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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Farming

Vertical integration for small farms means producing the raw materials and processing them into a form that yields increased income. Small farms need to creatively make the most of what they produce. We will discuss key considerations for small farms in producing value-added meat and vegetable products.

Farmers and gardeners have always been breeders. We have an obligation to maintain that tradition. Breeding micro-adapted varieties improves production and resilience. I will discuss seed saving and breeding strategies we use on our diversified farm, focussing on tomatoes, squash, kale, wheat, and sheep.

Degenerative diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoperosis, mental illness, dental problems, etc., have their largest cause in modern processed foods. High functioning, fully mineralized soils and the products of grass farming are the way out of this human tragedy. This talk covers anthropology, history, and science of our plight, and how to farm and feed our way out.

Biological farm management practices focus on the bottom of the food chain, the microbiology which supports plant health. Participants will gain a basic understanding of the soil food web, soil science, and fertility management practices. Methods for crop production, pasture and hayfield improvement, and composting will be discussed.

Working in groups, participants will explore the topics of holding land, financial assessment, ownership, finding farms, leasing, communication & negotiation and community partners. Participants may prepare ahead using an online course called Acquiring Your Farm (www.newsite.landforgood.org). Farm seekers may follow up independently or with a Land For Good coach.

Find the online course, "Acquiring Your Farm," at this link: http://newsite.landforgood.org/

Having started three farms myself, I’ll share stories and photos of my beginnings and help participants think through resources you need – physical, financial, and mental – to start a farm, or expand a garden into a commercial enterprise. I stress substituting creativity for loans or a trust fund and point to many resources.

The increasing demand for local food is creating opportunities for commercial success through small-scale intensive crop production. Small-scale intensive crop production systems are making it possible to earn significant income on small land bases. This is particularly appealing to beginning farmers who are often challenged by barriers to production, such as lack of access to land and capital. They are allowing established farmers to either downsize or diversify their operations.

Overview of how I create budgets, track payments, make financial reports, plan for infrastructure improvement, and analyze financial health. Includes descriptions and pictures of documents I use.

This workshop will help you consider all of the various details that can determine the success of a start-up veggie CSA, from land and growing to marketing, distribution, labor, administration, and more. Many handouts are supplied to cover these issues as well as crop planning and further resources.

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