The Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA/Mass) will hold its 22nd Annual Winter Conference on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009 at the Worcester Vocational High School on Skyline Drive from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The event will feature 40 workshops on organic farming, gardening, landscaping and sustainable lifestyles. There is a lively exhibit area, a keynote speech, a delicious potluck lunch, a children’s program, the NOFA/Mass Annual Meeting and an eagerly anticipated seminar on four season growing by Eliot Coleman. Over 400 people are expected to attend from Massachusetts and other areas of central New England. There will be something for everyone to enjoy from beginning to advanced farmers, gardeners and anyone interested in sustainability.
In Mr. Coleman’s seminar he will explain techniques that can be used by farmers and gardeners to extend their growing season, and their income stream, through most of the year. This is an important concept as the demand for locally grown food increases. He will also deliver the keynote speech “Small Farms are the Soul of Organics”. He is co-owner, with Barbara Damrosch, of Four Season Farm, a market garden in Harborside, Maine, which produces vegetables year-round, and has become a nationally recognized model of small-scale sustainable agriculture. He has many years of experience in all aspects of organic farming, including field vegetables, greenhouse vegetables, rotational grazing of cattle and sheep, and range poultry. He has conducted many horticultural research projects. This accumulation of knowledge has enabled him to write several books including The New Organic Grower (Chelsea Green, 1989, revised, expanded second edition, 1995), Four Season Harvest (Chelsea Green, 1992, revised, expanded second edition, 1999) and the Winter Harvest Manual. He was the Executive Director of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements for two years and an advisor to the US Department of Agriculture in the preparation of the Report and Recommendations on Organic Farming in 1980. He has conducted study tours of organic farms, market gardens, orchards, and vineyards in Europe. Combining European ideas with his own experience he has developed a complete system of tools and equipment for organic vegetable growers. He now designs tools for Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
With Barbara, he was the host of the TV series, Gardening Naturally, on The Learning Channel.
The conference will also feature a track of workshops on establishing community farms including organizing, financing and farm educational programs. For beginning gardeners there are workshops on soil fertility, planning an organic garden, organic pest and disease control and container gardens. Livestock workshops include raising cows, pigs, poultry and dairy goats. There are workshops on growing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, strawberries and leafy greens. For more advanced farmers there are workshops covering crop planning and record keeping, running a CSA, grants available for farmers and filing taxes. For those interested in raising and preparing their own food there are workshops on root cellaring, bread making and cooking with winter vegetables.
Registration for the conference is $50 per person with discounts available for NOFA members, certified farmers and students. The cost of Eliot Coleman’s workshop is $100. Work exchange programs are available. To participate in the famous potluck lunch simply bring a potluck contribution that will feed at least eight very hungry people! Complete conference information can be found on the NOFA/Mass website at www.nofamass.org or by contacting Conference Coordinator, Jassy Bratko at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-928-5646. The conference is sponsored by Whole Foods Markets, Stoneyfield, Boston Organics, Green Fields Market, Nature’s Best Organic Feeds, Groton Wellness, Vermont Compost, Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, Dr. David Brown, Fertrell, Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Fedco.