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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2019 NOFA/Mass Winter Conference in the Books

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2019 February Issue Newsletter

By Jason Valcourt, NOFA/Mass Winter Conference Coordinator

What an amazing day 1/12/19 was. The 32nd NOFA/Mass Winter Conference was a lively and engaging affair with an intimate and warm family vibe. We spent the day together with 850 enthused soil and plant lovers, had so much fun and felt many warm vibes on another cold January day. The theme of Food As Medicine was explored and discussed from many angles and the notion of Food As Medicine has taken root in our minds and vocabulary.

We would like to extend huge gratitude to all that attended, exhibited, presented, played music, promoted and made the day so powerful. We are looking forward to processing your evaluation feedback and beginning the journey to next year’s Winter Conference on Saturday January 11, 2020.

e are pleased that our new registration and vendor setup, based in the WSU Student Center, worked out better than we expected. The central location set the stage for lots of networking and plenty of room for relaxing or reading. The life inside the building and the simplicity of navigating the conference seemed like an improvement overall. Lunch was also spacious and delicious, and the Meetups were full of energy and buzz. This move also allowed us to offer full breakfast options for sale in the Student Center Cafe in the morning, which was a welcome option for an early morning bite.

" Lunchtime meetups at the 2019 Winter Conference were a big hit; The Children's Conference was full of fun, learning and active participation; Vendors set up in the Student Center this year for a more spacious and engaging experience. "John Kemp’s keynote address was inspiring and informative as he painted a picture of plant life’s role in soil health. His perspective is insightful and turns the table on the prevailing view that soil builds healthy plants and asserts that plant health in fact builds soil health. In his keynote he stated, “We do need to work to improve our soil health, however, the pathway to building really healthy soils is to grow exceptionally healthy plants. It's healthy plants that sequester carbon and build organic matter and improve soil health, not the other way around. Soil health is not the engine that drives plant health, it’s actually plant health and photosynthesis that is the engine that drives soil health. Plants, through photosynthesis, are the only engine.  They are the only way you have of bringing new energy into the ecosystem. They bring in new energy from sunlight and solar collection.” His encouragement for us to help maximize a plant’s inherent genetic potential, in which he states we typically tap into approximately only 20% of, was a motivating message. You can listen to his full keynote address here.

Our children’s conference was lively with future farmers that lent their voices to kick off the NOFA/Mass Annual Meeting with the song “This Pretty Planet”, written by Tom Chapin. The kids had a fantastic day learning about bees, vermicomposting, made seed bombs, played games, danced and crafted. Phew!

childrens conferenceWe were disappointed that Congressman McGovern was not able join us as originally expected, but it was very kind of him to send a video address which you can view here.

Our raffles were exciting and chock full of wonderful wares and products thanks to generous presenters, exhibitors and donors! There were many delighted winners and one lucky person went home with a wifi enabled Coolbot Pro to make themselves a DIY walk-in cooler.

We wrapped up the day with a passionate address from Scott and Erica Muhammed, founders of SEED (Students for Education and Economic Development), before we enjoyed a fantastic dinner of locally sourced and skillfully prepared deliciousness.

We hope you were there and that you enjoyed yourself. If you weren’t, we hope you’ll mark your calendar for next year’s conference on January 11, 2020.

Can’t wait until next January to see us again?  Check out what’s on deck for the 2019 NOFA Summer Conference here.

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