October 13, 2011 —
WAYNE COUNTY, PA — A new network and online hub—Wayne County Grown (WCG)—will soon become available to those interested in seeing sustainable agriculture thrive in the region. The initiative aims to integrate regional farms, markets, businesses and sustainability organizations with individuals, schools and communities in Wayne County and the Northeast region.
The Northeast PA group of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) has spawned the grant-funded effort and is finalizing the new website (www.waynecountygrown.org ) in hopes that it will become a key resource for those seeking information on what’s happening at the four markets that serve Wayne County. Viewers will also be able to learn about Wayne County farms and farmers and find recipes that utilize the fresh produce that can be obtained at the markets.
Information on topics such as community supported agriculture, planning meals around local produce and how to purchase large cuts of meat will be offered. The site will integrate social media, PASA events and workshops, as well as news about community projects and opportunities to get involved.
Organizers Bill Templeton, Amanda Sue Avery and Sue Klikus initiated the effort in response to their increasing concerns over the “exodus” of young farmers leaving Wayne County. “Amanda said the community needed a grassroots infusion of a youth-based agriculture program in the county,” said Templeton. So the trio got to work looking for ways to connect students, farmers, artists, businesses and more.
They reached out to Honesdale High School and were assisted by graphic design instructor Stacy Stone, who helped students create designs for a new logo and T-shirt. Now field trips to Wayne County farms are being organized to educate students about sustainable farming.
Focus has also been placed on establishing the online network to provide useful resources to new and established farmers to improve the sustainability of their operations by expanding markets and production. Efficient distribution, cooperative buying and adjusting to meet demand have been identified as some of the biggest hurdles small farmers face when looking to sell direct-to-market or locally. WCG aims to provide support in these areas as well.
Templeton described WCG as an information aggregator allowing farmers, businesses, restaurants and consumers to connect in a format that makes it easy to find resources, discover markets and share ideas. Another such resource with a focus on the Upper Delaware region can be accessed at www.shoplocalsaveland.com .
“We can’t afford to lose more farmers,” said Templeton. “We need to do everything we can to keep our young farmers here. This is about building a strong resilient community engaged in local sustainable food production.”
The Northeast PA group meets from September to June on the first Thursday of the month to discuss issues related to farming and food. The meetings usually feature a speaker and discussion. For more information contact Templeton at Billy@pasafarming.org . Learn more about PASA at www.pasafarming.org .