Saturday, January 21, 2012

Northeast Organic Farmers Association Conference!

On Saturday, January 14th, we attended an all day conference for NOFA (Northeast Organic Farmers Association) at Worcester State University. This is the first time either of us have attended anything like this and it was such a great experience!

There were many workshops scheduled at 3 different times during the day, a presentation by keynote speaker John Jeavens, an organic lunch and many, many vendor booths to visit.

In the morning we went to a class about raising chickens. There is a proposal in Worcester to allow families to have 4 chickens as long as they are properly cared for and in a coop that has been inspected. We are waiting for the approval and plan to have chickens as soon as possible after it is passed. So the class was a great source of information and I learned a lot from the presenters.

We went to hear the keynote speaker John Jeavons talk about Biointensive Gardening. I am always interested in listening to the innovative ways that people are growing food in small spaces.

There was a great organic lunch of beef stew or a vegetarian soup, salad and bread and dessert – all provided by organic farms in the Northeast.

After lunch we went to a workshop presented by Jonathan Bates of the Permaculture Nursery in Holyoke MA. It was a great presentation on how to grow a lot of different food in a small area – and his personal experience of planting a dirt lot and creating a garden out of it using Permaculture methods. He does a lot of planting and experimenting with different plants, and also sells those that do well in our area. We have already ordered several different berries, kiwi and grape vines, and some other plants to add to our collection for the Spring.

After the workshop – we went to the vendors and looked at what types of organics are available in our area and signed up to be contacted by the Massachusetts Local Food Coop – they do monthly orders for farms in the state and we can have access through them to some things that are not available to us otherwise.

What I took away from the workshop, is the encouragement that so many young people are actively seeking information about gardening, farming and organics, and are concerned about the future and providing quality for their lives.

I am sure that we can use our yard and grow enough fruits, vegetables, etc. to supplement the bulk of our groceries and get our meat from the food coop.

What I am most encouraged about is how many fruits and vegetables – plants, vines and trees – are perennial and will only need to be planted once, but will continue to grow for years; And that there is a wealth of information on-line to read and study to make our garden a success. I am especially interested in the Permaculture information: restoring the balance of an ecosystem so plants and people thrive. Abundance.

I know what it is like to put my hands in the dirt and what it feels like to work the earth creatively. It’s like waking up and everything else becomes clearer. The petty things of life fade away and what is left is the essence of who I am as a human being.

My connection to nature is a peaceful, healing experience and I had been away from it far too long….

Beautiful Birch trees at Crow Hill

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