"Feeding the Soil, Feeding the Soul" is the theme of the Northeast Organic Farming Association's 26th Annual Summer Conference and Celebration of Rural Life. Organic farmer and local commentator Bill Duesing will be there. This year's NOFA conference will be held at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts on August 11th, 12th and 13th.
About 1,000 farmers, gardeners, consumers and educators, many with their children or grandchildren, gather each year to share information and to celebrate the joyful connections to land, community, nature, and health that are woven together by the food they produce and eat. Farmer and author Eliot Coleman, who with his wife, Barbara Damrosch, raises and markets vegetables throughout the Maine winter, will deliver the keynote speech. Together, they will also lead a workshop on their off-season harvest system.
The conference features more than 200 other workshops on topics ranging from from food safety, politics and policy, to herbs and organic landscaping - and solar energy. There are also farm tours and workshops designed especially for children and teenagers.
Nearly 30 years ago, a group of men and women from northern New England came together to create NOFA, an organization designed to educate organic farmers and gardeners and to encourage the development of a local, regional, organic food system. Many were "back-to-the-landers," who grew up and went to school in the 1950s and 60s in an era that was mostly disconnected from food and nature. Conventional agriculture's use of synthetic fertilizers and toxic were central elements of this disconnection.
Because most of the government agricultural programs at that time either dismissed or derided organic agriculture, these pioneers banded together to learn from each other. Over the decades, as mainstream agriculture and the public gained increasing respect for organic food and farming practices, this nascent organization grew to become a regional association with chapters in New Jersey, New York and all the New England states except Maine.
NOFA and its state and regional counterparts throughout the US are just about the only line of defense against a complete corporate takeover of this country's agricultural system. With their emphasis on practical, first-hand knowledge, free exchange of information, respect for ecosystems and dedication to community, education and health, these organizations and their members counter the corporate monoliths and genetically-engineered monocultures which dominate our current food system.
Join the celebration! There's still time to register for the NOFA Summer. Conference. See you there!
This is Bill Duesing, Living on the Earth
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