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Much to look forward to at Jan 14 Winter Conference

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2017 January Issue Newsletter

By Jason Valcourt

The NOFA/Mass Annual Winter Conference is less than two weeks away. With over 900 farmers, gardeners, activists and consumers, this day of intensive learning will get you fully inspired for the 2017 season! We have an amazing program planned with over 70 presenters, 60 exhibitors, a delicious and hearty organic lunch, a children’s conference, a raffle and more!

If you haven’t heard already, this year’s keynote speaker and co-presenters of our intensive seminar are Paul & Elizabeth Kaiser of Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol, CA. Together they bring a wealth of techniques and experience with them from their successful no-till operation. Their small farm situated in northern California grosses over $100,000 per acre, pumps out up to seven crops per bed per year, and has achieved a 400% increase in soil organic matter over the six years since they stopped tilling. The Kaisers utilize no sprays (even organic ones) and are certified Bee Friendly. That means they spend more than “98% of their time transplanting and harvesting” says Paul Kaiser.

The no-till approach they employ incorporates the work of many of our leading farmers and soil biologists like Elliot Coleman and Elaine Ingham. While weaving in other perennial strategies that encourage beneficial insects and bring a myriad of other benefits to their operation, they have “0% losses every year to pest insects,” says Paul Kaiser. They are clear that they do have pests, but that the biological controls put in place by over six years of no-till practices keep those pests soundly in check. “We have basically every type of pest that our neighbor farms have, but they are not presenting a problem for us. They are in balance with the beneficials”, says Elizabeth Kaiser. Beyond these benefits, their intensive seminar at the conference will dig into the methods they utilize to drastically reduce irrigation, increase carbon in their soil and provide stable employment for their crew.

Sign up for their all-day intensive, Operating An Organic, Non-Mechanized No-Till, Agroecological Vegetable Farm, to learn more.

If you wish to explore a broader array of topics on January 14, but still seek information on no-till methods, you can explore workshops with other proponents and practitioners of no-till with Bryan O’Hara, Julie Rawson, Jack Kittredge and Dan Pratt. The no-till method is gaining support from scientific research – these presenters can help you get started trialing no-till methods in your own garden or farm fields.

Whether or not you are venturing into no-till methods, the entire workshop program at the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference has a deep selection of farm techniques, soil biology, homestead topics, policy discussions, cooking classes, soap making, community gardening and more.

Here is a small selection of presentations to look forward to at the winter conference:

  • Indoor Mushroom Cultivation by Alex Dorr
  • Goats Are A Girl's (And the Soil's) Best Friend by Melissa Hoffer of Red Goat Farm
  • Principles of Biological Systems & Implications by Dan Kittredge from the Bionutrient Food Association.
  • Vining/Fruiting Crops in Protected Culture (two parts) by Andrew Mefferd from the wonderful publication Growing for Market.
  • Healthy Cooking with Culinary Professionals by Rich Perna from Worcester State University’s award winning dining service company Chartwells.
  • Ease Stress and Anxiety with Herbal Preparations with Hannah Jacobson Hardy of Sweet Birch Herbals.
  • Magic Numbers: Arithmetic for Farm Viability by Chris Yoder of Vanguarden Farm in Dover, MA
  • Soap Making 101 by Rosemary Roman Nolan
  • Advanced Seed Saving for the Farm & Garden by Bill Braun from Ivory Silo Farm in Westport, MA.
  • Successful Rotational Grazing Using Electric Netting by David Kennard of Wellscroft Fence Systems

Kids/teens welcome!

If you have young farmers that want to come along, our youth conference offers a fun learning environment for kids ages three and up, as well as for teens! We have dedicated staff and presenters to entertain and educate the next generation of conscious land stewards, animal lovers and activists. Let the community at the NOFA Winter Conference help to grow the future of farming and conscious living!

Post conference NOFA/Mass fundraising dinner with Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser

After you’ve filled your notebook with information and gotten your fill of learning for the day, you can also join us for an intimate post-conference dinner with Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser. This is a celebration of agriculture and a fundraiser for NOFA/Mass and its diverse array of educational programming. Together we will dine and keep the fire stoked for another bountiful season!

Want to carpool to the conference? Use this form and connect!

Scholarships and work exchange are still available! Apply now!

See the entire workshop program and register now at www.nofamass.org/events/wc!

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