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

Growing Organically Since 1982

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organic apple orchard

Few things are as magical as when you first discover that food actually does grow on trees (… and on bushes, in dirt and amongst leaves). The edge of the New England woods in many of our backyards is home to wild raspberries and thorny tangles of blackberry brambles. I’m sure I’m not the only one who as a child first recognized the familiar fruits from the refrigerator, but took a minute to place them when seen on the vine. When my mom placed one in her mouth, and then told me it was okay for me to do the same, I broke out in a giddy smile, immediately storing the vital information in a part of my brain that was reserved for survival skills. This is where food comes from.

protect the bees

Farmer-member, Christy Raymond of White Barn Farm in Wrentham (pictured right)

Thank you to everyone who has continued to answer our calls to action: writing letters, making phone calls, sharing stories and “memes,” and to all of our yearly members who support our policy work and give us strength in numbers. If you’d like to receive more frequent policy updates as well as volunteer requests, feel free to contact marty@nofamass.org.

Please note: this policy update was written on June 15th, with some updates a few days later. Given the end of the state legislative session at the end of July, things will likely have changed by the time this is posted. You can always check our Facebook page for big announcements.

Farmers farming.

Photo credit Suzy Konecky

In April we asked you to help us build our community of committed members. We asked you to share the reasons why you are a member of NOFA/Mass with others that might be inspired to join our ranks. And my, oh my, did you answer that calling.

During the course of the Membership Drive we gained 33 new members. That’s 33 people who previously hadn’t heard of NOFA or who hadn’t realized that membership with NOFA/Mass came with so many benefits. If you are one of those new members, we hope that you will take the time to peruse our website and give your new membership status a try. With registration for the Summer Conference now open, you can save 20% off the already discounted membership price of admission by registering before June 27. Also, you can post up to eight free ads on the classifieds page of our website, sign up for free or discounted mentoring on your organic certification process, and look forward to the next issue of The Natural Farmer that will grace your mailbox in the coming weeks.

Members at NOFA/Mass Winter Conference

Not so long ago, I was a member of NOFA/Mass, and not a staff member. It was the first NOFA conference that I attended in 2016 that convinced me to join. It was raining that weekend in January when I left our small homestead, seed catalogs scattered on the table, and loaded our family of four into the car to quell our impatience for spring.

We had made the decision to take more control of our food supply, but didn’t have the knowledge or experience to implement a strategy that had any hope of succeeding. So off we went, seeking education. As we perused the catalog of workshops being offered that day, it seemed that every single one offered an opportunity for advancement. Beekeeping, raw milk production, biomass heating, farmers market development, soil nutrition, increasing yield in a small garden…we wanted to know it all.

Zach Zeigler in High Tunnel

Zach Zeigler in High Tunnel

NOFA/Mass is in year two of a three-year grant that we received from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) to focus on high tunnel education in Massachusetts. There are 6 mentor/mentee pairs who work together and we have held a few workshops for the general public on greenhouse growing. Zach Zeigler is paired with Derek Christianson and shares his experience in the program.

Tristram Keefe

This month it was my distinct pleasure to interview Tristram Keefe. First I had to ask him about his name. He said his parents were never very clear about why they named him that, but as he kid he just asked folks to call him Max.

Julie Rawson: How did you get into farming?

Tristram Keefe: I got my start farming with City Growers in 2011. I didn’t have any training in agriculture; I worked as a cook. My work in food led me there. I never really previously thought about it more than for a couple of plants on the porch. What they were doing was a novel concept and pretty cool. I got in touch with them and started volunteering with them on a regular basis. I grew up on Beaumont Street – near Ashmont Station on the Red Line (Dorchester).

It is not every year that a couple of lifetime members approach us with an offer like they have this year. Two dedicated donors, inspired by their belief that NOFA/Mass is relevant, cutting-edge, and critical for the future health of humans and the planet, have offered $10,000 of their own resources to match every donation that comes in to NOFA/Mass until January 31, 2018.

It goes like this: A donation of $20 becomes $40, a donation of $50 becomes $100. But, if someone gives at or above $100, their amount will not only be matched, but doubled. For example, a $100 donation brings in the original $100 plus an additional $200; thus, equaling a total of $300. And so forth. How blessed we are! Thank you to these generous individuals AND to each of you who stretches your finances to donate this year.  

The Organic to Heal the Planet Walk/Run in Lexington every November is NOFA/Mass's main annual fundraiser.  It's a day in which members, staff, and board get together to celebrate organic, hit the streets with our message, and share in an amazing potluck with –of course! – organic food! 

 

Christine and Marty

Christine and Marty (our Outreach Coordinator) mailing out Summer Conference postcards as well as 575 “What You Can Do About Climate Change” brochures to farms and businesses around the region.

Q: Hi Christine! You are the NOFA/Mass Membership & Registration Coordinator so, I want to ask you a little about what it means to be a NOFA/Mass member. First, how much does it cost?
 
A: There is a nominal annual fee involved with being a NOFA/Mass member that ranges from $25 up to $250 depending on your personal financial comfort, and commitment to a local non-profit organization. NOFA/Mass also offers a $1000 Lifetime membership for those that are able to make a larger contribution.

On October 22, NOFA/Mass will be hosting a seed breeding and sovereignty workshop at Round the Bend Farm in Dartmouth. Bill Braun, seed grower and farmer, is a main organizer of this, and there will be a number of seed breeders at the workshop. Read more about this workshop and learn how to register here

Bill and his partner Dee Levanti, and now their new son Bernard, grow vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit on about five acres at Ivory Silo Farm in Westport, MA, using sustainable practices and with great respect to biological diversity. When I interviewed him for this issue we were both in the throes of July and all that means – lots of heat (though less this year), lots of weeds, lots of pie in the sky dreams of the spring dashed as the reality of all of the challenges of the farm year have set in, but also looking forward to August where a lot of the early work starts to pay off in heavy vegetables, cooler nights and the calm that impending fall brings. We ran into one another again at the Summer Conference and shared a brief moment being chauffeured in the golf cart to Bill’s seed intensive. August was here and all was right with the world.

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