The Northeast Organic Farming Association’s 40th Annual Summer Conference will be held August 8-10 at UMass Amherst. The Conference will provide a variety of educational opportunities for people from 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 200+ practical skills workshops, live entertainment, children’s and teen conferences, a country fair, organic meals, 100+ exhibitors and a welcoming environment in which food system changers develop new friendships, skills and contacts.The workshops are geared to all skill levels, ages and interests. Several of the Northeast’s brightest minds in organic practices will present on topics such as soil and fertility, organic farming, farm management, alternative energy, seed saving, land care and gardening. Several individuals from Rhode Island will lead workshops. Half-day long pre-conferences will take place on Friday, August 8.
Several financing options are available, including group discounts for five or more from a farm, school, or other small organization (click here), scholarships for beginning farmers (less than 10 years farming), individuals without strong financial means, but are passionate about organic farming and work exchange. Affordable accommodations include camping and dorms.
RI-based speakers include John Kenny of Big Train Farm in Cranston, Steve Walach, school garden manager and Sanne Kure-Jensen of NOFA/RI and NOFA/IC.
Kenny will lead “Growing Brassica Crops.“ Take an in-depth look at the often-challenging world of growing the Broccoli family. Join a conversation on growing excellent Brassica crops, hear their natural history, fertility inclinations, insect relationships and overall management techniques. Emphasis will be on soil balancing and organic pest control.
Walach will lead “Improved Production for Medium and Large Gardens.” His presentation will address gardening fundamentals to produce greater yields. This will include crop rotations, fertilizer plans, seedling care, labor requirements and organization of garden space. In 2012, his school garden harvested 5,734 poundsof vegetables from 2,000 sq. ft. of raised beds, close to 3 lbs/sq ft.
Kure-Jensen will lead “Growing Hops and Home Brewing.” Hear about cultivating, trellising, harvesting and drying hops. Hear about global hops history. Discover hops’ landscape, medicinal and beer brewing uses. Learn about brewing terms, equipment, ingredients, sanitation, bottling and capping. Hear brewing tips and get sources for recipes and ingredients..