NOFA/Mass Climate Action Challenge

Take the Challenge and be part of the solution.

The climate crisis is becoming a more widely recognized threat each day. With weather extremes impacting food crops, wild habitats, and growing conditions for every living thing on the planet, we are at the crucial time in history when widespread education and corrective action is critically needed.

The month-long NOFA/Mass Climate Action Challenge was developed as an annual, virtual campaign with three goals:

  • Educate the public about the intrinsic links between agriculture and climate
  • Advocate for environmentally friendly agricultural practices
  • Crowdfund $20,000 to support NOFA/Mass’s year-round education and advocacy work

We invite you to participate in the Challenge each October by:

  • Educating yourself and your network through the information that NOFA/Mass shares online throughout the month of October
  • Adjust your daily routines and choices to support a healthy climate
  • Advocate for legislation to support climate-friendly agricultural practices
  • Donate to NOFA/Mass’s Climate Action Challenge fundraising page

Check out the hashtag #nofamassclimateactionchallenge on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see how people are interacting with the Challenge, and post your own updates.

View the 2021 campaign
Farming practices have lead to releasing carbon into the atmosphere, but farmers also have the ability to help sequester carbon in healthy soil.
First of all, carbon is amazing! It is the most important element for building the molecules essential for living things like carbohydrates, lipids, DNA/RNA, and proteins. It is in a constant state of movement from place to place and is stored in what are known as reservoirs. They are the atmosphere, the terrestrial biosphere (including soil), the oceans, and the sediments (including fossil fuels). It moves through these reservoirs through a variety of processes including photosynthesis, burning fossil fuels, and by simply breathing.
Carbon moving from reservoir to reservoir is called the carbon cycle, and it’s vital to life on Earth. For the most part, nature keeps this cycle balanced, but our human activity is interfering.

Floods we experienced this year and the increasing cases of drought are obvious effects of a changing climate. We will be exploring how growers can combat the climate crisis, especially when it comes to soil health, next week.
For now, here are some other ways the climate crisis affects growing conditions:
• More weeds: Some weeds respond well to elevated C02 levels resulting in increased weed pressure.
• Higher prices: Prices will rise for the most important agricultural crops (wheat, corn, rice, soybeans). This also means higher feed prices, which means higher meat prices.
• Less frost: a decrease in the number of frost days means a longer growing season, but the net effect is negative (ex. apple trees need a certain amount of frost days each year)
• More pest and disease pressure: with heat or new weather conditions, pathogens and insects will expand their range.

Soil health plays a crucial role in combating the climate crisis. Soils with plant cover and active microbial life can help absorb atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis, helping to regulate the carbon cycle.

Read our Soil Health focus email from week 2 of the 2021 NOFA/Mass Climate Action Challenge for full details and resources.

Depleted soils, loss of deep-rooted, carbon-sequestering plants, and mistreatment of our ecosystems have led to an unhealthy, insufficient carbon cycle – but there is a way to turn things around.
Image stating that pastures strewn with trees sequester up to ten times as much carbon as those that are treeless

Statistic from Project Drawdown. They conduct an ongoing review and analysis of climate solutions.

Soil health can be increased through a variety of farming practices. Growing organically, minimizing tillage, mitigating compaction, utilizing cover crops and crop rotation can all improve the health of your soil. And healthy soil does more than just grow healthy food–it can sequester some of that excess CO2 from the atmosphere that we so desperately need to remove.
How you can take action:
• Educate yourself and your network: Check out the YouTube playlist we’ve put together on soil carbon restoration:
• If you are a farmer or gardener, consider reducing tillage, planting cover crops, integrating more perennials, and keeping your soil covered with something green and growing at all times. Show us what you are doing to improve your soil! Tag #nofamassclimateactionchallenge
• Not a grower? Purchase food from farmers that are growing using these methods. Find an organic grower near you in our Organic Food Guide: https://www.theorganicfoodguide.org/

Unpredictable weather shifts, loss of habitat, unreliable food sources, and the ubiquitous use of pesticides have threatened pollinators worldwide. In particular, climate disruptions such as cooler, warmer, wetter or shorter growing seasons affect agricultural crops as well as wild plants and flowers, which insects, birds and other pollinators depend on for survival.

Read our Pollinator Protection focus email from week 3 of the 2021 NOFA/Mass Climate Action Challenge for full details and resources.

Evan Abramson joined the Massachusetts Pollinator Network in September 2021 to discuss how gardeners, farmers, landowners, and designers have a vital role to play in strengthening, expanding, and enhancing regional biodiversity, ecological health, and climate resilience.
https://youtu.be/Hsz1lUs0Z9k
It’s true that one individual’s habits won’t solve our climate issues. But we can each decide to do our part at home, at work, and in all areas of our lives. Choosing to support farms and businesses that enhance ecosystems through our food purchases is an important piece of the climate crisis solution.

Read our Conscious Consumerism focus email from week 4 of the 2021 NOFA/Mass Climate Action Challenge for full details and resources.

One way we can all be more conscious consumers is to think about the waste we create from what we don’t consume. Composting can limit the environmental impact of throwing something in the trash.
When food is left in a landfill, it produces methane. By composting it instead, microbes convert the organic matter and in turn, that keeps carbon out of the atmosphere.
If you don’t have much space, but you still want to compost, here are some tips on small-space composting:
https://thegrownetwork.com/small-space-composting

This video serves as a good reminder for all of us to think about food waste when growing, selling, shopping, and storing food, and what actions can lead to helping vs. hurting the environment.