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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There were about thirty of us there, sitting on the long earthen porch in front of Abelino’s bungalow—nine of us farmers from Massachusetts, the rest local Peruvian cacao farmers and their families. “What do you want for your kids? What do you hope for the future?” asked Leslie. Michael, the trip’s leader, translated the question. For a minute, everyone shifted uneasily, hesitating to say anything. If I remember correctly, it was Abelino’s wife who finally spoke up: “We want our children to stay in school, to get educated and become professionals, so they can have some security in life.
Ryan & Sarah Voiland Celebrate with the Mount Grace Land Trust

Ryan & Sarah Voiland Celebrate with the Mount Grace Land Trust

A cornucopia of farms throughout the Commonwealth now bring organically grown food within, at least geographically, reach of a gratifyingly large part of our population. We who benefit from this impressive progress know the deep satisfaction that comes from eating good food and knowing personally, or by reputation, the farms and farmers that grow it. These achievements have hardly come easily and most working farmers continue to face formidable challenges just to persevere.

One of the great benefits of living in Barre is that we get to host the presenters for our Advanced Grower Seminars when they come to town. Michael is the youngest seminar leader we have had, at 26 years of age. It is a wonderful sign of the times that there are a number of highly qualified young farmers that are fast becoming the new leaders in the movement.

Erik Andrus reported on his findings from a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NESARE) Farmer Grant to explore the market possibilities for production and sale of turbinado sugar from non-gmo “sugar beets” on his farm, Boundbrook Farm in the Champlain Valley in Vergennes, Vermont.   Although the project did not ultimately yield a sugar product worthy of marketing, Andrus believes there is potential for profitably raising field beets in New England.

Brix Bounty farm is a $100,000/year vegetable operation in Dartmouth, MA with a market emphasis on vegetable quality. Beets are among the top 10 crops the farm produces.  “Old timers” and first generation foodies alike, who appreciate the superior taste of a quality beet, make up a large portion of the farm’s beet customers. He says Eastern European customers also account for a great number of beet sales.

As we consider ways to feed our livestock and poultry certifiably organic while promoting maximum health and productivity for our animals, we need to be cognizant of financial viability if we are to stay in business. A broad diversity of feeds, ideally foraged as much as possible by your animals, will keep costs down and health more nearly at its potential. I start my feeding regimen with a high quality certified organic commercial grain for our chickens, turkeys, and pigs. A cow’s ideal diet centers around high quality grass.

Photo credit: Jess Cook, MA Farm Energy Program

Photo credit: Jess Cook, MA Farm Energy Program

You’re always hearing about the importance of business planning for farm viability, but do you have an energy plan
for your farm? There’s a simple way to get started - and no matter how long you have been farming, there is something you can do to save energy.
Energy is a part of your business plan. Energy savings directly affects your bottom line –New England farmers

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.


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