PASA Announces Leadership Award Winners

1/23/2013

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) announced the winners of its Sustainable Ag Leader Award and Sustainable Ag Business Leadership Award, Becky and Don Kretschmann of Kretschmann Farm and Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative, respectively. The awards will be presented as part of the PASAbilities Leadership Award Series, sponsored by Kimberton Whole Foods, at PASA's 22nd Annual Farming for the Future Conference. The event will be held February 6-9, 2013, at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, Pa., featuring the theme, Starting Fresh, Starting Local, Starting Now.

"PASA is proud to present these awards to those who exemplify the spirit of sustainability in agriculture and food systems," says Brian Snyder, PASA's executive director. "This year's honorees demonstrate the power of innovation in our movement, designing systems to bring high-quality food to average people in ways that keep family farms viable."

Becky and Don Kretschmann of Kretschmann Farm in Rochester, Pa. (Beaver County), winners of the Sustainable Ag Leadership Award, have been providing Pittsburgh-area customers with organically grown produce and fruits since 1972.

Recently Don Kretschmann unearthed an old newspaper article about the farm (circa 1977). It quoted a local county extension agent saying that the Kretschmanns were doing this "organic something," but that it would never be commercially successful. "It is amazing to look back and see how far organic agriculture has come," says Kretschmann.

"Becky and I feel our entire lives have been devoted to proving organic agriculture could thrive. It is gratifying to be honored with this award from PASA," he says. Their current 80-acre farm supports a 1,300-member community-supported agriculture (CSA) operation.

Jeff Taylor, general manager of the Tuscarora Organic Growers (TOG) Cooperative located in Hustontown (Fulton County), will accept the Sustainable Ag Business Leader Award on behalf of the company.

TOG began in 1998 when a group of neighboring organic fruit and vegetable farmers discussed the possibility of joining forces in the marketing of their products. By working together, they could coordinate crop production to complement one another, rather than compete. And they could enjoy economies of scale in shipping and selling. The business is owned by the farmers it serves.

Taylor says, "We are really honored to be receiving this award from PASA. We hope to have several of our 44 cooperative growers in attendance at the conference as well."

Each successive season at TOG has brought steady growth in sales, as well as diversity, season length and professionalism. The cooperative serves the Washington, D.C., metro area, as well as other mid-Atlantic markets.

The award winners will have the opportunity to further share their stories as they address a plenary session at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, February 9, during the PASAbilities Leadership Award Series. They will be joined by main plenary speaker, Ben Hewitt, author of "The Town that Food Saved," "Making Supper Safe" and the upcoming book, "SAVED: How to Break the Spell of Money, Live Well, and Change the World."

PASA extends special thanks to PASAbilities Leadership Award Series Sponsor Kimberton Whole Foods. Kimberton Whole Foods is a past PASAbilities Sustainable Ag Business Award recipient. Their dedication to sustainability and community involvement has had a tremendous impact on the foodshed.

PASA also thanks opening keynote sponsor Lady Moon Farms for their support of these portions of the conference programming.

Attendance for the Farming for the Future Conference is expected to once again exceed 2,000 farmers, chefs, students, business leaders and others from over 30 U.S. states and several foreign nations.

To learn more about the Farming for the Future Conference, and to register online, visit pasafarming.org/conference.