This year I'm stepping down as Executive Director of CT NOFA.
As I begin my eighth decade, it is time to spend fewer hours in the office and in meetings and more time with my wife Suzanne, our children and six grandchildren and our dog Papi, especially working on our farm and camping by the Atlantic ocean.
Since I first learned of NOFA early in 1972 from a tiny notice in Organic Gardening Magazine, and attended a gathering of perhaps 50 people in a Vermont church basement, I've been excited by and involved in the idea and reality of the organization.
NOFA is a group of people who care deeply about food, and soil and Earth, about building community and sharing useful information and good food - people who are creating the food system we need, one that provides healthy food to everyone, a system that cares for the land and uses agriculture and food production for restoring biodiversity, beauty and community; for educating and informing us of our essential connection with our planet.
I've seen NOFA grow from a small group in that church basement to a vibrant organization with well over 5,000 members in seven state chapters. Nearly 60 NOFA staff members in those NOFA state chapters provide education for farmers, gardeners, land-care professionals, consumers and policy makers. NOFA is an important grassroots voice for the Northeast in regional, national and international organic and sustainable organizations.
I hope to keep working part time, educating and advocating for the food system we need; for holistic approaches to our many serious problems. I'll remain active on the NOFA Interstate Council as its President.
It has been exciting to watch the growth of this food system over the last 40 years, especially as it has ramped up in the last decade or two. The upward trend in organic farms, in smaller farms, in new farms, in community farms and gardens, in university farms, school gardens, farmers markets and local food restaurants, in farmland protection organizations and town Agricultural Commissions is so hopeful.
We know that eating a diet of real food derived mostly from green plants will help prevent and may even reverse serious chronic diseases. If we teach people how to grow, harvest, prepare and eat real food, the evidence says we should be able to build fewer medical facilities. Imagine if the resources that went into building and staffing just one "cancer center" went to supporting school gardens with cooking and health programs, or to community gardens and kitchens, or for secure land and infrastructure for new farmers who are producing food.
The medical centers clean up the messes made by our food system and lifestyle choices. Encouraging the foods and activities that create those messes is the business model of many successful yet destructive corporations.
Looking ahead for CT NOFA:
The CT NOFA Board has established a process to hire a new Executive Director by the 2013 Winter Conference on March 2. John Turenne, our board Vice President, is accepting resumes and suggestions at email@example.com.
At this time, CT NOFA has a very dedicated and involved board and an incredibly talented and dedicated staff.
Be sure to look at all the educational programs we are presenting in the next few months. Jenna Messier, who directs the Organic Land Care Program, has taken our Accreditation Course to Philadelphia in an exciting new partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. She has also created the exciting new Organic Lawn Care Certificate Program with other partners who share the goal of keeping water clean.
Teresa Mucci is creating a wonderful Winter Conference on March 2 in partnership with Wilton High School and others in that part of the state. The Conference features an exciting array of workshops, lots of exhibitors, a lunch prepared by great chefs and a very timely keynote by David Wolfe from Cornell about climate change, agriculture and the soil.
I hope you get the informative CT NOFA blog and organic land care blog that Kristiane Huber and Melissa Gabso write. Melissa has really improved our graphics. Soon she will start working on the 2013-2014 CT NOFA Guide to Farms and Food. This is an opportunity to get your farm listed or to advertise your business.
CT NOFA is where it is today because of its members, especially volunteers and board members, and its generous donors. Thank you all.
There is still so much more work to do if we are to have a just, sustainable and joyful future. The path becomes clearer when we start with food and what we can do about it.
I hope you have a wonderful and delicious New Year.