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Wolf Administration Highlights Investments in Agritourism, Conservation, Education at Columbia County Farm

05/04/2022

Catawissa, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding was joined today by FFA students, Rohrbach's Farm Market staff and leadership from Soil Bound LLC to tour Rohrbach's market and orchards which sit on 59 acres of preserved farmland, part of Pennsylvania's $9.7 million investment in farmland preservation. The farm exemplifies how the commonwealth's public investments feed dollars into our economy and create jobs and tourism and education opportunities while conserving land and resources for a successful future.

"Agritourism strengthens business diversification, increases farm revenue, entertains and educates consumers and stimulates local economies by providing jobs and fresh, local foods and goods to their communities. It's a creative, interactive way for farms to reach their financial needs," said Secretary Redding. "Rohrbach Farm is a great example of how communities are strengthening the visions of local food systems and setting a precedent for land conservation and preservation to ensure the success of generations to come."

The family-owned farm operation is led by fourth generation siblings Mark Rohrbach and Denise (Rohrbach) Bosworth. This agribusiness connects the community and those who are farming for their community through conservation, preservation, agronomy, agriculture education, agriculture tourism, orchards and Rohrbach's Farm Market.

The Wolf Administration has supported farms in innovating and adapting their business models to generate income and satisfy consumer demand for local products and experiences. The PA Ice Cream Trail and culinary trails, trips, fairs and festivals developed in the past seven years promote orchards, cideries, vineyards and festivals and fairs that attract visitors to sample the best of Pennsylvania agritourism, while learning about careers in food and agriculture firsthand.

"While preservation and conservation require a lot of forward thinking, we are confident that this thinking will encourage opportunities for forward learning," said Denise Bosworth, owner of Rohrbach's Farm Market. "This element of agri-education is what will preserve agriculture in this community for years to come. It is the passion of the Rohrbach family and has been since 1955."

In total, Pennsylvania has preserved 6,044 farms and 611,620 acres of farmland that will be forever protected from commercial, industrial, or residential development.

By selling their land's development rights, landowners preserve their farms, protecting the land from future residential, commercial or industrial development. Farm families often sell their land at below market value to ensure that it will remain farmland. Pennsylvania partners with county and sometimes local governments and non-profits to purchase the development rights, ensuring a strong future for farming and food security.

"Farming with a long-term perspective requires implementing practices that call the grower to rethink the entire process of their growing seasons," said Mark Rohrbach, owner of Soil-Bound LLC. "It also requires them to consider how each decision made today will affect the next season, year, and decade. By providing sufficient time, attention, and resources into the health of our soil, we can be confident that we will leave profitable land for the subsequent farming generations."

Established under the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Bill, the Conservation Excellence Grant (CEG) program is administered by the State Conservation Commission in partnership with County Conservation Districts to provide financial and technical support to implement best management practices on agricultural operations in high-priority areas throughout the commonwealth. It offers farmers financial options through a bundle of grants, loans, and tax credits to implement best management practices such as cover-cropping, riparian buffers, streambank restoration, nutrient management plans, and more. Eligible projects are reimbursed for costs associated with project engineering and planning, installation, equipment, and post-construction inspection.

The Farm Vitality Grant Program, run by the Center and Bureau of Farmland Preservation, has provided nearly $1.5 million in direct grants to farmers for business and transition planning services. The Wolf Administration has awarded 210 grants with 88 of those grants awarded to preserved farm owners.

For more about the Wolf Administration's investments in growing opportunities and resources for Pennsylvania agriculture through the PA Farm Bill, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov.

NOTE: Photos of today's tour will be posted on the department's FlickR page, PA Department of Agriculture's albums | Flickr

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers -  shpowers@pa.gov

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