JULY 1, 2020

40-Year-old organic farming organization changes Leadership

Massachusetts – In 1982, the Massachusetts Chapter of the then Natural Organic Farmers Association (NOFA) was born.  At that time, it was one of four New England state chapters of this organization whose purpose was to educate aspiring organic farmers on best practices and to provide a network for their joint bootstrap education.  By 1986 there were seven chapters of NOFA and, in 1989, in order to encourage more participation from organic farming activists, gardeners, homesteaders, landscapers, and consumers, NOFA changed its name to the Northeast Organic Farming Association.

In 1984, Julie Rawson and Jack Kittredge got involved with the neophyte chapter of NOFA/Mass, bringing their organizational, fiscal, and editorial skills to the organization.  The two became central in this organization, with Julie working as Director and Summer Conference Coordinator, and Jack as the Fiscal Manager, Editor of NOFA’s regionwide paper, The Natural Farmer, with involvement in organic certification, and later policy work and, most recently, soil organic carbon education.  Julie held many roles, from Membership Coordinator to Treasurer to Bulk Order Coordinator to Education Director, Development and, eventually, Executive Director.  Jack recently retired from NOFA/Mass and, as of August 31st, Julie will leave the organization as its main staff person during its last 36 years.

Under their leadership, NOFA has always strived to be on the leading edge of necessary hell raising and the development of important educational initiatives, such as getting MWRA to take the word “organic” off of its sludge, and leading NOFA in the educational realm of soil carbon sequestration through appropriate farming methods, to name just a few.

Julie is delighted to hand off the reins to Jocelyn Langer, who is no stranger to NOFA, having grown up in a NOFA-homesteading family, and having held several roles for NOFA/Mass already, from writer for The Natural Farmer to graphic design artist for the NOFA Summer Conference and the NOFA Interstate Council, and also Teen Coordinator at the NOFA Summer Conference.  Meanwhile, in her life, she has gotten a few degrees, traveled to many other countries, taught music and Spanish, run a translation coop,  served as Executive Director at an alternative health center, and been the president of The Good Life Center in Maine, which honors the legacy of Helen and Scott Nearing.  She brings a lot of non-profit and organizational experience, a thoughtful and thorough approach, and tremendous fundraising skills.  Frankly, NOFA/Mass couldn’t be happier that she has chosen to take on the Executive Director role.

When NOFA started almost 50 years ago in Vermont and New Hampshire, it was the only organic “game in town.”  Since then there’s been a proliferation of similar organizations, which hold the preeminence of nature being the guide for how to raise food while best supporting environmental health.  In these times of uncertainty around public health and social and racial justice, the challenge for NOFA/Mass will be to continue to support all those who would raise or eat organic/regeneratively-raised food by advocating for and actualize access to land, appropriate markets, livable wages, and continued farming and nutrition education.

Going forward, you can find Julie Rawson and Jack Kittredge at the farm at Many Hands Organic Farm in Barre, MA.  Come by anytime to work, talk, and eat.  If it’s your birthday, Julie will get out her French Horn.