Farm Team Shares Info on Natural Agriculture at Annual PASA Conference in Lancaster

by 
Nina Berryman, Weavers Way Farm Manager
Photo by Lauren Todd
Weavers Way farmer Alessandro Ascherio presenting in a breakout group at PASA.

Every February, part of the farm team attends the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) Conference, which relocated from State College to Lancaster last year. This year we didn’t just attend, we presented! 

Our workshop, “Experiments in Natural Agriculture for Small-Scale Mixed Vegetable Farms” had us co-presenting with Sankofa Community Farm Co-Director Chris Bolden-Newsome from Bartram’s Garden in Southwest Philly. Together we spoke about growing food for our communities in sustainable and ecological ways. We shared our respective experiences reducing carbon-based labor on our farms through the use of no-till farming techniques. Our presentation included details of our growing practices and some of the obstacles and successes we’ve encountered. 

We detailed our transition from using the tractor to prepare our beds to using tarps; from using one-time use plastic mulch to using leaf mulch; and from physically removing entire plants (after a crop is finished) to leaving the roots in the ground to feed the soil ecosystem. We were delighted that around 50 people attended the workshop.

This is the first year that Weavers Way has presented at this conference, which boasted over 2,000 attendees this year and over 130 workshops, all focused on the many different facets of sustainable agriculture. 

Prior to our workshop, which took place the last day of the conference, we listened to other presenters and gained knowledge and inspiration on a wide range of topics, including soil microbiology, farm budgeting, farm design and racism in the food system. We were grateful for the opportunity to share our farming experiences with other attendees and learn from others in return.