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Expert forager and wild foods enthusiast Russ Cohen, workshop presenter for this year’s conference. Courtesy photo.




NOFA-NH Winter Conference

When: Saturday, Jan. 30, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Rundlett Middle School, 144 South St., Concord
Tickets: $52 to $75
Visit: nofanh.org/events/winter-conference
 
Foodie-focused workshops
Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening with Peter Burke will teach how to grow greens in less than two weeks inside your home.
School Gardens 101: How to Build, What to Plant, What to Grow with Ron Christie lays out the basics for those who want to start a school or youth garden, including finding funding, community collaboration and maintenance. 
Nibbling on Natives in Your Backyard and Beyond with Russ Cohen will show how to recognize edible native plants and the benefits of growing them. 
Juicing at Home with Kent Lawrence covers types of juicers, plus a display and demonstration.
Chasing Wild Mushrooms: Foraging and Preparing Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms with Greg Marley provides details about the best edible and medicinal wild mushrooms.
Growing Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger with Jim Ramanek talks about the benefits of and process for growing these two crops. 
Uncommon Fruits for Backyard and Small Farm with Lee Reich will share about juneberry, lingonberry and other uncommon fruits.




From farmers to foodies
NOFA-NH conference brings state’s agro community together

01/28/16
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



 Gardeners, growers and agriculture enthusiasts will get together in the midst of winter for a day dedicated to sustainable agriculture at the New Hampshire chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s annual winter conference on Saturday, Jan. 30.

“[It’s] a slow time for farms so a good time to get together when we have the time and also a good time to get excited about next year’s growing season and rejuvenate our excitement about farming,” NOFA-NH winter conference coordinator Monica Rico said in a phone interview. 
This year’s conference features a seed swap, a Green Market Fair and over 30 workshops ranging in topic from growing medicinal herbs in your backyard to the intersection of sexuality and sustainable agriculture.
“It’s to bring together folks who are generally like-minded in terms of caring about the soil and quality of the food they eat and collectively raising up our knowledge on individual topics,” said Amy Manzelli, volunteer board president for NOFA-NH. 
She’s been a member of NOFA-NH for many years and has seen the conference diversify in age demographic and cultural background, as well as the areas of expertise represented, such as farmers, academics, herbalists and permaculturists. The makeup of the conference is designed to appeal to beginners and experts in various fields, and even to those with no agricultural background who are simply interested “eaters.”
“We work really hard to hit all of the levels … and from both ends of the eating spectrum,” Manzelli said. “I’m not a farmer, but I care a lot about where my food comes from.”
“Many of our workshops are geared toward beginners and it’s a wealth of [information] and also a great opportunity to network with others in your area,” Rico added.
This year’s theme is Grow Well, Eat Well, which Manzelli said is a great way to introduce people who have little or no connection to growing in the state to realize how it’s all interconnected within the food system.
“We’re all eaters, but not everyone recognizes that the act of eating is related to you, to agriculture, in a very real way,” she said.
One of this year’s food-focused presenters is Vermont author Peter Burke, who will present a workshop about year-round indoor salad gardening.
“[It’s] about growing all the salad greens all winter long with a very simple method with no lights or special equipment,” he said in a phone interview. “From the time you plant your seeds to harvest is about 7 to 10 days, so you can grow a steady supply without it taking too much room.”
His hands-on workshop is kid-friendly and open to beginners and seasoned growers, and everyone who attends will get a tray of greens to try out at home. 
Burke said his workshop fits right in with the theme because indoor gardening solves a problem — growing and getting fresh greens in the winter.
“Freshness is probably one of the key ingredients to eating well,” he said. “The fact that you are going to grow greens, cut them and put them in your salad, these are the freshest greens you could ever imagine.”
Russ Cohen, expert forager and wild foods enthusiast, has spent four decades educating people about native species and will lead a workshop on edible native species folks can find in their own backyards.
“In a lot of cases these are species people already may have but not know they’re edible,” he said. “They also might learn about plants they don’t already have that they might want to add to the landscape once they know they’re edible.”
His Powerpoint presentation will cover everything from fiddleheads to elderberry and plants New Hampshirites can be on the lookout for.
“There has been a very strong push to encourage people to plant native species … for ecological reasons,” he said. “There’s [only] so many people that will respond to just an ecological argument, so my talk is about giving people another powerful incentive to plant native species. It’s the ‘you can eat it too’ factor.”
Registration for the conference starts at 7:30 a.m. and the day starts off with a breakfast catered by Concord’s Crust & Crumb Baking Co. The day’s first workshop starts at 8:45 a.m.  





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