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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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.

"You guys walk the walk," one NOFA/Mass member told us this spring when she sent her annual donation. "I am in love with NOFA. The whole organic world would be different without you."

On November 5, 2017, we will be walking (and running) the walk of the organic movement in Lexington, MA. The Organic To Heal the Planet Run is NOFA/Mass's yearly fundraiser and it makes our work possible! We need team members to run or to walk – please join us! Find out how to join the team here. Read more about it on our website: www.nofamass.org/teamnofamass.

Each year for the past five years, we’ve gathered together a team of runners, walkers, farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, sustainable living folks, eaters, and families for our annual NOFA/Mass Fundraising Walk/Run.

During the months leading up to November, team members reach out to their family and friends to ask for their support. All proceeds raised go to fund NOFA/Mass’s work.  On November 5, we gather together again, moving our bodies together, having awesome conversations, sharing in a delicious potluck, and connecting on the things we care about.  It is an event for all.  We welcome you to join us!

In my monthly search for interesting stories amongst our NOFA network, I came upon Elizabeth Daniels. Elizabeth is an urban gardener in Springfield who signed on with NOFA/Mass staff member Anna Gilbert-Muhammad as one of six gardeners who will build their gardening skills with an eye to sharing what they learn with others in their community. I asked Elizabeth how she got into gardening.

Elizabeth Daniels: I grew up with my grandparents. They always had the idea that you can grow it yourself. They grew the collard greens. When I moved to Springfield and I saw people gardening outside, I said: “I need to be a part of that.” I want to go to the yard and get some greens and tomatoes and it tastes so much better.

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