Register NOW at a discounted rate for the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference, with keynoter Mark Shepard, author of Restoration Agriculture. More information here.
Donations from friends and members can have at least twice the impact during this year’s Fall Appeal, thanks to a group of NOFA/Mass members who have come together and pledged to match up to $7000 in appeal donations through year’s end. In addition, in a challenge within a challenge, all donations that are $100 or more will be matched 2 to 1!
The NOFA/Mass Raw Milk Network today said that the state of Massachusetts, through the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), handles licensing and regulation of raw milk sales well, and the towns that are home to the nearly 30 raw milk dairies in the state should continue to entrust that role to the professional inspectors and scientists at MDAR. The statement was issued because the town of Foxborough has proposed additional regulations for raw milk dairies operating in that town.
First held in 1975, this is the NOFA Summer Conference’s 40th year. We will be celebrating with an exciting program of workshops, pre-conferences, and a keynote designed to empower participants with knowledge to transform their local food systems for the better and to transition this world toward organic. For the 2014 NOFA Summer Conference, we’re condensing the main conference from three to two days: Saturday and Sunday, August 9-10, 2014. We’ll still have eight total workshop slots by adding a workshop slot from 3-4:30 p.m. on both days, making a total of four workshop slots per day.
Note: you need NOT be a full-time farmer to qualify for a scholarship. Students with some farming or gardening experience qualify! Backyard chicken keepers qualify! Avid gardeners qualify! Don't hesitate to apply!
Erik Andrus reported on his findings from a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NESARE) Farmer Grant to explore the market possibilities for production and sale of turbinado sugar from non-gmo “sugar beets” on his farm, Boundbrook Farm in the Champlain Valley in Vergennes, Vermont. Although the project did not ultimately yield a sugar product worthy of marketing, Andrus believes there is potential for profitably raising field beets in New England.
Brix Bounty farm is a $100,000/year vegetable operation in Dartmouth, MA with a market emphasis on vegetable quality. Beets are among the top 10 crops the farm produces. “Old timers” and first generation foodies alike, who appreciate the superior taste of a quality beet, make up a large portion of the farm’s beet customers. He says Eastern European customers also account for a great number of beet sales.
Shiitake mushrooms are among the most widely grown mushroom in the world, second only to the common button mushroom. Log-grown shiitake mushrooms are relatively easy to raise, certify organic, and use to create a small-scale commercial operation if you have the basics: space, shade, access to hardwood logs and water. Shiitake growing is a great way to make use of forest or marginal land, such as steep hillsides that may not have other uses.
This workshop explored the rapidly expanding institutional market (schools, colleges, hospitals, etc.) for locally grown foods. The presenters addressed how farmers can evaluate whether sales to institutions fit into their business models, the unique characteristics of this sales channel, and how to begin with institutional sales.
Brian O’Hara has been growing vegetables at his one-plus acre farm, Tobacco Road Farm, in Lebanon, Connecticut for 22 years. In those years he has applied many techniques toward growing potatoes. Recently, he moved from rough tilled fields toward no-till methods. During the 2013 NOFA Summer Conference, Brian outlined Tobacco Road’s potato production techniques. Starting with soil fertility, he went on to identify his best practices for planning, seed selection, planting, hand and tractor tools and management techniques.
Dan Kaplan has been the lead CSA farmer at Brookfield farm for 20 years. According to Dan, Brookfield was the third CSA in the country and he considers himself a part of the second generation of CSA growers in the US. He says in the early days CSAs were mainly market garden scale and were not taken seriously by the farming establishment. The goal at that time was to expand the availability of organic vegetables and improve the financial viability of organic farming. These days though, the popularity of CSA is growing to the point where some even wond
Atina Diffley is an organic farmer, consultant and author. She stresses that, “Marketing is about bringing the right product, at the right price, to the right customer.” After farming for more than 20 years, Atina has come to learn that incorporating one’s values into the branding and sale of farm products and finding one’s competitive advantage among one’s peers is essential to the success of any farm marketing plan.
The Logistics for Starting a CSA workshopcovered a range of issues and considerations for anyone interested in creating a vegetable CSA of up to 100 shares.
Keith Stewart runs a diversified farm about 65 miles from NYC where he raises 14 acres of certified organic vegetables, herbs, and some fruit. Herbs take up about 8% of the total acreage and bring in about 15% of the revenue. He sells primarily at the Union Square Green Market in Manhattan two days per week.
Stewart’s Seven Reasons to Grow Herbs
Growing excellent tomatoes requires understanding your plants’ unique needs throughout each stage of its life, according to veteran farmer Amy LeBlanc, owner and operator of Whitehill Farm in East Wilton, Maine. During the summer, she and her husband grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and culinary herbs. They also participate in farmers’ markets and sell products online.
At the outset of her talk Atina Diffley steered the audience to the farmer’s resource page of her website, www.atinadiffley.com. There you can find links to many helpful sites and publications covering all aspects of organic farming.
The comment period for the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) closes on 22nd (extended). Some of the proposed regulations would make it very difficult for small farmers, and those choosing to eat food from small farms, to continue current practices.
Our skin is one of our most sensitive organs. The dangers of sun exposure with and without sunscreen have been heatedly debated. The chemicals in sunscreen may do more harm than the rays they protect us from. Organic cotton, or better yet organic hemp, is supposed to not only feel better, but be healthier for our skin because less chemicals are used to grow and process it. In my quest to find the most balanced health for my family and myself, I have taken aim at all things unhealthy we come in contact with. My parent’s chlorine-based pool was in my sights.
Workshops on cheese, bees, poultry, and more
Baystate Organic Certifiers
Source for certified organic food
Buy fresh, unpasteurized milk from a local farm.
27th annual Winter Conference January 11, 2014