Category Archives: farm

NOFA Winter Conference 2013

The Northeast Organic Farmers Association (Massachusetts) met January 12th for the annual meeting and workshops. This was our second year attending and it was really great. We went to two workshops, one on planning a garden for small spaces and one on herbalism.  There were booths set up of different sponsors and vendors and a truly amazing organic lunch for everyone.

I am not a farmer, but this day gave me access to ideas and vendors that farmers have access to. It gave me a glimpse into the fight to keep GMO seeds and food out of our gardens and homes. It showed me that extraordinary people like Karen Washington , the keynote speaker for the conference, can make a difference – one day at a time, one action at a time, one person at a time.

It gives me hope that each small action I take will stand together and make a difference. Most people don’t start off extraordinary…ordinary people do small things (and sometimes big things) and end up changing the world around them.

One of the most important things for me, was the workshop on herbalism.  We learned that so many plants that we consider weeds and a nuisance around us, are plants that have healing properties and can help us to have a better balance of nutrition and health. It seems to me that we have all but lost our connection to the earth, and to nature. We eat chemicals and plastic tasting, food colored, sugar and starch with no nutritional value at all. Emotionally we think we’re full, but physically we are killing ourselves with our choices. We are drowsy, malnourished and dying quicker than we should.

What I hold in my mind is the sun on my face, and the golden hairs on a tomato plant glistening in the sun. The smell as the tomato is picked and the taste of the freshness of summer. This reminds me of the garden of our childhood, as large as the lot I live on now, that I sometimes resentfully weeded or tended, but I never complained about the amazing vegetables and fruit we ate from that garden. I knew the food was good, but I didn’t appreciate the work.

Now I understand better that the work, the journey of life is the best part. If I plant seeds and tend them, and they grow, but never produce anything…I am still changed. If the food grows, it is a lovely reward, but it is not the goal. The goal is the work, the doing of it all.

There are good and bad years farming and we have had some things grow, and some things die, but what matters most is that we are trying. More than ever, this effort is needed, and I believe it will yield something greater than we understand. Not just vegetables or fruit, but a return to the land, and a return to a connection to the world around us. A connection to each other and the building of community.

NOFA is a tool and a place of education and fellowship with people who share the vision of being connected to the land, and to other people. I’m grateful we were able to attend and participate in our little way on the path of change.