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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Green Team staking the tomatoes in test plot #1

Though the word “farming” is in its name, NOFA does more than just work with rural farmers. Much attention is paid to ways more traditional, production farmers can use techniques like cover cropping and mineral amendments to enhance their yields, but there are few resources and little knowledge for using these tools on smaller scale and urban sites.

NOFA/Mass is partnering with The Trustees Boston Community Gardens and Groundwork Somerville on a three-year project to improve the fertility and production of compost-based soils, funded by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). Compost is often free and used-widely by many city growers. Though considered non-toxic and safe for growing in, compost does not provide all that soil needs to produce healthy and sustained crop growth.

Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser of Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastapol, CA have been called “drought fighters,” and “leading innovators,” in the field of regenerative agriculture. Their agro-ecological growing practices (and the results thereof) have commended as “sustainability on steroids,”’ and “transformative.”

Rapidly growing in renown to near Elliot Coleman levels, the Kaisers have recently attracted national attention from soil scientists, government agencies, agricultural organizations, journalists and the farming community for their unconventional farming practices. Their methods allow them to grow up to seven crops per year per bed, gross $100,000 per acre, raise soil organic matter 400% in six years, achieve Bee Friendly Certification, offer year-round positions to several employees at $15/hour, and use absolutely no sprays, even organic ones.

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.

We will examine tools, ergonomics and cultural practices of manually prepared gardens. The emphasis will be on deep beds, compost, and intensive planting. A discussion of time consumption will compare productivity to a machine-based small-scale garden. I will draw upon ideas from a variety of sources.

Christie Higginbottom’s work as a gardener and teacher spans decades. Growing up with a thriving victory garden and parents who enthusiastically tended garden space in every home in which they lived, it is a given for Christie that every home’s landscape should include a plot for food. As an adult she studied education, initially teaching high school literature. When she decided to stay home and raise her children, they spent a lot of time in the family garden.

Tomatoes can be a profitable crop on a very small scale. From seed to stand, learn all you need to know about growing and selling tomatoes. We’ll cover variety selection, cultivation, fertility, homegrown pesticides from tobacco and mint, and setting up your stand.

A small garden is no impediment to fruit growing. Lowbush blueberries, currants, gooseberries, and super dwarf apples are among fruits that fit well into small gardens. I’ll present the fruits and techniques needed to reap delectable rewards from spaces as small as a balcony to as “large” as a small, suburban yard.

Most gardeners limit themselves to Memorial Day starts and Labor Day finishes. Learn how low-tech row coverings plus strategically timed seeding schedules, crop sequences, and fertility treatments can make your gardens almost as productive as the pros -- and nearly year-round.


Sparked by a request from a member gardener, we have started a NOFA/Mass Gardener's Forum. 

More information can be found here.


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