Category Archives: For Gardeners

Direct Marketing workshops to be combined into Winter Conference

As we are gearing up for our winter educational offerings, we wanted to share that we have decided to not host a Direct Marketing Conference in 2015. Instead, based on feedback from past Winter Conferences, we will offer more direct marketing workshops in our commercial farmer track at the 2015 Winter Conference. These workshops will focus on issues relevant to farmers’ market vendors, and CSA and farm stand farmers. We hope that by re-combining these two conferences, more of you will be able to benefit from the workshops that have been spread out between two conferences in the past!

UVM's Davis Center serves as the conference hub. (Credit Elizabeth Ferry)The Request for Proposals (RFP) for Winter Conference workshops is currently open through September 15, 2014.

Even if you don’t have a workshop you would like to present yourself, we are also looking for feedback on specific workshops or presenters that you’d like us to consider for the 2015 Winter Conference. If you have ideas or suggestions, please contact our new Education Coordinator, Rachel Fussell as soon as possible, with a deadline of September 15th.

You may have noticed that I didn’t mention farmers’ market organizers in my workshop audience list above. We haven’t forgotten you! We will be collaborating with the Vermont Farmers’ Market Association (VTFMA) to host a day of workshops and the VTFMA Annual Meeting in March 2015. We will be sending more information later this fall on that event so please be on the lookout!

Lastly, we are looking forward to hearing from you after the Winter Conference about how this new set-up worked for you. While nine years ago we started a separate Direct Marketing Conference in order to accommodate more attendees when space at the Winter Conference venues was our major limiting factor, we are excited to again try to meet your needs by bringing the two conferences back together now that space is not an issue. Your feedback will help us determine if this is the best option moving forward or if we need to look at additional possibilities.

We look forward to hearing from you!

[By Erin Buckwalter,  Market Development and Community Food Security Coordinator]

NOFA Summer Conference!

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.

Affordable accommodations (like camping and dorms) are available, as are scholarships, group discounts, work exchange, and other creative financing options.

“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!

NOFA hiring Education Coordinator

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.

Click here to read the full job description and learn how to apply!

Bulk Order Leftovers for Sale

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 info@nofavt.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.

Cover crops

  • 50# Organic Triticale – $38
  • 50# Organic Tritilege (50% triticale, 50% 4010 field peas) – $43.50
  • 50# Organic 4010 field peas – $43.50
  • 10# Organic Barley from Butterworks – $8.50
  • 10# Dutch white clover – $56
  • 2# Organic winter rye/hairy vetch mix – $4.50
  • 3 – peas/vetch inoculant, treats 50# – $4.77 each

Fertilizers, amendments, and potting soil

  • 50# bonechar/greensand – $23.32
  • 50# pro-holly – $21.73
  • 5# K-mag $5.30
  • 5# Greensand – $4.24
  • 2 – 5# Bone char- $5.30
  • 1 – 5# Bloodmeal – $14.84
  • 5# Azomite slow release – $6.36
  • 1 gallon OGS liquid kelp – $19.61
  • 2 – 5 gallon OGS liquid kelp – $87.45
  • 2 – 1 gallon liquid fish/kelp – $20.14
  • 2 – 22 qt McEnroe Premium potting mix – $6.36
  • 22 qt McEnroe Premium lite potting mix – $6.50

Other items

  • 1 wooden display bushel box, hand held – $11.13
  • 2 row covers 50’x 83” – $13.25 each
  • 4 bundles of 12” garden stakes (untreated), 25 per bundle – $14.84
  • 1 bundle of 18” field stakes (untreated), 25 per bundle – $8.48
  • 4.5” round peat pots, 50 count -$10.60
  • 2 sets of – 3” round peat pots, 50 count – $4.77
  • Serenade 32 oz. -$22.26
  • Hemp twine – 265 ft. – $6.00
  • 2 boxes of rubber bands – $6.36
  • 9 – red ball traps, $5.30 each

NOFA Seeking Summer Interns

We’re looking for several motivated, articulate students who are passionate about local, organic agriculture and food systems – and who like to have fun – to join us this summer.

All interns will:

  • Participate in our summer outreach program by staffing the NOFA-VT pizza oven at statewide farm and food events, providing Vermonters with an opportunity to learn about NOFA-VT and organic/local foods.
  • Participate in the field in a CSA research project.

1. Direct Marketing Intern

Reporting to the Direct Marketing & Community Food Security Coordinator, the Direct Marketing intern will assist with farmers’ market and CSA-related projects, including coordinating a statewide CSA pricing study. Click here for full job description.

Preschool students fill their pots with dirt.
Local students learn in the NOFA-VT garden, coordinated by our garden intern.

2. Garden Intern

The garden intern assists with all aspects of caring for the NOFA-VT raised-bed garden, and will be responsible for coordinating educational activities and communicating with food pantries regarding harvest, needs and deliveries. Click here for full job description.

3. VT FEED/SNA-VT Intern

Reporting to Amy Gifford, the VT Food Education Every Day/School Nutrition Association of Vermont intern will assist with the development and implementation of marketing materials that highlight and promote local foods in school meal programs. In addition, the intern will assist in the planning and conducting of farm to school workshops at the Child Nutrition Programs Summer Institute. Click here for full job description.


4. Organic Certification Marketing Intern

The VOF Marketing intern will help reach customers in retail locations.
The Marketing intern will help expand our local & organic marketing campaign to retail locations.

This internship will focus on increasing consumer demand for local, certified organic food by targeting promotional efforts at retail locations. Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF), the certification program of NOFA-VT, is looking for assistance with the development and implementation of a promotional program with one or more food coops to highlight the VOF logo and the benefits of certified organic. The retail promotion will focus on National Organic Month (September). Click here for a full job description.

5. Organic Certification Mapping Intern

This internship will assist Vermont Organic Farmers (the certification program of NOFA-VT) in geospatially locating certified organic farm fields in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties. This project involves working with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to collect shape files for farms that are currently or recently enrolled in FSA or NRCS programs. In addition, this internship will include locating and mapping the fields of organic farms not enrolled in these programs. Please note, this project does not involve fieldwork; most of the work is office-based using records and documents provided by organic farmers. Ideal candidates will be familiar with working with ARCGIS or similar programs. Click here for a full job description.

Homesteaders and Gardeners at the Winter Conference

The Winter Conference isn’t just for farmers – there are over 20 workshops this year designed with homesteaders and gardeners in mind! So whether you’re interested in getting the most produce possible out of your raised bed, or getting more fruit from your apple trees, the Winter Conference has you covered.

Saturday Workshop Spotlight: Hardy Nuts for Farms and Yards

Black WalnutsKeith Morris will be on hand to guide you through the ecology and mythology of nut trees suited to growing on Vermont’s farms and in our neighborhoods. Morris will focus on hardy proven nuts, and introduce the breeding and trialing happening at Willow Crossing Farm in Johnson, VT to help migrate some important nuts typically grown in slightly warmer regions.

Sunday Workshop Spotlight: Poultry Breeds and Brooder Set Up for the Backyard Producer

chickens2 It’s time to order those chirping wonders! Yet, those colorful, descriptive and plentiful poultry catalogs can be quite daunting. Join Bay Hammond, Farm Manager at Cerridwen Farm at Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT, and co-manager of Doolittle Farm in Shoreham VT to learn all about the different breed types, their benefits and shortcomings.

There are additional workshops and networking opportunities for cooks, activists, educators, and more. See the complete list of conference workshops here, and stay tuned for more workshop spotlights in the coming week!

Community and School Gardens at the Winter Conference

The NOFA-VT Winter Conference brings together organic growers and eaters from across the food system. One of the ways the Winter Conference attracts this diversity is through a Community and School Garden Track for garden organizers and educators, presented by the Vermont Community Garden Network, and happening this year on Sunday, February 16th.

NOFA, VCGN, NOFA-VT Winter ConferenceIn its 3rd year, this special track features interactive workshops throughout the day and a networking session over lunch time, bringing together the state’s community and school garden leaders to learn from each other as well as from local and regional experts.

This year’s workshops will focus on a range of topics requested by garden leaders from across the state.  Included among these are:

Over lunchtime, 1:00-2:00pm, participants are encouraged to attend the Vermont Community Garden Network Gathering and Garden Showcase.  This is an opportunity for garden leaders to connect, swap ideas, see innovative work from around the state, and learn more about upcoming Network opportunities.  Detailed information on track workshops and the networking session are available at http://vcgn.org/what-we-do/winterconference.

Vermont Community Garden Network logoVCGN’s partnership with NOFA Vermont supports an effort to reach community and school garden leaders from around the state and support the growth of successful garden projects.  The Community and School Garden Track at the Winter Conference is VCGN’s state-wide gathering of garden leaders, complimented by the VCGN Grow It! workshop series in regional Vermont locations in the spring and fall.  Year-round, VCGN offers technical support and online resources for garden organizers and educators.

The Vermont Community Garden Network is a non-profit organization that helps community and school groups all over Vermont start, sustain, and grow gardens, building strong local food systems and vibrant educational sites. To learn more about VCGN visit www.vcgn.org.

[Guest post by Libby Weiland of VCGN]

Growing in the NOFA Garden

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The 10 raised beds that constitute the NOFA office garden were installed last fall. The garden’s first summer season has been very successful; the garden has proved itself to be a valuable gathering and learning place for community members of all ages. Its most frequent visitors have been local day cares: Gretchen Paulsen’s Childcare Center, the Beary Country School, and the PlayCare Center of Richmond have all come on a weekly or biweekly basis to read books, plant seeds, harvest peas, and sample the garden’s numerous offerings. Some of the produce the preschoolers examined was harvested and brought across the street to the Food Shelf of Richmond.

Slightly older students trooped down the hill from the YMCA camp based at Richmond Elementary School. These students explored the culinary possibilities the garden offers, making strawberry dip to devour with snap peas.  They also saw production on a larger scale during a field trip to Freedom and Unity Farm, where they helped farmer Gary Bressor with chores.

Finally, and on the other side of the age spectrum, senior citizens participated in a series of culinary workshops that took place further down Bridge St in the Richmond Congregational Church.  Master Gardener Margaret Lowe taught a jam-making workshop with the late June strawberries, and cooking teacher Adele Dienno taught a “Cooking for One” class later in the summer.  These workshops were a valuable opportunity for seniors to socialize and swap old Richmond stories.

The garden has had a wonderful first summer, despite the debilitating June rain, and we invite community members to come learn and play as we move in to autumn and reap the bounty of the summer’s harvest.

[Guest post by Emily Hill, NOFA-VT summer intern]

Come work with us!

NOFA staff at the Winter Conference, 2012
NOFA staff at the Winter Conference, 2012

You don’t have to be a farmer to be a part of Vermont’s local, organic food system! You can make a difference as part of the network of organizations that provide critical services to farmers and consumers. There are currently two positions open in Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF), the organic certification program of NOFA-VT.

Since 1985, VOF has provided farmers and processors with a credible verification program for their organic production practices. VOF currently certifies 576 farms and processors to the National Organic Program regulations and assists our producers in marketing their products to consumers.

VOF is looking to hire two positions in our organic certification program to start in mid-September. The NOFA office is fun and fast-paced, and we have high expectations of our staff. Applicants should have a sense of humor, ability to multitask, and be willing to work independently and as a team. Applicants should have good time-management skills and enjoy interacting with and assisting our farmers and processors.

For more information about our organization, please visit here.

—————-

Certification Staff Assistant Position

Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) is looking to hire a certification staff assistant to join our certification team. This position will support the certification staff in the annual process of verifying the organic production practices of our clients. Applicants should have strong organizational skills, attention to detail and should work proficiently in Microsoft Office programs Excel, Word and Access. Major duties include phone coverage, filing, and database entry.

  • Compensation is $15/hr.
  • No benefits package
  • Half-time (20 hours a week) position in Richmond office

Please send your cover letter & resume to
Enid Wonnacott/Nicole Dehne
applicant@nofavt.org

Accepting ONLY electronic applications. Deadline – August 16th at 5 p.m.

———

Certification Staff Specialist Position (Dairy & Livestock)

Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) is looking to hire a certification staff specialist to join our certification team. This position will coordinate the annual process of verifying the organic production practices of our dairy and livestock producers. Applicants should have experience with dairy and livestock production, strong organizational skills, attention to detail and should work proficiently in Microsoft Office Programs Excel, Word and Access. Major duties include reviewing organic system plans and inspection reports, writing compliance letters and assisting farmers with the certification process.

  • Compensation based on experience
  • Benefits package included
  • Full time position in Richmond office

Please send your cover letter & resume to:

Enid Wonnacott/Nicole Dehne
dairy@nofavt.org

Accepting ONLY electronic applications. Deadline –  August 9th at 5 p.m.

Reflections on the [r]Evolution

Several NOFA-VT staff and interns attended last week’s Food Systems Summit at UVM, a half-day-long series of short talks in the TEDTalks style. We were interested, of course, in the topic of food systems and excited to see how our state’s land grant university – one of our key partners and a potentially huge force for food system change in VT and beyond – was interpreting “The Necessary (r)Evolution for Sustainable Food Systems.” (You can watch a recording of the whole summit here, if you missed it.)

In discussing our impressions, we discovered a unifying theme about our favorite speakers: They were people doing real work, on the ground, in their communities. These were not necessarily the best-rehearsed talks or the presentations with the slickest graphics, but they were speakers animated by their passion, and who spoke to action rather than just fact.

Two of the talks in particular stood out for us – Tanya Fields’ project to bring fresh produce to the Bronx in a refurbished bus, and Teresa Mares’ presentation about helping migrant dairy workers create home gardens. Both addressed real issues in the current food system on two levels: lack of access to fresh produce, primarily, but also lack of access to meaningful and culturally appropriate food experiences.

Tanya talked about her failed attempt to start a farmers’ market in her neighborhood, saying “That’s not what the ‘hood needed.” Her neighbors weren’t used to shopping at farmers’ markets, and didn’t have the time or motivation to change their habits. If they were going to buy more local, organic vegetables, they told her, the vegetables would need to pretty much show up at their doorsteps. So the mobile market was born. She underlined the importance of really listening to a community, rather than importing solutions.

The Huertas project that Teresa spoke about also addressed a community with low access to fresh produce, the dairy industry’s migrant workers. She told us about a community struggling with low wages, lack of transportation, language and cultural barriers, and sometimes uncertain legal status. Home gardens improved the quantity and quality of their meals, as well as allowing them to grow familiar and meaningful foods that they may not be able to find in Vermont supermarkets. It is a solution that addresses the specific needs of a community that is a long way from home and unable to move freely here.

All of the presentations contained meaningful information and many introduced new ideas or insights, but not all of them had the impact of these two, which engaged new interns and experienced staff alike. Why?

I think we came to the summit wanting to be inspired. We already know the system is broken – learning more about its brokenness can be important, but it isn’t inspiring. We wanted to see the revolution in action. I think that Tanya and Teresa spoke to the specific need of the audience – at least the NOFA portion of the audience! – in the same way that their projects spoke to the needs of their communities.

As NOFA explores this format of brief presentations for the featured speakers at our own conferences, it will be interesting for us to ask the question, “What does our community need now?”