By Laura Davis, NOFA/Mass President of the Board
We at NOFA/Mass are so fortunate to have had the strong leadership of Julie Rawson for 36 years. How does one run an amazing farm, produce nutritious organic food, train new farmers, and also run a 1200-member non-profit organization that continues to thrive and innovate after all these years? She continues to amaze all of us who know and love her.
With a goal of $100,000 the NOFA/Mass Healthy Future Fund is the biggest fundraiser that our organization has ever taken on. It is coming at a time when the world is in turmoil, but planning and seeing the future enables all of us to think about the bright future that we can have.
Despite the global pandemic, economic shutdowns, and loved ones that are anxious and depressed over isolation, I can see a silver lining to our plight. The earth is showing signs of healing itself due to the shuttering of industry and families sheltering at home. It has only taken a few weeks of shutdown to see the effects of cleaner air. These changes are so dramatic that they can be seen from the space station. If earth and air can recover so dramatically in just a few months’ time, think about what we can do with renewed, directed ambition to save the planet. Obviously this gain for the environment has come at great cost to human stability. The way forward will require a great paradigm shift for how we conduct our lives and how we as an international community care for the most vulnerable. As we go forward in NOFA/Mass, one of our prime responsibilities will be to heighten our focus on individual self-reliance and community resilience.
I joined NOFA/Mass just 8 years ago, so my time has not been long, but it truly has changed my life. In 2010 I was laid-off from a corporation after 30 years of employment. I was worried about affording my CSA share, so I decided to do everything I could to increase the volume of my vegetable garden. I attended a Nutrient Density course where I met Julie Rawson, while learning from Julie’s son Dan Kittredge how to grow more nutritious food. At the end of that course, I asked Julie if she needed any help on her farm. She enthusiastically agreed to take me on as a volunteer shareholder. During my time at Many Hands Organic Farm in Barre, MA, from April through December of 2011, I learned all that I could from Julie; not only about growing food, but also about NOFA/Mass. Julie continues to educate herself, puts practices in place on her farm, and leads NOFA/Mass through this practicum of lessons for a healthy life and planet.
The NOFA/Mass Strategic Planning Committee has been preparing for Julie’s succession for more than two years, anticipating the possibility that she may eventually decide to retire from her executive role and spend more time on her own farm. But now that the time has come to find a new leader, there are challenges that we are facing in light of a tight budget year in 2019.
NOFA/Mass has a modest fiscal operating budget. We have always been proud of how much we can accomplish with a limited amount of money. Now that strength is challenged as we try to make the compensation package for a new Executive Director one that meets market demand. We also need to find a space to store all of the physical items that NOFA/Mass has accumulated since the mid 1980’s. Thus far we have been storing office supplies, conference equipment, and more at Many Hands free of charge. But with the office and storage space moving on, we are in need of a new space solution. These are just a few of the financial considerations that we face as we transition to a new Executive Director, and now we are asking for your help.
The Healthy Future Fund to honor the legacy of Julie Rawson will enable NOFA/Mass to continue to deliver the impassioned education that our membership has been accustomed to receiving. We ask you to contribute to this campaign now so that we can build a legacy fund for NOFA/Mass that is as successful and steadfast as Julie’s commitment to our community.
Please donate now.