Friday, July 8, 2011

Horse Progress Days

The 18th Annual Horse Progress Days 2011 was held on July 1 & 2 in Kinzers, Lancaster County, PA, home of the highest concentration of horse drawn manufacturers and horse farmers in the world. For the first time, the event featured two full days of produce equipment demonstrations, and seminars about successfully growing and caring for produce. Penn State Educators played a vital role in the educational programming including Tim Elkner on “Diagnosing Plant Problems,” Steve Bogash on Use of Tissue Testing for Fertilizing,” and Jeff Graybill on “No Till Farming.”

The heart and soul of Horse Progress Days is the equipment demonstrations. Over the past several years the no-till movement has caught on within many of the plain communities. This is especially true of the Amish dairy and tobacco farmers. This trend has primarily seen growth in row crops such and corn and soybeans, but also alfalfa. Penn State Extension in Lancaster County was awarded a grant in 2007 to build a prototype no-till transplanter. The planter was designed and built by the Agronomy educator with input from several local Amish farmers. To date, three planters of this type have been constructed with approximately 300 acres of mostly tobacco, but also pumpkins, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower have been planted no-till. The original unit was on display and demonstrated at Horse progress day.

Horse Progress Days’ Mission Statement is “To encourage and promote the combination of animal power and the latest equipment innovations in an effort to support sustainable small scale farming and land stewardship. To show draft animal power is possible, practical and profitable.”

Agricultural and Penn State Extension Direct Marketing Specialists, Peggy Fogarty-Harnish and John Berry conducted two panels for folks interested in sustainable, local foods marketing as new opportunities arise for increasing farm profits. A Co-op Growers Panel on Friday afternoon featured three local cooperatives, Lancaster Vegetable Growers Cooperative, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative and the newly formed Oasis at Bird-in-Hand all of which have provided new opportunities for produce growers in the county over the past few years. Saturday’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Grower’s Panel discussed ways for consumers to buy seasonal food directly from a farmer throughout the season by purchasing a weekly share. Experienced producers and managers shared their knowledge, discussed logistics and answered questions. Other Penn State displays included Farm Food Safety and Food Preservation.

In keeping with the theme of “Something for Everyone,” the event was one to bring the whole family. Children were especially happy to see the playground area and the petting zoo. Kay Moyer, Penn State Extension Farm Safety Specialist hosted a child safety area which was very busy with approximately 4,500 people visiting the hands-on activity stations. About 3,000 “I visited the Safety Area and Petting Zoo at Horse Progress Days” safety activity books were given to the children who attended. This twelve page culturally appropriate Anabaptist activity book was created to reinforce the education provided at the children safety area and included: machine safety, animal safety, Poison safety, and 911/emergency safety. The event was a great success with over 10,000 people attending each day. In 2012, the event will be held in Michigan.

Written by Peggy Fogarty-Harnish (

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