Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association


Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association

An Association of Commercial Vegetable, Potato and Berry Growers

PVGA Grower Needed for Advisory Board

By In News On September 21, 2018

Dr. Francesco Di Gioia, the new vegetable extension specialist at Penn State, is looking for a PVGA member/farmer interested in serving on the Stakeholder Advisory Board for a proposed project entitled The Healthy Farms Intervention for Healthy People: Strengthening small farm viability to improve health among farmers, low-income and underserved populations.

Dr. Di Gioia is working with  Dr. Renate Winkels and Dr. Susan Veldheer at the Hershey Medical Center, Dr. Andrew Smith at the Rodale Institute and Dr. Claudia Schmidt at Penn State.

The main goal of the project is to find innovative ways to connect local producers and low-income communities to develop valuable supply chains, thus increasing sales for small-scale local fruits and vegetable farms while at the same time fostering access to healthy foods for these low-income families.  To achieve this objective, we will assess the viability and the production issues of small-farms interested to adopt a CSA (community service agriculture) model and other forms of direct-market. After the assessment we will develop outreach activities and educational tools targeted for sustainable small-scale farmers and aimed to overcome the identified issues and challenges of small-scale farmers and train new farmers.

The Stakeholder Advisory Board will meet twice a year. During the first year and last year of the grant, this group will convene in person. In year 1 this will be at the Rodale Institute, and during this meeting the board will decide upon appropriate communication strategy, and procedures to use during the project. Other meetings will be via conference calls. During the first conference call of year 2, the project team will present the results of the formative studies executed in the first year of the grant. Based on those results the Stakeholder Advisory Board will advise on further progress of the project. The last Stakeholder Advisory Board meeting in year 5 will focus on identifying further steps after the end of the grant period; this in person meeting will take place at the Penn State Hershey Farm.

NOTE: Non-academic members of the Advisory board will be offered a stipend of $500 to be able to participate in the in-person meetings in year 1 and 5. Travel costs will also be reimbursed.

Growers who would be willing to be considered for this Stakeholder Advisory Board should send Dr. Di Gioia a letter of interest AS SOON AS POSSIBLE at  They need to have the application ready next week (the week of September 23 to 29).  Following is suggested text for the letter:

This letter is to convey my willingness to serve on the External Advisory board of the USDA-NIFA AFRI Sustainable Agricultural Systems project at Penn State in collaboration with the Rodale Institutes.  Your grant’s goal of connecting small-scale, local farms with low-income communities and regional health systems is a critical one for supporting the economic viability of our farmers and our communities.  Examining how the health of individuals and communities can be improved through the implementation of such a model system is particularly exciting and critical.

I understand that my commitment will involve travel to attend the Stakeholder Advisory Board in person meetings as well as periodic conference calls. Given my experience in ………………………… I welcome the opportunity to work with you on your multidisciplinary team and hope that the grant is funded so that we can perform this important work.

This is a NIFA AFRI SAS integrated Research, Education, and Extension Project

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