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Landscape Heroes: Carbon, Water, and Biodiversity

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2017 January Issue Newsletter

By Allison Houghton

Join us at NOFA/Mass along with the Ecological Landscape Alliance, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, and the CT NOFA Organic Land Care Program (OLC) for a day-long carbon conference on January 31 at UMass Amherst. The event offers practical tips and applications for how you can be part of the climate solution. Whether you are a gardening enthusiast, farmer, conservation/ restoration specialist, or landscape professional, there are important choices and positive changes that you can make.

Whether you work to reduce compaction using biology, actively build soil carbon, increase soil biodiversity and resilience above and below ground, or heal degraded landscapes, you will walk away with practical tips to apply to your own setting.

The conference keynote will be carbon expert, rancher, activist, and author Courtney White who has a new book titled Two Percent Solutions for the Planet. Courtney also wrote Grass, Soil, Hope, which was reviewed in a previous newsletter article by Julie Rawson here.

At a time where there are many deep divides apparent in our country, it is encouraging to read about Courtney’s search for the “radical middle” as he calls it. As a forest ranger put it: “The Berlin Wall fell down up here,” referring to the intensive divide amongst environmentalists, ranchers, scientists, local landowners, and policymakers in New Mexico in 1997. Courtney speaks of how he and several others who were a part of the Quivira Coalition worked to find common ground and a solution that worked for all. See December’s newsletter article for more. 

The conference features other carbon experts such as Eric Toensmeier author of the exciting new book The Carbon Farming Solution: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security. In a recent interview Living on Earth’s Helen Palmer interviewed Eric Toensmeier, describing how his new book “analyzes the potential of perennial crops and agro-forestry to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.” She went on to tour Eric’s own garden in Holyoke, Massachusetts which is a “demonstration of what can be done, even with just a tenth of an acre of land.” With about “300 species of useful perennials” including a perennial kale, the nitrogen-fixing bush clover, perennial beans, groundnut, and North America’s largest native fruit, the pawpaw, to name just a few.

Additional carbon experts and speakers include: Eric "T" Fleisher with his innovative work in Manhattan and Harvard University on avoiding compaction and improving landscape health using biology, Chip Osborne, a nationally recognized horticulturalist and co-founder of The Living Project, championing sustainable and healthy grass without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, Paul Wagner, a certified arborist and nursery professional who also runs the New York Soil Foodweb Laboratory, Hugh McLaughlin, the CTO of NextChar and expert in creating and using biochar to build resilience in landscapes, Bruce Fulford of Boston-based City Soil and Greenhouse which distributes locally-sourced, high quality composts, mulches, and amended soils to the region as well as providing composting technical assistance, environmental remediation, and intensive crop production methods and technologies, and Bryan O'Hara, a long time farmer of Tobacco Road Farm in Connecticut who has been using intensive, no-till practices to grow diversified vegetable crops and build long term soil health.

The great news of this conference is that the synergy of many individuals taking small steps can result in big impacts! Don't miss this opportunity to become part of the solution. Just $79 for members and $99 for non-members - includes organic luncheon. To register and find out more, visit!

We hope to see you there!


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