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 Health Field Day at Gaining Ground Farm: Planting Methods for Small-Scale No-Till Farming

Doug Wolcik, Gaining Ground Farm Manager, works in the Garlic
July 14, 2019 - 10:00am to 3:00pm
Gaining Ground Farm
341 Virginia Rd.
Concord, MA

Lunch Fee: $15

Event Fee: NOFA Members: $15 / Non-members: $20





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Have you been considering starting, or transitioning to, a no-till farm? Join us at Gaining Ground Farm in Concord, MA to learn small-scale, high-yield methods for crop production using methods that minimize soil disturbance and maximize soil health. Farm manager Doug Wolcik will lead an interactive field walk with observations and input from guest presenter Daniel Mays of Frith Farm in Scarborough, ME. Learn about Gaining Ground’s transition by viewing fields that have been no-till for 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years. A hands-on participatory planting demonstration of fall broccoli into a no-till managed cover crop of winter rye and crimson clover will give participants a sense of the soil texture and hand-planting methods that allow Gaining Ground Farm to operate efficiently without the use of tractor-mounted planting implements. Daniel Mays will then offer a presentation on his no-till farming systems. Stay for lunch and participate in a no-till farmer round table discussion about soil health practices.

We will close out the day with a short session on evaluating and observing soil health using microscopy and field tests for soil ecosystem functionality.

Gaining Ground Farm is a three acre organic no-till farm that grows produce entirely for hunger relief with help from volunteers of all ages and abilities, who work and learn in its fields. Now in their third year of no-till practices, they report that insects, disease and weed pressure are down, while yields and quality have significantly increased. They integrate cover crops into the no-till system with a particular focus on enhancing soil biology.

The NOFA Conservation Innovation Grant Project (CIG), funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, is developing a learning community of northeast organic farmers who are integrating reduced and no-till methods currently on their farms, to refine and educate about organic tillage reduction methods.


10:00am, Field Walk and Interactive Planting Demonstration

11:30am, Presentation from Daniel Mays 

12:30pm Lunch and Farmer Roundtable Discussion

2:00pm Microscope and Soil Health Indicators

3:00pm Wrap up and Mingle

Hands on activities will include some demonstrations of the technology we are working with in collaboration with the NOFA/Mass CIG project to track practices, soil fertility and crop quality.


Doug Wolcik is in his seventh year of growing in Concord, MA at Gaining Ground Farm. Doug studied sustainable agriculture and community food systems at the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School. He loves growing in high tunnels, and especially enjoys the detail-oriented, focused approach needed for season extension and exceptional crop care, including pruning and trellising tomatoes and cucumbers, starting seedlings, and harvesting all through the winter.

Daniel Mays has been engaged in commercial no-till organic vegetable production since he started Frith Farm in Scarborough, Maine in 2010. Frith now employs a crew of nine people to intensively grow vegetables, herbs, flowers, and perennials on three acres. The farm’s methods focus on maximizing the life and diversity of the farm while keeping the soil covered and spared from mechanical disturbance. Daniel believes economic sustainability follows directly from environmental stewardship and community engagement. He will present an overview of his methods and discuss the ecological, social, and economic benefits of no-till growing.

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For questions contact Doug Cook, Education Events Coordinator, at or (603) 969-8195.


This event made possible by a Conservation Innovation Grant from:


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