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

Growing Organically Since 1982

NOFA/Mass 33rd Winter Conference - Toxin Free Living

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

By Caro Roszell, NOFA/Mass Education Director & Jason Valcourt, Winter Conference Coordinator


As we all strive to create a vibrant future in which our food, medicine, and necessities are crafted in harmony with-- instead of at the expense of-- our living environment,  we look to those in our communities who carry the skills and knowledge to help us on this path. It is with deep gratitude that we turn to our Winter Conference presenters, who serve in so many ways: as watchdogs leading the charge against Monsanto/Bayer; as experienced farmers with intimate knowledge of soil, water, and the changing seasons; as medicine-makers and medicine growers; as foragers and wild plant knowledge-keepers; as scientists and change-makers; as landscape planners and nut growers and grass growers and tree planters; as tenders of our soils and our souls. We are grateful for the burgeoning understanding of the connections between the soil and the gut, between the earth and the atmosphere, and for our collective work restoring the health our families, ecosystems, and ourselves.

Improvements Begin on The Inside

Maybe you’ve felt it too: from the silence of the springtime, to rising rates of chronic illness, to the tenor of national politics-- the world just seems to be getting increasingly toxic. 

I often find myself asking the question, “How can we find ways to take care of ourselves in the face of real threats to food safety, ecosystem stability, and our social fabric?” It is my hope that the upcoming NOFA/Mass Winter Conference program offers inspiring resources in your quest for improving the wellness of yourself and your community. From our keynote speaker; award winning journalist and author, Carey Gillam, to our intensive seminars and our collection of over 65 workshops, we have curated a collection of regional wisdom and knowledge.

Is Your Diet Truly Nourishing You?


Initially motivated by sudden mysterious and severe illness that altered her life, Kathleen DiChiara spent over a decade researching the impact that food and lifestyle has on chronic disease. Taking an urgent and thorough approach to investigate the food system that produces the products that fill the shelves of grocery stores, Kathleen’s personal experience and knowledge quest led her to a major career change, and she begin helping others avoid and/or heal experiences similar to hers. This journey has led her to amass a wealth of credentials in nutrition as well as a keen knowledge of food sourcing and diet creation.

What she learned through years of research and practice is that our health is shaped by a cycle that follows a clear and cyclical pattern. Our beliefs create our reality which drives our daily behaviors, and our behaviors - for better or worse - become our lifestyle, which determine the quality and diversity of our gut bacteria.  Collectively, the bacteria become our microbiome and influence every aspect of our health. It’s a cyclical pattern with each component linking to the next in a continuous loop.

Examining each of these influence points is the key to unlocking a holistic understanding of our own bodies and the sources of chronic illness. In a day-long session at the Winter Conference, Kathleen will take participants on a scientifically- grounded journey through the key strategies that impact the three driving forces of optimal health - beliefs, behaviors and bacteria. With interactive lessons, she will help participants identify and reflect on critical points of influence in their own lives where personalized change can occur. 

Learn more about Kathleen by visiting her website, viewing her 2017 Soil & Nutrition Conference lecture, How to Heal the Gut & Restore Your Vitality With Nutrition or by checking out the documentary about her journey, Secret Ingredients

Register for this intensive or learn more about Kathleen here.

Is Your Passion for Farming Still Inspiring and Uplifting? 

Ricky Baruch and Deb Habib, married no-till regenerative
farmers, educators, and authors.

If your passion for the work you do as a farmer could use a lift and a spark, you can spend the day with Ricky Baruch and Deb Habib, married no-till regenerative farmers, educators, and authors of the book Making Love While Farming, A Field Guide to a Life of Passion and Purpose.

Over decades of farming together, Ricky and Deb have sought to answer the question, “How do we keep our core farming values forefront and fresh, and stay personally centered as we nourish our customers and communities well?” Their answer is that loving, healthy relationships are critical to self-care, resilience, and success. In fact, Ricky and Deb have found that leading with the heart helps to decolonize our minds and therefore our farming practices. Through this process, we build awareness towards loving, sacred ways of farming and can awaken our capacity to be changemakers in our lives and communities.

Spend a day with Ricky and Deb recalibrating and enhancing your relationships with self, partner, family, community, and farming practice. Learn techniques to prioritize values and quality of life, practices to honor the land, and wellbeing strategies to sustain a balanced farming livelihood and be of service.

More about this intensive at the Winter Conference:

Ricky and Deb run Seeds of Solidarity in Orange, MA. Their solar-powered family farm uses all no-till, regenerative methods, and the non-profit wing of the farm innovates programs that awaken people of all ages--from toddlers to teens to people who are incarcerated-- to Grow Food Everywhere to transform hunger to health, and create resilient lives and communities. They are co-founders of the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival that they organize with their neighbors.

To learn more about Ricky and Deb’s approach to their work, explore these excerpts of their book.  Register for this intensive or learn more about Ricky and Deb here.

Workshop Offerings That Heal

The general program at the Conference also includes a range of ways to re-center, learn wellness skills as well as improve your farming and gardening techniques.

FHealing Teaor those interested in herbs and food-as-medicine approaches to wellness, enjoy Ghee: Repair the Gut, Calm the Mind in which Hannah Jacobson-Hardy of Full Moon Ghee will explain how Ghee (clarified butter) has been used for thousands of years to repair the digestive tract, balance and detoxify the organ systems, and calm the mind. She will demonstrate how to make ghee and infuse it with herbal medicines. Or in Learn to Make Herbal Tinctures, holistic healer Diana Phillips will review medicinal herbs that can be easily grown & harvested locally and offer guidance on herbal remedies for immune system strengthening and fighting colds and flu.

You can also explore the world of wild yeasts with award-winning baker and author Ben Lester in his workshop Ancient Breads and Whispering to the Wild Yeast, in which you can learn how to cultivate your own yeast starter and use it to make bread from the ancient wheat Einkorn. (You'll even get some wild yeast to take home with you!) 

You can spend some time with clinical nutritionist John Kozinski in his workshop Winter: A Time of Renewal to Build Your Inner Strength learning to create balance by your choices of food, lifestyle practices, exercises and more. Or, connect with Jewish cultural food wisdom in Cultivating Culture: Reclaiming Jewish Agricultural Wisdom with Jewish Farmer Network co-founder Sarah Seldin. This workshop will center on what the ancient body of Jewish wisdom can teach us about building regenerative agricultural systems built on integrated food justice principles, perennials, visionary crop rotation and a culture of gratitude.

As a NOFA/Mass community member, you are probably someone who loves to be outdoors. If you are seeking to re-inspire your personal outdoor space as a sacred place to relax and reconnect with nature, consider spending a session with Monique Allen, longtime NOFA Accredited Organic Landcare Professional, Author and Creative Director at The Garden Continuum.  In Stop Landscaping, Start Life-Scaping, she will work to equip garden enthusiasts and landscape professionals with the tools needed to powerfully design, build, and care for meaningful, sustainable landscapes. 

If you are inclined towards activism and want to make your town safer, check out seasoned activist Ed Stockman of Regeneration Massachusetts, who will be presenting on the many ways that towns, states and countries are working to ban Glyphosate. Learn how you can help remove it from store shelves in his workshop, “Glyphosate Secrets: What Monsanto/Bayer Doesn't Want You to Know.” 
Of course, this is just a small glimpse of the Winter Conference program, which has 65 workshops across the spectrum of farming, gardening, self-reliance skills and more. For a complete listing of the conference workshop program please visit our website here.


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