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

NOFA Conservation Innovation Grant (NRCS) Project

Organic No-till on Northeast Farms: A Practical Exploration of Successful Methods

Upcoming Events: Soil Health Field Days

NOFA-NJ – June 22, 6pm-8pm, with a social gathering following

Soil Health Field Day at North Slope Farm: Please join Mike Rassweiler and Robert Fulper as they walk North Slope Farm and discuss practices for increasing soil health. We will review our practices on the farm including the ‘Favorable Furrows’ method for tillage reduction and will review soil test results on the farm in the context of our practices. With Mike Rassweiler, certified organic farmer, North Slope Farm and Robert Fulper, No-till Farmer. RSVP to a@nofanj.org

NOFA/Mass- July 14, 10am-3pm

Soil Health Field Day at Gaining Ground Farm, Concord MA: Learn small-scale, high-yield methods for crop production that minimize soil disturbance and maximize soil health. An interactive field tour and hands-on participatory planting demonstration will give participants insight into the farm systems and planting methods that allow Gaining Ground Farm to operate efficiently without the use of tractor-mounted planting implements. Daniel Mays of Frith Farm will then offer a presentation on his no-till farming systems. Stay for lunch and participate in a farmer round table discussion about soil health practices. With Doug Wolcik, Gaining Ground Farm Manager and Daniel Mays, no-till organic vegetable farmer at Frith Farm in Scarborough, ME. More info and registration  click here. www.nofamass.org/events

September 30th: Red Shirt Farm Soil Health Field Day Massachusetts

About the Project

This project supports the development of a learning community of northeast organic farmers who are integrating reduced and no-till methods currently on their farms, maps out what they are already doing and how it is working, defines what it currently means to be reduced/no-till in the northeast right now, and encourages further innovation, development, and education around these techniques to the wider farming community. The ultimate focus and goal of our investigation is to refine and educate about organic tillage reduction methods.

 

The Connecticut Farmers

Yoko and Alex in GreenhouseYoko TakemuraAssawaga Farm

Yoko Takemura and Alex Carpenter both come from non-farming backgrounds but came to a love of farming through reverence for the natural world. Together they started Assawaga Farm, a 3/4 acre organic vegetable farm located in Northeastern CT specializing in Japanese varieties. They purchased the raw land in 2016 and slowly built all of the infrastructure (including their house) in order to start their farm in 2018. They do all of the farming by hand without any use of machinery. They sell at 2 farmers markets and through a small CSA.

Yoko and Alex feel lucky to have started Assawaga Farm farm during a time when there are ever-increasing resources on small-scale no-till farming. They learned about no-till practices first-hand in 2015 at Bryan O’Hara’s farm (Tobacco Road Farm in Lebanon, CT) and were instantly convinced; they then began to amass more knowledge about no-till and its relation to soil health. This season they plan to incorporate cover crops into their no-till system without using any machinery.

 

Steve Munno, Massaro Farm

 

Rodger Phillips, Sub Edge Farm 

Rodger has been farming in Connecticut for 14 years. Along with his wife, Isabelle, he operates Sub Edge Farm, a diversified 300-acre certified organic farm growing fruits, flowers vegetables, culinary herbs as well as pasture raised meats and eggs. The farm has a CSA program and a farm-shop open most days of the week.

The goal at Sub Edge is to always strive for improved soil health; they are experimenting now with a no-till drill and roller crimper they hope to use for growing squash and tomatoes this year.

 

 

The New Jersey Farmers

 

Alec farming

Alec Gioseffi, Cherry Valley Cooperative

Alec's production focus is annual vegetables producing on about 10 acres, with pratices based in the philosophies of organic and biodynamic farming and permaculture principes. Alec serves on the NOFA-NJ board and has been involved in farm-to-school education since 2016.

Alec has been interested in no/ minimal tillage since the beginning of his farming career. With silty/clay soils, it was easy to observe the effects of tillage, especially after heavy rain fall. Alec uses reduced tillage methods for field prep: a subsoiling Keyline plow (Yeomans) & a Spader. A rototiller is used only to incorporate compost or minerals into the top 2-3 inches of the seed bed. 70% of the operation is in permanent raised beds, and the fields are laid out on keyline and contour for water management. Alec is committed to a 5 year EQUIP program with NRCS where he is implementing multi-species cover cropping and native pollinator habitat, among other improvements. In 2019 Alec will be experimenting with planting perennial grasses and legumes in widened pathways.

Alec and his wife Lauren started out farming 1 acre and scaled their operation to a 100 acre piece of preserved farmland where they created a Producer & Facilitator Cooperative known as Cherry Valley Cooperative Farm. The Cooperative (now with 8 enterprises) produces Vegetables, Meat, Fiber, Eggs, Mushrooms, Small fruits, Berries, Culinary & Medicinal Herbs, and Maple Syrup. The collective also hosts year round farm-to-school programming, community farm tours & potlucks, yoga, meditation & sound therapy. The farm produces food for about 200 CSA families, has an on-site farm store, and wholesales to restaurants within 15 miles of the farm.

 Mike Rassweiler, North Slope Farm 

Mike Rassweiler grew up in a town setting, but, guided by a love of the outdoors, an interest in self-reliance and the potential investing in his community he bought and founded North Slope Farm—a 50 acre, diversified organic farm, located in central western New Jersey.  Primary cash crops are vegetables, flowers and herbs grown on five acres, also producing compost, hay, straw, pasture, and fruit. North Slope Farm serves a variety of markets including retail farm stand, off-site farmers markets, wholesale accounts and special projects. Primary tillage and cultivation is done with both tractors and hand tools. While efficiency is striven for in mechanization of crop care, the most valued part of the crop production process remains the production crew.

 Mike has, from the start, focused on fostering life in the soil in relationship with and striving to grow food and valuable products for family, friends and community.  He became interested in tillage reduction when he noticed that fallow soils, well covered with diverse cover crops, especially clovers, show clear development of improving soil texture.  To foster this process, he attempts to till the soil as little as possible, reducing tillage depth progressively every year. Now he is attempting to incorporate the establishment of clovers and more diverse vegetative cover in his standard field crop production methods. 

 

Scott at MarketScott Morgan, Morganics Family Farm

Scott has been growing organically for 19 years, now entering his 4thseason growing on his own farm. Scott grows Organic specialty grains like hulless oats for fresh oatmeal, Einkorn wheat for flour and farro, and modern hard red winter wheat. He is also experimenting with legumes like Chickpeas and lentils, as well as non-grass grains like sunflower and sesame.

Scott wants to improve the health and long term viability of the soils on his farm and has been experimenting with inter-cropping, under-sown covers, natural seasonal weather shifts for cover crop termination, flail mowing for residue management, and no-till and minimum till seed drilling.

Morganics Family Farm was born from a desire to breach the final frontier of local organic production in the Northeast section of the United States and thereby take part in the revitalization of the local grainshed.  The goal of Morganics is to provide top quality grain products, grown in organic soil and sun dried to perfection.

 

 

 

 

 The Massachusetts Farmers

Jim Schultz, Red Shirt Farm 

Doug Wolcik, Gaining Ground Farm 

2019 will be Doug’s seventh year 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. 

Gaining Ground 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. This refreshingly simple approach, requiring partnerships with hunger relief organizations but no sales, lets us focus on meeting the needs of our volunteers and the people we help feed. These two aspects of our work are closely intertwined—one wouldn’t work without the other. We work hard to grow high-quality produce, provide an exceptional experience to each volunteer, and serve the needs of our recipients to maximize the generous support of our donors.

In 2015 Doug and the farm crew started transitioning to no-till at about an acre per year after trialing the method for one season in a high tunnel.  2018 was the second year with all three acres in no-till production. The result has been nothing but success; insects, disease and weed pressure are down, while yields and quality have gone way up. Current soil health techniques that Doug and his crew are experimenting with include cover crops integration into the no-till system and a particular focus on enhancing/increasing soil biology.

 

Chuck Currie, Freedom Food Farm

Chuck Currie began farming after being introduced to local, small scale agriculture while a student at UMass Amherst. After completing a B.S. in Plant, Soil, and Insect Science with a focus on soil microbiology and plant pathology, he worked on a 20-acre vegetable farm in Western Massachusetts for three years before leasing land in Vermont and starting his own farm in 2006. Still in search of permanent land tenure, Chuck and his partner Marie Kaziunas started Freedom Food Farm in Johnston, RI in 2012. Freedom Food Farm is now located on 90 acres in Raynham, MA. The farm produces produce, herbs, heritage eggs, flowers, raw honey, grain, flour, hay, straw, pasture-raised meat, plant starts, ferments, preserves & other value-added products. Farm products are marketed year-round at an on-site farm store and three local farmers’ markets.

Chuck and Marie believe in the biodynamic tenant of holistic management, or treating the farm as a whole organism. Practices that support this philosophy include crop and livestock biodiversity, maintaining and creating habitat for naturally occuring biodiversity, cover cropping, reduced tillage, and overall taking into consideration the health of the entire farm ecosystem and community when making decisions. 

Chuck believes that soil health is the key to plant health, animal health, and the health of the entire earth. He is interested in figuring out ways to reduce or eliminate tillage that can be implemented on scales up to 5 acres-- with partial mechanization-- and is experimenting with no-till seeders, cover crop rollers, and intensive grazing by ruminants and/or hogs to prepare ground for planting grains and vegetables. In addition, he uses hand-powered “no-till” methods including broadfork, tarps, and solarization in greenhouses and for some crops.

 

Project Leadership 


Julie Rawson
, Executive Director of NOFA/Mass and Farmer, Many Hands Organic Farm

Julie Rawson has been involved with NOFA/Mass since 1984, a couple of years after she, her husband Jack Kittredge, and their 4 small children started their diversified homestead/farm in Barre in 1982. Their farm, called Many Hands Organic Farm, has been certified organic farm since 1987. Julie has been a central force in NOFA/Mass for 35 years, managing various programs within the organization before becoming the NOFA/Mass Executive Director.

Today she serves in that role while also managing an organic vegetable CSA as well as beef cattle, pigs, laying hens and poultry for meat production. She leads NOFA/Mass to always be educating about the leading innovations in organic and regenerative farming- be it nutrient density, carbon sequestration, racial and social justice in farming, pesticide bans, or the connection between the soil and gut microbiomes. Julie seeks to empower the staff, board and membership of NOFA/Mass and the broader community to reach our full potential as collaborators with nature in the production of health-giving food that rebuilds our bodies, souls and ecosystem.


Adrian Hyde, Executive Director of NOFA-NJ and Farmer, Dunwald Farm

Adrian Hyde serves as the Executive Director of NOFA-NJ and is co-owner and co-operator of Dunwald Farm. Located just north of the Borough of Hopewell in central New Jersey, Dunwald Farm  was established in 2012 to be an educational resource for farmers and gardeners aspiring to grow healthy, healthful vegetables without the use of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides or any other chemicals.

For over five years, Dunwald Farm has experimented with individual cover crops in rotation and cover crop cocktails. Dunwald also has experimented with no-till methods in raised beds including solarization, heavy mulching and underseeding.

You can enjoy products from Dunwald Farm at many fine restaurants and grocers in the Hopewell and Princeton communities. 

 

Dina Brewster, Executive Director of CT NOFA and Farmer, The Hickories

 

Project Lead: Caro Roszell, NOFA/Mass Education Director and Farmer, New Wendell Farm

For Project Inquiries: 508.360.0874 | 978.544.9838 | caro@nofamass.org

Organic No-Till Methods in Use by the NOFA Conservation Innovation Grant Farmers

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