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

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Winter’s chill is just around the corner which naturally means our community of farmers and gardeners are about to go into hibernation to review the season’s notes and process the past year’s successes and failures in order to greet Springtime with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Maybe that means lots and lots of reading, or many group conversations or maybe it means a whole season’s worth of contemplation and reflection.

Whatever your style of winter study is, we hope the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference is part of your curriculum. This year’s conference will be held on Saturday January 11, 2020 on the campus of Worcester State University. It is our 33rd annual Winter Conference.  Save the date, mark your calendar to register early and make plans to bring your inquisitive nature, wisdom and joyfulness to celebrate your community of earthy, progressive, soil loving, like-minded friends and neighbors. Everyone is welcome and we hope the program suits your needs.

Interested in growing hemp?  Check out our upcoming event: Hemp Cultivation: Seed to Salve on October 19, 2019 in Springfield, MA.

Hemp cultivation in Massachusetts is still in its infancy; many entrepreneurs and farmers are looking for a way to profit from this niche crop. The prospects for generating on-farm products diminished following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration statement in June of this year that CBD cannot be added to food and dietary supplements. The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and state Department of Public Health released new guidelines that also prohibit the sale of any product containing CBD oils derived from hemp. Many farmers are now wondering if their plans to add new revenue streams through value-added products will ever come to fruition. 

2020 run

On November 3rd, 2019 a cohort of NOFA/Mass staff, board members, and supporters, will join together in Lexington Massachusetts to walk and run for the climate, our health, and the health of our land. We have done this run/walk every year for the past 7 years, and each time it is a little different.  Some years we have a slightly different group of people join us. Some years a few participants decide to run instead of walk—running a 5k and 10k are options in addition to walking the 5k. Some years the sky is blue and the sun is warm, some years it is grey and the air reminds you that it is indeed already November. The constant through all these years is that the purpose of the run/walk is to bring attention and funds to the important work that NOFA/Mass engages in all year. Each year we ask all participants to do a bit of fundraising for the organization in advance of the event, we are all doing our part in helping to sustain the organization that is addressing some of our most pressing societal needs of food production and soil/climate/human health.

the power of small

Being a small nonprofit gives us many strengths. Our small staff allows us to know each other well and build meaningful relationships with our collaborators. Our small central infrastructure (an office at Many Hands Organic Farm) and remote staff gives us flexibility and connections to all parts of the state. Our fearless Executive Director, Julie Rawson, is able to be involved in all facets of our work from on-farm workshops to policy and communications. We are nimble, can respond to farmers' needs quickly and efficiently, and can operate a lean yet effective organization. We would never want to grow into a big clunky organization.

 

Increasing Production by reducing tillage

On July 14, NOFA/Mass held a Soil Health Field Day in collaboration with Gaining Ground in Concord Mass. It was the first of six on-farm workshops to be held over the next three years as part of a project entitled “Organic No-Till on Northeast Farms: A Practical Exploration of Successful Methods.” This project is funded by a grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant Project. Led by NOFA/Mass in partnership with CT NOFA and NOFA-NJ, the project involves 9 farmer-innovators in three states who are working assiduously to trial and establish effective, scale-appropriate tillage reduction methods on their certified organic farms. (For more information about the project and the other farmers involved, check out the Project Webpage).

2019 SC logo

Starting onions in the heated tunnel seems like ages ago and the row covers have now been stowed away till autumn. With the Solstice now passed, summer has fully blossomed to bring this cherished season of long days for working in the garden deep into the evening. It is in this season that all the early mornings, the heavy lifting, the logistical irrigation and production puzzles we constantly solve for come full circle and we get to reap the rewards of our effort.

Aaaand, we absolutely love it. We love to see our nutritious, hard-earned products getting scooped up for dinners and weekend parties. So much has gone into the production it is now time to reap the rewards. The fruit is ripening. The plants are in full expression of their character and the land is teeming with diversity and life that we have helped steward. With every sale and every zucchini and tomato gifted to neighbors throughout the season we add to the momentum of putting reliably good food into the world -each farm and every garden fully functioning to do its part as one straw in this enormous broom of the organic movement.

Farm Manager Steve Munno explains his BCS-mounted implements for tillage-reduced farming

Farm Manager Steve Munno explains his BCS-mounted implements for tillage-reduced farming

Last month, CT NOFA held the first in a series of Soil Health Field Days to be held during the growing season of 2019 by NOFA Chapters across the Northeast. These on-farm events feature farmers who are innovating in organic approaches to increasing soil health and fertility.

Steve Munno, Farm Manager at Massaro Farm and Board member of CT NOFA, led participants on a tour of the farm, providing detailed descriptions of his cover cropping experiments and challenges. He also discussed and showed off his fields where he is trialing the use of silage tarps as a stale-seed bedding method and showed each piece of equipment used in his reduced-till fields, and explained the rationale behind a switch from plastic to the many-times-more expensive Weed Guard Plus for his tractor-mounted mulch layer.

Summer Conference Planning

August will be here before we know it! Will you be at Hampshire College August 9-11, 2019 for a rejuvenating and fun reprieve from farm work to sink into a weekend of quality time, live music, great food and amazing workshops with your NOFA family?

If you’re ready now you can register for the conference workshops, housing and meals online. Early bird rates are in effect until June 30th! Remember, all NOFA members save 20% at checkout with the code sent in an email from your chapter approximately May 1st. Check your inbox (and spam folder) for the discount code! Fees for registration, housing and meals can be found on our Registration Page.  

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.

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