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Grassroots organic farmers to gather at Hampshire for workshops on soil, social justice, and swine

The annual summer conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) will convene at Hampshire Aug. 9–11. 

The three-day event celebrates grassroots organic farming and offers opportunities for learning, community building, and fun, with workshops, open meetings, exhibits, and activities for children and teens.

The conference will center on four specific themes: the use of glyphosate and pesticides in conventional farming, seed saving, food justice, and soil health.

Sandor Katz, who helped catalyze a broad revival of food fermentation (kombucha, anyone?) will be the keynote speaker.  He's been dubbed “one of the unlikely rock stars of the American food scene” by the New York Times.

A nonprofit organization of more than 5,000 farmers, gardeners, landscape professionals, and consumers, NOFA advocates for and educates about healthy food, organic growing practices, agricultural justice, and a cleaner environment. The group’s summer conference was held at Hampshire from the mid-1980s to 2007 and returned to campus in 2017.

The mission of NOFA, which has regional chapters in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, aligns with Hampshire’s commitment to food sustainability and the College’s leadership in campus farming. Hampshire’s program has inspired similar ones at liberal arts colleges across the country.

The Hampshire College Farm supports teaching and research opportunities for faculty and students, is a model for land stewardship and ecological agricultural practices, and provides a living lab for Hampshire’s unique model of experiential education. The 100-acre farm grows hay and vegetables and also serves as a pasture for pigs and grass-fed cows. Among other farm animals are free-range, egg-laying hens and two retired rams, known affectionately as the “grumpy old men.”

In 1992, Hampshire students founded a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that has grown to offer more than 100 shares a year to students, faculty, and other members.

“NOFA values Hampshire’s place in the world,” says Nancy Hanson, director of Farm Programs. “There are kids who came to NOFA with their parents and then became Hampshire students.”

Hampshire alum April Nugent — now assistant manager of livestock at the Hampshire College Farm — will lead a workshop on the advantages of integrating heritage hogs into modern farming and the benefits of conserving rare breeds of livestock. Her expertise originates with her Div III project, which brought pastured pork to the farm.

For more information and conference registration, please visit the NOFA website.

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