What DOES certified organic mean? Who determines that definition, and how is it enforced?
What DOES certified organic mean? Who determines that definition, and how is it enforced?
The Northeast Organic Farming Association’s (NOFA) 40th annual Summer Conference takes place August 8-10, 2014 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Appealing to a wide range of interests, 1400 consumers, gardeners, farmers, food policy experts, and urban agriculturalists travel from across the northeast and beyond to participate in 150+ workshops, pre-conference events, farms tours, and much more. This conference is a collaborative project of all seven NOFA chapters.
This is a family-friendly event, with special conference tracks for children 5-12 and teens 13-17. While parents attend great educational workshops on gardening, farming, nutrition, and ecological sustainability, children experience age-appropriate and fun workshops about these same topics with other youth. Childcare is available for children 2-4.
“At the heart of NOFA as an organization is the NOFA Summer Conference. A place of inspiration, awakening, reconnecting, and practical education, it is the event that for 40 years has brought the brightest, best, and most collaborative farming game-changers together for one packed weekend celebration of life and farming,” says farmer, former NOFA Summer Conference Coordinator, and current NOFA/Mass Executive Director, Julie Rawson.
Trained as a microbiologist, Dr. Elaine Ingham, this year’s keynote speaker, brings a unique perspective to her work with farmers. Her goal is to develop soils that foster thriving microbial communities. Her simple approaches to building soil biology require less labor and off-farm inputs and ultimately help save farmers money, while reducing adverse ecological effects of conventional farming. She maintains that by building soils teeming with the right kind of biology, growers can mitigate plant pests and diseases.
In addition to her Friday all-day pre-conference seminar titled “Changing Dirt into Soil: Specific Approaches for Different Soil Types and Crops”, Ingham will lead three workshops during the conference. Three half-day pre-conferences will also take place on Friday, including “Tools for Resilient Urban Ecosystems” with Scott Kellogg; “Healing the Gut and the Body through Nutrition” with Dr. Chris Decker; and “Bioregional Herbalism: Stocking the Home Apothecary with Locally Abundant Herbs” with Jade Alicandro Mace.
Saturday and Sunday’s workshops are geared to many skill levels and interests. Knowledgeable and experienced instructors will offer workshops on topics such as nutrition and health, food politics, land access, crop production, cooperative economies, urban and international agriculture, gardening, animal husbandry, farm economics, food preservation and cooking, permaculture, and mitigating climate change through agriculture.
There will be a sing-along event on Friday evening called “Singing for Food and Freedom: Carrying on the Legacy of Pete Seeger” (free for conference registrants and open to the public with a $5-$10 suggested donation). The weekend also features films (such as The Queen of the Sun, Out Here, and Food for Change), meet-ups for participants from a variety of interests, organic meals, a country fair, a contra dance, 100+ exhibitors, and more.
Learn more and register at www.nofasummerconference.org!
Are you a planner, educator, organizer? Do you love farms, food, and fun? Join the amazing NOFA-VT team! We’re hiring for an Education Coordinator to manage our year-round schedule of events and our beginning farmer program.
The Education Coordinator is predominantly responsible for managing the educational events at NOFA-VT to engage current members (farmers, gardeners, and consumers) and attract new members through development of Winter Conference workshops, and seasonal on-site workshops (on farms, gardens, homesteads). The Education Coordinator is a member of the technical assistance team and provides support to the Technical Assistance Coordinator. In addition, the candidate will develop and oversee NOFA-VT¹s Beginning Farmer programs (apprenticeship tool, CRAFT program and Journey Farmer Program) and organize technical/networking events for beginner farmers. The position will start in mid-August.
NOFA Vermont is proud to be a featured partner of the UVM Food Systems Summit. Almost half of our staff plans to attend - if you’d like to as well, registration closes today at midnight. If you’d like to attend after that point, call call UVM Conference and Events Services at 802-656-5665. Walk-in registrations will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.
Who should own and control the food system? How much additional food production capacity do we need and where? How do cultural values influence food practice? Food systems scholars and leaders will address these questions and more when they convene at the University of Vermont (UVM) June 17-18 for the third annual UVM Food Systems Summit to share research and engage in dialogue on the pressing food systems issues facing our world.
With a vibrant local food economy, Vermont is a hot spot of sustainable food system development, and a prime location to explore the innovative models that are providing solutions to the multitude of social, environmental, health and economic problems arising from our broken food system. During the day and a half conference, sessions will address the following themes: the biophysical constraints we face for food production globally, the impact of our geopolitical context on our food system, and the implications of behavior and culture for our food system.
“UVM is a leading academic institution in the transdisciplinary study of food systems, and Vermont is a national model in alternative food system development with its network-based, systems-approach,” said Doug Lantagne, director of the UVM Food Systems Initiative. “Our goal is for food systems researchers, leaders, practitioners, and engaged community members to come together at the summit and expand their knowledge, network with peers to generate future collaborations, identify needs and prioritize future work.”
The summit will transcend the boundaries of academia by incorporating food systems efforts happening outside the ivory tower. Unlike traditional academic conferences, the summit is designed to optimize engagement between scholars and practitioners outside of academia. As such, the summit is open to the public, and the organizers are seeking participation from nonprofits, government, farmers and food producers.
Three keynote speakers will each provide a one-hour talk as well as participate in a panel discussion at the end of the summit: Rosamond Naylor, director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University, Eric Holt-Giménez, executive director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, and Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health at City University of New York’s School of Public Health and Hunter College.
Panel discussions will feature research and examples of how local-level responses are responding to globalization in the food system. To promote dialogue among all participants, all sessions will include time for Q&A and engaged dialogue with the audience. Participants will enjoy local foods and drink during a Taste of Vermont reception.
[post from Alison Nihart, UVM]
We are excited to see a number of farm and food businesses (and NOFA-VT members!) have won awards from Vermont Business Magazine and the US Small Business Administration.
Small Business People of the Year:
Bill Cherry & Jeff Neiblum of Switchback Brewing in Burlington (not members, but great local beer!)
Family-Owned Small Business:
Kelt & Kristina Naylor of Sidehill Farm in Brattleboro (NOFA-VT members)
Scott Baughman & Lisa Ransom of Grow Compost of Vermont in Moretown (not members, but compost is approved for organic use by VOF)
Woman-Owned Business of the Year:
Sharon Deitz Caroli of The Bees Knees in Morrisville (not a member, but purchases from many local farms)
Young Entrepreneur of the Year:
Joe Bossen II of Vermont Bean Crafters in Mad River (NOFA-VT member)
We know that Vermont’s strong farm and food economy contributes greatly to our overall economic stability – with the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country and a high quality of life. We’re proud of these businesses that are leading the way!
You can attend the SBA award ceremony on June 17 – click here to register.
Cornell University’s IPM Center is conducting some research into Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) and its effect on crops in the Northeast.
We’re passing this on with the encouragement to participate if you are a producer who has experienced BMSB. It should take about 10 minutes and will help Cornell evaluate and communicate about BMSB and future control solutions – plus you can receive a free Guide to Stink Bugs!
We’re putting together our 2014-2015 Vermont Organic Farm and Food Guide, which is a beautiful print directory of all of the producers certified organic by VOF.
We’re excited to be featuring the story of Teeny Tiny Spice Company of Vermont this year, with a delicious recipe using local ingredients and their spices. You’ll also find a farmers’ market directory and information about choosing certified organic, locally grown.
This is a great opportunity to reach an engaged audience, dedicated to supporting local businesses. Reserve your ad space now!
Click to browse the 2013-2014 guide, below.
As Vermont becomes the first state to enact mandatory GMO labeling, those opposed to labeling are hoping to erase our victory with federal legislation. “Friends” of multinational food and biotech corporations in Congress have recently introduced a bill that would authorize the FDA to preempt and invalidate state-level labeling laws in Vermont and across the country. Opponents have dubbed the bill the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act. House Committees are expected to begin hearings on the bill this summer.
Also recently introduced are two congressional bills that would require nationwide mandatory at the federal level, along the same lines as Vermont’s labeling law. (We’re glad to report that Vermont’s congressional delegation has already signed on as cosponsors of these bills.) National consumer, agriculture, and environmental groups are busy organizing political action and public awareness campaigns in support of these bills and against the “forces of DARKness”.
It is going to be a hot time in Washington over the next year as these bills progress! We will be working with our members, our national allies, and our congressional delegation to insure that a strong and mandatory labeling law will be enacted nationally.
There are many websites with further information. We recommend Beyond Pesticides for a good overview.
[Post by Dave Rogers, NOFA Vermont Policy Advisor]
These items were left over from NOFA-VT’s annual Bulk Order. The Bulk Order gives NOFA-VT members and the general public the chance to purchase quality farm and garden products that meet the National Organic Standards at volume discounts. All income generated from the Bulk Order goes to support NOFA Vermont’s Farm to Community Mentor Program.
To place an order please contact NOFA at 802-434-4122, or firstname.lastname@example.org. All products are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Smaller items can be mailed; shipping will be added to cost. Large items must be picked up at our Richmond office. We will update this list as items are sold.