In an all-new episode of The Business Beat, Steve Jones-D’Agostino of Susan Wagner PR + Best Rate of Climb interviews Ben Burkett, state coordinator of the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives and Cathleen O’Keefe, coordinator of both the Winter Conference and the Fundraising Run for the Northeast Organic Farming Association - Massachusetts Chapter.
Ben Burkett is a truly inspirational Mississippi farmer. He will be enriching everyone’s day with his keynote address “Family Farmers Matter,” at NOFA-Mass.’ annual Winter Conference. That event will be held on January 16, 2016 at Worcester State University.
Cooperative grocers, farmers, and businesses will also not want to miss his all-day seminar on “Cooperative Family Farming.” In this seminar, Ben will discuss many of the steps involved in setting up a profitable, managed cooperative using his own family farm and cooperative history as a model.
Ben provides technical expertise to small-scale and limited-resource farmers and ranchers in rural communities. He serves as the president of the National Family Farm Coalition and has traveled to Senegal, South Africa, Kenya, Nicaragua, Lebanon, and Zimbabwe, exchanging knowledge and information with small-scale farmers.
In 1971, the Natural Organic Farmers Association was formed in Vermont and New Hampshire and, in 1982, chapters were added in Massachusetts as well as Connecticut and New York. Later, chapters were formed in Rhode Island and New Jersey.
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association was formed right around the time that NOFA was established. Together, these two organizations have been the most powerful forces for education regarding organic agriculture in the Northeast for the past 40 years.
NOFA changed its name to the Northeast Organic Farming Association in 1989. By that time, the word "natural" had become somewhat commercialized. By changing "farmers" to "farming," the NOFA leadership attempted to be more welcoming to those who support organic farming, along with those who practice it.