Bristol County Agricultural High School (BCAHS)
135 Center Street
Dighton, MA 02715
Whether you're a professional farmer, a backyard gardener, or just curious about locally grown food, this is the event for you! This year's offerings include workshops for the public and youth ages 7-12, as well as info-packed sessions for farmers of all experience levels and workshops specific to organic methods.
Registration includes a locally-sourced lunch (yes, in February!) 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 acres or a couple of window boxes. Registration is $35 for farmers, $50 for the public, and $20 for youth and students. Businesses or organizations interested in exhibiting can contact Kristen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to check back for updates and descriptions of conference workshops!
CONFERENCE SCHEDULE - PLEASE CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES!
8:30 Registration begins and the Resource Fair and Book Nook open for browsing
9:30-10:15 Welcome and opening remarks (State Agriculture Commissioner Gregory Watson)
10:30-12:00 Workshop Session #1
12:00-1:30 Locally-sourced lunch by Rosa Galeno of Rosa's Food Shoppe
1:30-3:00 Workshop Session #2
3:15-4:45 Workshop Session #3
5:00 Conference concludes
WORKSHOPS: (Updated Daily!)
Participants may attend workshops in any track.
Vermicomposting: Composting with Red Wiggler Worms (Session #1): Nancy Warner and Chris Bertoni, The Worm Ladies of Charlestown. Join the Worm Ladies in a start-to-finish exploration of composting with red wiggler worms! Nancy and Chris will share in-depth information about the types of indoor and outdoor bins; harvesting castings and making nutrient brew for plants; overwintering worms outside; troubleshooting and more.
Red wigglers, doing what they do best!
Ancient Apples: Tracking Down, Identifying and Saving Old Heirloom Trees (Session #2): John Bunker, FEDCO Trees. If you've ever enjoyed the musings from John in the FEDCO Tree Catalog, then you know his passion for preserving the old apples varieties of the Northeast. Join us for a discussion about how to track down, identify and save old heirloom fruit varieties. Everyone can partake in the continuation of varieties specific to our region, whether you own an orchard or not!
Minding Your Cukes and Peas: A Workshop for Aspiring and Easily Intimidated Veggie Gardeners (Session #2): Renate Oliver, Certified Master Gardener, will cover such topics as getting started; seeds vs. seedlings; what will keep your veggies happy: soil sun, watering, weeding, fertilizing and composting; managing the "freeloaders": netting, fencing, etc.; and more!
Permaculture My Yard! Productive and Sustainable Landscapes for a Healthy Planet (Session #3): Jeremy Brodeur of Oak & Holly Garden Design will explore the basics of permaculture design that can help guide the transition toward greater resiliency and productivity in your landscape.
Edible and Medicinal Herb Workshop (Session #3): Local herb experts Stephan Brown and Bruce Ketcham from Great Cape Herbs will be on hand to demonstrate and discuss locally foraged/grown herbs and their delicious and beneficial properties.
FARMER TRACK (Note: Updated Friday, 2/22)
Farm Energy Planning & Resources: Efficiency & Renewables (Session #1): Jess Cook & Layla Hazen from MA Farm Energy Program (MFEP), Gerry Palano, Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Renewables Program, MDAR. Learn how to get started on your farm energy project - large or small. Join us for an introduction to saving energy and renewable energy systems: funding resources, utilizing farm energy audits, project planning tools, and MA Farm Energy Program Services. Bring along your own energy questions and join the discussion.
Small Engines: Workings and Maintenance (Session #1): Jon Magee, The Farmer's Library. Small engines are a major part of life on the farm and a common source of headache and hand-wringing. We'll discuss the different components of the typical small gas engine, with an emphasis on maintenance and troubleshooting. BEGINNING FARMERS - Check out Jon's recent post on the Beginning Farmer Mass Network website.
Cover Crops: Important Soil Health Tools Research (Session #2): Tom Akin, Conservation Agronomist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Cover crops can do more than just prevent soil erosion; they can play a huge role in improving the soil health of your farm. Buckwheat, oats, crimson clover, hairy vetch and the old standby winter rye can be used as tools to suppress weeds, improve the soil's water-holding capacity, reduce pest pressure and feed the soil's biology. Learn to strategically plant more cover crops (the right plant in the right place at the right time and killed at the right time!) to improve your soil's health, and to increase your yields and harvest quality.
Choosing and Evaluating Marketing Channels (Session #2): Matt LeRoux, Cornell Cooperative Extension. The Marketing Channel Assessment Tool (MCAT) is a data-based decision making tool for small-scale, diverse fruit and vegetable growers. Detailed information is collected over one week of a farm's operation, and then is plugged into the tool, yielding suggested operating changes that can result in reduced marketing risk and labor as well as increased sales and profitability. Join Matt in a guided tour of using the Tool and discover how it can help you strengthen overall productivity and sales.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Small Fruit Production (Session #3): Sonia Schloemann of the UMass Extension Fruit Program will discuss site/soil requirements, planting and pruning practices, and pest and nutrient management for growing berry crops in New England. Particular attention will be paid to the new pest, spotted wing drosophila and its impact on these crops. Participants will be eligible to earn pesticide credits for this workshop.
After the First Year: A Close Look at New Farm Operations in Southeastern MA (Session #1): BEGINNING FARMERS Hear the triumphs and pitfalls of growing and selling your own produce/product on a new piece of land. Panel discussion from young farmers who've recently completed their first year of farming. Panel includes Jim Buckle (Buckle Farm), Susan & Tony Wood (Apponagansett Farm), Liz & Vince Frary (Copicut Farms).
Nitrogen Dynamics in Organic Cropping Systems (Session #2): John Spargo, UMass Extension Soil Scientist. John will discuss his current research on nitrogen dynamics in organic cropping systems including how management history impacts the soil's ability to provide available N and estimation of available N from organic soil amendments and legumes.
Organic Cucurbit Grower Panel (Session #3): How are local farmers handling the increase in pest and disease pressure particularly in cucurbit crops? Hear from a round table of organic and conventional growers on problems and solutions for a variety of farm operations.
YOUTH TRACK - ages 7-12
Riot in the Garden (Session #1): Jackson Gillman. Fun-filled farm science theatre utilizing interactive story and song. Awarded Most Educational at the MOFGA Common Ground Fair.
I'm Going to the Fair! What's a Grange Fair? How can I participate? (Session #1, following Riot in the Garden): Al Craig, Topsfield Fair. Learn all about the traditional Grange Fairs where kids are encouraged to grow their own vegetables, fruit and flowers (or raise animals) and make a display to put into the Grange competitions.
4-H Connection - Dairy Kids! (Session #2): (Open to parents too!) Are there kids out there who milk cows? You betcha! The RI Dairy 4-H will share their programs that teach students life long skills involving animal care and agriciultural production.
Take a Peek at a Sheep (Session #3): John Buffington, Co-Chair of the NE Fiber Festival, Superintendant of the Woodstock Fair. Meet a sheep face to face! Learn the basics of raising sheep, including the different breeds of sheep and some fo the equipment used.