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

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Summer Conference 2019 Update

It’s getting warm and Spring has officially sprung here at the NOFA Summer Conference headquarters. We have a fun, educational and exciting weekend in store for you for this coming August. With Sandor Katz as our keynote speaker and offering an intensive workshop on Saturday morning, a deep lineup of talented presenters, and an incredible group of local artisans and musicians, we are in for a very dynamic conference once again. With our new two-day format, the weekend is sure to be a potent experience.

This year you can join us for a mixer on Friday night to kick off the conference weekend, relax with live music and take the opportunity to shake your booty or just have some good ol’ friendly conversation. Our Friday night music will be brought to you by local superstars The Gaslight Tinkers and there will be local adult beverages for your taste buds. Some of you might remember this band from a few years ago as the contradance band. There will not be a formal contradance this year, but no one will stop you from grabbing a partner and spinning around the floor.

2019 summer conference

New two day conference schedule packs a punch

Each year, as the organizer of the NOFA Summer Conference-- the conference that serves the seven chapters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association-- I travel to as many of the NOFA chapter Winter Conferences as I possibly can.

For the last two months I have been lucky to enjoy the amazing education and positive vibes at each of our sister chapters’ winter gatherings. I’ve caught up with many folks that will be presenting at the NOFA Summer Conference this year, had interesting discussions with farmers and food activists and have made many new friends. I had a great conversation with Jim at Land For Good about the serious business of farm transitions and how many in our NOFA community are currently deep into that difficult work on their own farms. I left with the hope that over the years, farmers of all ages will begin to build their farm transition into their farm vision as much as they are building their soil health and production capacities.

Doug Cook, NOFA/Mass Education Events Coordinator

Please join NOFA/Mass in welcoming Doug Cook to the staff as the new Education Events Coordinator.

Doug brings ample and diverse experience and knowledge to this position, having worked previously as an experiential educator, program manager, farmer/gardener and permaculture designer.

For several years, Doug served as the Education Director for Land’s Sake Farm where he grew the educational offerings of the non-profit farm, increasing community participation and providing a varied array of on-farm learning for all ages.

Healthy Dinner

Mid-Summer CSA share from a Massachusetts Organic Farm. Enjoy a local, organic dinner with fellow organic activists

Join NOFA/Mass community members at the Post-Conference Dinner following a full day of workshops at the Winter Conference! All proceeds from this event go to support NOFA/Mass.

Starting at 6pm, the Annual Post-Conference Dinner will begin with a keynote address from Scott and Erica Muhammed, Co-Directors of SEED (Students for Education Development in Tuskegee, Alabama). This will be followed by a delicious, locally sourced, organic dinner created by the chefs at Worcester State University. Take this opportunity to continue conversations from the conference and network with like-minded individuals over food and drink.

Field of Hemp

Dr. Heather Darby, inspecting a hemp crop ready for harvest at the UVM research field. Image by Monica Donovan for Heady Vermont.

The knowledge of agricultural hemp production, once a common and lucrative crop in Massachusetts, has skipped over more than a generation of farmers. For the past 81 years it was illegal to grow, leading to the loss of local strains of crop genetics, regionalized cultural practices, and an interruption in the handing down of crop knowledge from parent to child and farmer to apprentice. With a new Massachusetts policy authorizing the commercial production of sun-grown agricultural hemp in the state, local farmers are interested in integrating agricultural hemp into their farm businesses.

This is why NOFA/Mass is presenting a full-day intensive workshop on growing agricultural hemp in the Northeast on November 19 in Amherst. The focus of this particular workshop is growing a hemp crop through flower into the seed phase for farmers wishing to produce an oil, seed or grain crop. We will cover genetics, soil preparation, fertility needs, pest and disease management, harvesting and extracting CBD oil on the farm with an eye to what the proper harvest windows and crop quality should be for a legal, marketable product.

crops in field

Rows of crops at Woven Roots Farm.

On November 4 NOFA/Mass folks of all sorts will be gathering to walk, run, cheer each other on, and share in a delicious farm food potluck to raise money for our high-quality organic food and farming educational programming and policy work. We are looking for team members and hope you will join us!

Your support will help us continue to bring in experts in agronomy, herbalism, nutrition, and food preservation and preparation, as we work to further our organizational literacy around soil carbon sequestration and its relationship to human and planetary health , all accomplished in our unique grass-roots, each one, teach one way.

feet with coffee cup

Summer is closing out for everyone and we hope that the growing season was a productive and fun time for everyone.  NOFA/Mass will be rounding out the year with lessons learned from seasoned farmers, highlights from Food Access programs in non -traditional settings, soil fertility with cover cropping and growing techniques that work with mother nature’s timing.  Listed below are the remaining webinars for 2018:

Farmer with Vegetables

Photo Credit: Suzy Konecky

Health in our population is at a crisis point. Most conventionally available food is taking its toll on our health. Not only are carbohydrates and sweet treats to blame, but other foods that were once health-giving are no longer because of gylphosate residues, genetic mutation, and poor nutritional value due to depleted soil fertility.

NOFA/Mass is seeking partners for a workshop series that will teach the best organic, no-till practices to grow healthful ingredients, and then share recipes and methods of incorporating those ingredients into traditional meals and favorite dishes. The workshops will be presented as a three part series:

worms in soil

Soil testing is an important tool for anyone growing food, especially if the goal is to produce a nutrient-dense crop. But there is more to soil than its mineral content. NOFA/Mass is currently offering a series of workshops on soil testing and interpretation, which includes a lesson on both lab test interpretation and how to take your own carbon proxy tests. The series begins with Earthworms, Calcium, and Aggregates, Oh My: Soil Testing & Interpretation for Growers on June 16th at the Urban Farming Institute’s Glenway Farm in Dorchester.

Summer Conference

Event, Summer Conference

April might have been a cold, slow month, but May came running in like a freight train! Here we are in June, summer upon us, trying to make heads or tails of what happened this spring. Unpredictable weather patterns – from record temperature lows to record temperature highs, from droughts to freak wind storms – raise the difficulty level of farming a notch every year. It’s easy to feel isolated in these challenges; it seems that every farm has its own individual micro-climate throwing us all into our own siloed chaos.

The good news is that there are folks out there, from every corner of the Northeast, willing to share their experiences in battling this chaos. New techniques are debuted, and old techniques are also demonstrated to be tried and true. Resilience comes from building soils through regenerative farming practice, dedicated cover cropping, and an improved knowledge of what happens beneath our feet. You can learn all of this, and much, much, much more, from our presenters at the NOFA Summer Conference!

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