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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NOFA/Mass Enews

Julie Rawson

Wood chips on Food Project’s Beverly farm

As part of our carbon restoration work, we are featuring practitioners who are trying innovative practices that build soil structure, growing capacity and quality, while carefully protecting and building underground carbon storage. We are collecting a sharable body of knowledge of practices that are effective at lowering atmospheric carbon dioxide while raising high quality organic food.

We didn’t spend $10,000 to hire a consultant, a common path for a nonprofit. Instead, being a “do-it-yourself” organization, we decided to do our own home-grown strategic plan. We started by surveying our members to learn what they valued about and gained from NOFA/Mass. We also asked our department directors – Kathleen Geary from Administration, Nicole Belanger from Communications, Glenn Oliveira from Education, and Kristin Brennan from Development – to work with their departmental staff to define goals and strategies for our educational and advocacy programs and our organizational support positions.

Dark soil profile

Dark soil profile

I had the pleasure recently of doing a phone interview with Casey Townsend to discuss the success of his first year using “no-till” at Natick Community Organic Farm (NCOF). Here below are his words.

I went to The Soil and Nutrition Conference in February. It was an overview of some of the work Bryan O’Hara has done at his farm. As he was talking about his compost, I realized that this might be a great option for the compost we make. I realized we could benefit if we were to use some of Bryan’s methods. We just filled all of our compost bins with a compost of manure, wood chips and leaves, a recipe with a C:N ratio of 30:1. Our newest mixture is 10 parts leaves, six parts wood chips, one part turkey manure – measured in tractor bucket loads. We turn it once and it comes out chunky.

Sarah spreading cover crops on beds recently mowed and lightly tilled

Back in the day I was satisfied to get some winter rye in the ground by the end of October, the latest date to get rye planted and have it germinate before winter. But Christine Jones’ visit to Massachusetts last September provided the wake up call that I needed. Her advice to have a diversity of green plants growing 12 months a year has been a driving force in my farming practice. These plants support the life systems of the underground microbial partners and are essential for soil health and carbon restoration.

Allison Beatty-Maynard

Allison Beatty-Maynard

We sent a fond farewell to Kristin Brennan who has left Massachusetts for one year to pursue a midwifery education in El Paso, Texas. In her stead we have hired Allison Beatty-Maynard to do development work for NOFA/Mass.

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.

I am trying a lot of new things this year on the farm, putting into practice what I have been learning from the myriad resources offered by NOFA/Mass and the NRCS on carbon friendly farming. Though not all crops are beautiful and appropriate to write home about, we are having some successes.

Who amongst us does not hold some anxiety regarding climate change? Probably not too many of us at this point. Every time another big or bad or “un-natural” storm rolls through, or the news brings us word of a new record heat wave or extended drought, my blood pressure rises.

NOFA/Mass Board & Staff - November 2013

NOFA/Mass Board & Staff - November 2013

At our most recent board and staff retreat at member Kofi Ingersoll’s Bay End Farm and Overbrook House in Buzzard’s Bay a strong desire coalesced to prioritize developing a serious strategic plan for NOFA/Mass.

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.

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