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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Events

Maggie Payne, Anna Gilbert-Muhammed and Bettye Frederick

On July 25, community gardeners from Springfield’s Mason Square Library Community Garden and Ibrahim Ali from Gardening the Community attended NOFA/Mass’s cocktail cover cropping workshop at Many Hands Organic Farm in Barre, MA.

Photo by steve-wilson, available under a Creative Commons license.

Doing less damage is no longer good enough when it comes to addressing cascading challenges like climate change, habitat loss and soil loss. To address these issues, many ecological farming practitioners have been touting the idea of “regenerative agriculture.” But what does it really mean? It stands in clear juxtaposition to the more widely used term, sustainable agriculture. There’s no question that the land and water we are now working with has been massively degraded through decades of unscrupulous industrial practices, ignorance of basic ecological principles, and human folly.

New orchard fence with electric rope; note cylinder on tree trunk

Pru and I were thrilled to host a very well-attended NOFA/Mass workshop on fruit here at our homestead, Wild Browse, last weekend. We were floored by the unexpected number of folks, traveling from far and wide, across the state and beyond (Haverhill, Plymouth, Arlington to West Stockbridge, Conn. and points in between) who found their way here to Wendell. Thank you all for attending. We hope that you enjoyed the day as much as we did and that your effort was rewarded.

One of the newest additions to Matt’s herd

Here in New England we are blessed with a plethora of rocky, sloped soils. And though that means that we may never be the grain belt of America, these thin, marginal soils can grow some really great grass. In fact, the high mineral content and heavy rainfalls of our region suggest that grass-fed livestock may be one of the most sustainable agricultural uses of our land. According to New England Food Vision, grass-fed livestock ought to be a cornerstone for a sustainable New England food economy: “Of the 6 million acres of farmland in [New England], some 2 million are suitable only for pasture and orchard and another million are probably best suited for pasture and hay.” These 3 million acres are “an enormous unrealized agricultural resource, a place where New England’s soils and climate can show a real competitive advantage.”

If you are looking to extend your growing season, or add a specialty crop that will diversify your CSA offering, or simply to become more intimate with the mysterious fungal kingdom, consider joining NOFA/Mass on Sunday, April 17 at Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester to unlock the secrets of mushroom cultivation. This hands-on workshop (taught by yours truly) will dig into several different methods for successful outdoor mushroom cultivation including log cultivation with shiitakes and woodchip bed cultivation with stropharia.

2014 Team NOFA/Mass

Today is race day! Thank you to everyone who participated in today’s event and helped NOFA/Mass to raise money to support our essential programming. Your donations have helped to support our educational workshops and conferences, our beginning farmers program, a raw milk initiative, food access work to underserved communities, soil carbon restoration using organic principles,  and extensive policy work on topics such as GMO labeling, federal watchdogging and food safety. 

Troy Bishopp and Suzy Konecky demonstrate Cricket Creek’s grazing chart

Troy Bishopp and Suzy Konecky demonstrate Cricket Creek’s grazing chart

On October 5 presenter Troy Bishopp lead a NOFA/Mass workshop at Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, MA. Bishopp is a fifth generation farmer in the Oriskany Creek Watershed, a tributary of the Mohawk River in the Hudson Valley of New York. Cricket Creek owner Topher Sabot and farm manager Suzy Konecky have been working with Troy over the past several years, putting into practice much of his advice about how to manage grazing patterns on one’s farm. For those 20 or so of us who were lucky to watch the interplay between Troy and Topher and Suzy, and to also ask our own questions, it was a day full of learning, laughing and reflection.

Brittany and Olive

Join Team NOFA/Mass on Sunday, November 1 at noon in Lexington, MA. Together we can create landscapes that feed our communities and restore our environment. NOFA/Mass has been advancing organic food and agriculture in Massachusetts for over 30 years. With less than 30 days to go, help us raise $25,000 to keep the restorative agricultural movement growing!

Prune Plums

Prune Plums

We like to share our travails and successes with fruit production, and we like to share meals at our farm. So we figured it would be great fun to do both at the same time. On Saturday, September 26, Jack and I will host a fruit tour and dinner from 3:30 – 8 pm. We will start by showing how our many different kinds of fruit grow – apples, peaches, pears, plums, cherries, red and black raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, aronia, persimmons, hazelnuts, gooseberries, and more. We will talk about cultural practices and fertility.

 At-farmer's-market-(L)-with-month-long-volunteer

At farmer's market with-month long volunteer

I've spent my "summer sabbatical," as my future husband calls it, as a farmhand at Simple Gifts Farm in Amherst. I've been making half the money I made at my former job, but I feel much richer coming home to a refrigerator full of fresh vegetables that I have grown with the help of a dozen other amazing individuals. My fellow staffers, bosses, apprentices, volunteers are tireless and incredibly appreciative of the day's work. And yes, it is a sweaty, dirty, toiling, smelly, back-aching day.

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