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

Intensives

Intensive Workshop with Gabe Brown: Regenerative Farmer & Rancher, owner of Brown’s Ranch in Bismarck, North Dakota

The Farm as an Ecosystem  — 9am-5:30pm

Session 1: The Soil Ecosystem

In the first session, Gabe will outline the erroneous thinking underpinning current global production systems. Contrasting this with the paradigm of land management rooted in soil ecosystem science he will illuminate the vast benefits to be gained by adopting these methods and the greater implications on global systems.

Session 2: Five Principles of Soil Health

In the second session, Gabe will address methods and techniques to employ in order to accomplish the five aspects of protecting and increasing soil life:
1. Minimize soil disturbance
2. Keeping the soil covered
3. Maximizing diversity of cover crops; root type, root depth, leaf sizes and shapes
4. Keeping living roots in the soil for as much of the year as possible
5. Integrating animals & insects into crop producing farmland

Session 3: Converting Sunlight to Dollars

How do you capture profits from the complex energy flows in your agroecological system? Gabe will explain how his operation stacks enterprises to minimize inputs while maximizing outputs. He will also delve into his mission-centered approach to direct marketing.

 

Intensive Workshop with Derek Christianson: Owner-operator of Brix Bounty Farm in Dartmouth MA; Derek grows 7 acres of non-irrigated crops on sandy loam soil.

Refining Fertility Programs:  Adjusting Mineral-Based Fertility Through the Seasons  — 9am-5:30pm

Session 1: Soil Testing, Assessing Mineral Deficiencies and Choosing Amendments

To provide a basis for the day’s discussion, we will quickly review the basics: CEC, base saturation and the "Big 5”: N-P-K + Calcium + Sulfur. We will also review the difference between Mehlich 3 and Modified Morgan soil testing, how to identify deficiencies in the field, and will also discuss the costs, pros, and cons of common amendments.  

Session 2: Seasonal Mineral Availability & The Importance of Trace Minerals  

We will delve into the role of trace minerals and discuss four fertility adjustments to meet seasonal conditional needs: spring, summer flush, summer drought, and fall. Time allowing, we will also discussion the specific mineral needs of high tunnels.

Session 3: Fertility Recommendations: Case Studies

In the final session, three soil tests will be chosen from those submitted by workshop participants and the whole class will work together to consider a mineral program for each case. Participants will have an opportunity to practice applying the learning gained in the earlier sessions.

 

Intensive Workshop with Aaron Guman: Based in Montpelier, VT, Aaron offers permaculture and regenerative landscape design through Walking Onion and rotationally grazed grassfed and finished beef through Robinson Hill Beef

Edible Forest Gardening: Theory, Design and Implementation — 9am-5:30pm

Session 1: Theory + Design + Polyculture Players

Learn how to build edible forest gardens by arranging useful plants into communities (polycultures) which support one another’s healthy functioning, while providing food and other products, building soil, providing ecosystem services and sequestering carbon. In the first session, we will ground ourselves in how to create gardens which mimic the structure and function of natural ecosystems. Topics will include designing for self-maintenance, succession, resilience and a diversity of yields; ecological theory; and the various roles of plants in polycultures, such as edible plants, mulch plants, mineral accumulators, groundcovers, invertebrate insect shelters and nectar sources for pollinators.

Session 2: Pattern Language + Species

In this session we will explore patterns for home and farm-scale systems, and begin to learn about the top species utilized in northeast agroforestry systems. We will discuss how the plants yield products for human use such as food, medicine, fiber and animal fodder, while also serving as specific examples of polyculture roles and ecosystem services outlined in the first session.  We will cover some examples each of fruits, berries, nuts, medicinal plants, mineral accumulators, mulch sources and perennial vegetables.

Session 3:  Implementation + Ecological Imperative

In the final session, we will finish learning about the top species and discuss planting practices and care of newly established food forests. We will cover our favorite tools for installation, what to look for in site selection, and how we go about soil and site preparation. We will finish out the day with a discussion of why our ecosystems need active human participation and why edible forest gardens are a key part of our future.

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