"[Organic farming] ... for anyone who likes to feed others and play in the dirt."
- Julie Rawson Executive Director, NOFA/Mass
NOFA/Mass offers a tremendous number of resources for farmers and growers of all stripes: the Organic Food Guide, the NOFA Summer Conference, the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference, Advanced Growers' Seminars, a variety of Education Events, the annual Spring Bulk Order, a Beginning Farmer/Journeyperson Program, the Raw Milk Network, and our ongoing Policy work to improve conditions for farming in Massachusetts by supporting appropriate regulations to assure safe access to markets as well as freshness and maximum nutritional value.
The most recognized "father" of organic farming is Sir Albert Howard. Howard was trained in the Justus von Liebig "school" of conventional agriculture in the late 1800's. Von Liebig's paper titled "Chemistry in its Application to Agriculture" in 1843 was the signature event that moved the world into the N-P-K fertility mindset. While working with indigenous farmers in India in the early 1900's, Sir Albert Howard came to realize that traditional methods of farming were necessary to keep crops and people healthy. These passages from The Soil and Health (published in 1947) sum up the organic system quite beautifully.
"Mother earth never attempts to farm without livestock; she always raises mixed crops; great pains are taken to preserve the soil and to prevent erosion; the mixed vegetable and animal wastes are converted into humus; there is no waste; the processes of growth and the processes of decay balance one another; ample provision is made to maintain large reserves of fertility; the greatest care is taken to store the rainfall; both plants and animals are left to protect themselves against disease."
He argued that all farming must not fall pray to the temptation to turn the reserves of humus into a short term profit at the expense of later generations. He saw the variety of life above and below ground as emblematic of the great "Wheel of Life" that through "the successive and repeated processes of birth, growth, maturity, death, and decay" feeds and sustains the life on the planet. In a departure from the conventional thinking of the day, he thought of diseases and insects not as a scourge to be wiped out with poisons, but as teachers and friends that show him where the processes of growth and decay are out of balance.
High tunnels, hoop houses, and greenhouses are one of the best tools growers of the northeast have to significantly increase their production, maintain a year-round market, and boost their bottom line. With proper management, a high tunnel investment that can pay for itself in just one or two seasons. Presenters Andrew Mefferd and Michael Kilpatrick, both veteran organic farmers from Northeast have worked for years to optimize the use of this simple but powerful tool for other farmers.
Smart forest management can help you move towards energy independence while also providing additional income. This woodlot management workshop is meant to empower owners of small woodlots to start a management program of their own.
David Cantieni will share his personal experience of living in the woods for the last 30 years and his journey of forest stewardship. He’ll discuss and demonstrate how to do a forest assessment, with emphasis on species diversity, canopy openness, aesthetics, wildlife habitat, and timber quality. David will dive into economic considerations of forest management including regional timber markets, selling cordwood, and more. There will also be discussion of scale-appropriate tools and technology to aid you in your forestry work.
New England is blessed with an excellent climate for growing a wide variety of mushrooms, many of which contain rare nutritional and medicinal value. This hands-on workshop will teach you the techniques necessary to grow edible mushrooms in your landscape, whether it be a backyard, woodlot, or basement. We’ll primarily focus on cultivating lion’s mane and shiitake mushrooms, both renowned for their flavor, medicinal qualities, and ease of cultivation. The skills you’ll practice in this class will empower you to be begin your own mycelial adventures.