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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Summer Conference

Summer Conference workshop outside

These are the days we crave. Full sun, full bloom, full baskets. Now that it’s the peak of summer, the days are long and hot, the garden is beginning to reward us with its most precious and beloved fruits, and we begin to see all our hard work paying off, even though we know it will not let up for another few months. The long hours, the constant attention to detail and the myriad projects that fill our notebooks are like the tide, carrying us toward the shore of the fall and winter months. We hope you are taking breaks, staying hydrated and focused on all the wins you are accomplishing along the way.

On August 10-12 we will again welcome the NOFA community back to Hampshire College for a heavy dose of the family we call the organic movement. With over 130 workshop presenters, 70 vendors, our amazing keynote speakers, Rowen White and Eric Holt Gimenez, and 900 of our closest friends, we will celebrate and immerse ourselves in the latest developments of organic agriculture and lifestyle. Our lineup this year is rich and fertile, with expert farmers, teachers, and merrymakers weaving together a weekend on the Hampshire Campus to cap off your summer.

NOFA Summer Conferece

Farm Tour During 2017 Summer Conference

Things are finally warming up. Maybe spring has sprung? It may not look like it should just yet, but the robins are busy, buds are on the trees, and farmers and gardeners all over the Northeast are nurturing their seedlings to health in greenhouses, on window sills, high tunnels and under row cover. A celebration of new life and a renewed sense of wonderment that is another growing season in our NOFA states are awakening.

Another thing to celebrate is that registration for the 44th Annual NOFA Summer Conference is now open! This year’s conference is shaping up to be an amazing weekend with depth and variety. Organizations and individuals alike will find benefit in attending the wide range of workshops held over the three days of August 10-12 in Amherst, MA. Building a successful conference program is not unlike hosting a successful dinner party; there has to be something there for all of your guests to enjoy, and (hopefully) while leaving at the end of the evening craving just one more bite.

Registration for the NOFA Summer Conference has opened and we are delighted to be back at Hampshire College for a second year. Building on last year’s wonderful event, we look forward to welcoming even more sponsors, exhibitors and advertisers in 2018. This year we will not be having a large exhibitor tent as in years past and instead will use the overhang space near Franklin Patterson Hall, and allow exhibitors to set up pop up tents on the grass area, creating a more fair-like atmosphere and improving exhibitor visibility.

2018 Summer Conference

As winter begins to thaw, the fields call us back to tend and cultivate another season of healthful bounty. And as the USDA organic standards degrade even further in the face of the National Organic Standards Board allowing Hydroponics into organic certification and animal welfare regulations taking a huge step backward, the need for conscientious local food producers becomes more necessary than ever. What a time for organic farmers and gardeners to get better at doing their part to infiltrate the food system with the healthiest, most conscientious food possible!

Mark your calendar for August 10-12, 2018 when we will gather on the campus of Hampshire College for the 44th NOFA Summer Conference as a community set on maintaining transparent and upstanding food production methods consumers can rely on in good faith. Each summer the NOFA community looks toward its regional summer gathering to help keep the fabric of healthful organic practices in tact and to learn from the successes of many amazing people doing their part.

Rowen White

Save the date of the 44th Annual NOFA Summer Conference at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA - August 10-12, 2018. August sunshine and harvest season seem both distant and imminent in the midst of food producer’s late winter intensive.

Think ahead for a moment of the coming summer’s warmth, the fully blossoming flowers, the pollinators tirelessly busy at their work, and our plants and trees hanging heavy with fruit. Sooner than we think we will be in the midst of summer, liberated from our heavy winter garments and harvesting, harvesting, harvesting...

The NOFA Summer Conference is the gathering place for those that make up the collective fabric of the organic movement in the Northeast. The seven NOFA state chapters (NY, NJ, VT, NH, RI, CT and MA) all play a role in this coming together to celebrate and further the work we’re doing individually and as a movement. The collection of over 70 exhibitors, 130 workshop presenters and over 900 enthusiastic growers and activists creates a powerful atmosphere to share innovation, community and knowledge. And this year we’re especially proud to host a handful of collaborative organizations doing great work.

On the precipice of summer getting into full swing, things are warming up quickly, plants have doubled in size since mid-May and we are about to set sail across the hotter months. As we know, this means something different altogether these days: summer is becoming a wild card alike for the humans, animals, and bacteria and fungi that support our ecosystem. So many growers are making headway with fruitful systems that support life on all levels; microscopic, local and global. If we take a step back, we see ourselves building upon the work of the original organic movement, taking that momentum and moving far beyond the now tired and banal discussions of climate change and chemical usage. NOFA and its allies charge forward in the race to reduce and reverse the effects of carbon emissions on earth.

As growers, we designate winter as the time of learning. As the pace slows, we find more time to breathe, and with that we can open ourselves up to reflection upon the past season... and anticipation of the next. However, despite notoriously being labeled as “the season of the workload,” summer also provides ample opportunity to soak up knowledge. Our brains are in the present, constantly surrounded by stimuli, evaluating decisions made just a few months earlier. The current season’s experiences are fresh, (hopefully) rewardingly – but more likely painfully, let’s be honest, being categorized as successes or failures. So, with all this material rolling around at the front of our brain, wouldn’t it make sense to maybe give our bodies a break, hand off the reins for just a few days, sit down and participate in some gratifying and invigorating discussions and education? This year’s Summer Conference intensive workshops bring an amazing lineup of presenters. Friday’s intensives start in the morning, before the main conference begins, bringing both of our keynote speakers, Dr. Huber and Michael Phillips, as well as Connor Stedman, Hannah Traggis, Bill Braun, and Dorn Cox to Hampshire College.

2016 Summer Conference farm tour at Fungi Ally

The coming of spring brings the NOFA Summer Conference one step closer to its return to Hampshire College after 10 years at the University of Massachusetts. Fond memories of the exciting summers of the early organic movement, when organic labeling was not standardized and organic certification had not been legislated by the federal government, are still fresh in the minds of some long time NOFA members. The community was growing and establishing its roots, and the conferences were an annual celebration of the collective energy of the small and large actions of many passionate growers.

At this year’s conference we will celebrate our interconnectedness: from the biological interactions of fungi and roots to the effect those relationships have on human health. We will be sharing ideas and honoring natural methods that are gentle on the earth, cultivate sustainably and responsibly, and consider the equity of all people involved.

All across the northeast each NOFA state chapter hosts its own winter conference. There may or may not be snow on the ground depending on where you’re from, but you can bet that farmers and gardeners across the region are welcoming 2017 with the educational opportunities these conferences offer. Some are one, others two days, some are even three days; all provide the learning that is so critical for those with more or less growing/advocating/consuming experience. And after each conference, attendees trek home to nestle back into their winter routine, brains buzzing with newfound knowledge and inspiration.

Conferences are kind of like caffeine: you arrive sleepy but full of anticipation, and you walk away truly jazzed. Relationships are made, ideas are hatched, and on the drive home you can’t stop thinking about all the places you could grow mushrooms. And it’s not just the attendees that leave feeling this way. Internally, our conference staff surf that conference energy wave all the way to August. Because most NOFA staff work remotely, those high-fives and intense ideation conversations carry us through the next seven months, at which point we caffeinate ourselves with the real stuff and do it all over again. So, with our own NOFA/Mass 2017 Winter Conference now in the books, we take a second to catch our breath, get a good night’s sleep, and refocus on planning the next must-attend weekend: the 43rd annual NOFA Summer Conference, August 11-13.

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