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

Soil and Nutrition Conference: Putting Principles into Practice

January 31, 2013 (All day) to February 2, 2013 (All day)
First Churches
129 Main Street
Northampton, MA

$150 for NOFA, RFC, or BFA members; $160 non-members and Bionutrient Food Association present the 2013 Soil and Nutrition Conference with John Kempf, Dan Kitredge, and Derek Christianson

This conference aims to grow the movement for enhancing soil fertility as a basis for the long-term ecological and economic sustainability of farming, the environment, and society as a whole. The focus of this year’s conference is applying practical management strategies on the farm from principles of biological soil fertility. Our lead speaker is John Kempf from Middlefield, OH. John speaks in clear practical language about scientific understandings of plant ecosystems and how the health of people is connected to healthy land and quality produce.


John Kempf is a speaker on soil fertility, farm consultant, and proprietor of Advancing Eco-Agriculture.
Dan Kittredge
is a farmer and director of Bionutrient Food Association.
Derek Christianson
is a CSA farmer at Brix Bounty Farm in Dartmouth, MA.

Click here to download and print registration form.


For years we have been looking for a single source that blends ecological soil and plant science with management practice, to create an integrated whole approach for our farm. Before I attended the 2012 Soil and Nutrition conference with John Kempf, I had pretty well decided that this resource did not exist, which is to say that I had accepted muddling through as the course for our farm.  John has a great talent for explaining the multitude of relationships (chemical, biological, energetic) at work in a healthy plant/ soil system, and he somehow manages to stick to practical ideas and recommendations without oversimplifying or losing the feel for the big tangled mess that we call nature.  Amazing.  I will come back for as many years as John keeps returning, because there will always be more to learn from him!

 - Paul Lacinski, Sidehill Farm, Ashfield, MA

Conference Outline

Thursday, January 31 - 8:30am to 8:30pm: Day One

1. What a Plant Needs, Soil Tests, and the Costs and Benefits of Fertility: Understand how different soil tests can inform soil management that maximizes plant health, within a reasonable fertility budget.

2. Minerals (and Microbes) – In Depth: For 17 macro and trace minerals, we’ll cover specific functions in the plant, needed quantities per acre, sources, logistics for application, and conditions that affect bio-availability.

3. Tillage, Compost, and Cover Crops: Methods for these agricultural techniques that build organic matter and humus, break up plowpans, and incorporate crop residue by enhancing the biological vitality of soil.

4. Seed Quality, Sprouting and Germination Sequence: How seed quality affects healthy plant growth; preferred seed size and yield potential; using inoculants and nutrition to improve plant growth from germination to first week.

Evening Session, 7:00pm (open to the public): Screening and discussion of film, "Symphony of the Soil".

Friday, February 1 - 8:30am to 5:30pm: Day Two

5. Plant’s Biological Systems and Tools for Analysis: Looking at soil as the plant’s digestive system, we’ll review an array of instruments for analyzing that system’s health. The goal is identifying deficiencies before symptoms appear.

6. Visual Analysis and In Season Crop Management, Critical Points of Influence: Train your eye to see tell-tale signs in fruit, grass, and different vegetable families that indicate problems to come and short-term interventions to make.

7. In-Season Fertility Management, Crop Needs at Different Points in the Season: Focusing on practical fertigation and foliar programs, we’ll cover what to apply mid-season, how to apply it, and why. We’ll cover nutritional needs of multiple crop types.

8. Pests and Diseases – Enhancing Plant Immunity: Facilitate plant-microbial interactions for controlling plant pathogens and averting pest problems.

Evening Session, 7:00pm: Problem solving discussion on selected agronomic challenges conference participants face.

Saturday, February 2 - 8:30am to 3:00pm: Strategic Action Working Conference (Free Registration)

Participants will review and build upon accomplishments of working groups formed at the 2012 Soil and Nutrition Conference, including: agronomic research, public education, and public health. The sessions will be facilitated to foster a spirit of collaboration in initiatives to improve crop nutrition through enhanced soil health. 

For more information or to register, contact Ben Grosscup at 413-658-5374 or email

Resources from John Kempf

Read a full outline of John's 2012 Seminar here.
Read John's article in Acres, "Carbon Building, Carbon Cycling".
Read John's article from his newsletter, "Crop HEALTH Transitions".
Read the education page on John's website.


  • If you are registering for both Thursday, January 31 and Friday, February 1, the cost is $160.
  • If you are attending only on Thursday OR Friday, the cost is $90. It is free to register for the program on Saturday, February 2.
  • If registering by January 17, 2013, you receive a $5 early bird discount for each of the days you are registering, except Saturday.
  • Members of any NOFA chapter, MOFGA, Real Food Campaign, or Bionutrient Food Association also receive a $5 membership discount for each of the days you are registering, except Saturday.
  • There is a $10 on-site registration fee.


For all 3 days of the conference, we serve breakfast (7:00am-8:15am), lunch (12:15-1:15pm), and dinner (5:45-7:00pm), except no dinner on Feb. 2. Participants in shared meals are asked to sign up for a shift of serving meals or cleaning up. They are also asked to contribute money OR bring food. If contributing money, please add the appropriate food surcharge to your registration fee (see below). If contributing food, each participant should plan to bring a food contribution with a retail value of roughly $65 if registering for 3 days; $50 if registering for 2 days, or $30 if registering for 1 day. We request raw and pre-washed or value-added organic vegetables, meat, and/or dairy products, especially if you produced it yourself. You may bring a prepared dish instead. If you do, please make it vegetarian and able to serve roughly 25 people, and please read our our statement of purpose for food. The food coordinator, Mira Nussbaum,, who will be preparing meals will contact you if what you’re offering needs to be changed or clarified. Please remember what you  commit to bring, because we base our menu on these commitments. We request that food be delivered to the kitchen by 7:30am on the date you arrive at the  conference. On the registration form you will have a chance to list what food item(s) you offer to bring.

Home Stays

In order to reduce costs and foster networking among attendees, event organizer, Ben Grosscup, will pair out-of-town conference attendees with NOFA members and supporters near Northampton who are willing to host you on the nights of Thursday, January 31 and Friday, February 1. Please request a home stay on your registration form, if needed. We ask that guests bring a small non-monetary gift of thanks to their hosts.


On the registration from, there is an opportunity to indicate your interest in being connected with seminar attendees in your area who also wish to carpool to the event.

Find directions to the conference location on the website of First Churches.


During the weekday, the closest all-day parking option is the City of Northampton's Parking Garage (50 cents/hr). For a map from the parking garage to First Churches, click here.

A cheaper option (25cents/hr paid by ticket) is available in the municipal lot between New South Street and Rte 10 (on the West) and Old South Street (on the East). For a map from the municipal lot to First Churches, click here.

Policy on Registrations, Cancellations, and Refunds

Registration forms can be sent by postal mail, or scanned and sent by e-mail attachment to No other online registration is available. Registrations will be accepted on a first come, first served basis and are acceptable only once payment (check or credit card) is received. Cancellations for the 2013 Soil and Nutrition Conference will be honored with refunds (less $10/person processing fee) until January 21, 2013. 

See a 5 min. interview with Dan Kittredge (Kittredge Farm and Bionutrient Food Association Director) and Derek Christianson (Brix Bounty Farm and NOFA/Mass Board member) about what's planned for the 2013 Soil and Nutrition Conference and about the featured presenter, John Kempf.

Donate to NOFA/Mass

Become a Member

Subcribe to the Newsletter

-A A +A