By Ashley Kenney, NOFA Conference Workshop Coordinator 

Building networks and infrastructure to survive and thrive in difficult times is on the forefront of many people’s minds this year. 

At the virtual 2021 NOFA/Mass Winter Conference, a tight lineup of speakers will engage and inform gardeners, homesteaders, and farmers on topics like resiliency and community-building. We’ll delve into practical themes such as soil health; learn how Massachusetts growers and farmers have navigated the pandemic; and explore our present and future work in the area of social and racial justice 

Elizabeth Henderson, co-author of Sharing the Harvest, will be presenting a workshop entitled System Change, Not Climate Change – Time for Root Solutions! Elizabeth’s talk will help participants remember that we live in human-created systems, and humans have the ability to change them.   

Suzette Snow-Cobb joins us as a presenter at the 2021 NOFA/Mass Winter Conference for a workshop titled “Imagine 2040: Build Co-operatively.”

In their presentation, Imagine 2040: Build Co-operatively, Suzette Snow-Cobb and Bonnie Hudspeth will answer the questions: 

  • What will our regional food systems look like? 
  • Who will our food producers be? 
  • What’s in place now that we can build on, that will create more resilient, inclusive, sustainable communities?

Suzette says, “We’ll share our co-op history of empowering communities in gaining control over food access and imagine 2040, using our collective power to build a better world.” 

For those who don’t have enough growing space at home or on the farm, and want to think collaboratively, award-winning beekeeper Mel Gadd will use his years of expertise to advise participants on how to increase productivity of community gardens by increasing the chances of successful pollination during his lecture Honeybee Hives for Community Gardens: A How To. 

Mel Gadd will teach “Honeybee Hives for Community Gardens: A How To.”

Participants interested in homesteading and self-reliance will be excited to hear from former Executive Director of NOFA/Mass, Julie Rawson and her husband Jack Kittredge of Many Hands Organic Farm. They will share their nearly five decades of knowledge about root cellars and winter food storage. 

Anna Gilbert-Muhammad, Food Access Coordinator for NOFA/Mass, and Beth Ward, Resident Engagement Coordinator for Home City Housing, will present with three of their Youth Leaders from Home City Housing, Anthony Escalera, Bernard Harvey and Agnes Arias, on Making and Canning Salsa using an Easy Water Bath Method. Learning how to can simple foods and condiments is easy–especially if it is done with fresh produce from the garden. Youth Leaders will demonstrate how to make and can salsa using fresh vegetables and the “hot water bath” method of canning. They will also share some historical references on canning, tips on how it can benefit a household economically, and ideas to extend the harvest of any garden.   

Anna Gilbert-Muhammad and several Youth Leaders will demonstrate how to make and can salsa using fresh vegetables and the “hot water bath” method of canning. Photo credit: Youth Leader Anthony Escalera

If you’ve been looking for a new food production-related winter hobby, you’ll want to join the CEO of Vermont Evaporator Company, Kate Whelley McCabe, for her workshop: Beginning Maple Syrup Making as she proves that anyone with access to maple trees can make pure organic maple syrup. 

As soil is the base and the lifeblood of everything we grow, we are pleased to welcome experts like Monique Bosch of CT NOFA to help home gardeners delve into the world of soil biology via microscopic movies, revealing the life below ground that creates healthy plants and healthy food. She will teach you how to make your own compost and compost tea in her workshop Healthy Soil – Healthy Food, along with planting design and gardening practices that work with nature to build soil health and produce nutritional produce. 

Head composter Andrew Brousseau of Black Earth Compost will also be on hand to discuss the practice of composting on larger-scale properties with a promise to teach you How to Make 100 Yards of Compost on a Farm. 

Registration to the virtual NOFA/Mass Winter Conference is now open and we can’t wait to see you January 8, 9 and 10, 2021. 

Register here.