2021 Adult Workshops

NOFA Summer Conference Coordinator, Jason Valcourt, talks with NOFA/Mass Education Director, Ulum Pixan Ahtoh'il, about some upcoming workshops at the 2021 NOFA Summer Conference that they're excited about.

For a list of selected workshops that will be translated from Spanish to English, or English to Spanish please click here.

Friday, July 30 7-8:30pm

NOFA Annual Meeting & The NOFA Journey, First 50 Years: Getting Back to What Really Matters.

Join us for a brief annual meeting followed by a presentation to celebrate NOFA’s 50th Anniversary.

In June of 1971, farmers and homesteaders gathered on a Vermont hillside with one thing in common: the desire to grow food in a way that was healthy for themselves and for the earth. This is the story of the organization that was born that day - NOFA.

See the faces and hear the voices of the people who have nurtured the NOFA community and the organic movement in our region for the last 50 years. This film, newly created for this Anniversary Celebration, brings together the NOFA journey of people and places in the Northeast. We invite you to share in the inaugural showing of this historical documentary.

Saturday July 31, 9-10:30am

Introduction to Honeybees: The honeybee Book

Talk will be overview about Honeybees, and their importance to our food chain and how we can help contribute to their survival which has major impact on our food chain.    

Mel Gadd, For over 16 years, Mel has been involved with the Essex County Beekeepers Association (ECBA) and keeping bees in Cambridge, MA. He was the Chair of the ECBA Bee School in 2015. Mel oversees a major beekeeping program at Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as teaching about bees in numerous programs including, Bee School, a five-week introduction to beekeeping. Mel has been involved with using non-traditional types of hives (top bar, Warre hives, Slovinian & Valkyrie Horizontal hives) as well as the traditional Langstroth hive. As part of his work at Drumlin Farm, Mel has been conducting experiments with natural approaches to dealing with the problems of the bees. Mel was named the “Beekeeper of the Year” in 2017 by the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association.

The Regenerative Grower's Guide to Garden Amendments

Homemade mineral and biological amendments are easy to make, low cost, shelf stable, sustainable, Eco friendly, ethical, regenerative and they really work! These ideas will be discussed and we will make some in class. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers.

Nigel Palmer, Author of “The Regenerative Growers Guide to Garden Amendments”, Nigel is a lifelong gardener relying on the amazing complexity of nature to inspire his gardening practices. We are all experimental gardeners given a new canvas each year. He develops curriculum for and instructs the Sustainable Regenerative Garden Program at The Institute of Sustainable Nutrition. TIOSN.com

Know Your Family — Your Plant Family

Families matter, in the garden, for plant health, plant identification, and more. This presentation details how plant families came about, and why knowing something about the families is good for every gardener and farmer to know.

Lee Reich, PhD, who has worked in agricultural research with the USDA and Cornell University, is a writer and a farmdener (more than a gardener, less than a farmer). In addition to providing a year 'round harvest of fruits and vegetables, his farmden provides a testing ground for innovative techniques in soil care, pruning, and growing fruits and vegetables. For more about his online and live workshops, his books, and other work, see www.leereich.com

Why is biochar called a miracle for plants and the planet?

Learn all about biochar – what makes it such a miraculous substance that it is getting world-wide attention as a solution to creating healthy soils and fighting climate change. Take a side trip to the Amazon where biochar was first invented and learn how a Smith College professor is working with the indigenous communities to use biochar to restore the damage caused by slash-and- burn agriculture.

Debbie Cook discovered biochar while working at the North and South Rivers Watershed Association as communications director and state-wide coordinator of Greenscapes, a land care program. Since then, she has been on a journey to learn everything she can about this amazing substance, including a 6-week trip to the Amazon where she lived with the Kechwa people who may have invented it 6000 years ago. Her journey has taken her to COP 22 in Morocco and to Washington D.C. where she made a presentation to Sen. Markey’s office. 

Saturday July 31, 11:00am-12:30pm

Feeling the Chill-Stretching the Organic Garden Into the Fall

Many crops thrive in cool autumn weather and can provide fresh produce into the new year.  This workshop will inspire and teach you to grow these fall crops without growing devices such as cold frames.  We will cover appropriate crops and varieties, planting dates, rotations, fertility and simple storage techniques.  Concentration will be on crops planted after the summer solstice.

Al Johnson has been growing organically for over 45 years, including 12 as a farmer.  His current garden, managed entirely by hand tools, provides most of his family’s produce. Something is harvested 12 months of the year and he uses no growing devices.   He has also been an inspector of organic farms since 1990.

The Family Cow

For many homesteaders and small-scale farmers, a family cow is the pinnacle of self-sufficiency. Homegrown milk provides the basis for cream, butter, ice cream, buttermilk, cheese, whipped cream, yogurt and more while also maintaining your peace of mind, allowing you to know how the producing animal was fed, raised and handled. 

Learn the basics of things that you should consider before buying a cow, including available breeds, space requirements, nutrition, health maintenance, breeding cycles, costs, time commitments, and more. Hear from two Massachusetts women about their experience owning family cows and find out for yourself if a dairy cow is right for you.

Christy Bassett is a homesteader from Barre, MA with a focus on dairy animals. She hand milks a small herd of Mini Saanen dairy goats and their family milk cow, Shine, each day. Christy has worked as a cheesemaker at various farmstead creameries in central, MA and takes pride in providing locally sourced, homemade food for her family.

Sara Davis, Sara and her family raise a variety of livestock and poultry at Oak Hollow Livestock, the small farm she and her husband founded in 2006 and relocated to Shelburne, MA in 2019. Sara grew up on a small dairy farm in Western Mass and has a special place in her heart for dairy cattle, especially Jerseys. She was also part of the student group that started the Belted Galloway cattle herd at UMass and has extensive experience maintaining the health and productivity of many types of livestock.

Supporting Farm Mentors as Educators and Farmers

Do you mentor new farmers on your farm? Build your capacity as an educator.

Jennifer Hashley is the director of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, a beginning farmer training program that assists diverse individuals to begin farming in Massachusetts. Jennifer is also a vegetable and pasture-based livestock farmer and serves on the Boards of The Carrot Project and the Urban Farming Institute of Boston. She is a farm business planning instructor for Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and is advisor to several regional food systems initiatives.   She served as an agricultural Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras and holds a Master’s in Agricultural Policy from Tufts University and a BS in Environmental Science from Indiana University. 

Why it is Important to Germinate – Part 1

 What is Germinating and Why is it Important: In this workshop you will learn what germination is; the nutritional benefits of germinated seeds; which seeds can we germinate; and techniques of how to germinate them.

Maria Rodriguez was born in Barahona, Dominican Republic. She moved to Puerto Rico in 1979 to continue her passion in education at the Antilles Adventist University. She is a graduate teacher in Bilingual Education and in Dominican culinary arts and economics. She is the owner of GERMINEMOS and is certified in Food Protection Management. As a child, Maria's passion was to become a chef and teacher of culinary arts. Through the years Maria has perfected her skills in culinary arts and the art of germinating. She enjoys being able to combine her passions in teaching and culinary arts. For this reason, for more than 40 years she has shared her knowledge with her community, family members and friends.

Saturday July 31, 2 - 3:30pm

Feasibility of Growing Saffron to Enhance Farm Profitability and Sustainability

In this workshop saffron will be introduced as a new specialty crop. Cultivation, maintenance, harvest and processing of saffron will be presented. The unique growth stages of saffron provides a great opportunity to integrate this crop into current vegetable crop production to enhance overall farm profitability. The primary results of the field and greenhouse experiments at UMass will be discussed.

Dr. Masoud Hashemi is an extension Professor in Stockbridge School of Agriculture, UMass. His research activity is mainly focused on sustainability of farming systems through diversifying cropping systems. He is specifically interested in integrating cover crops into farming systems to enhance soil health and natural soil fertility. His other research projects include grazing systems and strategies to extend grazing season.

Understanding Asparagus

Fall is a perfect time to prepare beds for a spring planting of asparagus. Knowing the life cycle, soil preferences and nutritional needs of the asparagus plant enables gardeners to establish a planting that will produce for decades. This lecture will teach proper bed preparation, variety selection, planting, cultivation and harvest, along with disease and insect control for this very valuable crop.

Christie Higginbottom coordinated the horticulture program at Old Sturbridge Village for over twenty years, researching, planning and planting kitchen gardens, ornamental gardens and the Village's Herb Garden collection. Now retired from full-time work, she continues to teach home gardening classes and to consult on historic gardens.

Coop Considerations - Assessing the Design Elements of Poultry Housing

We will run through the many designs we have had (good & bad) for housing our poultry on the farm. Our designs have ranged in size, scale, and usefulness over the past ten years. We will walk through all the considerations we've made for predators, health, cleaning, and mobility in our designs. Questions about materials? Are you wondering what size you need? Does that thing you saw on You Tube actually work?  We will get into the nitty gritty of that too.  Our presentation will cover stationary housing, mobile housing, temporary housing, runs and free range areas. Get ready to delve deep into the world of design with us.

Kirby Lecy is owner of J&K's Good Thyme Farm in Ashburnham MA which produces vegetables, herbs, eggs, poultry, pork, and plants. She has been working on farms, wrangling chickens, and advocating for rural communities for 15+ years. Kirby has a passion for connecting humans with their food system and loves talking about her journey from eating only local food in 2003 for a college project to starting her own small farm in 2016. She's active in a number of local and regional farm organizations and loves learning from her peers. 

Stories of Sovereignty

In this session, we will introduce you to the Eastern Woodlands peoples’ historical timeline from before colonization to the present day. We will travel through history to visit the past, present and future through the lens of the indigenous communities of the Northeast. Join us for a story-telling session that explains the significance of this history for understanding contemporary indigenous and tribal identity in greater New England.

Chief Sequan Pijaki/George Spring Buffalo, Chief of the Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe Pokanoket Nation, and Chief Executive of the Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust

Daryl Black Eagle Jamieson, Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe Pokanoket Nation Reservation at Mishanegitatonett Niswasocket,

Irving Rocky Johnson traditionally known as Charging Bull, Chief of the Ninigret Nehantick Nahaganset, Currently on the steering committee for Pettaquamscutt community gardens in Rhode Island

Saturday July 31, 4 - 5:30pm

The Sustainable Development Goals and Organic Agriculture

Despite the claims of BIG FOOD to feed the world, hunger and malnutrition are still rampant and even increasing in many places, including the US. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the elimination of hunger, with an agenda to achieve them by 2030. In September, the UN is organizing the Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), a top down event proposed by the World Economic Forum without consulting with the social movements, led by small scale farmers and indigenous people, who are calling for strong opposition to the UNFSS.  Will this event jeopardize the little gains from SDGs? What is the responsibility of organic farmers and gardeners in the defense of the implementation of SDGs and more democratic global policy spaces?  In this workshop, panelists Saulo Araujo, long term advocate for food sovereignty and agroecology, and Cristina Grandi, Chief Food Security Campaigner for IFOAM-OI, will talk about the worldwide movement for a radical transformation of the food system and to build food sovereignty and the role organic farming can play to make the SDGs a reality. Please bring your ideas and your questions!

Elizabeth Henderson farmed at Peacework Farm in Wayne County, New York, producing organically grown vegetables for the fresh market for over 30 years. She served for many years on the Board of Directors of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), co-chairs the Policy Committee, and represents the NOFA Interstate Council on the Board of the Agricultural Justice Project.

Saulo Araujo, served as the Global Movements Program Director for Why Hunger. Saulo works to advance initiatives of food sovereignty and agroecology by identifying resources and network opportunities that will strengthen the work of grassroots organizations and social movements. Originally from Brazil, Saulo brings years of experience working with urban and rural families in the United States and abroad.

Christina Grandi, Originally from Argentina where she studied agronomy, Cristina Grandi studied organic agriculture in Italy where she became a leader of the Italian Association for Organic Agriculture (AIAB). Since 2002, she has been working for IFOAM – Organics International, as part of its Global Policy Team, focusing on advocating at the UN for organic agriculture and agroecology and their roles in building food security, biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation and rural poverty reduction.

Using Tarps for No-Till Organic Vegetable Production

No-till farming has allowed farmers to produce crops without disturbing the extremely complex and beneficial ecosystems found within our soils. However, without the aid of plowing, harrowing, or rototilling, many farms must adapt their production methods. Astarte Farm, a 3-acre market garden in Hadley, has been experimenting with these alternative methods for six seasons. This workshop will give you a broad overview of the benefits of no-till and the different techniques used at Astarte Farm, with a focus on the practical aspects of using black and clear plastic tarps to replace tillage. This workshop is for anyone, from home gardener to production farmer!

Amelia Mead first became interested in sustainable agriculture while traveling in Central America and working on several different permaculture farms. She has since returned to her home town to help run Astarte Farm alongside Co-Manager Ellen Drews. The two are in their second season at Astarte and are building off many years of knowledge passed down from previous management. Amelia loves the great outdoors, and couldn't be happier to have a job working in the dirt and preserving the integrity of local land.

First Aid in Your Kitchen

In this workshop, participants will learn how to use products in their kitchen for the first aid. These products include spices, plants, and other natural interventions. We suggest always having cabbage, onion, ginger, potato, pepper, cayenne, garlic, and activated charcoal in your kitchen.

By the end of this workshop the participant will obtain the necessary instruction in how to use these basic products in compresses and orally for first aid, including: wounds, poisoning, heart attack, arthritis, bruises, inflammation, high blood pressure, etc. In this way, you may better manage your health and that of your family.

IT IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL ADVICE. The information provided by SproutChange in the media, during promotional campaigns, in workshops during individual consultations, is for general information only, and is not intended to provide medical advice and should not be used as a professional substitute for counseling. diagnosis or medical treatment.

Priscila Espinosa, from Clinton, Massachusetts, is a social entrepreneur, activist, and inventor who’s social enterprise, SproutChange, started as a hashtag in February 2016 to influence a grassroots advocacy movement in consumer education around alternative medicine, organic agriculture, sustainability, and social/food justice. Today SproutChange has gone from a grassroots movement to a budding start-up. Our goal is to help you *sprout change* in your life using food as medicine, natural remedies, and herbs! ™ 

Priscila was raised as a Nutritrarian and is currently practicing a healing foods plant-based diet and lifestyle. As a product of a multicultural upbringing, she’s a polyglot (Spanish, Italian, and French) who loves learning about the local natural remedies and herbs wherever she travels. She is a multi-generation herbalist who in her free time loves foraging for wild medicinal herbs, conducting holistic test-kitchen experiments, and creating her own therapeutic formulas for skin, physical, and mental well-being. 

Year 2 of the MDAR Sponsored Bioremediation Project in Springfield, MA

This workshop will cover the 2nd year of the Bioremediation Project that is funded through a MDAR Grant.  The project focuses on developing citizen and youth scientist through examining some methods that could assist with pulling toxins from the soil. We will examine some of the findings from the 2nd year of the program.

Andrew Laurion is the Bioremediation Coordinator for NOFA/Mass.  He is also the Youth Manager for GTC.  Andrew is a avid urban grower and woodworker.  He also leads the Bioremediation Program for NOFA/Mass and provides programming with consultants with youth leaders from GTC and Home City Housing in Springfield, MA. 

Saturday, July 31, 7-8:30pm

Thrilling Tales of Yesteryear

As Vietnam, Civil Rights, Nuclear Disarmament, etc. protests raged in the background, thanks to serendipitous gatherings of Back to the Land counter-culturists in the late 1960's a group of embryonic organic farmers, gardeners, organizers and eaters ended up forming the "Natural Organic Farmers Association" in 1971 -- later morphing into the Northeast Organic Farming Association as more state Chapters joined ranks with the NH and VT startups. As you might expect there were numerous motivations, experiences, trials and tribulations -- and wild times! Join in a live and lively virtual exchange evoking the spirit of the time with some of the dynamic originators who laid the groundwork for NOFA's 1st 50 years. Moderated by Steve Gilman, the panelists are Samuel Kaymen, Sara Norton, Jake Guest and Howie Prussack.

Steve Gilman, Thanks to the early peer education days of NOFA, Steve Gilman became an organic vegetable farmer for 30 some years in the Saratoga NY area, followed by serving as policy coordinator for the NOFA Interstate Council.

Sunday August 1, 9 - 10:30am

Success With Blueberries

We'll start at the beginning, with the kinds and varieties of blueberries to order, and where to order them. We'll then move on to all-important soil preparation and ongoing soil care, planting, pruning, and harvest. A foray into bird issues ensures that you get to reap your harvest. The end result may be an overabundance, so we'll conclude with ways in which this problem is easily and happily contended with. You'll leave this lecture with everything you need to know to be picking an abundance of blueberries within just a few years.

Lee Reich, PhD is a scientist, an avid farmdener (more than a gardener, less than a farmer), and writer. After work in agricultural research for the USDA and Cornell University, he turned to free-lance writing and lecturing. In addition to authoring a number of gardening books, he has written a biweekly gardening column for Associated Press for the past 30 years. His farmden provides a testing ground for innovative techniques in soil care, pruning, and growing fruits and vegetables, and helps satisfy his self-imposed educational mandate with workshops and training.

Encouraging Indigenous Micro Organisms(IMOs)

What are Indigenous Micro Organisms (IMO), how are they beneficial and how can we encourage their presence in our soil? We will learn about these fascinating and beneficial cultures, how they support soil health from general enhancement to remediating toxins.

Marco Thomas, teaches Natural Farming Techniques and founded Microbes by Marco producing hand-crafted, beneficial microbe and nutrient Inputs for your garden based on the principle "do as nature does".

Worker Co-op Farms: Startup and Conversion

Worker cooperatives are an exciting governance and ownership model where farmers can embody values of justice, equity and cooperation towards a just transition.  This workshop is for people starting farming / food businesses who are interested in the co-op model or those looking for a succession strategy and considering employee ownership.  The presentation describes key steps toward getting off the ground, and where problems often occur. It includes chapters on building your group's democratic capacity, business, and environment of support, in a participatory conversational format. Attendees are offered 30 minutes of free consulting after the webinar from the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives.  Examples and strategies center BIPOC farmers in the northeast.

Ulum Pixan (a.k.a. Dania Flores) is a Clan Mother and Indigenous mixed woman (Maya, Xinca, Garífuna, Russian Jew and Ladino) born in Guatemala. She organized with aboriginal women in Guatemala on language and environmental justice issues and has continued this work in the US since 1999. She is a co-founder of IPN, a founding member of Global Village Farms, as well as a worker/owner of GV @ Tuck Away Farm and Access Co-op-a language and translation consulting company-both based in Grafton, MA. 

Matt Feinstein, Co-op Clinic Program Manager with the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives. He is based in Grafton, MA and is a worker owner of Future Focus Media Co-op and Co-Founder of Global Village Farms, a center for land-based education, farming and co-op development. For over ten years he was the co-director of Worcester Roots, a grassroots co-op organizing group that focuses on urban worker cooperatives with a social justice lens. Matt is passionate about social and environmental justice organizing, worker cooperatives and supporting youth to become agents of change. Using documentary film as a tool for connecting social movements worldwide, Matt speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and French and has collaborated on film projects with groups in Argentina, Brazil and Worcester, MA.

Jose Martinez, Member-Owner of Riquezas del Campo

Update on Food Safety Rules for Small Producers & Co-ops

Compliance with FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) food safety regulations presents a new challenge for small-scale and exempt farmers, value added producers, and farmer co-ops involved in aggregation and distribution. Learn how to comply with the federal rules and where to find the resources, education and training to minimize cost to your business.

Roger Noonan, President, New England Farmers Union, and organic farmer.

Suzette Snow-Cobb is the Sourcing Coordinator for the Neighboring Food Co-op Association. She has been working to build our co-operative economy since the '80s particularly in the area of food co-ops and regional food production.

Sunday August 1, 11:00am-12:30pm

Why it is Important to Germinate – Part 2

Day 2. What can we do with the sprouts? In this class we will explore techniques of how to use sprouts in a nutritious, attractive and delicious way to take full advantage of their nutritional benefits. We will make: Sprouted "Veggie loaf “; sprouted tabbouleh; and sprouted chickpea hummus.

Maria Rodriguez was born in Barahona, Dominican Republic. She moved to Puerto Rico in 1979 to continue her passion in education at the Antilles Adventist University. She is a graduate teacher in Bilingual Education and in Dominican culinary arts and economics. She is the owner of GERMINEMOS and is certified in Food Protection Management. As a child, Maria's passion was to become a chef and teacher of culinary arts. Through the years Maria has perfected her skills in culinary arts and the art of germinating. She enjoys being able to combine her passions in teaching and culinary arts. For this reason, for more than 40 years she has shared her knowledge with her community, family members and friends.

Reflecting on Ten Years of Fostering Urban Farming in Springfield, MA

Ibrahim Ali was the co-Executive Director of Gardening the Community (GTC), a youth based urban farming program based in the Six Corner area of Springfield, MA. As a former program of NOFA-MA, Ibrahim and others established a benchmark for great youth programming with a focus on food access, farming, and creating a just and equitable food system. He will be speaking on the development of the organization in those ten years, challenges over that period, and some of the highlights of organization that were established over that time frame.

Ibrahim Ali is an educator, gardener, and marketing consultant. For the last 11 years, he was the co-executive director of Gardening the Community (GTC), a youth based urban farm located in the Six Corners area of Springfield, MA. He has presented and spoken about urban farming, food insecurity, racism in the food system and more at NYU, Smith College, Harvard Law School, and UMass (Amherst) among many places.  Ibrahim has six amazing sons, and in addition to being engaged in agriculture has been independently releasing and producing hip-hop music for over 20 years. 

The Fourth Phase of Water

"School children learn that water has three phases: solid, liquid and vapor. But we have recently uncovered a fourth phase. This phase occurs next to water-loving (hydrophilic) surfaces. It is surprisingly extensive, projecting out from the surface by up to millions of molecular layers. And, its properties differ markedly from those of bulk water.

The talk will present evidence for the existence of this phase of water — how come nobody’s seen it before? It will also consider the potentially broad implications of this phase for health.

Gerald Pollack received his PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. He then joined the University of Washington faculty and is now professor of Bioengineering. He is also Founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal, WATER, convener of the Annual Conference on the Physics, Chemistry and Biology of Water, and Executive Director of the Institute for Venture Science.

Sunday August 1, 2 - 3:30pm

Demystifying Nutrient Cycling 

You took a soil test, right? You have looked over the results, and then you say...."Now what!!"  Nutrient cycling from the soil to the plant is an ever-changing orchestra and the soil microbes are the musicians. But there are many more factors acting on the soil 'music' (nutrients) that the plant can access.  Temperature, moisture, acidity, soil compaction, soil texture, organic matter content all influences what is available to the plant in the root zone.    This session will present how the environmental factors influence the nutrient availability and ways to encourage the microbial orchestra to play in tune so your plants can thrive.

Janel Ohletz grew up in rural New Hampshire on a small family farm with a market garden and barn animals of every genre. Janel was a USDA National Needs Fellow in the Crop and Soil Science Department at NC State University where she earned her PhD in Soil Science. Her research focused on nutrient management in high-yielding field corn using machine learning and remote sensing technology to gain a better understanding of dynamics in soil fertility.  She has M.S. in Agricultural Science and a B.S in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems from the University of New Hampshire. She is deeply committed to working toward a more sustainable and equitable food system. Janel is also a classically trained chef, and prior to returning to school, she worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years. She believes in making an impact by being part of the conversation, whether that be to advocate for changes in our food and agricultural systems or presenting at Sustainable and Organic focused conferences that good food starts by building from the ground up.  

Organic as a Solution to the Climate Crisis

With climate back on the national agenda, organic is being crowded out of the carbon sequestration/agricultural resilience debate by market-oriented greenwashing schemes designed to protect polluters and agribusiness-as-usual. Workshop participants will discuss what we can do locally and regionally to promote effective grassroots-up policy initiatives and strategies along with digging into other burning issues including USDA’s allowance of hydroponics.

Steve Gilman farmed organically for 30-some years in the Saratoga NY region. Since then he works as the policy coordinator for the seven Chapters on the Interstate Policy Committee.

Maddie Kempner, Maddie Kempner is the Policy Director for NOFA-VT and Co-Chair of the NOFA Policy Committee.

Cultural and Spiritual Connections to Conservation

What is the spiritual connection to MotherEarth and what is our spiritual vision for conservation? The conversation begins around the desconations of our souls, our bodies and Pachammama-Ina-MotherEarth-Akna and will help you understand the North American indigenous peoples’ (Central America; South America; Pan-African) approach to modern day conservation efforts.

Ulum Pixan Athoh’il Sukh’il (a.k.a. Dania Flores) is a Clan Mother and Indigenous mixed woman (Maya, Xinca, Garífuna, Russian Jew and Ladino) born in Guatemala.

Dr. Gloria Ramirez Cortez, Mayan Elder and Holistic Tribal Doctor

Rosa Blumenfeld, Creator at Reclaiming Indigeneity, a storyteller and water ceremony carrier and a mentor

Carbon Capture with Cattle

How it works. Large herbivores are essential for rapid carbon drawdown by the soil. Many agricultural methods like cocktail cover crops and compost accomplish a lot, but the addition of cattle to the mix speeds the process. Grazing herbivores on talk grass is the "low hanging fruit" of carcon capture. The system is time tested (photosynthesis) and easy to operate with some knowledge. Delve into how it works in depth.

Ridge Shinn, is the founder and CEO of a new 100% grass-fed beef company, Big Picture Beef, which markets beef raised in the Northeast on pasture only – no grain, ever. Shinn was credited for putting grass-fed beef on the gourmet map when his filet won top honors in a 2003 Wine Spectator competition over entries from well-known purveyors of grain-fed beef.  More recently chef Dan Barber declared Shinn’s grass-fed beef, “Among the best I’ve ever had.” An experienced cattleman, Shinn has consulted all over the US, and in New Zealand, Uruguay, and Argentina on beef production and ecosystem restoration through grazing. His work has been recognized in Time Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Wine Spectator, and Smithsonian.

Sunday August 1, 4 - 5:30pm

Vegetable Seed Saving 101 and more

Explore the joy of basic seed saving, from the very easiest crops to some that need some special attention.  There are fabulous heirloom varieties out there, each with its own history, favorites that are hard to find, and all are very satisfying to save.  We'll explore how it works, from the simplest clones to some that need creativity to save well.  Learn about the basics of processing, saving, drying and curing, and effective storage techniques.  We'll take the mystique out of the process so you succeed right away.  I'll include information about excellent resources to guide you along the way.

Amy Frances Leblanc, Whitehill Farm is a small Certified Organic veggie and herb operation in Western Maine.  We grow seedlings for area gardeners and farmers in the spring and participate in our local Farmers Market year-round.  Amy is a lifetime MOFGA member, long-time volunteer at the Common Ground Fair, NOFA Mass member, Master Gardener, traveler, and an enthusiastic and adventurous cook!

Nutrient Cycling in Cropping Systems: Impacts of the Soil Food Web on Nutrient Availability

This workshop will identify the major players in the soil food web and their effects on nutrient cycling in the soil. Major topics include:  the influence of crops on the soil food web, the effects of soil disturbance on soil microbial communities, how nutrients can become “immobilized” in the soil (making them unavailable to growing crops), the role of cover crops in recycling nutrients on farms, and how crop C:N ratios impact decomposition and nutrient cycling.       

Alexa Smychkovich is a PhD candidate in the Plant and Soil Sciences Program at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Her research is focused on enhancing soil health and increasing the yield and quality of vegetable crops using cover crops and AM fungi.

Hand Scale Bed-Prep Systems for Carrots and Lettuce

Through a deep relationship with the land, learn the essentials of bed prep in a no-till, hand scale, permanent bed system for both direct-seeded crops and transplants. Dive deeper into the details of a comprehensive system for successive crop production of carrots and lettuce. Gather skills to maximize yields for these specific crops while growing nutrient-dense and beautiful food for your home and your community.

Jen Salinetti (she/her) is a co-founder, farmer, and the Director of Education & Community Engagement at Woven Roots Farm. For over 15 years, Jen has offered workshops and courses that develop relationships to land, build skills of resilience, promote traditional growing practices, and amplify pathways to social justice in the local school system, for the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), and other regional organizations. Jen serves on the board of the NOFA/Mass and co-chairs the Equity & Inclusion Committee. She also serves on the MA Soil Health Advisory Council and the board of the Berkshire Food Co-op. She was recently selected as one of the Berkshires’ 25 most dedicated, influential, and creative people. 

Monday August 2, 7 - 8:30pm

The Ecotype Project - Ecotypes | Ecoregions | Ecological Restoration

Join the Seed Huntress as she takes you on a seed conservation safari of how seed banks function on an international, national and local scale. Together we will explore the importance of amplifying truly local native seeds and pollinator habitats in our ""living seed banks"" by putting the right plants in the right place!

As stewards of the land we all understand the importance of protecting, conserving + restoring our natural ecosystems. How can we, as seed producers, support fortifying our shared ecological corridors with truly local ecotype native seeds?

What is an ecotype and how are ecoregions defined? What role does amplifying these place-based genetic resources play in providing the plant materials that are in such high demand and such short supply in the field of ecological restoration?

How as a seed producer can I establish “Founders Plots” on my farm to amplify an ecotype seed crop to meet conservation needs? What do I need to know and consider when working with these native perennials? How do I grow/ harvest/ clean and stratify this seed? What is the market I can sell this specialty crop to?

Join us for this workshop as we explain how to get started with this specialty seed crop and why it is so vital to safeguarding our ecosystems health and shared ecological corridors.

Sefra Alexandra is currently leading CT NOFA’s (Northeast Organic Farming Associations) pollinator health initiative- The Ecotype Project- to amplify the amount of truly local native seed available for ecological restoration. Sefra is a fellow of the Crop Trust, has worked with agrarian leaders on island nations after natural disasters to safeguard their community seedbanks + has been reviving the local allium heirloom the Southport Globe Onion in her home state of Connecticut. Sefra holds her M.A.T. in agroecological education from Cornell University, is a WINGS WorldQuest expedition flag carrier + member of the Explorers Club.

Making Mozzarella

Learn how to make fresh, melty, stretchy mozzarella cheese at home. If you’ve ever tried to make mozzarella before, but ended up with a gritty, flaky mess, this workshop will help you overcome your fear of trying again. Making fresh mozzarella can be tricky if you don’t know the proper ingredient measurements or progression of steps. But with a few simple guidelines, cheesemaking can be easy and fun. Be the hero of pizza night. Treat yourself and your family to the best homemade cheese, from the best local milk, you’ve ever tasted. Ingredients and kitchen equipment required.

Christy Bassett is a homesteader from Barre, MA with a focus on dairy animals. She hand milks a small herd of Mini Saanen dairy goats and their family milk cow, Shine, each day. Christy has worked as a cheesemaker at various farmstead creameries in central, MA and takes pride in providing locally sourced, homemade food for her family.

Skills Sharing (An Indigenous Approach to Garden Planting)

Connecting ourselves to ancestry and culture resources on where to find native plants and how to plant a garden. Some questions to be addressed: What plants are we planting to eat, to use as fiber and art, and what are we planting with the intention to give back with support for pollinators and birds? We will also touch upon practices in community building, seed savings, and root remembering.

Ulum Pixan Athoh’il Sukh’il (a.k.a. Dania Flores) is a Clan Mother and Indigenous mixed woman (Maya, Xinca, Garífuna, Russian Jew and Ladino) born in Guatemala.

Dania Julissa Ortiz Flores, 2nd Generation immigrant, farm worker, flower enthusiast and animal lover

Yania Peralta, An immigrant from DR (Dominican Republic), organizer, healer and nature lover

Chief Irving Rocky Johnson, traditionally known as Charging Bull, Chief of the Ninigret Nehantick Nahaganset, Currently on the steering committee for Pettaquamscutt community gardens in Rhode Island

Soil Biodiversity and Characteristics of a Healthy Soil

In respect to productive soils in agriculture, biology is perhaps the most important factor to consider and understand. In this presentation we will briefly cover the different soil trophic levels, their importance and how to identify some features that are indicative of healthy soils.

Ruben Parrilla works as the Soil Tech Coordinator for NOFA/Mass where he is responsible for implementing and performing field sampling protocols. He has 15 years of relevant experience in the Environmental Laboratory Industry and is currently pursuing microscopy certification through Dr. Elaine’s™ Soil Food Web School. In addition to his role at NOFA/Mass he also works as a field crew member for a farm that practices organic and minimal till techniques. Ruben believes in the guiding principles of land stewardship and that we all share this responsibility. When he is not actively working the land, Ruben enjoys gathering forest medicine, fermentation and home gardening to name a few.

Tuesday August 3, 7 - 8:30pm

Adventures in Micro-farming: How to set up your own small-scale indoor worm farm and micro green system!    "You don't need fields to farm!

When worms are your livestock and microgreens your harvest, you can grow nutritious food anyplace year-round... even indoors with limited space! Join Ben Goldberg and Julia Latady as they walk you through the steps to get started on your indoor micro-farming journey. Participants will leave with a greater understanding of how to manage a worm bin, choose your first microgreen varieties, and get started building a DIY micro-farm system. This class is a practical introduction to indoor micro-farming and will mainly focus on getting started at the hobby level but is open to anyone interested no matter your experience level or background!

Julia Latady, An invertebrate enthusiast, Julia worked as an environmental educator for Mass Audubon before building an all-ages education program at a family farm outside of Boston. She has now moved to Ware where she is currently working to build soil and grow good food with help from a workforce of worms, composting cockroaches, an aquatic axolotl, chickens, and a rabbit. Her goal is to someday develop a farm-stay and education program to connect people (especially kids!) to the outdoors and to where our food comes from.

Building Capacity through Organizing and Partnerships

Join us for a conversation about building regional partnerships. We will discuss where to find information from USDA-NRCS and illuminate the deadlines and resources available for program support for indigenous education and conservation efforts.

Chief Sequan Pijaki/George Spring Buffalo, Chief of the Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe Pokanoket Nation, and Chief Executive of the Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust

Ulum Pixan Athoh’il Sukh’il (a.k.a. Dania Flores) is a Clan Mother and Indigenous mixed woman (Maya, Xinca, Garífuna, Russian Jew and Ladino) born in Guatemala.

Matt Feinstein, Co-op Clinic Program Manager with the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives. He is based in Grafton, MA and is a worker owner of Future Focus Media Co-op and Co-Founder of Global Village Farms, a center for land-based education, farming and co-op development

Jesse Gil, Assistant Director of World Farmers and Mentor Flats Program

Mushrooms in Mycoremediation

We will talk about using mushrooms in mycoremediation projects. This includes growing mushrooms on wood chip and straw substrates and what kind of applications they would work for.

Willie Crosby, Willie has been taken over by mycelium over the last ten years. He started a mushroom farm and has since dived deeply into mushroom education. Now he focuses on helping people grow and use mushrooms in their lives and the world around them.

NOFA/MA Soil Tech Team

Over the last 5 years, NOFA/Mass has developed a comprehensive soil technical assistance program to assist growers of all sizes to enhance soil fertility and grow nutritious organic food.  The team will present the programs and services that address the physical, biological and chemical pillars of soil health.  

Laura Davis, President of the NOFA Interstate Council, President of NOFA/Mass, Organic Farmer, Inspector and Technical Advisor.

Anna Gilbert-Muhammad: A gardener in Springfield for 9 years and 4 years of canning from her garden. As Equity Director/Food Access Coordinator for NOFA/Mass, she gets the wonderful opportunity to work with a spectacular group of Youth Leaders at Home City Housing in Springfield, MA.

Ruben Parrilla, works as the Soil Tech Coordinator for NOFA/Mass where he is responsible for implementing and performing field sampling protocols. He has 15 years of relevant experience in the Environmental Laboratory Industry and is currently pursuing microscopy certification through Dr. Elaine’s™ Soil Food Web School. In addition to his role at NOFA/Mass he also works as a field crew member for a farm that practices organic and minimal till techniques. Ruben believes in the guiding principles of land stewardship and that we all share this responsibility. When he is not actively working the land, Ruben enjoys gathering forest medicine, fermentation and home gardening to name a few.

Jane Hammer, NOFA/Mass Soil Tech Advisor

Thursday August 5, 7 - 8:30pm

Healthy Food For All: How Co-ops Answer Food Security

With food insecurity and hunger on the rise intensified by the pandemic, how can we work together to ensure healthy, local food is accessible to our whole community?  Join us to explore the Neighboring Food Co-op Association’s work with our 40-member food co-ops across New England and New York to address how we can make healthy, local food more available to all and better serve our communities, despite the current political, social, and economic divisions that exist today. We’ll share specific initiatives from our co-ops to broaden healthy food access and support local farmers and producers, and also empower people to build more inclusive, healthy, and just food systems.

Alexis Alexander supports peer collaboration efforts and provides technical assistance for the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), a co-operative federation of more than 45 food co-ops and start-up initiatives with a combined membership of more than 150,000 people across New England and New York. Prior to joining the NFCA, she served as GreenStar Food Co-op’s Membership Manager for over 11 years, helping to increase member engagement through enhanced programming and events, and improved membership systems, tracking, and reporting processes.  Alexis holds a BS in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University and an MBA from Michigan State University.

Stand-Alone Solar-Powered Automated Drip Irrigation System

We'll cover design considerations for a small-but-scalable, cost effective drip irrigation system powered by the sun, fed by rain barrels, controlled by a micro-controller, and programmed by you. If you are interested in the basics of off-the-shelf irrigation systems, small battery-tied solar kits, Arduino micro-controllers, and can cut and paste on a computer, join us!

Dave Schmidt, Gardner turned hobby farmer turned actual farmer (part-time), with 15 years experience in energy and sustainability.

Seeds of Transformation

A conversation about the future of farming, food justice, conservation, and sovereignty with youth volunteers of Global Village, Our Core and Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust.

Christine Hutchinson, director of Our CORE Inc., board member of the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust, board member of Global Village Farms, and steering committee member of Black Farmers United-NYS, is a veteran teacher in Newburgh, NY. 

Euleidys Rodriguez, Intern at Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust

Flora Olivia Waianuheahikikakahiaka Boylen Damon, Intern at Global Village farms and Tower Hill a RISD student

Dania Julissa Ortiz, Worker Owner at Global Village at Tuck Away Farm

Xiomara Paulino, Board Member Global Village Farms

Ethical Foraging and Wildcrafting for Connection to Place

In this workshop we will learn how to ethically forage herbs, mushrooms, and wild edibles. Deepen your connection to the landscape by building relationships to the plants that are growing along with us. Plant ID, Materia medica, recipes, and handouts provided.

Hannah Jacobson-Hardy is a community herbalist and wellness coach of Sweet Birch Herbals in Ashfield, MA. Hannah offers herbal consultations, apprenticeships, custom made formulas and teas, workshops, and a wide variety of products for sale, including Full Moon Ghee. Learn more about Hannah at www.sweetbirchherbals.com or contact sweetbirchherbals@gmail.com

Friday, August 6, 7-8:30pm

The Next 50 Years of NOFA Join our conference finale to envision the next 50 years with us!

For farmers who joined the movement for a more sustainable agriculture over the past 50 years, connecting with NOFA was part of creating a way of life centered on food, good work and community. Three of the founding farmers – Kevin Engelbert (first certified organic dairy farm), Joey Klein (vegetable farmer for Deep Root Coop), Mike Mercer (RI’s first organic composting business) – will share stories from their lives and work. And then interrogate younger members of the movement – what attracted them, what fuels their passions, and what do they hope lies ahead? Onika Abraham, director of the NY Farm School, Kevin’s dairy farmer son Joe Engelbert, Steve Munno, CSA farmer and president of CT NOFA’s board, and Iris Fen Gillingham, still in college, daughter of organic farmer-activists – will turn our gaze to envision the future they will shape.