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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The Organic to Heal the Planet Fundraiser Run/Walk is fast approaching!  We are still looking for folks - runners, walkers, and individuals to donate to the participants' campaigns - who care about local, organic food and healthy soil to join us.  There are so many ways to do so: joining the team, sponsoring a member of the team, volunteering to be part of the event on the day.  Choose the one that works the best for you and visit nofamass.org/teamnofamass to get all the information you need! Want to know about one of the amazing people you could be running with? Read on to meet Paul our spokes-Chicken!

Gabe Brown and his son

2018 Keynote Speaker Gabe Brown and his son on their ranch (Photo credit Gabe)

Implementing practices that protect and improve soil health is a commitment NOFA/Mass has held for over 30 years. Healthy soil, healthy food, and healthy people are indivisible goals. This basic premise has been the foundation of NOFA’s work for decades and many farmers and gardeners have achieved increased fertility from their land and nutrition from their food for decades by coming together each year -- sometimes, many times each year-- to skill-share at NOFA/Mass events.

On October 22, NOFA/Mass will be hosting a seed breeding and sovereignty workshop at Round the Bend Farm in Dartmouth. Bill Braun, seed grower and farmer, is a main organizer of this, and there will be a number of seed breeders at the workshop. Read more about this workshop and learn how to register here

Bill and his partner Dee Levanti, and now their new son Bernard, grow vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit on about five acres at Ivory Silo Farm in Westport, MA, using sustainable practices and with great respect to biological diversity. When I interviewed him for this issue we were both in the throes of July and all that means – lots of heat (though less this year), lots of weeds, lots of pie in the sky dreams of the spring dashed as the reality of all of the challenges of the farm year have set in, but also looking forward to August where a lot of the early work starts to pay off in heavy vegetables, cooler nights and the calm that impending fall brings. We ran into one another again at the Summer Conference and shared a brief moment being chauffeured in the golf cart to Bill’s seed intensive. August was here and all was right with the world.

"You guys walk the walk," one NOFA/Mass member told us this spring when she sent her annual donation. "I am in love with NOFA. The whole organic world would be different without you."

On November 5, 2017, we will be walking (and running) the walk of the organic movement in Lexington, MA. The Organic To Heal the Planet Run is NOFA/Mass's yearly fundraiser and it makes our work possible! We need team members to run or to walk – please join us! Find out how to join the team here. Read more about it on our website: www.nofamass.org/teamnofamass.

NOFA/Mass has started another year of our “Inspiring Ideas from the Field” monthly webinar series. The series started in April and will feature presenters on soil carbon sequestration, biochar, no-till farming, urban gardening techniques such as bio-intensive growing, and other topics from our in-the-field experts. This year we’ve added Food Access topics to bring attention to urban farming and gardening work that is bringing healthy food to communities that struggle with food security issues.

Each year for the past five years, we’ve gathered together a team of runners, walkers, farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, sustainable living folks, eaters, and families for our annual NOFA/Mass Fundraising Walk/Run.

During the months leading up to November, team members reach out to their family and friends to ask for their support. All proceeds raised go to fund NOFA/Mass’s work.  On November 5, we gather together again, moving our bodies together, having awesome conversations, sharing in a delicious potluck, and connecting on the things we care about.  It is an event for all.  We welcome you to join us!

On the precipice of summer getting into full swing, things are warming up quickly, plants have doubled in size since mid-May and we are about to set sail across the hotter months. As we know, this means something different altogether these days: summer is becoming a wild card alike for the humans, animals, and bacteria and fungi that support our ecosystem. So many growers are making headway with fruitful systems that support life on all levels; microscopic, local and global. If we take a step back, we see ourselves building upon the work of the original organic movement, taking that momentum and moving far beyond the now tired and banal discussions of climate change and chemical usage. NOFA and its allies charge forward in the race to reduce and reverse the effects of carbon emissions on earth.

Greg Disterhoft

Greg will be running a NOFA/Mass education event Growing and Processing Medicinal Herbs on June 25 in Sunderland, MA. In preparation for his workshop, I interviewed Greg back in April to find out a little more about him and his operation. 

The demand for local, organic herbs is rapidly growing with the revival of herbalism and integrated medicine. This workshop will provide an overview of what it takes to grow and manage a successful herbal market garden. Full Kettle Farm’s Greg Disterhoft will walk us through soil, light & water requirements, cool and warm season herbs, annuals vs. perennials, transplanting, harvesting, fertility, and the maintenance of a variety of herbs. Greg will demonstrate how he propagates and cultivates a wide array of herbs (including high value herbs like ashwagandha, astragalus, tulsi, and clary sage).

Jack, Ronnie and Rattan Lal

In late February a number of us received invitations to a May 3 – 5 conference outside Paris titled, “Sequestering Carbon in Soil – Addressing the Climate Threat”. The invitations came from a small consulting firm called Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions that had been tracking individuals and groups active on the carbon sequestration issue. They had put together funding from several non-profit sources for a gathering to:

On June 17 Jono Neiger, local agroecologist with a lifetime of experience in regenerative design, will present the following workshop: Permaculture Homestead Design: How to Assess and Plan Your Sustainable Homestead. It will run from 10am to 3pm at Wildside Cottage and Gardens in Conway.

According to Jono: “The work of building the dream homestead starts well before the first garden is dug or the greenhouse is built. Creating an efficient and flourishing home and garden, one that yields abundantly but needs few inputs, requires skillful planning. Each element must intelligently connect with every other element in the system.”

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