The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

Growing Organically Since 1982

150+ gather at homes throughout state to break bread on Earth Day

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

By Kristin Brennan

On Earth Day 11 homes throughout the state hosted more than 170 folks – gathered at homesteads, farms, and gardens to share food and conversation. The purpose of the NOFA/Mass sponsored event was to promote connection around a vision of organic food, community, soil and land health, ecosystem vitality, and building a restorative future.

At 91, Mrs. Anderson still sells her garlic at the Farmers' Market behind Thornes in Northampton. She is also a part of a group of gleaners who clean up farm fields in the Amherst area, ensuring that good food does not go to waste. She cooked up fine Tennessee ribs to bring to the NOFA/Mass Earth Day potluck in Hatfield, held on April 22. When at the table, she struck up a conversation about soil, about the difficulty of assessing one's farm as a whole when there are so many variations from spot to spot and, of course, variations in what each crop needs.

A young couple across the table owns land in South Carolina that they want to farm organically. They are here now as the wife is studying sustainable agriculture at UMASS. Of course, this couple is interested in Mrs. Anderson's question. As is Stan the Fix It Man and his wife, long time NOFA members and avid gardeners. The host farmer shares her insights about nutrient balancing, a Springfield gardener who arrived on a bicycle talks about his no-till strategies, all the while a 10 month old crawls around the tables. This is an example of a NOFA/Mass potluck for you.

As is demonstrated in the vignette above, how that goal was achieved at each site is wonderfully unique and personalized, perfectly illustrative of this beautiful planet's diversity. There is no better way to demonstrate the vibrancy of this event than with some stories from those who were there.

Barre, MA – Many Hands Organic Farm

We started the evening with a tour, which included the daily chicken move and observation of some of the early no-till planting for 2017. The two Sams climbed a willow tree down by the pond. Then we enjoyed a potluck of MHOF beef, pork and chicken and vegetable stew, venison casserole from a deer from Martha’s Vineyard, salad made from greens from Kittredge Farm in North Brookfield and wildflower honey from Follow the Honey Bee Farm in Orange. The group discussed land acquisition, the excess Nitrogen on Cape Cod and the need to reduce chemical fertilizer use on lawns, and a honey craft business that lifts up small beekeepers from all over the world.

Harwich Port, MA

"The guests ranged from two year olds to… well… never mind; from masters to newbies; from neighbors to boggers to marketeers to vintners. It was a great time for us. The meal was superb. We enjoyed meeting Sarah and Matt and baby, Maisie, Brett and Peggy, Mary Ann and Kathy, Dave and Doug and Bob, etc." - Harwich Port attendee

"The evening was full of conversation and good food and the time passed so quickly. After dinner, while cookies, coffee and tea were being passed, I spoke about NOFA/Mass and its current initiatives. The questions kept coming and it really seemed that all were very appreciative and supportive of all the work being done by NOFA/Mass and all the NOFAs and, except for a few, most had no idea of all the good work that was occurring in the state. Most said they wanted to be kept in the loop and have concerns about the health of the environment on the Cape with the primary issue being water quality." - Harwich Port host 

Hatfield, MA – Golden Oak Farm

A Hatfield Potluck Agenda

Food: A potluck meal of pork in pear sauce, roasted parsnips, butternut soup with croutons, vegetable soup with artisan bread, whole wheat rolls and creamery butter, raw milk butter, pickled green tomatoes, applesauce, raspberries, chips, Tennessee barbecue ribs and chicken, and for dessert: chocolate stuffed raspberries, mango macaroons, and chocolate macadamia cookies.

Talk: Conversation ranged from NOFA/Mass, to midwifery/birth, to balancing soil, to what growing strategies people had been using recently and those that they have in the past.

Activity: A walk on the farm, looking through the gardens, pastures, layers, barn and amenities, and layer coop

Holliston, MA – Alpine Hill Farm

Farmers, gardeners and homesteaders of all generations gathered at Dianna and Lee Phillips micro-farm . All enjoyed a diverse potluck and tour of the Alpine Hill Farm barn and newly installed, self designed passive, geothermal greenhouse.

Lancaster, MA

One of the most popular sites, there were 24 in attendance at the potluck in Lancaster. Typical of NOFA events, the potluck was "delicious as ever" and "the conversation was terrific." Some of the highlights included: the Fig Tree, mushroom production, the blooming fruit trees and the garlic discussion. Special guest, Russ Cohen, naturalist and wild foods enthusiast, showed up at this potluck and shared some thoughts about foraging.

Tyringham, MA

Woven Roots Farm was honored to open up their farm and home to the community in honor of NOFA/Mass and Earth Day. We had a delightful group of engaged participants who were happy to spend time exploring the fields and learning about our no-till, regenerative farming practices on this brisk spring evening. We shared with each other about our care for the Earth and NOFA/Mass as well as our love of gardening and good, wholesome food. It was an incredible mix of ages and backgrounds, from those who had never heard of NOFA before, to a couple who shared fond memories of starting with NOFA over thirty years ago when their children were small. Our time together culminated with an incredible feast in our warm, cozy home. There was tremendous pride in each dish that was offered. The sense of satisfaction and community connection was palpable. We could feel it across the state!

Colrain, MA

As the NOFA Earth Day potluck guests arrived in Colrain, we shared the stories of the seeds we’d soon be planting. Two intrepid souls traveled through several Hilltowns on bicycle to get to the potluck (a two hour ride!). A tour of the awakening fields and forest turned into an impromptu plant identification walk lead by one of the youngest guests; seven-year-old Aiden taught us all new things about the wild plants. Old friends were reunited and new connections were made as we shared a bountiful and tasty meal together.

Roslindale, MA

We went around and told stories of our connection to food and growing. Many of us were immigrants, some from India, one from Malaysia, and all of us spoke of how different American food systems are. Several attendees spoke of how they had never had to consider where food comes from or how it was grown before moving to the US. All food was local, and mostly organic. After moving to the US, many of us were bewildered by the scale of the grocery stores and the sheer number of products available. Of course, as recent arrivals, many spoke of how they first cared only about price when shopping. But as they became more aware of concerns such as pesticide residues, they started to pay more attention to what they were purchasing and from where it came.

Worcester, MA

When Betty and Mary met at the Worcester potluck, they were delighted to learn that they were nearby neighbors. In fact, a third neighbor who knew them both had noted their common interest in gardening and had planned to introduce them! The potluck created an opportunity for 15 Worcester residents to connect over growing plants, growing soil, and growing a more resilient community. Conversations touched on topics such as planting on contour, sourcing logs for mushroom spawn, permablitzes for community gardens, and an aquaponics pilot project overseen by Greenvitalize Urban Growers. The food was fabulous, as was the setting of Jeuji Diamondstone’s urban permaculture oasis. 

Save the date for NEXT YEAR'S Earth day potluck event: Sunday, April 22, 2018. Be a host, be a guest! We plan to have potlucks in every nook and cranny so that everyone can travel to their local event by bicycle or by walking! How's that for climate change mitigation!

Special thanks to...

Trey Angera 

Dan Bensonoff

Marty Dagoberto

Laura Davis

Mary De Blois

Joe and Deb D'Eramo

Jeuji Diamondstone

Diana Phillips

Julie Rawson and Jack Kittredge

Pam Raymond

Jen Salinetti

... for opening their homes for the Earth Day Potlucks 

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