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2019 NOFA/Mass Winter Conference: Exploring the Role of Food as Medicine

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2018 July Issue Newsletter

By Caro Roszell, Winter Conference Workshop Coordinator

(Photo courtesy via Christine C - Creative Commons License)

The 2019 NOFA/Mass Winter Conference will explore the theme Food as Medicine, weaving together knowledge on nutrient-dense crop production, agro-ecological systems, nutrition, and regenerative farming practices. 

With nutrient levels in our food supply declining, rising CO2 levels causing crops to grow more empty calories, and the average American lifespan declining, it’s time to take a closer look at the role of our food in our health and wellbeing.

Not surprisingly, there is a strong connection between the way food is grown, its nutrient density, and its impact on our microbiome. Food grown in regenerative organic systems can be medicine for the body – and regenerative organic practices can likewise be medicine for degraded lands.

The 2019 conference will be held at Worcester State University (where they always feed us a great nutrient-dense local and organic lunch) on Saturday, January 12.

If you are a presenter and you want to be a part of this conference, we are currently seeking proposals for workshops! Send us your ideas. We accept proposals until September 15th, 2018 – but early workshop proposals are more likely to be accepted. Feel free to contact me by email at caro@nofamass.org to discuss your idea in advance.

Our keynote speaker will be John Kempf, farmer-turned-consultant, educator, podcaster and nutrient supply company entrepreneur. John is a recognized expert in agronomy, and is well known for being an early practitioner of remineralization, helping farmers (conventional and organic alike) go beyond mere N-P-K and restore degraded soils with trace minerals. Recently he launched The Regenerative Agriculture Podcast, in which he interviews experts in the field of etymology, microbiology, agronomy and plant physiology – learning together with his audience about the integrated ecological system that makes up healthy functioning soil-plant-animal communities.

John’s intensive – an advanced-level, full-day workshop – will be a deep look at the principles and the science of regenerative farming ecosystems that dramatically increase crop performance. From his research, John has concluded that current farming practices – in which system degradation is the norm – achieve only 15-25% of their genetic potential of their crops, leaving at least 75% of the crop yield and quality unrealized.

With regenerative systems, plants and their microbial partners can produce Olympic-athlete-level crop performance. At higher levels of plant function, photosynthesis is dramatically increased, root exudates are increased (accelerating soil-building) and crops not only achieve higher yields, but also are able to self-protect with thicker cell walls, waxy coatings and other physical defenses. They can also respond with a variety of chemical responses including protective secondary metabolites, like carotenoids and flavonoids, which are also protective of the health of the animals that eat those plants.

In his keynote address, John will focus on the synergy between high-level soil-plant function and human health outcomes, and will inspire our NOFA/Mass community to work toward their highest level of soil health for the sake of everyone in their food shed – be it a garden for one or a farm for hundreds.

So mark your calendars and plan to join us on January 12 to learn, be inspired, and be well!

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