our summer newsletter]
On May 20, 2014, The Seed Farm hosted, Penn State Extension's “Introduction to Organic Vegetable Production.” With the assistance of instructors Sara Runkel and Becca Munro, participants had the opportunity to use different push seeders, learn how to hand-transplant more efficiently, and trial the water-wheel transplanter. The class learned about the advantages and disadvantages of the different equipment, discussed the efficiencies of mechanical planting techniques and how to implement such efficiencies into a farming system. Participants had the opportunity to trial 6 different push-seeders and observe 2 mechanical transplanters. The hands-on experience and training is, “indispensable” said many of the participants, teaching them how to improve their seeding and transplanting techniques and allowing them to make informed decisions when investing in equipment.
The Introduction to Organic Vegetable Production course is a multi-session series lead by extension instructor Tianna Dupont. The course introduces aspiring and new vegetable producers to diverse production strategies and provides a framework for effective farm production planning. Please visit the extension.psu.edu/start-farming for more information.
In early April, when the season's first seedlings were just starting to peek out of the soil in the greenhouse, The Seed Farm welcomed Muhlenberg College Environmental Science students to the farm for a lesson and tour.
The students spent time with Farm Steward Emma Cunniff, who just launched Kneehigh Farm on our site this spring. Fresh out of college herself, Emma is in a unique position to talk with students about the challenges and opportunities that young farmers face.
They also toured the still-quiet fields with Farm Manager/Educator Becca Munro. Students had a chance to ask questions and discuss with Becca the principles of sustainable farming, including the importance of cover crops, pest management and soil health.
"We talk pretty extensively about agriculture in class - so seeing it first hand, locally, was very exciting for them," said professor Karen Tuerk. "The students were captivated. 'Best trip ever!' was expressed by more than one."
The Seed Farm welcomes groups of students to the farm at any time of year. More information about scheduling a tour for your students can be found here.
The Seed Farm apprentices joined other enthusiastic new farmers to learn about greenhouse management at Eagle Point Farm in Kutztown PA this week. They learned about how important it is to moderate temperature and moisture to keep plants healthy, techniques for seeding and transplanting and how to make a good organic potting mix. This was their first farm visit as part of Penn State Extension's Introduction to Organic Vegetable Production. Thank you to Seed Farm Board members Steve and Gayle for hosting!
Seed Farm apprentice Renee Lang says that Exploring the Small Farm Dream “helped me to understand some of the specific administrative tasks associated with farming as well as the farm skills themselves. It's a structured way to assess the different skills needed to run an agriculture business.”
This Penn State Extension course and two others (Introduction to Organic Vegetable Production and Vegetable Business Planner) are part of The Seed Farm's 600-hour new farmer training program. Please visit Penn State Extension's blog to read more about Exploring the Small Farm Dream.
Seed Farm Apprentices graduated from the Penn State’s Vegetable Business Planner with complete farm plans this winter and are busy planning for farm start-up in 2014.
Farming is a complicated career. Experts say successful farmers have to be highly skilled in sixteen areas from business, accounting and marketing, to horticulture, and mechanics. During the season apprentices honed their practical skills through hours in the field, on the tractor and at the market. Then it was time for the books! “This winter we sat down with apprentices to take them through critical business and planning aspects of farming,” explained Penn State Extension instructor Tianna DuPont. Visiting instructors from Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit and Phil Baker insurance helped them through the process of thinking about their financing options and how to manage risk. Students discussed the potential markets in the area and analyzed how to zero in on their ideal customer. “Classes are ripe with discussion. Each week participants present a small part of their farm plan and get input from their peers to improve it,” says DuPont.
The Vegetable Business Planner Class was the culminating step for the year, bringing together knowledge hard earned throughout the season as apprentices managed their crop projects, practiced their skills on the farm, learned to run equipment and visited new farms in the area. But boy is it great to see it all in one place!
“I am proud to have produced this farm plan which is entirely my own, and I am very excited to implement it next year. When I first started farming I had no idea I would be planning my own farm after only three years, and I want to thank everyone at the Seed Farm for completely exceeding my expectations with the program and myself.” Tyler McCullough
“Before the 2013 season began, I completed an assessment of my competence in areas related to small-scale vegetable production. I was surprised at how little I knew, despite four years of previous farming experience. Having completed the season, I feel immense gratitude, as well as pride, at all I have experienced and retained. I am now proficient in tractor operation, irrigation management, production management, greenhouse propagation, market management, and financial planning. By working in an environment where education and hands-on experience are the priority, I have gathered countless insights and skills that will continue to influence my farm practice.” Emma Cunnif
Date: March 12, 19, 26 and April 2 2014
Time: 6:15 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
Location: Lehigh County Agriculture Center
4184 Dorney Park Rd
Allentown, PA 18104
Are you considering launching a small farm enterprise, but are not sure where to start? This is the course for you! “Exploring the Small Farm Dream” bridges the gap between ideas and action by guiding you through an exploratory decision making process. It is geared towards career changers and farm newbies who what to break into agricultural pursuits, as well as farm apprentices interested in launching their own farm business start-ups.
The Explorer course takes a learner-centered approach to exploring agriculture as a career. As a participant in the course, you will be guided through an in depth self-assessment process, designed to help you identify the specific aptitudes, interests, skills and resources that you can bring to your new farm business. You will receive support through the process of researching opportunities in agriculture. And you will meet other serious gardeners, livestock enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs who are also asking themselves, “is farming right for me?”
Expect creative exercises, research, and class discussions that will help you assess your skills and resources. You will interview local farm-business owners that will assist you in deciding how to carry your dream forward.
Included in your registration is “Exploring the Small Farm Dream” a workbook developed by the New England Small Farm Institute, twelve hours of detailed instruction and class exercises led by Extension Educators and successful, local farmers, and supplemental handouts and literature. Refreshments provided at each session.
To register visit http://extension.psu.edu/