This event may be of interest to you (well, it was to me!) Therefore, here I am, passing along information about a worthy event….

“Celebration of Sustainability”

Over 900 people from central New England are expected to attend the Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts Chapter, Inc. (NOFA/Mass) 24th Annual Winter Conference on Saturday, January 15, 2011, at the Worcester Technical High School on Skyline Drive.  The conference has doubled in size over the past five years, indicative of a growing interest in regional food systems. Everyone from beginning to advanced farmers, gardeners and anyone interested in sustainability can participate in seminars or workshops, a lively exhibit area, a delicious potluck lunch, and a children’s program.

Michael Phillips,of Heartsong Farm and Lost Nation Orchard, in Groveton, New Hampshire, will keynote the conference. Michael Phillips and his wife, Nancy, grow 65-80 varieties of organic apples in their orchard and direct-market their products to local consumers who can purchase apples on the farm or through an apple-share buying program. Nancy is a well-known herbalist and educator who manages the family farm’s production of medicinal herbs.  Michael will lead an all-day seminar on Organic Orcharding.  Nancy will lead an all-day seminar on Herbs for Family Health.  Participants can register for either of the all-day seminars or choose to attend any of 60 workshops.

For beginning gardeners there are workshops on soil fertility, gardening in small spaces, and seed saving.  Livestock workshops include raising cows, poultry, dairy goats and bees.  For more advanced farmers there are workshops covering weed management, cardboard mulch, draft animals and income taxes. For those interested in raising and preparing their own food there are workshops on food preservation, making condiments at home and making naturally fermented non-alcoholic drinks.

Somerville resident and Slow Money board member Eric Becker attended the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference in 2009.  After attending a workshop on beekeeping by Jean-Claude Bourrut of Natick Community Organic Farm, Eric fell in love with bees and installed a beehive on his front porch.  “Raising bees has been such a rewarding activity for me and my kids.  My kids have learned how to handle them and care for our hive. The NOFA conference was a turning point for my family. It’s definitely possible to live an urban lifestyle and raise your own food.”

Conference registration is $65 per person with discounts available for NOFA members, certified farmers, students, teens and children; seminar registration is $120.  Early-bird registration discounts available before January 1st. Beginning Farmer Scholarships are available for anyone who has been farming for less than 10 years. Complete conference information is available at http://www.nofamass.org <http://www.nofamass.org/> .

The conference is sponsored by Whole Foods Markets, Stonyfield, Farm Family, Greenleaf Foundation, Clements Law Office, Boston Organics, Green Fields Market, Suzanne’s Specialties, Nature’s Best Organic Feeds, Groton Wellness, Harris Seeds, Vermont Compost, Groundscapes Express, Fertrell, Bejo Organic, Lancaster Agricultural Products and Neighboring Food Coop.

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