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Whether you’re a professional farmer, a backyard gardener, or just curious about locally grown food, the Ag & Food Conference is for you! Each year, the lineup includes workshops for the general public as well as info-packed sessions for farmers and gardeners of all experience levels. Registration includes a locally-sourced lunch and at the Resource Fair, you’ll learn about local organizations and businesses that provide services and products to help you grow, whether you’ve got a hundred-acre farm or a small backyard garden.

Date & Location: February 23, 2020,
Bristol County Agricultural High School, Gilbert Hall,
135 Center Street, Dighton, MA 02715

Snow Date: March 1, 2020

Schedule:
9:00 AM – Registration
9:30 AM – Opening Remarks
10:00 AM – Keynote Address
10:45 AM – Workshop Slot #1
12:15 PM – Lunch by M+C Cafe
1:30 PM – Workshop Slot #2
3:15 PM – Workshop Slot #3

Last day to register online is February 22, 2020 12:00 pm.
After registrations closes, walk-in registrations are accepted the day of the conference at $55 per person.

Keynote Panel: Building Our Local Grain Economy

Photo credit: Jim Amaral’s photo courtesy of CentralMaine.com, and Doug Mosel’s photo courtesy of Doug Mosel.

Our keynote panel will discuss the opportunity to grow and process local grains right here in Southeastern Massachusetts. Jim Amaral in the owner & founder of Borealis Breads in Maine, where he was the first baker in the state to use locally-grown grains in his bread, and he continues to evangelize the growth of the Maine grain economy all while making some delicious sourdough in the process. Doug Mosel is the co-founder of the Mendocino Grain Project in California, which works with farmers on harvesting, cleaning, and milling grain for those who want to grow grain but don’t have the equipment necessary to process it. Both of these gentlemen will share their experiences and wisdom, to spur the further growth of the grain economy in our region.

Thank you to our Sponsors

2020 Workshop Schedule

Session 1 10:45 AM

Session 1: Backyard Herbalism: Garden Herbs & Weeds for Wellness by Carissa Wells-DeMello
Session 1: Building a Local Grain Economy in the Northeast by Heather Darby and Noah Kellerman
Session 1: The Science of Assessing and Improving Your Soil Health by Maggie Payne
Session 1: Working on the Farm: Employment Law 101 by Catherine DiVita
Session 1: Making Money Growing Umm…Umbells?  The Art, Science, and Craft of Growing Umbels (Beyond Carrots) by Derek Christiansen
Session 1: The Battle of the Gut: Using Pre/Probiotics and other natural products in animal nutrition by Eric Reid
Session 1: Talking to Your Legislator by Winton Pitcoff and Panel
Session 1: Climate Change Impact on Pollinators, Agriculture & Humankind by Mel Gadd
Session 1: MDAR Grant Opportunities by Gerry Palano, Laura Maul, and Deanna Levanti

Session 2 1:30 PM

Session 2: Cannin’ and Jammin’: Copacking Opportunities for Farmers by Julie Zito
Session 2: Growing Hemp in New England by Dr. Heather Darby and Noah Kellerman
Session 2: Growing Table Grapes in New England by Sonia Schloemann
Session 2: Heritage Grains: Types and How to Incorporate into a Nutrient-Dense Diet by Nicole Cormier
Session 2: Beyond the Plate: Alternative Income from Livestock by Kim Tarvis
Session 2: The Livestock Institute of Southern New England & Meatworks: Lessons learned and vision for the future by TLI Board and Staff
Session 2: Land Preservation and Stewardship, Opportunities to Connect by Delia Delongchamp, Bill Napolitano and Helen Zincavage
Session 2: Small Scale Plasticulture by Steve Murray
Session 2: Financial Management Calendar by Julia Shanks

Session 3 3:15 PM

Session 3: The Best Perennial Plants for Edible Landscaping in the Northeast by Dave Scandurra
Session 3: Harvesting, Cleaning, Milling, Storage and Baking Local Grains by Doug Mosel and Jim Amaral
Session 3: Magic Numbers: Arithmetic for Farm Viability by Chris Yoder
Session 3: Insects, Disease, and Weeds – OH MY! by Andy Tomalonis
Session 3: Fencing 101: Everything You Want to Know, But We Afraid to Ask by Kim Tarvis
Session 3: Vegetable Diseases Year in Review 2019 by Susan Scheufele
Session 3: Aligning Ag Com with Local Food Action Plan by Winton Pitcoff and Panel
Session 3: Crop Insurance, Risk Management, & Farm Service Agency Programs

Workshop Descriptions

Session 1 10:45 AM

Backyard Herbalism: Garden Herbs & Weeds for Wellness by Carissa Wells-DeMello
Our garden herbs offer more than culinary flavor and our backyard weeds are so much more than a nuisance. Together let’s reacquaint ourselves with familiar plants and their simple, medicinal applications, from oils and vinegars to tinctures and teas. We’ll sample a variety of easy remedies, leaving with new recipes and refreshed perspectives! All levels of herbal knowledge welcome. An informative session will be followed with dialogue and Q&A. Carissa Wills-DeMello is a Westport native, practicing Western Herbalist and co-founder of Town Farm Tonics (f/k/a Bilo Herbs). She believes that our backyards, fields, and forests are abundant with healing plants that can empower us to take wellness in our own hands!

Building a Local Grain Economy in the
Northeast by Heather Darby and Noah Courser-Kellerman

Growing grain in the Northeast presents many opportunities for local farmers. Dr. Darby will discuss the basics of growing high-quality grain in our region and address opportunities and challenges of grain production systems. Dr. Heather Darby is an Agronomist with the University of Vermont. She has worked for the last 15 years to develop farmer relevant research and outreach programs. Noah Courser-Kellerman and his wife, Sophie run Alprilla Farm in Essex, MA. They raise grass-fed beef, vegetables for CSA and wholesale, and grain.

The Science of Assessing and
Improving Your Soil Health by Maggie Payne

Science has evolved to recognize soil as a dynamic, living resource that requires proper care to maintain and improve. This presentation will cover the basics of how a healthy soil functions, how to assess the health of your soil, and methods of improving soil health using reduced tillage and cover crops. Come away with a better understanding of your dynamic soil resources and information on federal and local programs that can help you achieve your goals. Maggie is a Resource Soil Scientist with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service located in Wareham, MA where she provides expertise on soil mapping, wetland delineation, soil health planning, coastal soil resources, and ground-penetrating radar surveys in support of USDA NRCS programs.

Working on the Farm: Employment Law 101 by Catherine DiVita
This workshop will provide an overview of important employment issues that farmers need to know. From apprenticeships to minimum wage and overtime, Catherine will cover key topics that come up on the farm. Important recent updates in the law that may affect farmers will be included. Catherine DiVita is an attorney and litigator at the law firm of Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP in Boston who practices in the area of employment law.

Making Money Growing Umm…Umbells?  The Art, Science, and Craft of Growing Umbels (Beyond Carrots) by Derek Christiansen
In this whirlwind workshop we’ll cover profitability, levers, and challenges of the understudy Umbelliferae. Including planting calendars, variety selection, and the production cycle from greenhouse starts > transplants > fertility > cultivation > harvest > post-harvest of three valuable crops which may help diversify your market offerings. Derek Christianson is the farmer at Brix Bounty Farm in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.   He has been farming in the Northeast for the past sixteen seasons.  Derek currently serves as a project consultant for the Dartmouth YMCA – Sharing the Harvest Community Farm, the town of Dartmouth’s Agricultural Commission, and the Bionutrient Food Association board.

The Battle of the Gut: Using Pre/Probiotics and other natural products in animal nutrition by Eric Reid
In this workshop, we will take a look at what is going on inside our animals and how we might be able to use a more natural approach to win the battle that is going on in the gut. Dr. Reid received a BS and MS in Animal Science from The University of NH and a PhD in Animal Science from The University of Illinois. He is the Director of Nutrition for Cooperative Feed Dealers – a Co-op of 40+ feed mills and 70+ retail farm stores in the northeast.

MDAR Grant Opportunities by Gerry Palano, Laura Maul, and Deanna Levanti
This session will present an overview of all Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) grant funding opportunities for Massachusetts farms. There will be time for Q&A. Gerry Palano has been working with MDAR for almost 12 years, creating and managing the agency’s energy programs including the AgEnergy Grants and the MA Farm Energy Program (MFEP).

Talking to Your Legislator by Winton Pitcoff and Panel
Our elected officials are only able to make good decisions about the issues you care about if you educate them! This session will help you learn how to best get to know your legislators and turn them into advocates for agriculture.

Climate Change Impact on Pollinators, Agriculture & Humankind by Mel Gadd
In this workshop, we will discuss the impact that climate change is having on our pollinators and how that impacts agriculture production and ultimately, how it affects all of us. Mel Gadd has been a beekeeper for 14 years. Mel runs the beekeeping program at Mass Audubon Drumlin Farm sanctuary responsible for both teaching and caring for the bees. He was named Mass Beekeepers Association Beekeeper of the year in 2017.

Session 2 1:30 PM

Cannin’ and Jammin’: Copacking Opportunities for Farmers by Caitlin Mandel 
Learn how to create an additional revenue stream for your farm by using a copacking program to create value added products. This workshop will provide an overview of licensing requirements, types of products that can be produced, and other considerations.   Hope & Main is a non-profit food business incubator located in Warren, RI with a goal to help grow the local food economy by creating a community of support for food entrepreneurs and cultivating an environment where emerging culinary startups can test, create, scale and thrive.

Growing Hemp in New England by Dr. Heather Darby 
Producing hemp is an exciting new opportunity for farmers in the United States. Dr. Darby will discuss hemp production basics for grain, fiber, and flower end-uses.  Dr. Heather Darby is an Agronomist with the University of Vermont. She has worked for the last 15 years to develop farmer relevant research and outreach programs.

Growing Table Grapes in New England by Sonia Schloemann
This presentation will cover the basics of growing cold hardy table grapes in New England. This includes site selection, soil requirements, varieties, planting & trellising, training & canopy management, pruning and pest management.  Sonia Schloemann is an Extension Educator and Small Fruit Specialist with UMass Extension with over 30 years of experience. She has been instrumental in managing the UMass Experimental Vineyard at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard for almost 20 years and also works with commercial vineyards across the state.

Heritage Grains: Types and How to Incorporate into a Nutrient-Dense Diet by Nicole Cormier
Learn about different varieties of heritage grains. This workshop will include the many ways to prepare grains, as well as incorporating them into a nutrient-dense nutrition practice. There will be information about how to access local grains grown in New England.  Nicole Cormier is an anti-diet dietitian, local food enthusiast, author, an intuitive eating nutrition therapist and a certified Be Body Positive Facilitator. She indulges her passion for nutrition and local foods on beautiful Cape Cod through her nutrition therapy practice, Delicious Living Nutrition.

Beyond the Plate: Alternative Income from Livestock by Kimberly Tarvis
Traditional methods of livestock production income are generated from meat, milk and fiber sales, yet are there other sources of monies to be made? This workshop will explore alternative income generated by your livestock, including low-hanging fruit that can be relatively easy to implement! We will explore Blue Ocean strategies, and bring your ideas to work out the kinks!  Kimberly Tarvis is an Assistant Professor in Animal Science at SUNY Cobleskill in Upstate New York. A Westport native, Kim grew up showing registered Polled Hereford beef cattle, and worked in the cattle reproduction industry through the country.

The Livestock Institute of Southern New England & Meatworks: Lessons learned and vision for the future by TLI Board and Staff
TLI is a nonprofit dedicated to addressing issues facing livestock producers through educational workshops and infrastructure improvements. A panel of TLI board members will discuss this past year of operations including programming for livestock producers and its continued development of Meatworks, a state of the art slaughter facility in Westport MA. Opened in September 2018, Meatworks offers custom slaughter processing for livestock producers throughout MA, RI and CT.  Panel: Andrew Burnes, President, Darrin Mendes, Treasurer, Sheryl Michener, Board of Directors, JJ Pereira, Board of Directors, Barry Gross, Staff

Land Preservation and Stewardship: Opportunities to Connect by Delia Delongchamp, Bill Napolitano and Helen Zincavage
Delia will present general information about APR Program, with a focus on stewardship services such as succession planning support, grant info, monitoring and site visit scheduling, resources concerns and planning. Intended to APR landowners, leasing farmers, prospective conserved farms, conservation partners. 

Small Scale Plasticulture by Steve Murray
Wondering about plasticulture on your small farm? Not sure about the tools? Pitfalls and solutions? Steve from Heart Beets Farm will present his experience with plasticulture.  Steve Murray is the owner operator of Heart Beets Farm, an Organic CSA farm in Berkley, MA. Steve has been farming since 2007.

Financial Management Calendar by Julia Shanks
We’ll use a tool designed to help you stay on top of financial management tasks critical to maintaining effective business practices during the busy growing season. Adapt the Calendar to your farm’s needs and realities and create a personalized financial management calendar for your farm. The tool is split into two parts:
Part I: Financial Management Task Checklist organizes tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, and annual sections that can then be easily translated into a work schedule.
Part II: Financial Management Task Details explains the goals, data, and process involved in completing the more complicated managerial tasks listed on the checklist.  Julia Shanks, a longtime collaborator with The Carrot Project, consults with food businesses and farms, helping them maximize profits and streamline operations through business planning, feasibility studies, and operational audits. She formerly taught accounting classes at Babson College and regularly presents on business technical assistance.

Session 3 3:15 PM

The Best Perennial Plants for Edible Landscaping in the Northeast by Dave Scandurra
In this workshop, we will go deep into the world of edible perennial plants. Topics include: Our top 30 Edible Perennials, The Usual Suspects, Common Landscape Plants that you might not have known are edible, The role of perennial plants in the future of regenerative food systems, and much more. We also include species lists based on landscape niche, such as shade-loving, ground cover, shrubs, drought-tolerant, etc. Dave Scandurra is the founder and owner of Edible Landscapes of Cape Cod- an organic landscaping/gardening business that helps people grow food in their yards. He loves to share his knowledge of edible, medicinal and useful plants with others and believes that the future of regenerative agriculture will be based in perennial plants.

Harvesting, Cleaning, Milling, Storage and Baking Local Grains by Doug Mosel and Jim Amaral

Magic Numbers: Arithmetic for Farm Viability by Chris Yoder
Farmers commonly use simple numerical methods (back of the envelope calculations) as guideposts for everyday decision making. Join us for a discussion including 3 examples of such tools: the “magic numbers”, the simplified enterprise budget, and the labor budget spreadsheet. Anyone interested in making a living farming is encouraged to join this participatory workshop. Feel free to bring your own farm budget and/or magic number benchmarks. Chris Yoder has farmed 5 acres of organic vegetables for 25+ seasons at Vanguarden CSA in Dover, MA.

Insects, Disease, and Weeds – OH MY! by Andy Tomalonis
Love vegetable gardening but hate dealing with insects, diseases, and weeds? Learn how to overcome these three major gardening obstacles organically. Author, award-winning journalist and longtime organic market gardener Andy Tomolonis reveals his techniques for battling the big three adversaries — with help from Mother Nature. Andy’s practical solutions are perfect for small-scale farmers or larger-scale vegetable gardeners. His strategies include smart growing techniques, proper soil fertility, physical barriers and routines that are easy, inexpensive and ultimately more effective than harsh chemicals. Andy Tomolonis and his wife, Val, operated a small-scale organic CSA from their suburban backyard, supplying eight families with vegetables, fruit, berries, eggs, honey, and herbs for 5 years. Andy used the experiences to write the comprehensive organic gardening text: Organic Hobby Farming: A Practical Guide to Earth-Friendly Farming in Any Space.

Fencing 101: Everything You Want to Know, But We Afraid to Ask by Kimberly Tarvis
We will explore the world of fencing: how to keep your animals in and everything else out. Starting from planning your pastures, and selecting fencing, to bracing techniques and picking out an electric fenceing, this workshop will explore a variety of fencing topics. Current fencing catalogs and supply lists will be available for you to take home. Bring questions! Kimberly Tarvis is an Assistant Professor in Animal Science at SUNY Cobleskill in Upstate New York. A Westport native, Kim grew up showing registered Polled Hereford beef cattle, and worked in the cattle reproduction industry through the country.

Aligning Ag Com with Local Food Action Plan by Winton Pitcoff, Val Souza, and Jon Gray
The Commonwealth developed the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan in 2015 as guidance for policy and programs to support a sustainable and equitable food system. This session will review the plan and discuss how it can be a tool for agricultural commissions and their advocacy and programmatic work. Winton Pitcoff is Director of the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative and coordinator of the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association. Jon Gray is Chair of the Taunton, MA Agricultural Commission and Val Souza of Souza’s Family Farm is Chair of the Rehoboth Agricultural Commission.

Vegetable Diseases Year in Review 2019 by Susan Scheufele
Aimed at the professional grower, learn about the major vegetable diseases we saw in 2019. Participants will learn about the underlying pathogen biology and how to use that knowledge to help distinguish diseases in the field and manage diseases more effectively. Sue Scheufele is an Extension Specialist with the UMass Extension Vegetable Program and works with vegetable farmers of all scales and sizes across the state to improve pest management and has an MS in Plant Pathology.

Crop Insurance, Risk Management, & Farm Service Agency Programs by Paul Russell and Tom Smiarowski

The workshop will focus on available disaster assistance programs available through USDA.  The workshop will focus primarily on Federal Crop Insurance and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) but also include other programs and other topics to allow attendees to gain an understanding of the various USDA programs available. Paul Russell and Tom Smiarowski have worked with UMass Extension to provide Federal Crop Insurance and risk management information to Massachusetts farmers for the past 5 years.  Prior to their work with UMass Extension, Paul and Tom each had over 33 years of experience working on USDA disaster assistance programs with the USDA – Farm Service Agency.

Doug Mosel Biography

Doug Mosel grew up on a farm in Nebraska. After living and working on the East Coast and in the Midwest, he settled in Mendocino County, California in 1999. He coordinated the successful 2003- 2004 campaign to make Mendocino County the first in the U.S. to ban genetically engineered crops.
Doug hosted a monthly community radio show, “The Agriculture and Ecology Hour,” for fourteen years. He is a member of the board of directors of the Mendocino Organic Network. He was a co- founder of the Anderson Valley Foodshed Group, a project to foster local food self-sufficiency. In
2009, Doug founded the Mendocino Grain Project, dedicated to re-introducing grain production in Mendocino County. His undergraduate major in theology and ten years as assistant to deep ecology teacher Joanna Macy have inspired the spiritual aspect of working with landrace wheats and fueled his passion for passing on the tradition of locally-produced whole grains.
The Mendocino Grain Project has been at the center of the return of local grains to the North Coast of California. Bakers, chefs, retailers, and families along much of the North Coast have enjoyed the grain and stone-milled flour provided by the project. Doug has operated the only certified organic grain cleaning operation on the North Coast. Farmers in six other counties have come to rely upon the harvesting and grain cleaning services of the project. Harvesting, cleaning and milling infrastructure established over ten years fills a niche that is not served by large-scale grain mills in the Central Valley.
We have just completed our first hands-on Grain School, equipping eight young farmers with knowledge and experience to undertake local grain operations. Beginning in January 2020, the Mendocino Grain Project is in transition to new ownership by the next generation, with the vision of
building this “work of the heart” into a sustainable business, providing stable grains and legumes for the region. Doug will stay on through the 2020 season, advising, teaching and helping with the transition.

Jim Amaral Biography

For more than twenty-five years, Borealis Breads has been a vibrant and lasting part of Maine’s dynamic food scene. Relying on locally sourced ingredients and grains grown and processed right here in Maine, Borealis owner Jim Amaral was a pioneer in the local food movement and helped lead the way in Maine’s wheat and grain renaissance.

As much a celebration of the art and science of sourdough as it is the success of an iconic bakery, this book presents favorite recipes from the bakery, plus delicious options for pairing with such delicious breads as Rosemary Hazelnut , Lemon Sage Flatbread, Portuguese Corn Bread , Maine Coast Focaccia, and many more.

Jim Amaral, founder and owner of Borealis Breads has worked with area farmers to grow custom grains and become a vibrant part of Maine’s foodscape. This collaboration is a book about the renaissance of Maine grains, recipes from the bakery’s twenty-five years, how Maine made it to this point in its agricultural life, and where the farmers, millers, and bakers will take us in the future.

Photos from Previous Conferences

Additional questions about the conference? Email us at info@semaponline.org

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