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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Photo by Sarahdera. Available under a Creative Commons License.

A pre-proposal was submitted to “Northeast SARE Research and Education Grant” which has been approved by the reviewers. A full proposal has been requested and the due date is October 1.

Ricky showing off one of his dibble tools

Ricky Baruc is the head farmer at Seeds of Solidarity Farm in Orange, MA where he lives with his wife Deb Habib and son Levi. Jack and I have known Ricky, and Deb before him, since the 80s. We are lucky to live only about ½ hour away from them. Here is a nice overview of the farm taken from their website:

Seeds of Solidarity Farm was initiated in 1996, on land in the middle of the forest that had not been cultivated for many years, and the original inhabitants of the region being the Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Pequoit people. A conservation restriction on our 30 acres ensures the land will always be used for agriculture, education, and wildlife habitat. With nature as teacher, the land has been transformed into fertile fields and hosts five solar hoophouses brimming with our signature greens, fruit and perennial crops, garlic and sacred, traditional crops such as Hopi blue and Narraganset flour corn. The tapestry of our site includes energy efficient and off the grid home, office, and farm outbuildings, including Solidarity Handworks, a solar powered farmstand, and celebration art and words of inspiration along the paths.

Lee spreading compost

This month’s interview takes us to Lee Reich. Lee lives in New Paltz, PA and is well known to NOFA members for his years of presentations at NOFA conferences in the region. He is the author of several books, including Grow Fruit Naturally, The Pruning Book, Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, Weedless Gardening, A Northeast Gardener’s Year and Landscaping With Fruit. Lee has had a large-scale garden for 30 years, and his annual vegetable production includes a 2000-square-foot garden and a 400-square-foot greenhouse.

Cabbages the size of basketballs at Heifer Farm

I met Elizabeth Joseph, or “Liz Jo” as we fondly refer to her, soon after she showed up on the scene in 2009 at Heifer Farm (then Overlook Farm) in Rutland. In NOFA/Mass there was a lot of talk and education around nutrient density in those days, and she and I found ourselves at the same workshops and conferences. She started at Heifer in 2009 as a volunteer and in 2010 she was hired as the Garden Coordinator.

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.

 Daniel Staub and Qamaria Amatul-Wadud discuss tomato-staking strategies

Daniel Staub and Qamaria Amatul-Wadud discuss tomato staking strategies

Gardening the Community (GTC) is a youth based urban agriculture program, growing food and leadership in Springfield, MA. GTC was established with NOFA/Mass’ support in 2002 and is now an independent program.

Today GTC staff and youth manage five garden sites, help to establish community gardens around the Mason Square neighborhood, grow over 5,000 pounds of vegetables each year for youth, residents and markets, run one of a handful of CSA programs in the city, and provide a strong voice for expanded urban agriculture in Springfield. Though the program has an impressive record, many of the former NOFA/Mass staff that led GTC in the early years, myself included, still like to call GTC our baby.

A Beet Renaissance is well underway. We’ll present a thorough review of our beet production (~3,000 bunches on 1/5th acre in 2013), where we focus on producing high-quality, nutrient rich beets bursting with flavor. From production techniques & variety selection to fertility considerations we’ll discuss keys to better beet production.

Learn to reduce and eliminate weeds using no-till systems as well as mechanical controls (e.g. hoeing, mowing, hand weeding, flaming, and tractor cultivation). I will also cover using mulches, cover crops, stale seed beds and microbial inoculations to shift soil microbiology to favor crops and allow fewer weeds.

I will go over the history and basic principles of biodynamics and how they apply to growing high quality vegetables efficiently. I will cover soil preparation, planting, cultivating, spraying, planting calendar, and pest control.

The cucurbit family of vegetables (e.g., squash, pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers) provides some of the greatest production challenges in the organic market garden. This workshop provides a seed-to-sale look at the Cucurbit family, including fertility, rotation, cultural requirements and systems, seeding, transplanting, pest and disease management, weed control, harvest and post-harvest handling.


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