NOFA-NY is one of seven Northeastern state organizations that work together under the umbrella of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA). Other states include CT, MA, NH, NJ, RI, and VT. Known as the Interstate Council (IC), members of the IC come together annually to discuss cross-cutting issues that range from policy initiatives to organizational affiliations.
Last week, April 4-6, the IC met in Bourne, MA, a quaint seaside town on the base of Cape Cod. Executive Directors, staff, and Board members came together at Overbrook House. It was my first IC retreat and it was so fulfilling—and fun!— to spend time with such dedicated individuals focused on the organic food and farming movement of the Northeast United States. We learned how each chapter was attending to their membership; providing stellar educational programs; and addressing state policy work. We also had an opportunity to discuss how the new political stage may – or may not – impact the work we do.
Over the three days, we learned from experts about initiatives that could enhance the work of each chapter. Jack Kittredge and Julie Rawson provided us background on carbon farming with extensive resources. Liz Henderson and Louis Battalen briefed us on the Domestic Fair Trade Association and how to integrate principles of fairness into each of our chapters. Siena Chrisman and Larry Mitchell joined us via skype to give us a history of the farm movement in the United States.
As an Interstate Council of seven states, our involvement with national and international organizations strengthens the work we do, as well as contributes to the breadth and reach of our affiliations. The NOFA Interstate Council already belongs to several organizations: International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and IFOAM North America, Domestic Farm Trade Association, Agricultural Justice Project, National Organic Coalition (NOC), National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG). During the 2017 retreat, we agreed to join the Organic Farmers Association (OFA), National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), United States Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) and The H.E.A.L. Alliance. Through these alliances, we can strengthen the organic food and farming movement!