Tag Archives: nofa

Helping Farmers Grow Up to Be Successful

There has been a lot of great discussion going on in response to the recent New York Times editorial, Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers. Author and farmer Bren Smith laments the fact that, despite a great resurgence of interest in food and in farming as a career, making a profitable business out of farming is still a huge challenge.

At NOFA-VT, we firmly believe that sustainable farming must include the farm’s financial stability.

That’s why we put so much energy into building diverse markets and educating consumers, and why our technical assistance and farmer training programs include business planning, enterprise analysis, and marketing alongside soil management and weed control. We advocate on state and federal levels for legislation that supports small-scale, family, and organic farms. Along with our six sister NOFA chapters (plus MOFGA!), we’re able to conduct regional projects and be a strong voice for New England farmers on national issues.

Smith suggests, rightly, that farmers and those who care about their food need to organize to make the substantial changes in the food system that will be required for farmers to succeed. We’ve been working with Vermont farmers and in the regional food system for over 40 years, and we hope that you’ll join us as we continue to work towards the goals of successful local farms, healthy food, and strong communities.

Join us buttonAll farmers and their supporters are welcome as members. Help us improve the viability of Vermont’s farmers and the vitality of our rural communities – become a member today!

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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!

Job Openings and Internships at NOFA!

We’re currently looking for two people to join the NOFA team – one as a Farm to Community Mentor for Orleans and Caledonia counties, and one to be our Mobile Oven Baker for the summer and fall event season. We also have a few intern positions still open. Read on for  full job descriptions and application information! (And check out more community job opportunities on our classifieds page!)

Farm to Community Mentor:
Orleans and Caledonia Counties

Families explore local farmers' tractors at Tractor Day.
Farm to Community Mentors help organize community activities, like this Tractor Day in Highgate.

NOFA-VT is seeking a Farm to Community Mentor for Orleans and Caledonia Counties to work in communities to help farmers, students and community groups build meaningful, long-term relationships within VT agriculture. A mentor represents NOFA-VT and serves as a regional contact for farmers who want to make school and community connections. The mentor position will average approximately 15-20 hours/month. Experience in education and farming/gardening preferred and the mentor must live in either Orleans or Caledonia County.

Please email or mail, a resume and separate letter outlining your interest and skills for this position, by April 15, 2014 to Abbie Nelson: abbie@nofavt.org

Mobile Oven Baker

Pizza ready to go into the wood-fired oven
The pizza oven is a fun and far-ranging outreach tool for NOFA. Photo by Elizabeth Ferry at Cedar Circle Farm.Mobile Oven Baker

We are seeking an experienced baker with great organizational and interpersonal skills to run our mobile wood-fired oven at up to 50 events this summer and fall, including farmers’ markets, farm field days, private events, and festivals. Requires a flexible schedule. Please contact Enid Wonnacott at enid@nofavt.org if you are interested and/or need additional information.

Internships

We still have two summer intern positions available. Each intern has a particular project area, and all interns also help at oven events and participate in a CSA research project. These positions are filling quickly, so we recommend submitting an application soon if you are interested!

The internship project areas are:

1. Organic Certification Marketing

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 branch 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.

2. Organic Certification Mapping

This internship will assist Vermont Organic Farmers (the certification branch 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, instead 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.

“Organic Matters” film debut at the Conference!

We are exited to debut our new short film, Organic Matters, as part of the NOFA Vermont Winter Conference FarmsTED talks this morning! If you didn’t join us to watch it on the big screen in the Davis Center (or if you just want to watch it again!), take a look:

This 9-minute video features certified organic farmers across Vermont talking about why they believe in certified organic, how it defines their approach to their land and to food production, and why organic is important to the overall food movement.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of certified organic, locally grown!

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.