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

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Revitalize and recharge at the NOFA Summer Conference

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2016 July Issue Newsletter

By Jason Valcourt

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 60 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.

Now is the perfect moment in the summer season to take in a revitalizing and refreshing dose of your community and recharge your connection to the organic movement. The season is long. The pests are eating readily. And your community is experiencing the same challenges you are. We are all trying to make things better on our land, and with our bodies.

Beginning on Friday morning you have the opportunity to dive deep into your studies of your chosen interest with a Friday intensive seminar. Enjoy a half or full-day exploration of regenerative agricultural practices, the science of grazing, your own nutrition and gut wellness, homesteading to nourish your life and extending your season with high tunnels.

As our 2016 keynote speakers, we have chosen two deeply passionate and highly intelligent people, both of whom are at the forefront of their fields and have devoted their lives to their respective areas of interest. On Friday of the conference, Leah Penniman (of Soul Fire Farm) will illuminate the issue of inequality in agriculture for us with her keynote address: Ending Racism in Farming and Food: 10 Not-So-Easy Steps. Agriculture has such a deep connection to racism in America. We will not only work to feed people, but also work to heal the relationship between people and land. Leah Penniman will surely clarify and inspire us all to work together toward a brighter, more just future.

On Saturday evening, André Leu will bring his 40 years of agricultural experience together with his deep involvement with climate change, how it relates to food production, and how we can simultaneously heal the earth while producing food for everyone. His keynote address – Regenerative Organic Agriculture - How We Can Reverse Climate Change – will hit at the heart of NOFA’s work and show the promise of a future, healthy earth.

We have two powerful panel discussions lined up to compliment our keynote speakers’ topics; both include our keynotes taking part in the respective discussions. On Saturday morning, Leah Penniman will lead a panel including Karen Washington of Rise and Root Farm and Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners and others. Roll up your sleeves and prepare for a straightforward, action oriented, mission critical session. Don’t miss this crucial meeting if you are fighting for equality and justice in agriculture and beyond.  On Sunday Morning, André Leu will take part in our Carbon Sequestration panel discussion to provide a forum for the important work farmers can do to counteract climate change. Don’t miss this discussion on how to implement actionable practices that can bring your land in line with climate healing.

Plan to enjoy amazing, practical and enlightening workshops throughout the entire weekend. Summer Conference presenters have deep experience and some have vast bodies of work to draw lessons and insights that can help you accelerate your development.  Here is a sample of some workshops that will take you further as you develop your land and your livelihood:

  • How Do We Unlock Soil Potential? with Dan Kittredge, of the Bionutrient Food Association.
  • Low Intervention Organic Fruit Production with Jack Kittredge/Julie Rawson, of Many Hands Organic Farm.
  • Compost and the Living Soil: A Cooperative Effort with Sam Fox, Earthcare Farm in Charlestown, RI.
  • Keeping Sheep Organically with Kimberly Mastrianni, Maple Frost Farm in Langdon, NH.
  • Growing Health: 10 Herbs for Backyard Medicine with Maria Noël Groves, RH.
  • Financial Planning & Management for Diversified Farms with Dan Kaplan, Brookfield Farm, Amherst, MA.

The annual NOFA Summer Conference is always a family event, and both parents and children have a full program to enjoy. Childcare is provided at the Children’s Conference and at different times over the weekend so parents can attend workshops and have their own experience while the kids learn, and enjoy themselves. Children’s workshop presenters will help your child enjoy such activities as making butter, creating birdhouses, learning about bees, hanging out with goats, playing music together, marching in the parade and making their own t-shirt designs. Teens at the conference will delve into tying knots, pollinator health, dyeing repurposed t-shirts, saving seeds, dehydrating techniques and are free to attend any adult sessions.

Registration is now live and the “Early Bird” discount is available until July 15 for 20% off registration! We have scholarship opportunities available for those looking for ways to offset expenses, help with the conference and be a part of the event on another level. Group rates are also available. Five or more people who register together using the paper form receive 10% off registration.

Browse the workshop selections, see the rich schedule and register at www.nofasummerconference.org!

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