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NOFA Summer Conference 2019 Sneak Peak

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

By Jason Valcourt, NOFA Summer Conference Coordinator

New two day conference schedule packs a punch

Each year, as the organizer of the NOFA Summer Conference-- the conference that serves the seven chapters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association-- I travel to as many of the NOFA chapter Winter Conferences as I possibly can.

For the last two months I have been lucky to enjoy the amazing education and positive vibes at each of our sister chapters’ winter gatherings. I’ve caught up with many folks that will be presenting at the NOFA Summer Conference this year, had interesting discussions with farmers and food activists and have made many new friends. I had a great conversation with Jim at Land For Good about the serious business of farm transitions and how many in our NOFA community are currently deep into that difficult work on their own farms. I left with the hope that over the years, farmers of all ages will begin to build their farm transition into their farm vision as much as they are building their soil health and production capacities.

I had great conversations with Adam Sacks of Biodiversity for a Livable Climate about the wave of regenerative-minded organizations and how they can best collaborate to shape the paradigm of farm and land-based implementation of carbon drawdown. I caught up with Louis Battalen and Liz Henderson from NOFA’s Domestic Fair Trade Committee and have seen their listening sessions fill rooms with passionate discussions of farm worker rights. View Louis and Liz’s invitation to the Summer Conference here.

The keynotes have been particularly inspiring, with Leah Penniman keynoting both NOFA NY and VT, moving us toward a deeper understanding of the historical context for the source of the agricultural practices we champion and how their roots are found in African traditions; from CSA models to building organic matter. We at NOFA strongly recommend her newly- released book Farming While Black.

The work of the wider NOFA community and our resilience as farmers and organizers is an ongoing source of inspiration for me as I prepare our interstate Summer Conference. With so much work to do and the odds stacked heavily against us we keep strategizing, building, and growing into our future.

We are now putting the finishing touches on the program for our 2019 NOFA Summer Conference workshop and entertainment programs and we are getting hyped for another amazing Summer Conference this August. Our keynote speaker, Sandor Katz, will offer a keynote and an intensive workshop on Saturday. Also on Saturday will be an evening plenary with soil biologist Kris Nichols, former Chief Scientist at Rodale Institute. Scheduled for Sunday are our two full-day intensives: An Introduction to Herbal Medicine with Guido Mase, RH (ANG), a whole-plant herbalist from Burlington, Vermont; and Field to Market Hemp Cultivation with Brendan Beer, a CBD Hemp farmer from Greensboro, Vermont.

It would be hard to fit more into the 2019 program. Though we removed Friday from the schedule, we added another session on Sunday in order to offer attendees the most content possible in one weekend. It’s a program rich with diverse material and opportunity. In one day, you can hop from a pest-scouting workshop at the Hampshire College Farm to a discussion of the impacts of mushroom extracts on bee health, and end with a deep dive into the biology behind coppicing and pollarding. New this year are two kitchen spaces, which means you can join in a hunt around campus for edible weeds, and then pop into the kitchen to cook up your finds. Smoking meat, making cheese, exploring vegan comfort food and understanding animal fats all have a place this year, and you won’t find them in a lecture hall! The whole program schedule will be available later this month.

Introducing our new Entertainment Coordinator: Fern Spierer

We are happy to welcome our new Summer Conference Entertainment Coordinator, Fern Spierer. Fern comes to NOFA with years of special event organizing experience and is a long-time local radio DJ in the Pioneer Valley. Fern has organized festivals, fairs and events of all sizes and has big plans to bring music, local food trucks and loads of fun to our Saturday afternoon fair. We’ll have more exciting details for you in our April newsletter about what’s in store!

Would you like to host a Meetup at the conference?

If you’d be interested in hosting a Meetup gathering at the Summer Conference fair on Saturday afternoon 8/10 please email: to inquire.

Don’t Forget to Register Early!

It’s the first countdown of the Summer Conference! Our $99 Super Early Bird Special runs through 3/18/19, so take advantage of the lowest price by registering now to save over $35 on your weekend registration. Register Here!


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