Transforming Our Food System, August 9 – 11

Transforming Our Food System
Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference
University of Massachusetts, Amherst­
Friday–Sunday, August 9–11, 2013

The Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) will hold its 39th Annual Summer Conference this August at UMass Amherst. A weekend of good fun, delicious food, and learning about organic food, farming, and ecological sustainability, the conference attracts 1,000 farmers, backyard gardeners, urban agriculturists, policy advocates and many others. The weekend features 200+ practical skills workshops, live entertainment, children’s and teen conferences, a country fair, organic meals, 100+ exhibitors and a welcoming environment to develop new friendships and skills.

The workshops are geared to all skill levels, ages and interests. Some of the Northeast’s brightest minds in organic practices will present on diverse topics such as Selling to Institutions: Is it Right for My Farm?; Backyard Chickens; Strategies and Tools for Saving Local Farms; Growing Figs in Cold Climates; Cut Flowers from the Farm for Weddings; Start a Worker Co-op or Convert an Existing Business; Farming Smarter, Not Harder: Planning for Profit; Renewable Energy and Efficiency for Homeowners; and Honey Bee Die Offs & Organic Solutions. Half-day long pre-conferences on bees, flowers, poultry, farm profitability & soils will also take place onFriday, August 9th.

Saturday evening’s debate will explore the timely question: “Is organic certification right for you?” Debate participants include two active certified organic farmers and two uncertified farmers who use organic methods. As young people become farmers, fewer are choosing to becoming certified organic. What does this mean for the future of the organic food movement and our food system?

Organic farmer and author, Atina Diffley of Minnesota, will keynote the conference Friday night. A longtime veteran of the organic farming movement, she will address the challenges and triumphs of organic farmers. Diffley’s book, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works, documents her family’s struggle with loss of farmland to suburban development and their success in preventing their farm from being devastated by a Koch Industries crude oil pipeline.

Amherst’s Brookfield Farm will host the August 8th pre-conference reception. Dan Rosenberg, founder of Real Pickles, will be the featured speaker. It was a workshop at the 1999 NOFA conference that inspired Dan to start making traditional pickles. Today that hobby has grown into Real Pickles, which makes raw, organic, naturally fermented pickles and other organic products, like sauerkraut and ginger carrots, and sells them through stores around the Northeast. The reception will raise funds for the Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts Chapter, Inc.’s (NOFA/Mass) policy initiatives. Since 1982, NOFA/Mass has advocated for laws and regulations that support farmers who produce local organic foods, consumers who want access to those foods, and a transparent food system that fully labels ingredients.

Several options for creative conference financing are available, including group discounts for five or more from a farm, school or other small organization; scholarships for individuals who lack strong financial means, but are passionate about organic farming; and work exchange. Affordable accommodations are also available, including camping and dorms.

FOR MORE INFORMATION on the Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conferencevisit www.nofasummerconference.org or contact NOFA/Mass Public Relations Director, Nicole Belanger at nicole@nofamass.org or 508-450-2441.

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