39th Annual Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference


The Northeast Organic Farming Association's 39th Annual Summer Conference, scheduled for August 9-11 at UMass Amherst, will provide a variety of educational opportunities for people from all across the Northeast interested in organic food and farming. Each year, the conference attracts 1,400 farmers, suburban backyard gardeners, urban agriculturists and many others. The weekend features over 200 practical skills workshops, live entertainment, children's and teen conferences, a country fair, organic meals, over 100 exhibitors and a welcoming environment in which food system changers develop new friendships, skills and contacts.

There will be eight specialized workshop tracks: Beginning Farmer, Community Supported Agriculture, Grazing, Nutrient Density, Organic Land Care Track, Permaculture, Cooperatives, Winter Growing and Season Extension. Workshops are geared to all skill levels, ages and interests. Workshop topics will include honeybee die-offs, crop planning strategies, greenhouse propagation, seed saving, draft implements and vehicles, pastured turkeys, permaculture, CSAs, selling to institutions, biodynamic livestock husbandry, crop/cover crop rotations, grazing basics and much more. Half-day preconferences on bees, flowers, poultry, farm profitability and soils will also take place on Friday, August 9.

Several options for creative 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.

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 crude oil pipeline. The conference will host a debate on Saturday night on the question: "Is organic certification right for you?" Debate participants include two active certified organic farmers, and two uncertified farmers who use organic methods.

For more information on the Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference, visit www.nofasummerconference.org or contact NOFA/Mass Public Relations Director Nicole Belanger at nicole@nofamass.org or 508-450-2441.