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

Summer Conference

2016 Summer Conference farm tour at Fungi Ally

The coming of spring brings the NOFA Summer Conference one step closer to its return to Hampshire College after 10 years at the University of Massachusetts. Fond memories of the exciting summers of the early organic movement, when organic labeling was not standardized and organic certification had not been legislated by the federal government, are still fresh in the minds of some long time NOFA members. The community was growing and establishing its roots, and the conferences were an annual celebration of the collective energy of the small and large actions of many passionate growers.

At this year’s conference we will celebrate our interconnectedness: from the biological interactions of fungi and roots to the effect those relationships have on human health. We will be sharing ideas and honoring natural methods that are gentle on the earth, cultivate sustainably and responsibly, and consider the equity of all people involved.

All across the northeast each NOFA state chapter hosts its own winter conference. There may or may not be snow on the ground depending on where you’re from, but you can bet that farmers and gardeners across the region are welcoming 2017 with the educational opportunities these conferences offer. Some are one, others two days, some are even three days; all provide the learning that is so critical for those with more or less growing/advocating/consuming experience. And after each conference, attendees trek home to nestle back into their winter routine, brains buzzing with newfound knowledge and inspiration.

Conferences are kind of like caffeine: you arrive sleepy but full of anticipation, and you walk away truly jazzed. Relationships are made, ideas are hatched, and on the drive home you can’t stop thinking about all the places you could grow mushrooms. And it’s not just the attendees that leave feeling this way. Internally, our conference staff surf that conference energy wave all the way to August. Because most NOFA staff work remotely, those high-fives and intense ideation conversations carry us through the next seven months, at which point we caffeinate ourselves with the real stuff and do it all over again. So, with our own NOFA/Mass 2017 Winter Conference now in the books, we take a second to catch our breath, get a good night’s sleep, and refocus on planning the next must-attend weekend: the 43rd annual NOFA Summer Conference, August 11-13.

The long, sweaty, stressful days of summer feel miles behind us, our hours now being spent in front of the fire with crop plans and financial spreadsheets rather than under the blazing hot sun with harvest knives and weeding maps. The 2017 growing season couldn’t be farther away; with any luck, mountains of snow stand between those very first seedlings and us. Now is the time to sleep in a little longer, do a little more yoga, and catch up on the New York Times bestseller list.

We at NOFA, however, are spending our days looking ahead to next summer with vigor; August is at the forefront of our minds, and with it the 43rd annual Summer Conference on August 11-13. Fall and winter provide us with the opportunity to build the best conference program possible. Our Summer Conference Committee has already been putting their heads together, brainstorming new ways to add depth to this annual event. Exciting changes have already taken place! A long awaited move back to Hampshire College has made the books, which we know will bring great joy to attendees, presenters, vendors and staff. Hampshire’s compact, quiet and earthy site (not to mention their onsite farm! Oh, the opportunities!) will provide a relaxing and enjoyable conference experience.

Social & Racial Justice Panel Discussion, August 2016

We are opening up our options in seeking another location to host you at the Annual NOFA Summer Conference. Based on our wish to host a more convenient and close community event we are considering moving the conference location to better suit our needs and to align with the spirit of NOFA.

We seek a host that loves the organic movement and has suitable space for us in the second weekend of August every year. We’d love your help with ideas and even advocacy in helping us get acquainted with prospective sites.

We’ve secured the location, gathered the experts all in one place, and for one weekend in August, you will be at the epicenter of the organic movement in the Northeast.

In under 45 days, over 1200 organic farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, dieticians, herbalists and activists will come together to recharge and further the organic movement, deepening our knowledge, connections and impact at this important moment. Prepare to learn and teach and join others to discuss solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing us. Solutions to pests. Solutions to weeds. Solutions to inequity. Solutions to profitability. Solutions to wellness.

Jade Alicandro Mace leads herb walk at 2014 Summer Conference

August seems so far off in the middle of May. Maybe because the temps are still low, or the kids are still in school, or because of how busy spring is. But this year’s NOFA Summer Conference is now less than 90 days away and will be here before we know it!

Now is the time to take advantage of the 20% discount and register as an “Early Bird” before prices rise on July 15! Applications for our work exchange scholarship programs are available as well, with limited space. Please apply, or pass this on to someone you know would like to get involved through one of these programs.

Leah Penniman

The Summer Conference took an unexpected turn last month, as keynote speaker Dr. Christine Jones had to cancel her visit due to health concerns. She has been in touch regularly, helping us in our search for a replacement that can further our work on carbon sequestration for healthier soils and climate. We are happy to say her updates are positive and encouraging regarding her health, and we hope for a NOFA visit in the near future.

Our keynote speakers are already preparing their presentations, hoping to enlighten and inspire you this summer to help further the work you are doing. Leah Penniman will be addressing race inequality in our agricultural landscape and asking such questions as “How are we using food and land as tools to end mass incarceration and institutional racism?” Dr. Christine Jones will be addressing what we can do as an agricultural community to combat climate change through the stewardship of our own living soil, and helping us take our soil building to the next level.

Our Friday morning intensive seminars this year are opportunities to delve deeper into Soil Building for Carbon Restoration, The Art and Science of Grazing, Season Extension & High Tunnel production and more to soon be confirmed.

Heather Wernimont from Real Pickles leads sauerkraut demo during fair

Heather Wernimont from Real Pickles leads sauerkraut demo during fair

A sincere thank you to all those who helped to make the 2015 NOFA Summer Conference a success. 1100 people from across the northeast gathered at UMass Amherst for three days of building skills, community, and awareness with 140+ workshops on all manner of topics. Both keynote speakers and many workshops highlighted this year’s theme “Healing the Climate, Healing Ourselves: Regeneration through Microbiology”.

Since the widespread application of antibiotics, pesticides, fungicides, and many other anti-microbial treatments, we have witnessed the rise of the belief that microbes cause some of our biggest problems – from low crop yields to infectious disease. However, the 2015 NOFA Summer Conference will show that microbes are essential partners in solving some our biggest problems today, including widespread chronic disease and global climate disruption.

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