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

Events

NOFA/Mass has started another year of our “Inspiring Ideas from the Field” monthly webinar series. The series started in April and will feature presenters on soil carbon sequestration, biochar, no-till farming, urban gardening techniques such as bio-intensive growing, and other topics from our in-the-field experts. This year we’ve added Food Access topics to bring attention to urban farming and gardening work that is bringing healthy food to communities that struggle with food security issues.

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!

On June 17 Jono Neiger, local agroecologist with a lifetime of experience in regenerative design, will present the following workshop: Permaculture Homestead Design: How to Assess and Plan Your Sustainable Homestead. It will run from 10am to 3pm at Wildside Cottage and Gardens in Conway.

According to Jono: “The work of building the dream homestead starts well before the first garden is dug or the greenhouse is built. Creating an efficient and flourishing home and garden, one that yields abundantly but needs few inputs, requires skillful planning. Each element must intelligently connect with every other element in the system.”

As growers, we designate winter as the time of learning. As the pace slows, we find more time to breathe, and with that we can open ourselves up to reflection upon the past season... and anticipation of the next. However, despite notoriously being labeled as “the season of the workload,” summer also provides ample opportunity to soak up knowledge. Our brains are in the present, constantly surrounded by stimuli, evaluating decisions made just a few months earlier. The current season’s experiences are fresh, (hopefully) rewardingly – but more likely painfully, let’s be honest, being categorized as successes or failures. So, with all this material rolling around at the front of our brain, wouldn’t it make sense to maybe give our bodies a break, hand off the reins for just a few days, sit down and participate in some gratifying and invigorating discussions and education? This year’s Summer Conference intensive workshops bring an amazing lineup of presenters. Friday’s intensives start in the morning, before the main conference begins, bringing both of our keynote speakers, Dr. Huber and Michael Phillips, as well as Connor Stedman, Hannah Traggis, Bill Braun, and Dorn Cox to Hampshire College.

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.

(C) Matt Kaminsky 2016

On April 8 in Amherst, Matt Kaminsky, the author of The Wild Apple Forager’s Guide, will be teaching the workshop Fruit Tree Propagation Practicum: Grafting and Top Working along with Bob Fitz, lead orchardist of Small Ones Farm.

Malus domestica, the Latin nomenclature for the common apple, truly is an aptly-named species. From its early colonial days as the primary ingredient in hard cider, the drink of choice for most early New Englanders, to its current place as a centerpiece in autumn’s culinary delights, Malus domestica tells the story of our endless quest for sugar, intoxication, and control. No other fruit has been as shaped by the needs of the people it cohabited with.

On April 22 individual farms, homesteads, gardens, and homes throughout Massachusetts will host potlucks to build connection and community between us – sharing a meal, walking land, discussing the topics that are critical to our region and world, and inspiring one another with practical ways that we can create a restorative future.

Overwintered onions

All too often, I’ll visit a farm in late fall or winter to find their high tunnels without any crops growing. Many growers don’t have the time, energy, or experience to get a crop in after their main summer crop has bit the dust. But high tunnels are simply too valuable to be unproductive for a full season or two. With good crop planning and preparation, you can grow an incredible diversity of vegetables throughout the winter and early spring.

If you want to learn more tips and tricks to enhance your farm’s year-round high tunnel production, join us for an advanced seminar at Stonehill College on February 6 on organic high tunnel production featuring expert farmers Michael Kilpatrick and Andrew Mefferd. Learn more here.

Elizabeth and Paul Kaiser were keynoters at 2017 Winter Conference

Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser of Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastapol, California, were the keynote speakers for the 30th annual NOFA/Mass Winter Conference. On January 14 at Worcester State University they spoke to 800 farmers, gardeners, soil scientists, extension agents and others involved in New England food systems.

They came with a message – that agriculture has been one of the greatest contributors to climate change in human history, but it is also our best hope for mitigating climate change. The Kaiser’s assert that by adapting their practices to sequester more soil carbon, farmers can simultaneously improve the health of their crops, soil, and finances.

2016 NOFA/Mass Staff and Board at Annual Retreat

2016 NOFA/Mass Staff and Board at Annual Retreat

A new year has begun at NOFA/Mass, and it has started very nicely. 800 folks attended the 30th Annual NOFA/Mass Winter Conference. Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser shared their success with their family-size no-till farm in Sebastopol, CA. There were plenty of good takeaways for anyone who grows vegetables and wants to improve your farm ecosystem. Thanks to the presenters of the other 70 workshops and the 70 or so exhibitors who shared their expertise and wares with participants. And also a hearty thank you to Worcester State University for being such quintessential hosts to us. They make conference arrangements easy!

At the conference we welcomed two new staff members to NOFA/Mass. Marty Dagoberto has accepted the role of Outreach Coordinator. He will replace Sharon Gensler in this role. We sent Sharon off with the NOFA/Mass Person of the Year award for her oh so many years of service to us. She has truly been the face of the organization. Marty most recently worked with MA Right to Know GMOs and many anti-gmo organizations in the state and region in our unsuccessful coalition bid to get a GMO labeling bill passed in Massachusetts. He brings a wealth of contacts, energy and savvy for organizational collaboration to the table. He will also be putting new energy into The Organic Food Guide to make this a more vibrant publication of organic food in our state.

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