NOFA-NJ offering hands-on workshops

AFP Correspondent

NEW BRUNSWICK (Jan. 1, 2017) — NOFA-NJ is shaking up the Winter Conference with some new hands-on and intensive courses set for Sunday, Jan. 29.
The innovators who created the Rutgers Scarlet tomato have turned to another red fruit and will present a workshop: Organic Strawberry Production and Breeding.
Another workshop will feature Adam Lemieux, product manager and new product developer of tools and supplies for Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
He will demonstrate newly developed tools in a production hoop house.
Lemieux works with growers like Eliot Coleman, Jack Algiere, Jean-Martin Fortier and other members of the Slow Tools Group to bring scale-appropriate tools to smaller commercial growers.
Fortier has a 10-acre microfarm in Quebec which grosses more than $100,000 per acre.
He is the author of “The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming,” which is scheduled to soon to be translated into Dutch, German and Polish.
Fortier will present on setting up a micro-farm by designing a biologically intensive cropping system.
The goal is to limit fossil-fuel inputs, to avoid using a tractor, to obtain the best hand tools and machinery and minimize tillage.
He will address growing a mixed-vegetable system and also weed and pest management.
He will also discuss maraichage, the French intensive tradition of gardening — growing vegetables, some fruits and some herbs and flowers for food and to make a profit.
This dates from gardens located around marshes years ago in France.
Another prominent organic expert, Grace Gershuny, will be part of a panel, “A Brief History of Organic.”
Gershuny is an author, teacher and organic consultant. She served on the staff of the USDA National Organic Program in the 1990s.
Today, she teaches at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt., in the online Masters in Sustainable Food Systems.
She also serve on the board of the Institute for Social Ecology and operates GAIA Services for independent organic inspections.
On the panel with Gershuny will be Al Johnson of NOFA-NJ, Mark Keating of USDA, NRCS and Joseph Heckman of Rutgers University.
They will discuss some of the early influences of the organic movement as well as the origin of NOFA.
Gershuny will also do a session on the benefits of organic farming toward reversing climate change.