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

NOFA Summer Conference offers tools, tricks, fun

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

By Hannah Blackmer and Jason Valcourt

On the precipice of summer getting into full swing, things are warming up quickly, plants have doubled in size since mid-May and we are about to set sail across the hotter months. As we know, this means something different altogether these days: summer is becoming a wild card alike for the humans, animals, and bacteria and fungi that support our ecosystem.

So many growers are making headway with fruitful systems that support life on all levels; microscopic, local and global. If we take a step back, we see ourselves building upon the work of the original organic movement, taking that momentum and moving far beyond the now tired and banal discussions of climate change and chemical usage. NOFA and its allies charge forward in the race to reduce and reverse the effects of carbon emissions on earth.

The collective knowledge gained in the last few decades of practices that heal rather than harm is now yielding practical answers that not only reduce harmful impacts of production on our land, but also have unearthed archives of knowledge from past cultures that did not produce food with great soil disturbance. We are grateful to know so many growers and consumers and conscientious organizations in the Northeast and beyond are picking up the mantle of creating harmonious systems that deepen the meaning of organic, protect what we have, and forge new standards far and above what we know today.

Our Summer Conference workshop program highlights so many folks and their good work to heal the earth; attendees from all growing levels will find something that speaks to them. Backyard gardeners can connect with Sharon Gensler, a homesteader who has been practicing no-till gardening for over 30 years, to learn her approaches to building soil carbon. Doug Wolcik from Gaining Ground Farm will be sharing the trials, tribulations, and successes of his transition from a tractor-based farm system to one with permanent, no-till raised beds. And of course Bryan O’Hara, Connecticut’s no-till farming guru, will complement his two-part no-till series with a workshop on the importance of supporting the indigenous microorganisms within our farming systems. For those with a permaculture lens, Connor Stedman will discuss true carbon farming and its relation to climate stabilization.

But, we assure you, the conference isn’t focused wholly on carbon sequestration. Healing the planet is indeed a paramount issue; but what about healing our local and global interpersonal relationships? Agriculture is inherently socially oriented: ultimately, we grow food for the love of feeding people. And with that social orientation comes the task of unpacking history. Food sovereignty and social justice workshops are heavily and brightly woven into the conference schedule. Let Andrianna Natsoulas of NOFA-NY and Saulo Araujo of WhyHunger explain what food sovereignty truly is. Discover what it means to dismantle racism in agriculture and the food system with Michelle Hughes, National Young Farmers Coalition, and Tess Brown-Lavoie, Sidewalk Ends Farm. Hear Liz O’Gilvie, gardener and food activist, tell the story of reclaiming her roots in agriculture.

For growers and plant and animal lovers wishing to push further along this exciting journey, the NOFA Summer Conference is providing deep resources with vast experience - always willing to share knowledge and pass along lessons learned.

In addition to these learning opportunities, we’ve added some exciting elements to compliment the weekend’s workshop program! You can look forward to some yoga on Saturday and Sunday mornings to get you ready for the workshops. Plan on a swim in the Hampshire pool on Saturday, and take a stroll through the gallery of farming prints provided by the Lexicon of Sustainability to get inspired throughout the weekend. Of course we will have our annual post keynote session Contra Dance on Friday night, and Saturday evening will be full of joyful sounds with Steve Leicach’s drumming journey, as well as a live band.

We hope you are planning on joining us August 11-13! You can register here and take advantage of our early bird rates prior to July 25th and save!

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