Thank you to everyone who attended our 15th Annual Ag & Food Conference! Presentation recordings and resources from the conference are now available, including our keynote from Ray Archuleta of the Soil Health Academy!
Curious about a workshop you missed? Looking to revisit a panel that really resonated with you? Not able to attend this year’s Agriculture & Food Conference at all? Find all the resources you need below.
If you did not register this year, we kindly ask that you consider a donation of any amount, which helps make conference recordings & resources publicly accessible year-round. Thank you!
Keynote Address by Ray Archuleta
Can’t get enough of The Soil Guy? Ray was featured in the 2020 film Kiss the Ground, available on Netflix and for rent on Vimeo. You can also catch some of his many speeches on YouTube.
Ray also recommends the following resources:
Working Well: People Skills for Farm Leaders
Retired consultant-turned-gardener Jeffrey Kerr joined us for the first of many conversations with SEMAP around farm labor recruitment, management, and retention.
Prison Gardens: Strategies for Therapy and Job Training
Erika Rumbley joined us from The New Garden Society, which gardens alongside incarcerated and detained folks in the Greater Boston Area. Her perspective as a grower and an educator made this workshop very enlightening!
Erika hopes you’ll join the New Garden Society’s efforts by donating funds, tools, or your time as a volunteer! Check out their website for more information.
Adventures in Silvopasture: Making the Transition for Profit, Livestock Nutrition & Sustainability
Panelists Brett Chedzoy (Cornell Cooperative Extension), Nick Weinstock (BOTL Farm in Ashford, CT), and Joe Orefice (Yale School of Forestry) discussed entry-level silvopasture strategies, mistakes to avoid, and the value of integrated livestock & agroforestry systems.
Join Joe and Brett for a tour of silvopasture systems on September 15th and 16th! Keep an eye out for details or email Brett directly.
The panelists recommend the following resources:
- A nationwide silvopasture forum
- Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) webinars and trainings. Many available on their website and on their YouTube channel
- Steve Gabriel‘s courses and book
- Over-yielding in temperate silvopastures: a meta-analysis by Gabe Pent
- Videos on fencing by the Livestock Institute and the New England Grazing Network
- Cornell Cooperative Extension’s tool for evaluating a site for silvopasture uses
Understanding Soil Health for Better Production & Sustainability
Experts Chuck Currie (Freedom Food Farm in Raynham), Julie Snorek (Northeast Healthy Soil Network), and Jack Algiere (Stone Barns Center) explored strategies for measuring, interpreting, and enhancing on-farm soil health. From grazing ruminants to building water storage capacity, they talk about it all!
Supporting Native Bees (and Other Beneficials) Through Habitat on Farms
The most important driver of native bee declines is habitat loss, especially in agricultural areas. Lean how to improve bee habitat on your farm, and support other beneficial insects too. UMass Extension expert Hannah Whitehead explains some of the pros, cons and data behind different habitat enhancement strategies.
You can always follow along with current research being done by the team at UMass Extension here.
Medicinal Herb Production
Herbalist Carissa Wills-DeMello, founder of Town Farm Tonics in Westport, shares her wisdom on the healing power of household herbs, as well as cultivation tips.
Carissa recommends the following resources:
- Rosemary Gladstar’s books and other resources
- The Woman’s Handbook of Healing Herbs by Deb Soule
- Herbalists David Winston and David Hoffman
- Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern & Central N. America
Carissa is also happy to share her more complete resource list! Just send her an email.
Pest Management Updates in Brassicas
Educator from UMass Extension Sue Scheufele joined SEMAP at the conference to discuss updates in pest management strategies for brassica growers across the Northeast!
Sue leads educational programming across the state for produce growers through the UMass Extension offices. Keep an eye on their calendar of events!
Maximizing On-Farm Mental Health: Strategies, Resources, and Policy Recommendations
The last two years have been stressful for all of us, especially frontline essential farmers and farmworkers. What are existing resources, barriers to accessing those resources, and long-term solutions for on-farm mental wellness? Moderated by Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture Ashley Randle, experts Rachel Van Boven and Polly Shyka discussed existing resources, individual strategies, and policy suggestions for improving farmer mental health and access to resources.
Maple Sugaring: Challenges & Opportunities for Backyard and Large-Scale Tappers Alike
Maple producers and researchers Adam Wild, Bruce Hopper, and Mark Isselhardt chatted about current successes and challenges facing the maple sugaring industry. Guided by Mass Maple Association director Winton Pitcoff, panelists talked about value-added opportunities, climate change impacts, and more!
Growing for the Hunger Relief Market: How to Make Gleaning Work for You
Eva Agudelo and Dylan Frazier joined the Ag & Food Conference from Hope’s Harvest RI and Boston Area Gleaners, respectively. Moderated by local farmer Dee Levanti, Eva and Dylan described the unique structures of their organizations that position them to appropriately compensate growers for their surplus produce, then distribute to their many regional food pantry partners.
Starting and Maintaining a Flower Operation
Farmers and home gardeners alike will enjoy this conversation around how to begin or expand your flower operation. Whether your motivation is pollination, profit, or primping up your lawn, join some of the region’s young floral farmers to talk about flower crop planning, growth strategies, and marketing techniques. Tucker Manley of Russells Mills Flower Company and Christina Russell of Wild Bean Flowers share their expertise.
Alternative Strawberry and Raspberry Growing Systems in Canada
This session discussed soilless strawberry and raspberry systems that growers in Ontario are adopting, including different production systems and the benefits & challenges of these systems. OMAFRA official Erica Pate takes us on a field trip of alternative berry growing systems in Ontario.