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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NOFA/Mass Winter Conference: Food as Medicine

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

By Caro Roszell, Winter Conference Workshop Coordinator

This year at the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference we will be focusing on the theme of Food as Medicine. We will have tracks on farming, homesteading and gardening, as well as cooking, no-till farming, and livestock, but we encourage our presenters and attendees to think about these topics in terms of the relationship between soil health, food quality, and health outcomes for people and communities.

sizing up a mushroomWith that in mind, our intensives this year will focus on the relationships between growing, eating, and well-being. This year we have options for gardeners, farmers and for those interested in growing mushrooms. Intensive workshops at the conference are designed for conference goers who would like to go deeper on a particular area of study, and spend the whole day with one presenter pursuing one subject.

The conference will take place on January 12 at Worcester State University. John Kempf, founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture, a plant nutrition and biostimulants consulting company, will be this year’s keynote speaker. Kempf is an expert in the field of biological and regenerative farming and hosts the Regenerative Agriculture Podcast. Workshop proposals are being accepted until September 15.

Planning a Traditional, Four-Square Kitchen Garden

For gardeners, we have sought-after garden educator and garden historian Christie Higginbottom, who has taught at NOFA/Mass events for many years, in various afterschool and adult education programs as well as at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. For twenty years, Christie coordinated the historic horticulture program at Old Sturbridge Village, leading the research, planning and planting of the museum’s historic household kitchen gardens.

One of Christie’s areas of expertise is in the traditional Four-Square Kitchen Garden, or Pennsylvania Dutch Gardens – a traditional colonial American garden layout brought over from Germany and German-speaking Switzerland. This garden layout, usually located between the kitchen door and the entrance to the barnyard, embodied the close connection between the belly, the garden, and the source of garden fertility (the barnyard). The four squares of the layout simplified garden rotation, and continues to be a great way to design and manage a family-scale kitchen garden.

In this full-day intensive, Christie will demonstrate how the four-square design can create an attractive garden that incorporates vegetables, herbs and fruits. She will go into detail on growing different crops in the kitchen garden by family, including onions and garlic, lettuce, legumes like peas and beans, all the common brassicas and root crops, as well as the nightshade crops (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes) and the cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, and melons).

Using both traditional advice from the past and modern gardening techniques, this intensive will teach participants how to design, plant, and care for a home kitchen garden throughout the season.



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