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

What do you get when you put over 400 farmers and gardeners into an online learning forum for three weeks in the middle of summer? A rich and eventful conference. That’s what you get. The 46th annual NOFA Summer Conference was a fantastic foray into online learning with over 60 workshops and events, live music performances, games, a raffle, a keynote with Tim LaSalle and a children’s conference with music and farming games.

The journey of making an online conference a reality was filled with learning, problem solving, and creative collaboration. When it became clear this spring that large in-person events would likely be called off for the summer, NOFA staff began reimagining the conference. The NOFA Summer Conference has been an institution in organic circles for nearly half a century, and we had help from the entire NOFA community in visioning the remote version of this historic event. NOFA staff from many states offered ideas and support, and we received insights into online conferences and marketing from NOFA friends including Michael Kilpatrick from Growing Farmers, and a group of agricultural conference organizers led by NESAWG (North East Sustainable Agricultural Working Group) and California based Eco-Farm. Between meetings, conference organizers researched new technologies and brainstormed new ways of incorporating not only a rich array of workshops, but also the many entertaining events that make the NOFA Summer Conference the highlight of the summer for so many of us

The time is now for a three-week journey into the mind of our NOFA community. Beginning Monday, July 20th, the 46th Annual NOFA Summer Conference will roll out over 57 workshops with professionals representing the Northeast organic farming community. Our presenters have the depth and institutional knowledge of decades of work growing healthy food; long time farmers, Executive Directors, Non-profit organizers, self-proclaimed Soil Nerds and Garden Mavens bring their expertise to you. These are the people that make the Summer Conference workshop program the annual mid-season go-to for all things related to growing food. We are excited for you to access their wisdom and experience and to contribute to the conversation in our virtual conference.

As the Four Tops sang in their epic and iconic song, I’ll be there/Reach Out, the NOFA Summer Conference is planning to be here in spite of this COVID-19 disruption and we are happy to be bringing the conference online. We know it is important that you have access to up-to-the-minute resources this year to keep your self-sufficiency skills tuned up and stay connected throughout the summer.

As you may know, this year’s conference will be held as a series of webinars via Zoom and other platforms. The new Summer Conference dates are July 20 - August 9, 2020 and registration is open at this link. Registration options are available for those who wish to attend live and in person, as well as for those that would like to purchase the video recordings only and watch post-conference, on your own time.

We see you physical distancing, with your mask on, encouraging each other on social media, in listservs and showing the resilient nature of this community. We take to heart your effort to support and deepen your commitment to your own work and to support the local farmers who are keeping our communities fed. What an amazing display of resiliency. We take this moment as a shimmering example of the depth and compassion of this small-scale agricultural movement and are grateful to be woven together with you as a community.

As the time of writing this article, the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals just cancelled their events this summer. Wow. Another event casualty from this unusual situation and a significant one in terms of cultural summer events.

Members are the heart of our organization, and we are celebrating you all month this April. If you’re currently a member of NOFA/Mass, thank you! Perhaps you’d consider giving the gift of membership to a friend, family member, or farmer you know. Or, perhaps you would like to donate a membership but don’t have someone specific in mind. We can quickly find a home for your generous gift. In addition to inviting others to join as NOFA/Mass through gift memberships, this is also a great time to think about upgrading your own membership to a higher level, if you’re able.  See the many available options on the membership page of our website.


Climate solutions will be grown in the soil of the NOFA Summer Conference August 7-9, 2020 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Our keynote speaker, Tim LaSalle, was the first CEO of Rodale Institute and served as the Executive Director of the Allan Savory Center for Holistic Management. We are excited to hear his latest insights on carbon sequestration, no-to-low input systems and how biology is the foundation of our regenerative work. You can learn more about Tim through the links at the bottom of this article. 

As we pine for the summer warmth and enjoy stealing moments outside to do occasional farm work as weather permits, now is the time for farmers and gardeners to put finishing touches on seed orders, get spreadsheets tuned up and build farm plans for the new season. It is also time to simultaneously build the 2020 Summer Conference workshop program in the hope to continue to fuel the growth of more farms and farmers throughout the Northeast to keep this movement thriving and capturing more and more carbon through food production. 

Looking ahead to August 7-9, 2020- at the 46th Annual NOFA Summer Conference we will celebrate the theme “Climate Solutions are Grown in Soil” with keynote speaker Tim LaSalle. Tim is the Co-Founder of The Center for Regenerative Agriculture at the College of Agriculture at California State University, Chico, CA.  

In the winter issue of The Natural Farmer we interviewed Tim and are enthusiastic to follow his exploration into why biology and No to Low-till systems seem to be the most efficient and profitable and also have great abilities to capture carbon on small and large scales. As Tim told us, “we need every farmer to solve the crisis we find ourselves in”. This is our belief as well, and we look forward to having Tim join us in August. 

Register Now! Our $99 registration is available January 1-31.

There are two special things about the Summer Conference that we think you should know as of the new year. Our keynote speaker will be Tim LaSalle, the Co-Founder of The Center for Regenerative Agriculture, Director of Outreach & Development and Adjunct Professor at the College of Agriculture at California State University, Chico, California.  

We are excited for Tim to bring his enthusiasm for carbon capture to the forefront of the annual NOFA Summer Conference.  He will also discuss the regenerative farming methods that particularly tie in fungal components of soil composition to farmer profitability and ecosystem health.

Tim has a deep wish to bring our full attention to the capacity of soil to do carbon sequestering work and to wake up the world to this underappreciated and understated solution to the climate crisis. We share his enthusiasm and are grateful to partner with Tim to amplify the message.

We Need Your Recommendations

The NOFA Summer Conference Request for Proposals is open until 12/31/19 and we hope you’ll recommend your favorite farmer to present at next summer’s conference. Send us your recommendations or forward the link to them so we can highlight their work next year. See below for specific needs we have and read on for more information.

The Current State of Affairs

As much as we would prefer not to admit it, here we are, staring down 2020. Perhaps some of us are facing it with trepidation? Nay, most of us? An unstable political climate is reflected in an unstable environmental climate, and every day it seems our world is at a greater risk than yesterday. How can we present a path for mitigating destabilization across the board? Fundamentally, every organism on this planet eats to live. And humans, well, we all live to eat. 

2019 SC logo

Starting onions in the heated tunnel seems like ages ago and the row covers have now been stowed away till autumn. With the Solstice now passed, summer has fully blossomed to bring this cherished season of long days for working in the garden deep into the evening. It is in this season that all the early mornings, the heavy lifting, the logistical irrigation and production puzzles we constantly solve for come full circle and we get to reap the rewards of our effort.

Aaaand, we absolutely love it. We love to see our nutritious, hard-earned products getting scooped up for dinners and weekend parties. So much has gone into the production it is now time to reap the rewards. The fruit is ripening. The plants are in full expression of their character and the land is teeming with diversity and life that we have helped steward. With every sale and every zucchini and tomato gifted to neighbors throughout the season we add to the momentum of putting reliably good food into the world -each farm and every garden fully functioning to do its part as one straw in this enormous broom of the organic movement.


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