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

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“NOFA/Mass Organic to Heal the Planet” Walk/Run

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

By Kristin Brennan

Each year for the past five years, we’ve gathered together a team of runners, walkers, farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, sustainable living folks, eaters, and families for our annual NOFA/Mass Fundraising Walk/Run.

During the months leading up to November, team members reach out to their family and friends to ask for their support. All proceeds raised go to fund NOFA/Mass’s work.  On November 5, we gather together again, moving our bodies together, having awesome conversations, sharing in a delicious potluck, and connecting on the things we care about.  It is an event for all.  We welcome you to join us!

Learn more about how to join our team at www.crowdrise.org/nofamassachusetts1!

There are many ways to join Team NOFA/Mass…

And also many reasons why.

Some team members share their inspiration here…

Participate in the team and share your story too!

Dave MorrisA long-time runner, David Morris cares about environment for future generations

Dave Morris usually saves his run for later in the day, though definitely before dinner.  Of course, unless he is racing – when someone else decides the schedule. When he runs with Team NOFA/Mass this year, he’ll be ready at the start line in Lexington at 12 pm. He is our star runner, finishing each mile in an average of a mere 6 minutes and 52 seconds, crossing the 10K finish line at 42 minutes and 32 seconds. 

Dave is really into running.  Turning 59 years old this August, he ran his first marathon (Philadelphia) at the age of 15.  The impressive thing is not so much that he's fast (which he is) but that he has been fast for this long – he has run at least one marathon each decade for the past five decades (with a total of seven career marathons).  Now, in his 45th year of running, he says his success has been that he has, as any good distance runner should, paced himself.  He's listened to his body and "managed my activity reasonably well. Still able to run, largely injury free."  He admits that running just comes to him. It is easy; it is natural.  "It is never boring for me," he says. "I am a traditionalist. I never run with headphones. Running gives me time to think, it relaxes me. My mind has plenty of things to process - my work, personal things.  In contrast, when I swim to train for my triathlons, I am bored to tears. But I run because I want to."

Dave believes that the key to distance running – or running at all for that matter – is rhythmic breathing.  For him, the ideal breathing cadence is one breath every four steps. If he breaks out of this pattern with either three or five, he doesn't feel as smooth and efficient.  He gives his wife, Jackie, huge kudos for providing him with the fuel he needs to maintain his training regime and reach his impressive speeds.  At 5'9" and 150 lbs, he impresses others with his ratio between body weight and consumption rate – more food per pound than any person he knows. Jackie makes sure that the home-cooked meals are balanced, nutritious and nourishing.  Certainly, his muscle output demonstrates her success in this realm. 

He describes the Organic to Heal the Planet course as "reasonably flat, with a couple of hills back to back between miles 3-4."  He likes to gain ground on the hills, not by sprinting up them, but by keeping his steady pattern.  Those few folks who shot up the hill beside him in the last races were not able to pick it up as he calmly passed them again after mile four.  "I run the race strategically," he says.  His body seems to just pace itself, without intellectual monitoring.  In the Napa Valley marathon, Dave ran exactly 7 minute 30 second miles for the first 19 miles.  Listening to his body makes his running consistent, and predictable. In the two times he ran for NOFA/Mass, he was within 2 seconds of his time.  "I ran the race I wanted," he says, "that's what comes from 45 years of running."

Dave has often run for causes he believes in (he'll be doing his 19th Pan Mass Challenge this year) – and he is committed to the NOFA/Mass vision.  When reflecting upon the health of the planet, he says, "I never fail to marvel at the beauty around me.  Every time I go running to the conservation land in Sherborn, I feel so grateful.  Right now, our environment is under siege and this is a top of the line issue for me... ecology, the environment.  I am more concerned not about myself and my own life, but for my children, how it will impact them in their lifetime."   Organic to Heal the Planet, he says, is the practical message and the work of NOFA/Mass the organization that he is willing to run for.

To inspire the rest of us team members, in preparation for his performance in November, Dave is now training for the Nantucket Triathlon (August) and the Dover-Sherborn Triathlon (September). 

GlennFor Juniper (and her father Glenn) training involves learning to walk in a straight line

Juniper did the Organic to Heal the Planet Walk last year at 10 months old, partially on a backpack, partially in the comfortable seat of a jogger.  This year might not be so straightforward. "I think Juniper's going to want to walk it herself," her father, Glenn Oliveira, former NOFA/Mass Education Director, said. "So, we'll see."

Nearly everything that has ever entered into Juniper's body has been organically grown, sometimes certified, sometimes not.  It’s always as nutrient dense as her parents can find.  At year 1.5, she has some hesitation in the realm of vegetable consumption but has no qualms about ingesting locally sourced pork, beef, and fish daily.  At 5-months old, her favorite foods were sauerkraut and dilly beans and her love for the ferments have continued to this day.  Her family, who has only recently moved back to Massachusetts to New Bedford, says they depended on Copper Hill Farm in CT to feed Juniper's carnivore instincts.  At a friend's house recently, Juniper looked with puzzlement at the goldfish crackers that were served.   Juniper hasn't tried goldfish crackers before – and this fact opens up a conversation with the host family as to what she does eat and why. 

Juniper's got farming buddies – from NOFA/Mass, from Round the Bend Farm, from the various community gardens that her parents have been a part of.  She started gardening last year in a community garden plot in Hartford.  This year, her parents have sectioned off an area in their Dartmouth community garden plot for her to weed, plant, play in the dirt, and use the miniature implements that are just the right size for her hands and her height.  Her signature feature is that she does everything - play, gardening, walking, inside our outside - without shoes.

For Glenn, her father (who has run the Organic to Heal the Planet event more often than he's walked it), the event is about community.  “NOFA/Mass”, he says, "is an important community for me.  It’s an opportunity to connect with the wider, local agricultural community."  To Glenn the beauty of the event is in the conversations in all their diversity: soil carbon restoration, policy perspectives after the GMO bill, beginning farmer opportunities, how things are growing, in the garden, on the farm. "That is why I'll come back again this year. It's a different way to support an organization that I love. And it gives me the opportunity to reach out to 10 or 15 people I know and encourage them to support a vision I believe in." He sends out his thanks to those who have supported his fundraising efforts in the past.

A training regime for Glenn and Juniper for this year’s walk?  “Well”, Glenn says, “training in general would be good for both of us. Since Juniper might insist on walking herself, she might need to focus first on walking in a straight line.” Or, Glenn adds, "training to wear shoes at all."

Vidya TikkuVidya Tikku, building community through good food and connections

Vidya Tikku is a Board member of NOFA/Mass and a fundraiser for Team NOFA/Mass, but her role is to "woman" the NOFA/Mass table while everyone goes off to run and walk.  The table has tons of useful information but also houses one of the central aspects of this community-building event: the food.  Despite the fact that there are other edible options around, Vidya says that many people were drawn to the NOFA/Mass table when they saw the home-cooked nourishing spread.  At first, Vidya, being her welcoming and open self, would invite others in to try a little but then she realized that she needed to save some for the team.  "I hated to turn people away!" she says. “NOFA/Mass potlucks, there is nothing like 'em.”

Sharing information about NOFA/Mass at the table, according to Vidya, is easy.  "People GET organic," she says, "so every conversation begins so positively."

When reflecting on last year, Vidya emphasized what a family friendly event it was, with kids’ activities including face painting and wall climbing.  At the same time, there were competitive runners and joggers, fitness folks, and those just getting out for some healthy exercise while raising money for their cause.  Vidya ended up running into a cousin of hers with his four friends and, just as the run was beginning, her daughter's Hindi school was letting out across the street, so she was able to chat with her fellow Indian families about NOFA/Mass, organic food and farming, and community.  She plans on gathering some of these folks this year to join the team.

Vidya has been on the Board of NOFA/Mass for two years.  The Regional Engagement Manager for the Trustees of Reservations - Boston Region, she is focused on connecting folks in the greater Boston gardening community with education around organic food production through NOFA/Mass's programming and materials.  “The NOFA/Mass mission is critical,” she says. “How could you not support it?” Reconnecting city dwellers to what real food is, yes, but also taking it to new levels – technical understanding, knowledge, and also policies how practices are linked to climate change. “Making these connections is something that is unique to NOFA,” she says.  “An experienced farmer may not be thinking about her farming techniques in terms of the broader global/environmental picture.  At the same time, the climate change policy thinkers may not be considering the practical every day practices of the farmer and the challenge and opportunity that changing our growing methods presents.  Gathering folks together – having the conversation about what we have in common and what we can learn from each other – is what NOFA/Mass does so well.”

Come have that conversation with us.  Whether you are a fast runner, a walker (with or without shoes) or someone ready to cheer on the efforts of a really inspiring team, join us on November 5 in Lexington, MA.  There are so many ways to connect and change the world - let's get to it. 

Learn more about joining the team or sponsoring a team member at www.crowdrise.org/nofamassachusetts1

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