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

2016 Winter Conference offers wide variety of workshops for all ages and interests

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2015 December Issue Newsletter

By Cathleen O’Keefe, Bob Minnocci, and Stacie Brimmage

Tara Whitsitt presents ‘Fermenting by Season’ at 2015 Winter Conference

January 16 is fast approaching, but you still have time to register for all of the fun. Register by the December 15 early bird deadline to save on your registration price at!

Bring your kids for the day and together the whole family can learn how to be part of a smarter, healthier planet. We’ve added lots of great presenters to the children’s and teen conference line-up, so children of all ages will learn how to be better stewards of our planet.  

Ben Burkett, a truly inspirational Mississippi farmer, will be enriching everyone’s day with his keynote address “Family Farmers Matter.”  Cooperative grocers, farmers, and businesses will not want to miss his all-day seminar on “Cooperative Family Farming.” In this seminar, Burkett will discuss many of the steps involved in setting up a profitable, managed cooperative using his own family farm and cooperative history as a model.

Burkett is the State Coordinator for the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives. He provides technical expertise to small-scale farmers and limited resource farmers and ranchers in rural communities. He serves as the president of the National Family Farm Coalition and has traveled to Senegal, South Africa, Kenya, Nicaragua, Lebanon, and Zimbabwe, exchanging knowledge and information with small-scale farmers. You can join him for an intimate dinner and follow-up lecture after the conference, as well, where he’ll detail some experiences with seven-year long carbon sequestration trials. Attendees can register for this great evening a la carte or in combination with the rest of the conference activities.

There is a limited amount of Winter Conference scholarship funding available to NOFA/Mass members in financial need. If you are willing to work for 2 hours, we will credit you $25 off your conference registration. Apply now!

Captivating workshops in store

Our NOFA/Mass Winter Conference team has worked really hard to coordinate a conference that is both pertinent and engaging for so many. There will be 70 workshops to choose from. Here is just a small sampling of the workshops that will take place on Saturday January 16th. We look forward to seeing you there!

Perennial Vegetables and Beyond: Growing Food, Growing Soil & Sequestering Carbon (All levels)

Aaron Guman: Through Walking Onion LLC in Montpelier, VT, Aaron offers design, installation, education and plants for regenerative, edible ecosystems.

Many folks who grow their own food have some perennials (fruit trees, asparagus, rhubarb) in addition to their annual vegetables. Our landscapes and tables can be further enriched with a whole host of lesser-known perennial vegetables. In this workshop, we will discuss species that grow well in our region, many of which have a rich history in the garden, such as seakale, a hardy perennial member of the cabbage family, and a favorite vegetable of Thomas Jefferson. We will also review practical growing techniques that complement annuals, and tips on perennializing the diet and growing in polycultures.


Create your own "Chicken Mansion" (All levels)

Michael Mcmanmon: Owner of Bradley Farm, a small sustainable farm in the Berkshires.

Tired of fighting the New England winter cold, the mess of chicken feeding and watering cans? Want to cut your work time down from an hour to ten minutes? By utilizing simple materials, you can minimize the hassle of maintaining your hens over the winter and maintain good egg production levels. In this workshop, we will review how to construct a simplified system for feeding and watering hens.


Winter Natural Medicine Cabinet (All levels)

John Kozinski: Natural Health and Visual Diagnosis Teacher, Counselor, Researcher, Author, Shiatsu and Qigong teacher since 1976.

With the winter weather come lots of flus and colds for adults and children. I will explain about key foods, herbs and supplements you can stock up on to prevent illness by strengthening your immune system. If you or a family member does get sick, learn remedies to help speed up the healing process.


Beekeeping Intensive Pt. 1: Overwintering Bees and Spring Management (All levels)

Ross Conrad: Author of Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches To Modern Apiculture.

One of the most challenging aspects of keeping bees in the Northeast is successfully overwintering the hives so that they are alive in the spring. In this workshop, we’ll discuss the primary issues that need to be addressed to help bees survive the winter and how to steward colonies through the critical time period of late winter and early spring when hives are typically in their most vulnerable condition.


Grassroots Marketing Strategies for Urban Farmers Markets (All levels)

Laura Bozzi: The Farm, Food and Youth Programs Director at Southside Community Land Trust.

Laura Brown-Lavoie: Farmer at Sidewalk Ends Farm in Providence, RI and Seekonk, MA.

Farmers’ success with direct marketing through farmers markets depends on whether the market attracts sufficient customers; otherwise, farmers take the double hit of time and produce lost. This session presents the best practices learned from a grassroots marketing strategy coordinated by Southside Community Land Trust between farmers, market managers, and urban youth to promote three urban Providence farmers' markets. We will also review the basics of marketing and branding, and share the templates and marketing materials developed.


Seed Growing in the Market Garden (All levels)

Bill Braun: A vegetable grower and seed saver at Ivory Silo Farm in Westport, MA.

Market growers may perceive working seed saving into the production plan as one task too many, without worthwhile economic return, or as simply extraneous and idealistic. This workshop will provide a brief history of the politics surrounding seeds, to serve as a catalyst for discussing the virtue and practicality of on-farm seed saving.

A note about our exhibitors

Vending/exhibiting spaces are going at record speed this year and will likely sell out well in advance of the Winter Conference. Our unique vendor/exhibitor line-up is super exciting. Looking for the latest in great farm tools and related items? Check out Two Bad Cats, LLC, OESCO, Wellscroft Fence. Soil related products? You won’t want to miss Vermont Compost, Organic AG Products, and Lancaster Ag. Need seeds? Look for Turtle Tree Seeds and Fedco Seeds. How about health services? Groton Wellness will be there. Clothing? Taproot Threads and Plain View Farm. How about honey? Dancing Bee Gardens. Ever think about wanting to produce eggs? Carol’s Pasture Raised Eggs has a great plan for you. Ready to check out college for yourself or a loved one? Sterling College and the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture will be there. And we welcome a newcomer – Stone Barns Center, a non-profit farm and education center.


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