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CT NOFA's annual Getting Started in Organic Farming Conference helps aspiring organic farmers develop successful farming careers. This event teaches the basics of developing and running an organic operation to both brand new farmers and farmers who are established but want to switch to organic. Attendees have access to valuable support and resources as well as a unique opportunity to interact with knowledgeable experts and established farmers.

Goodwin College Directions

The actual address is 211 Riverside Drive, East Hartford, CT, but the One Riverside Drive instructions will get you close by. Just continue up the road and look for the CT NOFA signs.

CT NOFA members - $40
Student pricing - $40 (will be asked to present student ID upon check in)
Future Members - $50

8:00 am-8:15- Welcome and Introduction-Debra Sloane of Sloane Farm
8:15-9:15-Keynote Address: Why Get Certified Organic - Patrick Horan of Waldingfield Farm
9:15-10:00-Legal Nuts and Bolts for Beginning Farmers - Marjorie Glover of Happy Family Farm
10:00-10:45- Cash Flow Budgeting: Meet Your Crops' Better Half - Erin Pirro
10:45-11:00- Break
11:00-11:45- Gaining Access to Quality Farmland - Kip Kolesinskas of The American Farmland Trust, Kathy Ruhf of Land for Good,
11:45-12:45- Lunch and Panel Discussion on Different Farm Models
12:45-1:45-An Organic Primer on Building Soils - Eero Ruuttila
1:45-2:45-Season Extension - Mark Rutkowski of Urban Oaks Farm
2:45-3:30- What Next: Resources Available for Beginning Farmers - Debra Sloane


patrick horanPatrick Horan, of Waldingfield Farm in Washington CT, will be presenting on the value of getting certified organic and also how value added products will give your farm an advantage and increase profits. Patrick has been working at the farm full time since 2006.  Prior to that (he was a part-time farmer from 1996-2006) he worked in finance at R.G. Niederhoffer Capital Management, a New York City hedge fund, while also pursuing acting  He is a graduate of Union College (B.A. English) and The Stella Adler Conservatory (MFA program). He is responsible for marketing, sales, and operations, as well as day to day farming duties.  He divides his time between Brooklyn, NY, and Washington, CT.


debra sloaneDebra Sloane ~ Debra owns and operates Sloane Farm, a 4-acre farm in Washington.  As a solo farmer, she spent this past year understanding her limitations as well as her properties’ limitations.  It was a year well-spent:   For 2014, Debra has already established an over-sold CSA with her CrossFit gym and plans to sell cultivated mushrooms to a small number of farmers markets and local chefs. Debra Sloane will be presenting on the Resources Available to Beginning Farmers. She will discuss the various organizations and institutions that provide educational programs as well as support for new and beginning farmers in Connecticut.


eero ruutillaEero Ruuttila ~ A wise farmer knows that the main component of a successful crop is healthy soil.  Eero, a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist for UCONN Cooperative Extension, will be presenting on basic Soil Fertility covering topics such as soil tests, nutrient management & utilizing green manure cover crops for building soil productiveness.

Eero Ruuttila is currently a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist and farmer to farmer liaison for a UCONN Cooperative Extension sponsored Scaling Up program for Connecticut Beginning Farmers. Eero is also the Incubator Farm Coordinator for the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (Lowell, MA), providing technical assistance at 2 farm sites in Dracut, MA and 1 in Newburyport, MA. For 22 years Eero was director and field manager of Nesenkeag Farm, a 65 acre certified organic nonprofit farm in Litchfield, NH. For 2 years Eero was the Farm manager of Seeds of Change Research Farm in El Guique, New Mexico.



Mark T. Rutkowski
is currently a staff farmer and greens manager at Urban Oaks Organic Farm in New Britain, CT and farm consultant for the New Britain public school system. Mark's season extention experience includes growing in heated greenhouses, high tunnels and under row covers. Previously Mark was an incubator farmer at the Community Farm of Simsbury and an assistant at Grow Hartford. Mark is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University.



erin pirro

Erin Pirro
has been helping farmers large and small make their businesses run better since 2001.  As a Farm Business Consultant for Farm Credit East with a background in agricultural economics, Erin's focus has been on benchmarking and profitability improvement because sustainability means economics, too!  At home, Erin's small family farm raises and markets sheep and wool products in southern New England.




Gaining Access to Quality Farmland  ~ Participants will gain an overview of the common methods and sources for gaining access to affordable farmland, such as listing services. Opportunities on Municipal and Land Trust properties, and evaluating a parcel's agricultural potential will also be explored. Basic elements of a good lease, kinds of leases, and its role in risk management will be discussed.


Kip Kolesinskas is a Consulting Conservation Scientist for American Farmland Trust, UConn Cooperative Extension's "Scaling Up Program" for beginning farmers, and the CT Dept of Agriculture. Formerly USDA- NRCS State Soil Scientist for CT /RI, Kip has been a major contributor in efforts to increase farmer access to land, develop farm friendly municipalities, and promote locally grown food.


Kathy Ruhf is the Executive Director of Land For Good, a New  England-wide nonprofit that specializes in farmland access, tenure and transfer.  Kathy has taught, consulted and written about beginning farmer, land access  and farm succession issues for 25 years. Prior to joining LFG in 2004, she co-directed the New England Small Farm Institute for 17 years.



Marjorie Glover and her husband, Charlie, and four children own and operate Happy Family Farm in Fairfield, CT.  Happy Family Farm is a new small certified organic farm that grows fresh heirloom vegetables and herbs and offers eggs from pasture-raised heritage hens.  Happy Family Farm also offers educational programs and opportunities for children with autism and other special needs and supports local efforts to alleviate hunger through Operation Hope and Connecticut Food Bank.   Marjorie is a member and director of CT NOFA.  In her off-farm job, Marjorie is an attorney who specializes in the area of employment law, and related laws such as employee benefits, employment tax and health care laws.  

Direct questions about the conference to Stephanie Berluti, conference coordinator: stephanie@ctnofa.org; 203-308-2584.




126 Derby Avenue, Derby, CT 06418

phone: (203) 308-2584