Workshops and Events

NOFA-NY’s 2024 Winter Conference will host 30+ educational workshops, special events, and networking opportunities in addition to the In Living Color BIPOC Affinity Space.

We are fortunate to be able to source the most knowledgeable farmers and educators around – many of our presenters are from one of the 1,100+ farms we certify – and before we bring our programming to you, we collaborate with a dedicated group of farmers, educators, policy partners, and other organizations who share our vision for a just and resilient farming system.

Jump to: NOFA-NY’s Farmer of the Year Keynote Address or Live Music

Workshop Descriptions:

Presented by: Steve Gabriel of Wellspring Forest Farm and author of Farming the Woods and Jeff Piestrak of FLX Agroforestry Solutions
Agroforestry is getting a lot of press and funding is starting to flow, but tree planting projects often lack attention to the complex and long-term efforts needed to succeed. As a result, farmers receive little ongoing support for tree establishment, and large-scale institutional tree planting efforts often fail. We (Farming with Trees Collective) believe that farmers and land stewards have key insights into the kinds of support they need, and that farmer-to-farmer networks grounded in horizontal organizing, popular education, and participatory action research are the best way to build and sustain a thriving agroforestry community.

In order to support this, we’ll be holding listening sessions with farmers to share their experiences, wisdom, and needs from policymakers and funders to succeed long term in agroforestry. The outcome of this conversation will be shared as a public report that aims to amplify the voices of the farming community so they can be better supported for future agroforestry efforts.

Presented by: Tianna Kennedy of Catskills Agrarian Alliance
Catskills Agrarian Alliance (CAA) takes a regional, collaborative approach to food sovereignty and this workshop provides a peek under the hood. CAA is a comprehensive food sovereignty project built from the ground up by farmers in Delaware, Otsego, and Schoharie Counties plus mutual aid volunteers from NYC. CAA programs include the 607 CSA, a 700+ member, multi-farm CSA featuring produce, meats, dairy, mushrooms, fruit, and value-added goods from more than 40 Catskills farms and producers; Star Route Farm, an agroecological diversified vegetable and small grain mutual aid farm; and West Branch Commons, an inaugural land access project securing land access for underrepresented and marginalized farmers. CAA also runs a robust farm-to-institution initiative which fed 42,000 Catskills’ students in 2023 and participates in community organizing with partner mutual aid groups.

Executive Director, Tianna Kennedy, will share how CAA came to be – how a scrappy farmer collaborative turned into a regional food sovereignty project and why. She will also discuss the logistics of collaborative farming and food systems, how the cooperative approach works, financially, and the pros and cons of joining the nonprofit world.

Presented by: Raymond Luhrman of Fox Creek Farms, Crystal Stewart-Courtens of Philia Farm, Maryellen Sheehan of Hartwood Farm, and Teddy Tomao of NOFA-NY
In a time of increasing climate uncertainty, growers will share proved strategies that are making their farms more resilient. This session will also introduce the PASA Climate Smart Farming Grant which will make funding available for growers to adopt resilient strategies and receive support in implementing them.

Presented by: Brian Caldwell of Hemlock Grove Farm and the National Organic Standards Board and Akiva Silver of Twisted Tree Farm and author of Trees of Power
Join us to learn the ins and outs of these climate-smart crops! During the workshop, we will discuss the infrastructure for processing and sales which is coming into being. We will also talk about the NY Tree Crops Alliance (NYTCA), a regional nut growers cooperative.

Presented by: Eric J. Fuchs-Stengel of National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
Community Farms are growing in popularity due to their ability to reconnect neighborhoods with the earth, local food, and their community. In this session, we will discuss strategies, resources, and tools you can use to create a community farm that fits the needs of your community. We will study successful existing operations and discuss how you can navigate the often complex upstart of a community farm with minimal initial input of resources.

Presented by: Donn Hewes and Julia Ramsey of Tripletree Horse Logging and Tianna Kennedy of Catskills Agrarian Alliance
Teamsters will discuss how they use draft horses on the farm, in the field, and in the forest in addition to how they have built community and collaboration through their work.

Presented by: Liz Bawden of Bawden Farms, and Ed Maltby of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA)
Producers are working within a new model in marketing their organic milk. Milk brands no longer need a milkshed near their main markets because they can buy Extended Shelf Life (ESL) packaged products from any part of the country. This workshop will examine how northeast organic dairy producers can market their difference and encourage the development of new infrastructure.

Presented by: Abby Youngblood of the National Organic Coalition, Antonio Tovar of the National Family Farm Coalition, Iyeshima Harris-Ouedraogo of Equity Advocates, and Rebekah Williams of Food for the Spirit
During this panel-style workshop, learn about three 2023 Farm Bill campaigns that seek to improve access to federal funding, programming, and resources for farmers of color, family farms, and organic farms. Panelists will share how their campaigns were formed and how you can engage in advocacy, urging your Members of Congress to include policies that support small, diversified, organic, and BIPOC farms!

Presented by: Corinne Hansch of Lovin’ Mama Farm
Corinne will discuss the economics of running a start-up farm while raising a family and her realization that – in order to have work-life balance – her farm needed to find profitability. Learn how she worked through barriers to achieve financial success and leave with knowledge on how to do the same.

Presented by: Ruth Blackwell of Mud Creek Farm and Elizabeth Henderson, retired organic farmer and co-chair of the NOFA Interstate Council Policy Committee
Attention Farmers! Please come and share your stories, frustrations, experiences, and discoveries about finding and retaining the workers you need on your farm. Are you able to find all the workers you need? Do your farm revenues allow you to pay as much as you would like? Is there anything NOFA can do to help? Farmer Ruth Blackwell will lead and Liz Henderson will moderate.

Presented by: Kevin Clark of Rose Hill Farm, Chad Kirby, and Anya Osatuke of Cornell Cooperative Extension
Are you looking to grow better organic strawberries? Come learn from experienced farmers and Cornell Berry Specialist Anya Osatuke about recommended varieties, cultural practices, and disease management strategies to grow the best berries yet.

Presented by: Tara Hahn of Hahn’s Honeybee Haven and Kristi Winquist of Local Roots Farm
Join Tara, NY State Delegate of the American Beekeeping Federation, to learn about her experience rescuing, caring for, and relocating healthy honeybee hives across Western New York through the NY Bee Project. Then hear from Kristi Winquist of Local Roots Farm who has added these bees and has seen first-hand what these important pollinators can do to improve production. And, if you are interested in keeping bees, this workshop will cover the ins and outs of caring for your hive including expenses, equipment, feed, disease prevention, organic mite treatments, overwintering and more!

Presented by: Alexx Caceres, Jesse Miller, and Tiana Rainford of East New York Farms!
East New York Farms! has been producing healthy produce and cultivating youth leaders since 1999. In this presentation, we will dive into how we plant the seeds of food justice and sustainable agriculture into our youths’ lives. Youth participate in our nine month internship program where they learn about the environment, health and nutrition, advocacy, leadership and community development. We will break down the history of our youth programming and outline our current practices for effectively creating space for youth involvement in agriculture.

Presented by: Avrielle Miller of NY Renews and Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountainkeeper
In 2019, New York State became the nation’s climate leader with the enactment of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). This landmark law requires an economy-wide zero greenhouse gas emissions mandate by the year 2050, encompassing electricity, transportation, buildings, industry, and agriculture. And in 2022, a NYS Climate Plan was finalized including strategies for each sector, including agriculture. Our farming and food system plays a key role in mitigating and combatting the climate crisis but what’s actually in NY’s Climate Plan, and what’s not? Join NY Renews Coalition Policy Director, Avrielle, and Catskill Mountainkeeper Associate Director, Wes, for a discussion about the challenges and opportunities ahead of us as NY’s Climate Plan gets underway.

Presented by: Liz Bawden of Bawden Farms, Erin Bullock of Wild Hill Farm, and farmworker Allie Push
Finding and keeping the right people to do the work on a farm is a challenge. Nationally, over half of the available farmworkers lack legal documents. Though expensive and complex, the H2A guestworker program has been growing. How can farmers attract an adequate domestic labor supply? In this workshop, you will hear from farmers who are committed to hiring local workers and from a farmworker who enjoys the work and would like to make it her career. Come with your ideas for creating a domestic farm labor force.

Presented by: Allyson Levy and Scott Serrano of Hortus Arboretum & Botanical Gardens and Co-Authors of Cold-Hardy Fruits and Nuts
An introduction to some of the great fruiting plants from around the world. With an emphasis on ancient plants that are underutilized like Medlar and Baltic Quince, as well as trees that are less known like Che. 

Presented by: Jessica Gilbert-Overland of Good Food Buffalo Coalition, and Ribka Getachew and Taylor Pate of NY Good Food Purchasing Program and Community Food Advocates
Join a panel of policy experts to learn about efforts in Buffalo, NYC, and statewide to enable and encourage public institutions to adopt values-based food procurement practices. Modeled after national Good Food Purchasing Program standards, cities, municipalities, and public institutions across the country are working to shift procurement practices in order to prioritize food that is produced and sourced in ways that align with Good Food Purchasing Program values. This includes supporting a valued workforce, animal welfare, environmental sustainability, nutrition, local economies, equity and transparency. Learn more about efforts that are underway in NY and how you can get involved in advancing values-based food procurement across the state and in your local municipalities!

Presented by: Sharlyn Handcock of NRCS, Teddy Tomao of NOFA-NY, and Caitlin Tucker of American Farmland Trust
Caitlin will explain what the Organic Transition Initiative (OTI) is, how the pieces (TOPP, NRCS/EQUIP, and AMS Marketing) fit together, and what management standards farms need to implement to access funding through the OTI. Teddy will then review TOPP and NOFA-NY’s work with transitioning producers. Sharlyn will round out our discussion by talking about policies, eligibility, and specifications required for NRCS funding, in addition to the application process.

Presented by: Graham Savio and Jenna DeRario of Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County; Matt Sheffer of Hudson Carbon; Lorena Mendoza, and Carlos Aguilera of West Haven Farm; and Pete and Christa Núñez of the Learning Farm
Farmers and foresters can provide environmental benefits for ecosystems and surrounding communities like water quality, flood mitigation, carbon sequestration, increased biodiversity, and pollinator habitat. Developing a program to fairly compensate farms and foresters for these services is named as a strategy in the state’s Climate Scoping Plan, a roadmap for meeting our ambitious climate goals. In this session, you’ll hear about the goals and lessons learned from two payment for ecosystem services pilot projects and how these projects might inform future state-wide efforts.

Presented by: Heron Breen of FOOL Seed and Research, Jean-Paul Courtens of Philia Farm, and Tina Square of Intertribal Agriculture Council
Join us for an update on year one of a SARE-funded project to increase commercial vegetable grower and tribal seed keeper capacity to steward regionally adapted seed. We’ll share what growers and seed keepers have accomplished so far and opportunities to participate in the project in the coming year.

Presented by: Allyson Levy and Scott Serrano of Hortus Arboretum & Botanical Gardens and Co-Authors of Cold-Hardy Fruits and Nuts
Join us for an overview of some of the best edible native fruits, with an emphasis on fruiting plants that are cold-hardy, pest resistant, and consistently productive, such as Pawpaw, Aronia, and American Persimmons.

Presented by: Katie Baildon, Policy Manager at NOFA-NY
Join us for the first in-person gathering of the soil health policy committee! We’ll get together to discuss NYS soil health and climate policies and the opportunities we have to inform strong, fair, and ecologically sound NYS ag policy and programming. Whether or not you’re already part of NOFA-NY’s soil health policy committee, you’re invited to join this discussion group.

Presented by: Stephanie Sparrell-Martin and Heather Swan of NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC
The Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) Final Rule is meant to close gaps in organic regulations and add consistency in practices in order to prevent fraud and increase transparency and traceability of organic products. All certified organic operations must be in compliance by March 19, 2024. What does this mean for your farm? This workshop will outline how the SOE rule can apply to different operations and how to maintain compliance.

Presented by: Cheyenne Sundance of Sundance Harvest
Sundance Harvest (@sundanceharvest) is a peri-urban greens and squash farm in Ontario. Cheyenne Sundance co-founded Sundance Commons, a non-profit where new and young farmers become Farmer Members of the Commons and have access to land, infrastructure, resources, marketing, and a network of other farmers at no cost. Sundance Commons Farmer Members work in conjunction with Sundance Market and sell wholesale. These beginning farmers raise a large variety of products including vegetables, garlic, herbs, cut flowers, honeybees, and livestock.

This workshop will shine a light on how Sundance Commons started, and break down the Who, What, Where, Why, and How in a way that provides a clear roadmap for other grassroots organizers to follow or gain tips to start their own similar land-based projects to help grow a new generation of farmers.

Presented by: Susan Decker of Blue Star Farm, Amara Dunn and Elizabeth Lamb of the New York State IPM Program and Aaron Munzer of Plowbreak Farm
Are you using biological control (especially insect natural enemies that eat pests) to manage insect pests in your greenhouses or high tunnels? Have you tried biocontrol, but aren’t sure if it’s working? Have you considered using this pest management strategy? This session is for you! Growers who have tried biocontrol releases on their own farms will start the conversation by sharing their experiences, and we’ll invite questions and stories from other session participants. Specialists from the NYS Integrated Pest Management Program will also facilitate interactive training on how to successfully integrate biocontrol into your organic greenhouse and high tunnel production.

Presented by: Spencer Fennimen of Hawthorne Valley Farm, Diane Frances of La Basse Cour, and Renee Seacor of Project Coyote
Where does your farm end and Nature begin? Organic principles suggest there is no boundary, but what about in practice? Climate change and biodiversity loss urge us to think beyond our production areas and goals toward the larger living systems of which we are a part, on which we depend. In this workshop we’ll start by talking about the NOS Standard on Natural Resource Conservation and Biodiversity, taking it beyond soil health and water quality toward habitat and wildlife. More than compliance, it is about the whys and hows of creating mutual benefits and the interconnection between wildlife, biodiversity, and climate change. We’ll discuss what farmers and other experts are doing today to make this a reality, with an emphasis on creating and protecting natural areas and habitat for a diversity of plants and wildlife on the farm, and supporting connectivity across the landscape.

Presented by: Matt Agle, Elizabeth Buck of Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Wil Moss
If you are looking to expand your varieties of sweet potatoes, asparagus, or okra, this session is for you! Learn from growers who trialed emerging varieties what is worth trialing on your farm. There will be time for a group discussion of varieties to crowdsource additional ideas, so keep your personal favorites in mind to share!

Presented by: Cynthia Flores of Labor-Movement
This workshop will focus on body mechanics and movement patterns to help avoid potential work-related musculoskeletal injuries while farming. We will discuss movement health and self-advocacy for injury prevention, increased efficiency and extending career longevity. The majority of the time will be spent practicing movement patterns with attention to ideal versus real situations and movement variations and strategies to get the work done safely and efficiently. This is a participatory workshop with opportunity to receive coaching.

Presented by: NOFA-NY
Sunday, January 21 at 1:00 pm
The annual member meeting is an opportunity for all NOFA-NY members to contribute to the strategic direction of our organization by voting on Board of Directors nominations and policy resolutions.

This unique interactive group teaching is used to foster truth, understanding, and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and is led by both residents of the Onondaga Nation and members of NOON.

The exercise helps individuals to learn the true, untold history of the Indigenous people of North America including colonization and the injustices Indigenous peoples experience then and still today. By using quotes, historical information and the blankets to represent the land, we explore the shared history of Turtle Island (North America) starting with the first European contact. The program helps participants deepen their understanding of European colonization, its continuing effects, the theft of the land and waters of Turtle Island, and the ongoing denial of Indigenous peoples nationhood. It encourages participants to step up and see what they can do in their communities to end systemic racism and support Indigenous rights.

NOFA-NY’s Welcome

Join us from 1:00 – 2:45 pm on Saturday, January 20 for a session to welcome you to NOFA-NY’s 42nd Annual Winter Conference!

The session will open with remarks from Kaitlyn Sirna, our outgoing NOFA-NY Board President, Marcie Craig, our Interim Executive Director, and Bert J. Olechnowicz, our Certification Director. 

Remarks from Senator May

Senator Rachel May (D, WF) 48th Senate District, is a strong voice for sustainable agriculture policy in NY through her work in Albany. Her district covers the City of Syracuse, parts of Onondaga County, and Cayuga County. She’s a member of the Agriculture and Environmental Conservation Committees, Chair of the Committee on Cities, and Chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. 

Remarks from Commissioner Ball

Richard Ball, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, has led the department for the past decade while also owning and operating Schoharie Valley Farms. As Commissioner, he oversees the work of numerous initiatives designed to promote NY agriculture and agriculture products, foster environmental stewardship, and support the viability and growth of New York’s agriculture industries.

Farmer of the Year Keynote Address

Presented by: Liz Bawden of Bawden Farms
Saturday, January 20 at 1:00 pm

Every year, NOFA-NY members and supporters have the opportunity to nominate a NOFA-NY Certified Organic farmer who has gone above and beyond for organic. This year’s award goes to Liz Bawden of Bawden Farms! We are thrilled to be honoring her with this award and look forward to hearing her story at the conference.

Liz Bawden farms with her family – Brian, Nathan, and Courtney – on their dairy farm in Hammond in Saint Lawrence County. They have been certified through NOFA-NY for 23 years, growing their small milking herd to 100 cows and farming about 1,000 acres. She served for six years on the Board of Directors for NOFA-NY and is a past president of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA) which she served for more than a decade.

Live Music

Social Hour with Dan Forsyth of Driftwood
Saturday, January 20 at 5:30 pm

No stranger to writing original songs for the stage, Dan is a founder and one of the main singer/songwriters for the folk band, Driftwood. The band has toured nationally for the last decade and has crafted a style that is based on folk-tinged tunes.

Evening Entertainment with Alison & Zoë and Honey for the Bees
Saturday, January 20
7:00 – 7:45 pm: Alison & Zoë are Irish-born singer-songwriters with captivating sisterly harmonies and songs that tell a story.

7:45 – 9:00 pm: Honey for the Bees is a harmony-infused indie-folk collective. They’ll share original tunes, plus food and garden-themed covers. Feel free to sing along!