Outstanding New Organic Farmer

For attentiveness throughout the certification process, innovative management, and dedication toward creating and maintaining a successful organic plan.

■ Noah & Rebecca Peachey – Der Sond Hof, Watsontown, PA

Noah and Rebecca Peachey are newly certified farmers with PCO in 2015. They run Der Sond Hof, an organic produce operation in Watsontown, PA, with about 20 acres in certified land. Noah exhibited an incredible attention to detail during the certification process and continued dedication toward meeting the organic standards. He worked with great keenness to understand different aspects of certification including micronutrient restrictions and labeling regulations.

As a new applicant, Noah worked with PCO on a near daily basis to ensure that he was maintaining the correct documentation for his cropland. His attentiveness to the regulations and commitment to following through on all paperwork is noteworthy. Since his certification was issued, Noah has continued to keep the channels of communication open with PCO. Requesting approval for marketing signs and clarifying the organic status of materials prior to use or purchase are some of the ways he continues to show a proactive involvement with his certification.

No discussion of Der Sond Hof would be complete without a mentioning the 19 dairy camels under Noah’s husbandry. Though his hump-backed friends are not certified organic, their presence on his farm shows that Noah is a unique farmer. Thanks for your hard work and pleasant demeanor, Noah!

Outstanding New Organic Processor

For attentiveness throughout the certification process, innovative management, and dedication toward creating and maintaining a successful organic plan.


■ Landies Candies – Buffalo, NY

Like any good story, this one has humble beginnings. A long time ago, back in 1965, at the tender age of 5, Larry Szrama would help his Grandfather and Grandmother dish out penny candy at the family-owned deli in Buffalo, NY. Larry’s Dad and Mom continued the family food business and operated larger supermarkets during the 70’s and 80’s. Larry Szrama and his good friend Andy, started making and selling chocolates in the family supermarket and eventually incorporated Landies Candies in 1985. By the way, that is where the name comes from Larry and Andy: “LANDIES.”

Over the years, Landies has shipped sweets and treats all across America and sev- eral countries. In more recent years, Landies saw the growing demand for chocolates produced responsibly and sustainably. Today Landies is proud to say they make USDA- Certified Organic Chocolate Treats! Their chocolate is made with Fair Trade organic cocoa beans and Fair Trade organic cane sugar. The Landies facility has dedicated organic processing areas to maintain the integrity of its organic chocolate products. Landies also acknowledges the earth’s limited resources and has plans to build a zero-net-utility manufacturing facility within the next 5 years. “We hope you enjoy our organic chocolates and we look forward to continuing to produce high quality, delicious, sustainable organic chocolates!”

Going the Extra Acre

For sharing knowledge and expertise with fellow farmers and the organic community. Great systems are built on collaboration.


■ Sara & Ned Fogleman – Cedar Spring Farm – Mifflintown, PA

Ned and Sara Fogleman, along with their daughter and son-in law, Becky and Keith Meifert, and grandchildren, Garrett and Macks, farm 390 organic acres in Mifflin and Juniata Counties. They raise about 50 Jersey dairy cows as well as all the hay they need to produce grassfed milk for shipping to PCO- certified Trickling Springs Creamery. It is a collaborative family effort; Ned and Sara focus on raising the hay to feed the animals while Becky and Keith, with their two sons, handle the milking and pasture rotation.

Ned and Sara have been farming “all our lives” yet they feel that there is always something new to learn. They believe firmly in organics and strive to continue their education. They share their knowledge happily with other farmers; their phone starts ringing at 5:30am and doesn’t stop until bedtime. Ned’s response to the many farmers asking for advice or help through the transition/certification process, “I’ll help you. I’ll stop by.”

Their outreach extends beyond farmers to young children and their families through a school garden project Sara and Becky lead. They volunteer their time, expertise, and resources, such as soil and organic fertilizer, to help children from a local school raise, harvest and enjoy organic vegetables. Sara feels that the garden project has a big impact on the children. She’s heard from several parents that their children have insisted they purchase organic vegetables at the grocery store because “it tastes better and we don’t want chemicals on our food.”


For furthering the sustainability of farms, families, communities, and the environment.


■ The Joseph & Meck Families – Maple Hill Creamery – Stuyvesant, NY

In 2009, organic dairy farmers Tim and Laura Joseph founded Maple Hill Creamery in Little Falls, NY. Tim saw that creating a “value added” product — in this case, yogurt — would be key to longterm stability, and recognized the opportunity for 100% grass-fed products. Tim’s sister, Julia Meck and her husband, Pete Meck, joined the Joseph family business in 2010, and the family worked hard to craft, market, and sell their hallmark CreamLine yogurt, eking out a firm toehold in grocery aisles.

Over the last two years, Maple Hill Creamery has grown from a regional yogurt producer to a national dairy brand, currently on shelves in over 5,000 retailers across the US. Grass-fed dairy is no longer niche — both large and small retailers are quickly adding grass-based dairy products. As Maple Hill’s business continued to grow, Tim worked with PCO to develop the first third-party 100% Grassfed Certification for dairy, ensuring the integrity of grass-fed label claims. MHC has differentiated their product mix with drinkable yogurts, Greek yogurt, and several varieties of cheese.

Approximately 40 farms are now selling milk exclusively to MHC, and the company has also developed a milkshed for certified organic milk, which provides a stable market for organic farmers to transition to 100% grass-fed over time. While MHC’s premium pay prices are attractive to farmers, a view to the larger picture — one of a producer who above all else values long-term benefits for farmers, cows, and the environment—has been instrumental in bringing new farms to the company. Maple Hill Creamery’s success is securely rooted in the commitment to 100% grass-fed dairy products — a model they believe can only succeed when each and every farmer is consistently well paid for their milk, receives ongoing support and education to optimize their grass-fed herds’ health and output, and is a fully valued member of the Maple Hill Creamery family.

Organic Research and Education

For furthering the cause of organic farming through research and education.


■ Dickinson College Farm – Boiling Springs, PA

Embedded in the mission of the 60-acre Dickinson College Farm is the desire to continually explore new practices and systems that aim to improve the overall function and longterm health of the land. As a result, fields and pastures at the College Farm serve to support both production and research goals for staff, students and faculty, as well as public agencies and farm advocacy groups. Students are immersed in the day-to-day demands of what it takes to raise certified organic produce and pastured livestock on a diversified farm with strong educational roots – supplying the college dining hall, campus CSA and local farmers’ market. The Dickinson College Farm program assists with innovative research like silvopasture investigations, American toad migration patterns, beneficial insect habitat hubs and the establishment of a newly planted educational riparian buffer.

The Dickinson College Farm is close to achieving its goal of a net zero carbon emissions. The full integration of photovoltaic systems and on-farm production of both biogas and biodiesel help minimize the need for off-farm energy inputs. Tractor conversions from gas to electric and other hands-on projects involve students in every step. In the classroom, farm staff engage with faculty and students in labs, coursework and on research that blend academics with agriculture. Most notable is the successful development of a web-based data logging system aimed to assist farmers with improved record keeping called FARMDATA. The open-source code for FARMDATA has been downloaded over 1000 times worldwide.

The Dickinson College Farm is proud of its student graduates, many of whom are active participants in changing the food system; from advocacy work on Navajo reservations in New Mexico and research at the Land Institute to running their own farming operations in urban, rural and suburban communities.

“Our students keep us energized and committed to the cause of progressive organic farming. We love what we do and feel lucky to have the opportunity cultivate the next generation of sustainable growers.” Matt Steiman and Jenn Halpin, Farm Managers of the Dickinson College Farm.

Inspector Appreciation

For excellent management, thorough records, positive attitude towards the inspection process and exceptional effort in creating and maintaining a successful organic plan.


■ Joe & Joseph Conklin – Conklin Farms – Newville, PA

Joanne and Joseph Conklin purchased a 65- acre Newville farm (circa 1865) in 2004 in anticipation of opening an organic farm someday. That “someday” occurred in 2015 and Conklin Farms is now producing organic vegetables, small fruits, broilers, turkeys, eggs, and pork.

Conklin Farms is a family operation with father and son, Joseph and Joe, holding the reins. Joseph was a finance professional turned farmer with a passion for vegetables and sustainable agriculture. Joe is the head farmer and is responsible for most of the day- to-day farming operations. Joseph says, “We are two guys with one dream…build a healthy soil, produce nutritious food and there will be more happy people.”

The Conklins’ farming philosophy begins with the soil, where they strive to increase organic matter and protect the living organisms. They utilize cover cropping, crop rotation and livestock pasturing in their field management. The Conklins are committed to “respecting Natures law that includes being good stewards of the soil and having respect for God’s creatures.” The benefits are many and include amazing food, a simpler and healthier lifestyle, and satisfying work.

The Conklins are working to create a risk managed, bio-diverse farm that is as efficient as possible toward a goal of making organic foods more affordable to everyone. While they officially opened in 2015, they have been chipping away at the farm for the past 10.5 years. Their motivation and excitement to grow and promote organic and local foods shines through, from their soil records and paperwork, to their market stand and customer care.

Staff Appreciation

For special dedication to the organic certification process and use of innovative practices.


■ Profeta Farms – Neshanic Station, NJ

Paul Profeta has owned and faithfully stewarded 350 acres of prime farmland and mature forest for more than thirty years. At present, Profeta Farms utilizes their land as well as 600 acres of leased land to raise veg- etables, pigs, broilers, laying hens, and beef cattle. They plan to incorporate a bovine dairy herd as well as milk processing and USDA inspected livestock slaughter facilities next year. They are in the process of transitioning the entire farm to organic with an ultimate goal of opening a brand new 25,000 square foot farm store where customers can buy a full range of fresh, certified organic produce, meat and dairy products that have been raised and processed on the farm itself.

Paul credits his wife and daughter for his inspiration toward organic farming. Paul’s wife, Joanne Malino, is a certified nutrition- al counselor and his daughter is one of the first integrative medical doctors in New Jersey. Because of their influence, Paul became extremely focused on his health, his environment and the food that he was eating. He also became interested in locally grown foods in order to eradicate the carbon footprint of shipping internationally or cross-country. These thought patterns lead to the genesis of Profeta Farms.

Paul Profeta has had a very diverse life. He started his career as a commercial real estate investor. Later on in his life he found- ed the Profeta Urban Investment Foundation and partnered with Rutgers Business School to help launch minority businesses in Newark. That Foundation has now launched twelve businesses and has four more queued up for launch this year. Paul sought out PCO as the certifying agent for his most recent visionary project of Profeta Farms because he shares PCO’s commitment to the importance and integrity of organic certification. Profeta Farms hopes that this venture is a success and will become a template for other agricultural efforts across the country. Profeta Farms truly believes this is the way the country should feed itself.

Outstanding Organic Producer

For exceptional commitment to high quality organic production, promoting organic products and supporting the integrity of organic goods in the market.

Scott I Sechler BIO pic

■ Farmer’s Pride, Inc. – Bell & Evans – Fredericksburg, PA

Scott Sechler grew up on a family farm in Kempton, Berks County. At a very young age, he started growing capons and selling them to neighbors. And even at that young age, he was passionate about doing the right thing. Scott shared his plan on growing chickens with his father, whose response was, “If you raise chickens like that, no one will be able to afford them.” Scott replied, “Well, if I can’t raise them that way, I won’t raise them at all.”

In 1984, Scott purchased Farmers Pride, Inc., in Fredericksburg, PA, from Senator Clarence Manbeck. Two years later, he purchase the well known, premium chicken brand, Bell & Evans, and merged the two companies in 1988. At that time, he pioneered and implemented his natural chicken program: No animal by-products, no bakery by-products, and only extruded and expeller pressed soybeans. In 1998, he received USDA approval to start selling chickens as Raised without Antibiotics.

Continuing to innovate, Scott first introduced organic chicken into the Bell & Evans’ product mix in 2008 with the assistance of PCO. While there are clearly defined USDA organic standards, he persisted in going above and beyond those requirements. Sourcing domestically grown organic corn and soybeans is one such commitment, while also pledging to never import grains from China. All Bell & Evans’ chicken houses are cleaned and disinfected after every flock. 2006 brought the expansion of the 100% Air Chill system, eliminating the use of iced chlorinated water through the chilling process. In 2011, he implemented the first Slow Induction Anesthesia (SIA) system in North America, working closely with humane animal welfare expert, Temple Grandin.

Today, Bell & Evans processes 1 million chickens per week with approximately 25% of those raised and sold as USDA certified organic. Key organic customers, such as Wegmans and Whole Foods Market, continue to demand more organic products, and Scott is focused on expanding organic production. A wide variety of organic further processed items made at the new Bell & Evans “Esther’s Facility” is planned for launch later this fall.

Scott resides on his family farm, with his wife Monica, their daughter Margo, and son, Scott, Jr., where he raises Haflinger horses. Margo and Scott, Jr., are also involved in the day-to-day operations at Bell & Evans.

Outstanding Organic Processor

For exceptional commitment to high quality organic production, promoting organic products and supporting the integrity of organic goods in the market.


■ Trickling Springs Creamery – Chambersburg, PA

Tricking Springs Creamery was founded in 2001 by two friends, Gerald Byers and Myron Miller, with the goal of processing premium milk from local farmers for their local community. Gerald and Myron established high standards for their farmers in the following areas: what they feed their cows, how they care for their animals, and how they take care of their land. The standards include giving the cows access to pasture year round and feeding a grass intensive diet. All Trickling Springs dairy products are minimally processed using low-temperature pasteurization, simple ingredients, and no additives in to their whole milk and creams.

In 2002 Trickling Springs became certified as an organic processor and started selling organic products throughout the greater Mid-Atlantic region. As their reputation for quality organic grass-fed dairy products grew they were privileged to expand distribution across the eastern seaboard region. “I never could have imagined the growth we experienced since we started 14 years ago,” says Gerald Byers. “We are very thankful to our retailers and consumers for the support they’ve shown us. Customers remind us daily that they expect us to hold to the values we started with and deliver only the best; we continually strive to meet that expectation.”

Trickling Springs is committed to growing sustainable organic farming. Earlier this year they launched a Farmer-for-LifeTM program to encourage farmers to make the transition from conventional farming to organic farming. This program incrementally pays farmers for each step they make along the journey towards being certified organic. Today, Trickling Springs purchases milk from 27 certified organic dairies, 7 Farm- Friend (non-GMO and grassfed) dairies, 10 FarmFriend goat dairies, and 1 certified organic goat dairy.

Outstanding Volunteer

For contributing to PCO as a whole and supporting of our mission to ensure the integrity of organic products in the marketplace.


■ Eric Burkhart – Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center – Petersburg, PA

Dr. Eric Burkhart is a temperate ethno – botanist who works with the herbal industry on topics pertaining to husbandry, conservation and supply chain advances surrounding native medicinal forest plants originating from the eastern United States. He holds degrees in Economic Botany (B.A, Idaho State University), Horticulture (M.S., Penn State University), and Forest Resources (Ph.D., Penn State University) and is currently Plant Science Program Director for Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center and faculty instructor for the Penn State Ecosystem Science and Management Department.

Working with partners such as the Penn- sylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Eric conducts research on important non-timber forest products (NTFPs) including American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), and ramps (Allium tricoccum) and offers practical guidance in forest farming of NTFPs through related workshops and publications. His research program in Pennsylvania is focused on developing sustainable wild crop management and production systems through the use of agroforestry and plant husbandry.

Eric has been instrumental in establishing PCO’s Forest Grown program. He has volunteered countless hours to developing program standards, facilitating PCO staff and inspector trainings, organizing producer meetings, and educating interested farmers and consumers on sustainable production practices of NTFPs. In addition, Eric has worked tirelessly to connect and facilitate interaction among all stakeholders the whole way up from producers and herbal companies to government agencies and PCO. Eric has truly served as the driving force behind PCO’s Forest Grown program and in turn, the success of non-timber forest producers, the promotion of sustainable NTFPs farming practices, and the conservation of wild crops.

2015 PCO Hall of Fame

For continuous, extraordinary dedication of time and energy to furthering the mission of Pennsylvania Certified Organic.


■ Al Johnson

Independent Organic Inspector – Titusville, NJ

Al is no stranger to organic farming. Al says “I can’t buy non-organic food with a clear conscience.” But he doesn’t stop there. Instead, Al’s organic pursuits are extensive and longstanding. He has taught workshops on organic gardening as well as organic crop and livestock farming for 39 years. Al was the first Educational Coordinator for the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) in Vermont where he initiated a program of on-farm workshops and organized what may have been the first organic winter conference in 1980. Al managed organic farms and market gardens from 1977¬1989, including two years in the tropics as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Al chaired NOFA-NJ’s organic standards development committee in 1989 and served as a member of the its Standards/Policy Committee until the New Jersey Department of Agriculture took over the program in 2007. He administered NOFA-NJ for three years, served as its treasurer for five years and was member of both the NOFA Interstate Council and the Northeast Interstate Certification Committee. Al is a member of NOFA-NJ’s Board of Directors, and has been since 1986.

Al began performing organic inspections in 1990 and has broadened his scope to include Certified Humane, Gluten-Free and Non-GMO inspections. He is a founding member of IOIA (International Organic Inspector’s Association) and has been accredited by them for Livestock, Crop and Processing Inspections since 1996. Al is currently the Chairperson of two IOIA committees, By-Laws and Peer Field Evaluations.

Al has been inspecting for PCO since its inception and has been a member of PCO’s Standards Committee since 1998. Clearly with Al’s broad experience and dedication to organic agriculture, he is an invaluable asset to PCO and we are grateful for his many years of service.


■ Brian Magaro

Independent Organic Inspector – Enola, PA

Brian Magaro began farming and gardening at the age of 12 while working on his uncle’s farm earning $.25/hour. From the 1970’s into the 1990s his passion for working with the land was extended as he grew organic vegetables with his father in Enola, PA. For the last 20 years, Brian has worked as a consumer advocate in the organic food industry while conducting inspections for numerous certification agencies.

Brian has been a part of PCO since its humble beginnings in 1997. He served on the original Board of Directors for PCO for the first three years of its existence. Brian was PCO’s first-ever independent organic inspector and has continued inspecting with PCO to this day. Brian has served as a key member on PCO’s Standards Committee since its inception 17 years ago. In addition, Brian served on the International Organic Inspectors Association Board of Directors for 6 years; three of those years as chair.

Prior to becoming an inspector, Brian had extensive background in business management through owning several retail food establishments and as a Licensed Pennsylvania Auctioneer. He is passionate about farming and loves tending to his gardens and greenhouses. Hats off to Brian for his contributions to PCO and the organic community.