Here are some highlights of our work in 2015:
Are you interested in joining a feast that celebrates community, good food and farming? How about participating in a workshop that shows you how to grow currants in your backyard or delicious organic strawberries for your farm or CSA? NOFA-VT’s 2015 workshop series has all this and more for the summer season. Our workshop series lineup features more than two dozen on-farm opportunities like these where gardeners, homesteaders and commercial farmers can gain practical knowledge, exchange ideas and get to know your neighbors.
We have a diverse group of workshops for every background this summer. For commercial vegetable and fruit growers we have several workshops aimed at providing new knowledge and techniques for your operation. These include a workshop on caring for older tractors and maintenance with Hank Bissell at Lewis Creek Farm in Starksboro, an on-farm value-added tour of Pete’s Greens and the Vermont Food Venture Center in Hardwick, and a vegetable tunnel production workshop with Andy Jones at the Intervale Community Farm in Burlington.
For commercial dairy and livestock farmers we have an assortment of workshops that provide technical knowledge and new strategies for your farm. Among the lineup includes a workshop on herd management, grazing and other practices to best manage nutrients at Spring Brook Farm in Westfield, as well as a workshop on strategies for evaluating feed stock needs and land improvements with McKnight Farm in East Montpelier.
And for all the homesteaders, gardeners, and plant enthusiasts we have an exciting array of workshops that cover a variety of subjects. Topics include permaculture with Nicko Rubin of East Hill Tree Farm, place-based herbalism with Kate Westdijk, uncommon fruits with John and Nancy Hayden of The Farm Between, and gardening tips and techniques with Charlie Nardozzi.
Our “Celebrate Your Farmer” Socials brings everyone in the food system together and is a place to establish connections within your community, all while enjoying farm-fresh, wood-fired pizza baked in NOFA-VT’s mobile oven. And after your appetite is satisfied, you’ll be able to enjoy a farm tour and get a behind the scenes glimpse of each farm. Nine farms across the state are planning to host these special gatherings, including Adam’s Berry Farm, Lilac Ridge Farm and Flack Family Farms, just to name a few.
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.
Through 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.
Do you know any aspiring young chefs? Are you an avid cook who would like to share your talents with local students? Are you a farmer who’d like to develop a relationship with a nearby school? If so, then the 8th Annual Jr Iron Chef VT is where you need to be!
Jr Iron Chef VT is a statewide culinary competition that provides middle and high school students with the opportunity to have hands-on experience cooking nutritious, farm-fresh foods. Students source local ingredients and design, test, and practice recipes in preparation for the 90-minute cooking competition. Their dishes are critiqued by a panel of hand-selected judges, and prize packages are awarded.
“The energy at the competition is amazing and students are able to see other food ideas, how other groups work together, how they perform under pressure, and deal with unexpected consequences. They inspire me.” –Dawn Fuller-Ball, Coach, Whitcomb Middle/High School
Every producer knows that their team can make or break their business. In addition to being a critical element of any agricultural business, labor also typically comprises the greatest business expense. However many farmers are drawn to their work because they love the production process, not because they enjoy — or even have experience or skills — managing people. Yet management remains one of the key elements to building a successful business.
NOFA-VT, Vermont Technical College and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture are offering in-depth skill building workshops on labor management and human resources this fall and winter. Farmers and producers will have ample opportunity to consider their approaches to hiring, motivating, communicating and delegating. You wouldn’t run your equipment without regular and necessary maintenance, would you? Well, neither should you continue employing staff without reviewing your policies, leadership style and pay scale, to name a few topics.
Next week, from the Vermont Agency of Ag, is a full-day workshop called “Build a Strong Workforce on the Farm.” This workshop is being held in Burlington on November 10 and in White River Junction on November 12. Click here to view the Agency’s flier.
Starting in January, NOFA Vermont will be offering a series of three half-day trainings on Labor Management and Human Resources for Farmers. Each workshop will be held at two different locations to make them more available to all Vermont producers. We will also be holding two additional workshops at the Winter Conference.
Take the time to invest in your most valuable and expensive tool — your crew!
Her presentation is titled: Food System Transformation and Reversing the Climate Crisis: How Vermont’s GMO labeling law is part of the solution.
Dr. Shiva will also speak at the Vermont Law School on Monday Nov. 3 at 5:00PM in the Chase Center. This event is sponsored by the VLS Center for Agriculture and Food Systems.
Both events are open to the public, and donations will be welcomed to support the ongoing work of the Vermont Right to Know GMOs Coalition to implement and defend Vermont’s GMO food labeling law. Dr. Shiva’s visit to Vermont is being facilitated and co-sponsored by the Vermont Right to Know GMOs Coalition which is a partnership of Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, NOFA-VT, Rural Vermont and VPIRG.
Summer is here and the produce is rolling in! Here at the NOFA office in Richmond, we have a raised bed vegetable garden in the backyard. The garden is used primarily as a learning space for several groups of local kids, who come by to help plant seeds, do garden-based activities, and, of course, taste-test whatever is ready to eat.
When the kids don’t eat all of the produce (which is rare so far) we take whatever we have left to the Richmond Food Shelf, which is right across the street. Thanks in large part to donations from Red Wagon Plants and Green Mountain Compost, our plants are thriving. It’s always fun to see kids devouring cucumbers, greens, herbs, and more!
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]