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 Red Shirt Farm: High and Low Tech Approaches to Small Scale No-Till Farming

Red Shirt Farm in Lanesborough, MA
September 30, 2019 - 10:00am to 3:00pm
Red Shirt Farm
60 Williamstown Road
Lanesborough, MA

NOFA Members: $25 / Non-members: $30*




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*Potluck Lunch

Are you inspired to learn more about No-Till farming and want to see for yourself the tools and methods being used to build soil and grow vegetables? Join us at Red Shirt Farm in Lanesboro, MA to learn from farm manager Jim Shultz and guest presenter Bryan O’Hara of Tobacco Road Farm in Lebanon, CT. These two farmers both run well-organized, profitable and small-scale vegetable production systems, but diverge on the level of mechanization they employ. Together they will present a range of options for equipment and mechanization on the small-scale farm. You can engage with them during an interactive field walk and discussion of their farm systems. Topics of discussion will include: climate battery greenhouse, Johnson-Su Bioreactor, permanent bed systems, primary tools and cover cropping. Jim will give a demonstration of his BCS transferred mulch system, including mower, rake and mini-baler. This system is used to convert cover crops to mulch that can be used elsewhere on the farm.

Bryan O’Hara will bring a suite of hand tools and will demonstrate his easy-to-adopt and low-tech but effective approach to bed prep and seeding. He will demonstrate his hand-made drag --and explain how to make one yourself--as well as his seeder, furrowing hoe and planting tools and will demonstrate how he uses them to prepare and plant his beds. He will also explain what crops can be hand broadcast and will give volume-based seeding rates. Following both demonstrations, we will have a facilitated group discussion about no-till transition and how to prepare for and avoid common pitfalls in the first few years of tillage reduction.

We close out the day by teaching you a few soil health assessment techniques you can use on your farm to track how your management practices are impacting soil biology, structure, root vigor and more.

Red Shirt Farm spans 13 hilly acres in Lanesborough, MA, with the goal to raise vegetables without the use of pesticides or herbicides using regenerative practices that enhance the life of the soil and the nutrient density of the plants. They believe that their pasture-raised heritage breeds of livestock are integral to the vitality their farm.

The NOFA Conservation Innovation Grant Project, 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 Discussion
11:00am - BCS Demo
Noon - Potluck Lunch*
1:00pm - Low-tech Methods for Bed Preparation and Planting
2:00pm - Transitioning to No-till
2:30pm - Soil Health Assessment Demo
3:00 - Wrap Up & Thank You

*In order to keep this event affordable for our participants, lunch for this event is potluck-style. Participants are encouraged to bring a food item to contribute, their own utensils and a list of ingredients to accommodate those with food sensitivities.


Jim Schultz has wanted to farm since he graduated high school and has had a plethora of experiences on small farms across the United States. At Evergreen State College in Washington, Jim helped run the student organic farm and double-majored in Ecological Agriculture and Education. The latter led him back to the East Coast to complete a Masters in Education at UMass Amherst and then into the public school classroom. Jim continually expanded his knowledge of farming from attending conferences and consuming every piece of farm related literature he could get his hands on. Upon retiring from 26 years of teaching, coaching, and administration, in 2016 Jim and Annie decided to finally start Red Shirt Farm.

Bryan O’Hara has been growing vegetables on his Connecticut farm, Tobacco Road for over 25 years. He speaks throughout the Northeast on vegetable production techniques and is known for providing “mountains of details in a concise, practical, and cohesive manner.” His farm produces high quality, nutrient-dense food using no pesticides and working with nature as much as possible in a close relationship. With an intensive focus on building the health of the soil, he employs no-till natural farming methods. Bryan also introduces indigenous microorganisms (IMOs) from the surrounding forest into his compost systems and foliar sprays to feed, protect, and invigorate their field soil and vegetable crops. Look for his new book, The No-Till Vegetable Grower’s Handbook, when it is released next year.

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

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