Sunday, February 1, 2015

Northeast Organic Farming Association-NH Mid-Winter Meeting
Lambs Quarter
With temperatures in the single digits and wind chills well below zero, it was a perfect day to spend at the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire Winter Conference. This is my first year joining NOFA and I am so glad that I have as it is a wonderful resource whose members possess a wealth of knowledge. As with most concurrent session based conferences there are always more desirable options than time allows. The first presentation I attended was titled The Wild Wisdom of Weeds. The presenter was Katrina Blair, author of the book by the same name. She gave a get back to our roots approach on the benefits of consuming wild greens. She focused on 13 "weeds" that thrive across the globe, in particular where the land has been disturbed by human activities. As a testament to their resilience, these weeds typically have long tap roots which allow them to capture and store more nutrients then most cultivated greens. This makes them a powerhouse food source that is readily available to most people. Some of these greens, I have tried, such as dandelion and purslane, but I look forward this summer to foraging and preparing new recipes from her book. Blair is also the founder and team member of Turtle Lake Refuge in Durango, Colorado, a non-profit community based educational farm.The organization, along with other supporters, has been successful in getting the City to convert several public parks to non-chemical practices.

Katrina Blair talks about the unique characteristic of Thirteen energy-packed weeds

Discussions about GMOs are not getting any easier to understand and there were a couple sessions to help demystify this topic. I attended Understanding GMOs: The Science and the Evidence with co-presenters Dr. Daniela Connelly, family practitioner and Laura Wolfer, molecular biologist/ archeologist. After listening to their fact-based presentation, it is apparent that the safety of GMOs, with respect to public health, is not a closed book and that the conclusions concurrently drawn from the scientific research and what is published in the media may not be the same. Long-term non-biased studies still need to be conducted.

The final presentation I attended was on creating No-Dig/No-Till garden beds through a permaculture approach. The basic concept is simple - build up and not down and disturb the soil as little as possible. Amy Antonucci, a certified permaculture designer, provided tips from her own experience building new gardening beds within a former forested landscape. I will definitely be applying some sheet mulching techniques to certain garden beds this summer. 

An example of "sheet mulching" to create a new garden bed which can be done with or without a frame
The rest of the day was filled with delicious locally made organic food, entertainment and a "Green Market Fair.

The DoBros provide lunch-time entertainment

Many business and associations participated in the Green Market Fair that was open all day. Presenting authors were available to sign books which were offered for sale by Warner's MainStreet BookEnds. A portion of all sales were donated to NOFA-NH.

All in all, it was a very motivational day for the upcoming gardening season.

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