About the Conference
CT NOFA is proud to present our 41st Winter Conference, to be held the second week of March, kicking off on Monday, March 6th, 2023 with a week of live virtual workshops and concluding on March 11th with an in-person gathering and celebration at Wesleyan University.
We'll be offering a variety of live virtual workshops on farming, seed saving, organic land care, community food security, social justice issues, and more, including a keynote address by farmer and author Leah Penniman.
Join us in March as we learn, grow, innovate, and think critically about what we want our food system to look like in the future. Registration is open on a sliding scale ⏤ this model allows us to practice economic solidarity, providing mutual support for the cost of our programs. In this way, we make our education more accessible and help cover costs of operation. Choose the pricing tier that fits with your income and access to wealth, and help us create a more just, inclusive, and equitable conference.
Many thanks to Soul Fire Farm, and Rock Steady Farm for their vision and leadership in advocating for equitable pricing models. Scholarships are still available thanks to our generous donors and sponsors. If you would like to request a registration fee waiver, please click here.
Conference registration includes invitations to all live virtual workshop sessions and our in-person celebratory gathering on March 11th, as well as exclusive access to all workshop recordings for 3 months after the event.
march 11 ⏤ In-person at Wesleyan university
Join us on Saturday, March 11 for a full day of workshops, food, conversation, and celebration. We'll be opening the doors at 9:00am (arriving early gives you plenty of time to visit vendors and catch up with NOFA members from across the state!) before kicking off our first workshop session. View the full schedule below.
bill duesing "organic living on the earth" award presenation
CT NOFA is proud to announce Michael Nadeau as the winner of the 5th annual Bill Duesing Organic Living on the Earth Award, Join us for the presentation of the award during the Keynote Address on March 11.
Michael Nadeau is one of the leading authorities in the field of sustainable organic and ethical land care strategies in the United States. He is sought after for creating attractive sustainable and restorative environments using organic practices that respect the ecology of the property and reflect the philosophy of the client. Michael’s organic and sustainable holistic land care approach carefully maximizes wildlife habitat with specific plantings and techniques, improving the overall health of land, water, and wildlife.
He is a co-founder of CT NOFA’s Organic Land Care program, which has educated and accredited nearly 4,000 land care professionals since its inception in 2001. In 1999, Michael helped write the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care to address a national problem: while the term “organic” is clearly defined in terms of food and agriculture, land care and landscaping — an industry with wide-reaching impact on the health of our environment — had no such national definition for the term. The goal was to define what “organic” would mean in the context of professional land care, and to formalize the practice of organic land care so that the public could reliably choose practitioners who meet organic standards. Ultimately, these standards were the basis upon which the coursework for the CT NOFA Organic Land Care Program was developed. He also co-authored the NOFA Organic Lawn and Turf Course Manual, the only 100% organic handbook for the care of athletic fields and home lawns.
keynote address ⏤ leah penniman
CT NOFA is excited to announce that we’ll be joined by Leah Penniman, author of Farming While Black and co-founder of Soul Fire Farm.
Her keynote speech will draw upon themes from her newest book, Black Earth Wisdom.
I love to think of nature as unlimited broadcasting stations, through which God speaks to us every day, every hour.” ~Dr. George Washington Carver, Tuskegee University, 1887
The Queen Mothers of Kroboland, Ghana admonished their Black American students in disbelief, “Is it true that in the United States, a farmer will put the seed into the ground and not pour any libations, offer any prayers, sing, or dance, and expect that seed to grow?” Met with ashamed silence, they continued, “That is why you are all sick! Because you see the earth as a thing and not a being.”
Ecological humility is part of the cultural heritage of Black people. While our 400+ years immersion in racial capitalism has attempted to squash that connection to the sacred earth, there are those who persist in believing that the land and waters are family members, and who act accordingly. In Black Earth Wisdom, Leah Penniman weaves together the lessons from today’s most respected Black environmentalists, those who have cultivated the skill of listening to the lessons that Earth has whispered to them. Together, we embark on a sensory journey through Black ecological thought.
In this time, we are acutely aware of the fractures in our system of runaway consumption and corporate insatiability. We feel the hot winds of wildfire, the disruptions of pandemic, and the choked breath of the victims of state violence. We know there is no going back to “normal.” The path forward demands that we take our rightful places as the younger siblings in creation, deferring to the oceans, forests, and mountains as our teachers.
Those whose skin is the color of soil are reviving their ancestral and ancient practice of listening to the Earth to know which way to go. As Dr. Carver explained, “How do I talk to a little flower? Through it I talk to the Infinite. And what is the Infinite? It is that silent, small force… that still small voice.
Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol farmer, author, mother, and food justice activist who has been tending the soil and organizing for an anti-racist food system for 25 years. She currently serves as founding co-ED and Farm Director of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, a Black & Brown led project that works toward food and land justice. Her books are Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land (2018) and Black Earth Wisdom: Soulful Conversations with Black Environmentalists (2023). Find out more about Leah’s work at www.soulfirefarm.org and follow her @soulfirefarm on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Limited copies of Black Earth Wisdom will be available for purchase at the conference, and Leah Penniman will be conducting a book signing, following the keynote address.
In addition to a week's worth of virtual workshops during the week March 6-10, we've also got three sessions scheduled for our in-person day, March 11. Our workshops draw from the following discipline tracks, though attendees are welcome to "mix and match" from across them:
- Homesteading & Gardening
- Organic Land Care
- Soil Health
- Beginning Farmer
- Activism & Policy
Clinics & Activities
Come prepared! Remember to arrive equipped to make the most of the on-site clinics and vendors at this year's conference. Here's what you'll need:
Throughout the in-person Saturday session of CT NOFA’s Winter Conference, we will have 3 soil health experts ready to look at your soil or compost. Bring along a soil/compost sample that is currently active (growing plants/protected from frost). Together we will look at it under the microscope and give you feedback on the microbial life that exists, the bacterial/fungal ratio, and tips on how to improve your soil/compost to grow the healthiest food possible.
NOTE: When collecting a soil/compost sample, be sure to select from inside an active compost pile, or around the roots of living plants. Don’t seal the bag, since microbes need oxygen to survive.
Reboot Eco will be offering their home goods refill station throughout the conference, which will include refills of laundry detergent, dish and hand soap, cleaners, sanitizers, and more. Bring clean, dry containers for refill⏤ these can be glass jars, empty (and cleaned) detergent containers, empty (and cleaned) spray bottles, etc. Basically anything that you'd like to have filled with cleaning products! Questions? Visit Reboot Eco's website to contact Yasemin.
Following her keynote address, Leah Penniman will be signing copies of her books. Limited copies of Black Earth Wisdom will be available for purchase at the conference, but we highly recommend bringing your own copies with you! Links to order Farming While Black and preorder Black Earth Wisdom are below.
Mr. Fix This will be offering small appliance diagnosis and repair services throughout the conference.
We have become all too accustomed to the throw away lifestyle: when something doesn’t work, throw it out and buy a new one. Due to this behavior, our landfills are filling at an unprecedented rate. But, more often than not, our “stuff” can be repaired.
Repair Cafés are an opportunity for the sustainability-minded, eco-conscious community to bring their presumed broken, non-functioning, small household items such as appliances, vacuum cleaners, lamps, toys, bicycles, furniture, etc. for diagnosis, disassembly, and possible repair. Specialty tools and troubleshooting expertise are provided at the Café. Just bring your stuff!
One of our favorite parts of the annual conference is the opportunity to network and socialize with farmers and NOFA members from across Connecticut. This year, we're proud to partner with the New Connecticut Farmer Alliance to cap the conference with a social gathering from 5:45pm - 7:00pm, including food, drink, and NCTFA's famous Cabbage Moth story hour.
Cabbage Moth is NCTFA’s take on The Moth Radio Hour. Farmers are invited to take the stage and share a farm-related story. Tell us about the time you had to chase your chickens across town, your gnarliest farm injury, the moment you knew you wanted to be a farmer, or anything else you wish! Time limit is 8 minutes. The vibe is low-key and welcoming.
If you’d like to tell a story, please register by emailing NCTFA at firstname.lastname@example.org. Storytellers will receive free entrance to next year’s NOFA conference, as well as their choice of some sweet CT NOFA or NCTFA swag. There will be day-of signups as well!
This year's vendor fair will be active throughout the conference, so you can visit tables and speak with vendors before, between, and after workshop sessions. A few of our scheduled vendors are below. Peruse all our vendors here.
Conference News & announcements
CT NOFA is happy to present our 2023 Winter Conference Keynote Address by Leah Penniman, recorded on March 11, 2023. Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol farmer, author, mother,…
CT NOFA is proud to announce Michael Nadeau as the winner of the 5th annual Bill Duesing Organic Living on the Earth Award, to be presented during the 41st Winter…
CT NOFA is excited to announce that we’ll once again be joined by Leah Penniman, author of Farming While Black and co-founder of Soul Fire Farm. Her keynote speech will…
Kick off conference season with this free webinar! The seven chapters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association have been working to develop food security programs and learning opportunities throughout our…