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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Winter Conference

Gratitude 

As we all strive to create a vibrant future in which our food, medicine, and necessities are crafted in harmony with-- instead of at the expense of-- our living environment,  we look to those in our communities who carry the skills and knowledge to help us on this path. It is with deep gratitude that we turn to our Winter Conference presenters, who serve in so many ways: as watchdogs leading the charge against Monsanto/Bayer; as experienced farmers with intimate knowledge of soil, water, and the changing seasons; as medicine-makers and medicine growers; as foragers and wild plant knowledge-keepers; as scientists and change-makers; as landscape planners and nut growers and grass growers and tree planters; as tenders of our soils and our souls. We are grateful for the burgeoning understanding of the connections between the soil and the gut, between the earth and the atmosphere, and for our collective work restoring the health our families, ecosystems, and ourselves.

Climate Change Mitigation

With mornings now increasingly rimed with frost, we are looking ahead to the 33d NOFA/Mass Winter Conference! All through the hot months we have been reaching out and organizing this program for our January winter gathering, and we are proud to tell you about all the knowledge that lies in store!

As always we will have a wide array of farming, gardening, animal husbandry, self-reliance, herbalism and permaculture workshops (over 60 classes!)—and, as always, we have organized some special tracks for those who want to dig into a specific topic.

In particular, our program will focus in detail on farming and food production practices that offer climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions.

Winter’s chill is just around the corner which naturally means our community of farmers and gardeners are about to go into hibernation to review the season’s notes and process the past year’s successes and failures in order to greet Springtime with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Maybe that means lots and lots of reading, or many group conversations or maybe it means a whole season’s worth of contemplation and reflection.

Whatever your style of winter study is, we hope the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference is part of your curriculum. This year’s conference will be held on Saturday January 11, 2020 on the campus of Worcester State University. It is our 33rd annual Winter Conference.  Save the date, mark your calendar to register early and make plans to bring your inquisitive nature, wisdom and joyfulness to celebrate your community of earthy, progressive, soil loving, like-minded friends and neighbors. Everyone is welcome and we hope the program suits your needs.

Carey Gillam named 2020 NOFA Winter Conference keynote speaker

Carey Gillam named 2020 NOFA Winter Conference keynote speaker

We at NOFA/Mass are thrilled to announce that our 2020 Winter Conference Keynote Presenter will be the award-winning journalist Carey Gillam

Gillam is a former senior correspondent for Reuter’s international news service and veteran journalist with over 25 years of experience covering American corporations and agribusiness. She specializes in biotech, pesticide development, and the environmental impacts of food production in the United States. Her articles appear regularly in The Guardian, the Huffington Post, Environmental Health News and the US Right to Know. 

 

Jason Valcourt

What an amazing day 1/12/19 was. The 32nd NOFA/Mass Winter Conference was a lively and engaging affair with an intimate and warm family vibe. We spent the day together with 850 enthused soil and plant lovers, had so much fun and felt many warm vibes on another cold January day. The theme of Food As Medicine was explored and discussed from many angles and the notion of Food As Medicine has taken root in our minds and vocabulary.

We would like to extend huge gratitude to all that attended, exhibited, presented, played music, promoted and made the day so powerful. We are looking forward to processing your evaluation feedback and beginning the journey to next year’s Winter Conference on Saturday January 11, 2020.

wc dinner

The 32nd Annual NOFA/Mass Winter Conference was enjoyed by more than 800 attendees from across the region. We spent the day learning together and networking, and after the Conference wrapped up, more than 100 people came together for the Post Winter Conference Dinner. The Dinner is a fundraiser for the NOFA/Mass Scholarship Fund, which supports farmers, homesteaders, gardeners and food lovers with limited income so that they can attend NOFA/Mass educational events at a discounted rate.

Winter Conference attendees with rapt attention

Winter Conference attendees with rapt attention

With the darkest days of winter behind us, we slowly march toward the exciting and exhilarating prospects of our farming and gardening missions. Like a moth to the flame, we collectively turn our attention to strategizing our approach to the upcoming growing season. And with a familiar delight, we relish the winter’s ruminations on those perennial questions that will determine our individual approach to this growing season. These questions that have been reverberating inside our minds, filling our notebooks and populating spreadsheets, now become slightly more urgent. We begin to work our calendars backward to the origins of the upcoming working of seed and soil. Some of those timelines seem imminent already.

For this reason, we curate 60+ workshop presenters and 60+ vendors to come together at the epicenter of our NOFA calendar of events, the annual Winter Conference.

whiteboard

I have been privileged to have seen John Kempf speak for the better part of a day several times over the eight years I’ve worked with NOFA/Mass. The first time was at the 2011 Soil & Nutrition Conference in Northampton Mass, when NOFA/Mass was still co-running that event with the Bionutrient Food Association. I remember sitting in pews in the church, hanging on every word. I remember most clearly from that lecture the idea that crops have the genetic capacity to yield so much more than contemporary farmers imagine or have seen (and have dramatically higher nutrient profiles) because almost all farming systems are essentially degraded ecosystems. The current standards for yield, crop quality, and growth rate are far from optimal and can be dramatically increased if the soil is remineralized, repopulated with diverse, beneficial microorganisms, and if crops have access to certain necessary minerals (in the right form) at critical stages like root development and fruit set.

Healthy Dinner

Mid-Summer CSA share from a Massachusetts Organic Farm. Enjoy a local, organic dinner with fellow organic activists

Join NOFA/Mass community members at the Post-Conference Dinner following a full day of workshops at the Winter Conference! All proceeds from this event go to support NOFA/Mass.

Starting at 6pm, the Annual Post-Conference Dinner will begin with a keynote address from Scott and Erica Muhammed, Co-Directors of SEED (Students for Education Development in Tuskegee, Alabama). This will be followed by a delicious, locally sourced, organic dinner created by the chefs at Worcester State University. Take this opportunity to continue conversations from the conference and network with like-minded individuals over food and drink.

No Till Track

Learn about tillage reduction from other farmers at the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference.

Here’s an interesting fact: there is approximately 15-20 times as much land under conventional (herbicide-dependent) no-till farming in the United States than there is total acreage under organic management, tillage-based or otherwise.

According to an article from The No-Till Farmer, “As of 2012, there were more than 389 million acres of total cropland in the U.S…. with 96 million acres falling under no-till practices for all crops — up from about 88 million acres… estimated in a November 2010 report.” But recent numbers ontotal acreage under organic management of any kind have ranged from 5 million acres (2017 USDA Agriculture Census Data) to 6.5 million acres (Mercaris Acreage Report).

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