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 Summer Conference Update- July 2019 You Are the One Straw Revolution

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

By Jason Valcourt, Fern Spierer, Hannah Blackmer, Valerie Walton

Starting onions in the heated tunnel seems like ages ago and the row covers have now been stowed away till autumn. With the Solstice now passed, summer has fully blossomed to bring this cherished season of long days for working in the garden deep into the evening. It is in this season that all the early mornings, the heavy lifting, the logistical irrigation and production puzzles we constantly solve for come full circle and we get to reap the rewards of our effort.

Aaaand, we absolutely love it. We love to see our nutritious, hard-earned products getting scooped up for dinners and weekend parties. So much has gone into the production it is now time to reap the rewards. The fruit is ripening. The plants are in full expression of their character and the land is teeming with diversity and life that we have helped steward. With every sale and every zucchini and tomato gifted to neighbors throughout the season we add to the momentum of putting reliably good food into the world -each farm and every garden fully functioning to do its part as one straw in this enormous broom of the organic movement. 

Let’s take a moment to appreciate those customers and like-minded food lovers that enjoy what we produce. Like us, they really don’t want to buy their food from a faceless marketplace. They don’t want their money to disappear into a cold-hearted, faceless marketplace. They too, don’t want to feed their families food that travels more miles than you will this year. They also want access to healthy food for all. They are committed to a food system that is fair, just and generous. They want to know their farmer and the place where their food is grown. They want a connection to the earth through food and want their food to connect them more deeply with people. Let’s appreciate them in this season amid the balancing act of the long working days and the hard-earned fatigue that feels so good.

I hope you are taking moments to revel in the work of nourishing your community with real, flavorful and nutritious food grown conscientiously, and that you’re getting excited to gather with your organic community this August 9-11 in Amherst, MA.

Conference Updates

nofa country fairThe NOFA Country Fair

The NOFA Country Fair is shaping up to be the best one so far. Saturday, August 10 from 4-6PM come enjoy some funky, groovy music outside on the lawn with Rebirth.  while you and the kiddos enjoy loads of fun filled activities, food and farm demos, educational displays and food trucks!

New this year!

  • Food Trucks and craft beer. Yes, it’s true! The perfect complement to live music on the lawn!
  • Storytelling and crafts with the Eric Carle Museum. The kids (and you too) will love the entertaining and educational stories!
  • Cast Iron Skillet Toss competition. Let’s see how you measure up with your nine-inch cast iron skillet tossing skills.
  • The Imperfect Produce Beauty Pageant. Bring your imperfect produce to display at the fair. Crooked carrot in your garden? Speckled apple? How about a lopsided pumpkin on your farm? Bring them to the fair and enter to win this pageant of alternative and edible aesthetics!   

Traditional NOFA Fair Games & Pie Eating Contest

Come out and play with us at the NOFA Country Fair on Saturday August 10 from 4-6pm. We will have new and traditional games for all ages. Some games include: Corn hole, Giant Jenga, Giant Twister on the lawn, Dominos as well as the classics too: Peanut in a Haystack, Sack Race, Watermelon Seed Spit, Egg Spoon Race, Apple Basket Toss, Churning Butter game  and, of course, the Pie Eating Contest at 5:45!  

Would you like to host a meetup?

If you would like to host a meet-up at the fair and bring together like minded folks for a hang out session, please contact Fern with suggestions at nofafern@gmail.com

The Workshop Program

As we willingly submit ourselves to the hustle and bustle of the peak of the growing season, we look forward to the rest and relaxation - and respite for learning! - that the Summer Conference has to offer. We are buzzing with excitement for this year’s workshop program and you can find regular updates on our Facebook page here. We have contracted for two new kitchen spaces on campus, which means more hands-on cooking demonstrations. Let’s go deep into our theme of Nutrition Matters! You can learn how to make herbal-infused medicinal ghee, how to prepare medicinal mushrooms, make your own CBD medicine, and even learn how to cook with those pesky invasive weeds!

For those looking for a headier conversation, you can pick up where Bill Mackently left off last year in his discussion of the fourth phase of water, discuss Monsanto’s glyphosate secrets with Ed Stockman, or lend your voice to NOFA’s continuing policy discussion. And don’t forget our opportunities to get outside! Wild mushroom hunting, pruning trees and shrubs from an arborist’s perspective, mapping land for permaculture design, and even getting off-site for a tour of the UMass farm chestnut and sheep silvopasture project! There are so many opportunities to connect with our educators in and out of the classroom, and so much good information to soak up. You can see the whole program on our website here.

Teen Summit

Our first Teen Summit on Food Justice and Urban Agriculture will take place on Sunday, August 11th. The Teen Summit will give youth a chance to experience different career paths in agriculture and a tour of a Hampshire College’s Farm. All participating youth will be able to attend NOFA Summer Conference Workshops and will have an opportunity to meet conference presenters.

Here’s Anna Gilbert-Muhammad introducing the Teen Summit via video. For more information and group registration info please contact anna@nofamass.org

What will the kids be up to at the conference?

The NOFA children’s conference is about making childhood memories! We are excited for the fun and educational activities we have in store for the children this year. Some are tried and true kid favorites, such as building fairy houses and a visit from beekeeper Mel Gadd. We will create stories with Emily and Sharlow (and a special guest this year, Judith Black) and have the opportunity to learn how to make amazing smoothies and run a smoothie business. And, we will have special guest animal visitors on Saturday! 

The Sunday morning program is planned at the Hampshire College Farm with lots of activities by the Farm and Garden camp staff. We will have music lessons, giant bubbles, bird-house decorating, landscape painting and a pizza party with pizza from their very own outdoor oven!

We will also continue our annual tradition of kicking off the NOFA Country Fair with a parade. Families please feel free to bring your own instruments and fun outfits! We will gear up with banners, masks and noise makers during the Saturday keynote session and come out with a bang to start the Fair. See the whole weekend program here.

Vendors

Stock up on handcrafted all-natural soap, organic cotton produce bags, or herbal remedies while you’re at the conference.  Meet the passionate artisans behind these products, many of whom are NOFA members and/or conference workshop presenters.

Learn about the businesses who share the mission of growing high quality local food and caring for our environment.  Ask representatives from MDAR or USDA-NRCS how you can get involved with opportunities for farmers, pick out some specialized seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds, Fedco or Johnny’s Selected Seed, and grab a trendy organic t-shirt from Taproot Threads.

Don’t forget to check out last month’s article announcing the international organic group IFOAM is holding sessions at the Summer Conference. Read more about it here!

Register now and see the entire conference program on our website here!

We have scholarships available too!

We hope to see you there!

 

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