NOFA-NJ Winter Conference to offer attendees new business models
NEW BRUNSWICK — Attendees at the Northeast Organic Farming New Jersey Winter Conference on Feb. 1 will have an opportunity to learn about new business models.
The conference is at Rutgers University from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Roger Noonan, the president of the New England Farmers Union and New England representative to the National Farmers Union, will present models for cooperative farms.
Noonan and his family own and operate Middle Branch Farm in New Hampshire which uses sustainable organic practices.
NEFU is a quickly-growing chapter of the National Farmers Union with the goal of protecting the social and economic well-being of family farmers.
Members are grain, vegetable, fruit, livestock and dairy farmers.
There are more than 1,000 members representing all of the New England states working on issues affecting each state.
The membership is active in creating policy and Noonan will talk about how effective this is as well as the benefits of networking to farmers.
There are collegiate chapters of the National Farmers Union, but these are mostly in the Dakotas.
The organization also provides camps for teen leaders, internships and scholarships.
Another session the help with the business of farming will be “Small Farm Opportunities,” presented by Kaitlin Farbotnik, state conservation agronomist and grazing specialist.
Farbotnik comes to the Natural Resources Conservation Service from the University of Wyoming where she earned her bachelor of science degree in agro-ecology while minoring in soil science and agricultural entomology.
She comes from a family farm in Bucks County, Pa., which raises 100-percent grass-fed beef, pastured pork and pastured poultry.
Farbotnik will talk about her work assisting agricultural operations from 1/10 acre to 4,000 acres.
Lauren Erickson’s workshop, called “Urban Farmers’ Market Opportunities” will assist farmers in finding markets where they can sell a higher volume.
She will discuss the challengers of meeting the needs of a diverse urban customer base.
She works with Rutgers Cooperative Extension and coordinates the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market and will explain to farmers the three-phase “market ambassadors” project to identify fruit and vegetable preferences of residents of an urban area and collaborate with growers to provide it.
Errickson’s work with the market includes increasing food availability and affordability within the city.
She both brings Jersey Fresh produce from local farmers to urban families and fosters urban agriculture initiatives and community gardens.
She also serves on the advisory board of Rutgers Against Hunter and as co-chair of the Agriculture Work Group of the New Brunswick Community Food Alliance.
A Ph.D. student in Applied Community Nutrition at Rutgers, she is doing research on the interconnections of nutrition, health and sustainable food systems.
Her professional background includes environmental, agricultural, and nutritional science experience. She also co-owned and operated an organic farm in New England.
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