cows in field

Sustainable Farmer Educators

Added December 2, 2009. Northeast SARE periodically looks around the region for articulate, skilled farmers who can go to workshops and conferences that address issues important to other farmers. These are our Sustainable Farmer Educators, and as a group they offer expertise in soil health, no-till, marketing, labor, community-supported agriculture, the Farmer Grants program, managed grazing, adding value, and farm enterprise development.

A new farmer has now joined the program. Dave Johnson (NODPA Board Member, Treasurer and ODAIRY contributor) operates Provident Farms in Liberty, Pennsylvania, which is in the northern tier of the state where the hills are rolling and the clay soils are more conducive to grass and clover, not corn and soybeans. This family-run farm is organic, grass-based, and diversified; their seasonal dairy is complimented by small scale pastured poultry, eggs, pork, and beef, for family and limited retail. Long rotation cropping with annuals, small grains, oil seeds and season-extension crops compliment the pasture production.

Dave comes to farming as a second career - after 20 years teaching telecommunications and electronics, he turned to farming as a way of realigning his life with his values, which center on community, family, and a stewardship and reverence for naturual systems. He has 140 acres of pasture, hay and wetland and rents another 220 acres; his multicolored, 90-head herd is made up of Holstein, Jersey, Dutch Belted, Normandie, Milking Shorthorn, and Ayrshire. He is a member of CROPP, the Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools, marketing milk under the Organic Valley brand.

Dave is now ready to combine his teaching background with his understanding of seasonal organic dairy and farm diversification, and he offers specific expertise in grazing and pasture management, holistic farm management, start-up planning and budgets, and can share his direct experience in labor-efficient feeding and milking parlor design. He also understands the many dimensions of organic herd health and the use of open barns and pack bedding. Alternative energy and farm energy production are also current projects at Provident Farms.

He can be reached at 570-324-2285 or by sending e-mail to