Tag Archives: children

Celebrate Your Farmer this summer at a NOFA Vermont pizza social near you

Photos by Rachel Fussell, NOFA Vermont’s Education & Events Coordinator

On July 16, 2015, a group of about 75 farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, and organic food lovers came together in Manchester to enjoy good food, good music, great conversation, and a tour of the farm and facilities at Earth Sky Time Farm.

Join NOFA Vermont and friends at any of these upcoming “Celebration Your Farmer” pizza socials. More information about these events, as well as our summer and fall on-farm workshops can be found here.

July 23 – Adam’s Berry Farm, Charlotte
July 30 – Golden Russet Farm, Shoreham
Aug 6 – Berry Creek Farm, Westfield
Aug 12 – Farmer Olympics, Maple Wind Farm, Bolton
Aug 27 – Tamarlane Farm, Lyndonville
Sept 3 – Flack Family Farm, Enosburg Falls
Sept 10 – Lilac Ridge Farm, Brattleboro

2015-2016 Farm to School Institute schools chosen

The  VT FEED Farm to School Institute is a unique year-long professional development opportunity being offered to ten diverse school teams from Vermont and, this year thanks to an USDA Farm to School Grant, the Northeast.

FEED Farm to School InstituteThrough 3 days of immersed training and planning this summer, participants will have time and support to develop a comprehensive Farm to School action plan and receive in-school mentoring to guide the implementation of their plan over the 2015-2016 academic year.

See what St. Albans City School, who participated 2013-2014, is doing in their farm to school program by watching this video.

Vermont schools that have been accepted are: South Burlington HS, Milton HS, Bradford Elementary, Essex Town Middle School, Guilford Elementary, Hardwick Elementary,  Manchester Elementary, Champlain Elementary.

More about FEED »

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!

Children’s Conference – Space & Scholarships Available!

There are still openings for youth ages 6-12 at our Children’s Conference this weekend! The Children’s Conference happens at the University of Vermont, simultaneously to the adult conference, but you don’t have to be an adult attendee at the Winter Conference in order to send your child.

Full scholarships are available!

The Children's Conference is a great way to spend a wintry weekend.The conference is a great opportunity for kids to work with wool, participate in a community art project with Bonnie Acker, create songs with Chris Dorman of Bread and Butter Farm, and go on outside adventures with Earth Walk.

Click here for more information and to see our proposed schedule.

To register, contact Coordinator Lauren Lenz at laurenlenz@gmail.com or (603) 359-3160.  Walk-in registrations are welcome for both the children and adult conference.

Talking Farm to School

This pasphotot Saturday, Bear Pond Books in Montpelier hosted author Gail Gibbons and NOFA’s own Education Coordinator, Abbie Nelson, for a short discussion on local foods and their role in schools.

The two women discussed the incorporation of healthy practices into school systems and the importance of agricultural education for our youth. Amongst the crowd were several teachers from Barre Town School, and other educators across Washington County.

Throughout the talk, Abbie focused on the ways that Vermont FEED (a partnership between NOFA Vermont, Shelburne Farms, and Food Works) has worked statewide to get local food into schools. She discussed the importance of young students associating a fruit or vegetable on their plate with where it came from on a farm or in a garden.

Abbie also introduced the New School Cuisine cookbook, which will be released within the month to every school in Vermont as well as every Childhood Nutrition program throughout the nation. This cookbook includes a wide variety of farm fresh, healthy recipes in large serving sizes for cafeteria use. It allows students to associate with healthy foods on a daily basis in the classroom. Lastly, Abbie discussed the Nutrition Education Guide for schools. The Nutrition Education Guide serves as an educational tool for teachers to assess where they can incorporate nutrition education and the best ways to make it work.

BPBGail Gibbons, author and illustrator of over 150 children’s books, also spoke about her influence on child nutrition education. Originally in the film industry, Gail recognized the need for nutrition awareness while working with NBC television programs. After traveling to many different cities across the country for research, she acknowledged that many children did not know where their food came from. Her first book based on agriculture titled The Milk Makers goes into the development of milk in a cow and the processing it must go through to make it to the refrigerator. Other books include The Vegetables We Eat, Apples, Corn, and The Honey Makers. Check out Gail’s website and list of publications at http://www.gailgibbons.com/.

>> For more upcoming events that connect Vermont’s communities and farms, check out the second annual Agricultural Literacy Week, November 18-24.

[Post by NOFA Vermont intern Maggie Callahan]

Growing in the NOFA Garden

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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]

Organic vs. Contential Milk: Is There a Big Difference?

While attending the NOFA winter conference, I noticed that much of the conversations that were being held were about the most effective way for small farmers to reach their desired audience. Recently The American Academy of Pediatrics conducted a study that looked more in depth about organic foods and what food is worth buying organic.

When parents are shopping for food whether it be at a grocery store chain, local farm stand, or co-op they want to purchase the food that will have a positive impact on their families. So when choosing between the conventional options and the organic labeled foods parents that can afford the organic foods are more than likely reaching for those choices. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently conducted a study about the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing organic foods for children. On average the cost of these foods are about 10 to 40 percent higher than the non-organic foods and in the case of purchasing organic milk there seems to be little difference. With a high dependency on the cows daily diet and the scale of the farming operation raw milk could have higher rates of antioxidants which is a positive for small children and families. However the report claims that there is no evidence of ‘clinical relevant difference’ between organic milk and conventional milk. It’s not all doom and gloom surrounding organic foods and if they have a better effectiveness than conventional foods.

When incorporating organic food the study found that a significantly lower percentage of pesticides were found in children who ate organic foods. These low levels can contribute to a healthier immune system and the ability for children to have a greater chance fighting off sicknesses and disease. Other bright news, organic foods will not have the high costs forever! With the rise in oil prices things like pesticides and herbicides will become more costly to farmers, which could allow for dropping organic prices. Along with the high costs of pesticides improvements in organic technologies will also lead to decreased costs for consumers.

For more information about the study visit: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/10/15/peds.2012-2579.abstract

Guest blogger: Jackson Diebold