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Organic farming conference begins today

AMHERST — The 40th Northeast Organic Farming Association summer conference, which runs from Aug 8 to 10 at the University of Massachusetts will explore how organic farming can help address climate change.

The annual NOFA conference, the largest gathering on organic growing in the Northeast, features this year an eight-part “Soil Carbon and Climate” workshop track, detailing farming methods for vegetables, fruits, nuts, forage and feed that can provide a resilient food source while returning carbon from atmosphere to soil.

A recent report by the group Risky Business, including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, predicts that in the 21st century, absent agricultural adaptation, extreme heat brought on by global climate disruption will reduce crop yields in some states by 50 to 70 percent.

Track presenters point out that agriculture not only faces massive risks due to climate change, but also, that when soils are managed properly, agriculture can help reduce atmospheric carbon concentrations and thereby mitigate climate disruption.

“The Soil Carbon and Climate track represents a growing awareness of biology in the mitigation of global warming,” said presenter Seth Itzkan, who works with the Africa Center for Holistic Management in Zimbabwe. The group works to restore degraded land through grazing methods that regenerate soils. “Our climate problem isn’t just about emissions. It’s also about the earth’s capacity to absorb atmospheric carbon, and the safest and largest reservoir for carbon pollution is in new soil formations.”

Other organic farming researchers agree. A report released in April from Rodale Institute, claims, “We could sequester more than 100 percent of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term ‘regenerative organic agriculture’.”

According to the presenters, when soil carbon levels increase, neighboring communities also enjoy ecological benefits.

The daylong conference is open to members and non members.

On the Web: www.nofasummerconference.org.

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