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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Events

As NOFA followers know, the future of healthy food and climate stability depends on the life below our feet. The seven state NOFA Chapters have been working with farmer leaders in our states to educate the farming community about innovations in tillage reduction for organic farms.

If you’re looking to learn more about tillage-reduction and other healthy soils practices in organic farming, NOFA has a lot to offer this fall. Here’s a roundup of the new season’s tillage reduction events across the northeast— most are online (a great opportunity to find out what growers in other states are up to) but some chapters will be allowing a small number of people to register for in-person field days.

 

What do you get when you put over 400 farmers and gardeners into an online learning forum for three weeks in the middle of summer? A rich and eventful conference. That’s what you get. The 46th annual NOFA Summer Conference was a fantastic foray into online learning with over 60 workshops and events, live music performances, games, a raffle, a keynote with Tim LaSalle and a children’s conference with music and farming games.

The journey of making an online conference a reality was filled with learning, problem solving, and creative collaboration. When it became clear this spring that large in-person events would likely be called off for the summer, NOFA staff began reimagining the conference. The NOFA Summer Conference has been an institution in organic circles for nearly half a century, and we had help from the entire NOFA community in visioning the remote version of this historic event. NOFA staff from many states offered ideas and support, and we received insights into online conferences and marketing from NOFA friends including Michael Kilpatrick from Growing Farmers, and a group of agricultural conference organizers led by NESAWG (North East Sustainable Agricultural Working Group) and California based Eco-Farm. Between meetings, conference organizers researched new technologies and brainstormed new ways of incorporating not only a rich array of workshops, but also the many entertaining events that make the NOFA Summer Conference the highlight of the summer for so many of us

Perhaps because we are still happily basking in our accomplishment of shifting 45 years of much-loved NOFA Summer Conference tradition to an online platform with 4 months’ notice, our team is approaching this year’s fall fundraising plans with a sense of optimism and creative collaboration.

In a typical season, NOFA/Mass would kick off the year-end fundraising with our annual Run/Walk fundraising campaign. Each fall staff, board members, and friends normally gather pledges and then meet up in Lexington, MA to walk or run a 5k or 10k course. We typically raise $20,000 from this event, but with large public gatherings out of the question this year, our development team had to come up with an alternative way to raise this crucial part of the budget.

As the Four Tops sang in their epic and iconic song, I’ll be there/Reach Out, the NOFA Summer Conference is planning to be here in spite of this COVID-19 disruption and we are happy to be bringing the conference online. We know it is important that you have access to up-to-the-minute resources this year to keep your self-sufficiency skills tuned up and stay connected throughout the summer.

As you may know, this year’s conference will be held as a series of webinars via Zoom and other platforms. The new Summer Conference dates are July 20 - August 9, 2020 and registration is open at this link. Registration options are available for those who wish to attend live and in person, as well as for those that would like to purchase the video recordings only and watch post-conference, on your own time.

In celebration of the Massachusetts dairy farmers who dedicate their early mornings to milking, spend the hottest days of the year in the hay field, and slip their mud boots on at midnight to deliver new calves, we’d like to thank them for their tireless efforts. 

If you have cow fever too, and are thinking about improving upon your existing dairy operation, trying your hand at cheesemaking, or are simply curious about what our local dairy farmers are doing to care for the earth while feeding our community, we have some exciting educational opportunities coming up for you. 

Members are the heart of our organization, and we are celebrating you all month this April. If you’re currently a member of NOFA/Mass, thank you! Perhaps you’d consider giving the gift of membership to a friend, family member, or farmer you know. Or, perhaps you would like to donate a membership but don’t have someone specific in mind. We can quickly find a home for your generous gift. In addition to inviting others to join as NOFA/Mass through gift memberships, this is also a great time to think about upgrading your own membership to a higher level, if you’re able.  See the many available options on the membership page of our website.

 

Why Do We Graze?

Humans literally evolved to follow other animals around and participate in their environmental systems. There is no wonder we have devoted a huge portion of our society to domesticating animals; we are holding on to the partnership that has historically provided sustenance.  Unfortunately, we are currently working in a system that displaces the true meaning of our relationship with livestock by reducing it to an economic transaction. 

Many livestock farmers know-- and the research is increasingly backing them up-- that animals thrive when they have access to quality pasture and are managed in a manner that stimulates their natural behaviors. Moved regularly through diverse pastures, livestock can transform the landscape.

Looking ahead to August 7-9, 2020- at the 46th Annual NOFA Summer Conference we will celebrate the theme “Climate Solutions are Grown in Soil” with keynote speaker Tim LaSalle. Tim is the Co-Founder of The Center for Regenerative Agriculture at the College of Agriculture at California State University, Chico, CA.  

In the winter issue of The Natural Farmer we interviewed Tim and are enthusiastic to follow his exploration into why biology and No to Low-till systems seem to be the most efficient and profitable and also have great abilities to capture carbon on small and large scales. As Tim told us, “we need every farmer to solve the crisis we find ourselves in”. This is our belief as well, and we look forward to having Tim join us in August. 

New Webinar

Inspiring Ideas from Experts in The Field is entering its 4th season.  This year, the education menu for our viewers continues to grow and bring new presenters and exciting topics.  This year NOFA/Mass will focus on pollinators, the connection between healthy food and healthy bodies, and the repair of damaged soils in urban settings.  Here are some of our spring webinar offerings:

Butterflies enjoying native flowers Photo credit: Caro Roszell

Communities across Massachusetts are standing up and taking action against toxic biocides and the dangers they pose to all living things-- from the smallest insect to those of us at the top of the food chain. Local leaders and concerned citizens are mounting a defense of the vulnerable members of our ecosystems, from the Statehouse to the schoolyard. 

With a raft of bills on pesticide reduction and pollinator protection before the state legislature (Pollinator Protection Act (Neonic Restrictions), Neonic Ban, Local Option on Pesticides, Protect Schoolchildren from Pesticides, Restrict Glyphosate use on Public Lands, Glyphosate Ban, Protect Groundwater from Pesticides) and with 29 Massachusetts communities that have already established some level of municipal action on pesticide reduction/pollinator protection, there is no better time to join the movement to protect our ecosystems and our health!

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