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

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.

I will explain the basics of growing salad greens for harvest during winter, based on my experiences growing in unheated hoophouses. Topics covered will include hoophouse structures, crop selection, scheduling, and growing techniques.

Scratch Farm is a 2 acre mixed vegetable farm with an 80 member CSA. We rely on purchased compost and diligent crop rotation to reach desired yields. I will explain our rotation, experiments with tillage reduction, and systems for reducing the amount of work required for two people to make a living on 2 acres.

I’ll discuss common mistakes/problems that occur on small farms regarding labor practices and creative solutions to overcome them. Borrowing heavily from the Conservation Corps Model, Many Hands Farm Corps addresses many small farm labor issues and will be used as an example of ideas that can be proliferated.

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