NOFA-NJ winter conference on Jan. 24-25

AFP Correspondent

LINCROFT (Jan. 15, 2015) — The Northeast Organic Farming Association-New Jersey will present its annual break from the winter doldrums on Saturday, Jan. 24, and Sunday, Jan. 25 at Brookdale Community College’s Warner Student Life Center.
The annual Winter Conference actually starts with pre-conference workshops on Friday, Jan. 23.
The workshop geared toward farmers is presented by Dan Kittredge, executive director of the Bionutrient Food Association and Real Food Campaign and an organic farmer his entire life.
His daylong presentation will cover nutrient density through organic growing for human and livestock health.
Saturday and Sunday are broken into sessions and anchored with a keynote on Saturday and a debate on Sunday.
Saturday’s keynote speaker, at 10 a.m., is Mark Smallwood, executive director of the Rodale Institute. He will speak on a recently released white paper, “Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change.” The topic is farming as a solution to carbon dioxide emission problems.
On Sunday, in place of a keynote will be an Oxford-style debate on GMO technology: “GMOs Have an Adverse Effect on Human Health and the Environment” featuring  Michael Hansen Senior Staff Scientist at Consumers Union , Sheldon Krimsky professor of Urban and Environmental Policy Planning in the School of Arts & Sciences and Adjunct Professor in Public Health and Family Medicine in the School of Medicine at Tufts University, Bradley Hillman Professor at Rutgers University, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and Senior Associate Director  at the NJ Agricultural Experimental Station and Xenia Morin, Associate Dean and Liaison for Sponsored Programs, Office of Grants Facilitation at Rutgers.
The sessions follow several tracks, not all geared toward farmers.
On Saturday, before the keynote, Taylor Stewart, a farmer from the Midwest with expertise on intensive grazing operations will speak on genetic selection, forage crops and management for grassfed beef production.
Al Johnson, an organic grower for 40 years, will speak on fertility inputs that can be grown or recycled for free.
Pat Hastings, extension pesticide safety education program coordinator for New Jersey, will speak on safety, licensing and pesticides in organic farming systems in New Jersey.
She will address organic producers who apply OMRI certified materials or over-the-counter products for pest control to help them adhere to worker protection rules, cautions on pesticide labels and federal and state regulations.
Jacqueline Ricotta, associate professor of horticulture at Delaware Valley College, will speak on basic preventative measures for pest and disease control on organic farms and then delve into more advanced techniques.
She will discuss identifications, scouting, biological controls and USDA-NOP and OMRI products. Ricotta will also speak about disease control: symptom identification, disease predictive models and home remedies.
NOFA-NJ presents “Brown Bag Sessions” from 12:15 to 1:15 each day. On Saturday, Eliabeth Schuster and Ellen Creveling, both of the Nature Conservancy, will talk about the use of an NRCS Conservation Innovation grant in research that determined native pollinators can provide economic benefits to farmers.
Also during the Brown Bag Session on Saturday, Linda Mead and Diana Raichel of the Delaware and Raritan Greenway Land Trust will discuss working with a land trust to preserve your farm.
The first afternoon session is from 1:30 to 3 p.m.  During that session, Michael VanClef, the stewardship director of the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, will talk about community level deer control, including depredation permits, selecting effective hunters, outreach and recruitment of private and public landowners and venison donation.
Also during that session, Brian Schilling, assistant extension specialist of agriculture policy within Rutgers Cooperative Extension will provide practical advice on preparing a farm for the safe accommodation of agritourism.
He will discuss common hazards and make recommendations for a program of farm safety.
Pat Hastings will present a session on minimizing exposure to pesticides.
The second Saturday afternoon session is from 3:15 to 4:45.
Wes Kline, Cumberland County Agriculture Agent, will present a session on food safety.
Lauren Handel, a partner in the law firm of Foscolo and Handel, will speak on two key legal issues. She will present an overview of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act including tips on how to take advantage of the protections PACA affords. She will also give advice on preparing for the FDA’s Produce Safety Regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act, including planning considerations that will minimize a farm’s compliance burdens.
Sunday’s sessions also start at 8 a.m.
Lauren Pola, a CSA manager, will present a session on producing healthy compost, and Abby Seaman will speak about OMRI Listed Insecticides and Fungicides.
The Sunday brown bag sessions include Colleen McGarrity, an ag program specialist with the USDA-FSA, who will speak on federal programs for organic beekeepers, and Allison Grantham of Penn State Extension will present options for evaluating soil health.
The first Sunday afternoon session will include Kelly Gill, pollinator conservation specialist for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, speaking on introducing beneficial insects.
Also in that session, Alex Cardona will discuss using mobile application technology in agri-business. Meredith Melendez of Rutgers Ag Resource Management in Mercer County, will present the results of a statewide soil sampling study of copper levels and an assessment of soil microbial health.
The final session of the conference is from 3:15 to 4:45 on Sunday.
Kate Manning of the Long Valley Green Market and the Foodshed Alliance Local Share Food Justice Program, will discuss building a local food sharing network.
Pete Tischler of Comeback Farm will present on working with a tree’s innate immune system. Beekeeper Julia Jurusz will present on organic beekeeping and Megan Paska will present on pastured rabbits.