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2nd Annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference

Urban Farming Institute, City Growers and MA Department of Agricultural Resources

Saturday, March 8, 2014 from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (EST)

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2nd Annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference 

Saturday, March 8, 2014         8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Northeastern University      Curry Center     360 Huntington Aveneue    Boston, MA


Massachusetts has the potential to offer an abundance of fresh, local healthy food to its residents. Urban farming is a smart growth strategy that improves our urban food systems and contributes to sustainable urban environmental management and climate change adaptation. The annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference (UFC) is designed to advance the opportunities and address the barriers involved in cultivating a resilient and thriving urban farming sector. The UFC is a forum to share information regarding what is currently happening in Massachusetts. Join us in mapping out a sustainable vision for urban farming in Massachusetts that promotes economic and environmental sustainability, as well as addresses social justice. The UFC brings together participants representing all aspects of urban farming including, but not limited to, farmers (including roof top, chicken, bees, etc.), commercial buyers, policy makers, investors and all others. The UFC fosters solutions, sustainable networks and business relationships. This is achieved with interactive panels and expert discussions on diverse and relevant topics with distinguished Conversation Leaders and a networking reception.

Contact Rose.Arruda@state.ma.us for Vendor and General Inquiries.
Contact Crystal@isesplanning.com for Sponsorship and Scholarship Inquiries.

Agenda and Panelist Bios

8:30 am - 9:00 am        Registration and Networking Session

9:00 am - 9:50 am        Welcome Ceremony


 Commissioner Greg Watson, MA Department of Agricultural Resources

 Keynote Speaker: Malik Yakini “Urban Farming Lessons From Detroit”


10:00 am -11:00 am     Session 1


Dialogue 1     Successes and Challenges to Urban Farming in Massachusetts  

This panel will explore the state of urban farming in gateway cities in the Commonwealth and the structural/policy barriers to building a viable urban farming sector in those cities. It will also share some of the success stories that are leading the Urban Farming movement. The goal of the discussion is to build a network of people and organizations in Massachusetts gateway cities to develop a gateway cities advocacy agenda to  promote the viability of the urban farming movement.    


Dialogue 2     Organics and Pest Management  

This panel of seasoned experts will help you find the best techniques for your farm and budget, covering issues such as weed management, organic herbicides, cultivation and irrigation as tools for your organic practice. You will learn about crop rotation, cover crops and soil biology, putting together a plan that can work to reduce or eliminate weeds and pests from your production system. This session will be helpful for new and beginning farmers creating an efficient plan for their business. 


Dialogue 3       Composting and Soil Fertility  

Across the United States extreme weather and other climate impacts are affecting communities and businesses. The actions of Massachusetts in building resilience to the consequences of climate change will shape our ability to adapt and prosper now and in the long term. Urban farming has the potential to contribute significantly to addressing the already observable and inevitable climate 

change impacts to urban areas in Massachusetts - it enhances community building and diversifies our food supply. Join this dynamic dialogue with Massachusetts Thought Leaders who will share and reflect on current issues pertaining to how Massachusetts can advance urban farming to prepare for building resilience in a changing climate. 


Dialogue 4      Strategies for Commercial Success for City Farms  

An urban food economy is enhanced as farming enterprises expand their business models to market local foods into retail, restaurants and other venues. Maximizing the evolving  range of marketing opportunities for Urban Farmers is the goal of this session. Today’s panelists will share their success stories, experiences, and strategies to guide you in building a viable business.  Discuss 

direct sales, diversification; value added products, and customer relationship management. This panel will help you to craft a plan to meet the growing demand for local products. 


11:10 am - 12:10 pm     Session 2


Dialogue 1      Resilient Cities: Climate Adaptation and Urban Farming 

The actions of Massachusetts in building resilience to the consequences of climate change will shape our ability to adapt and prosper now and in the long term. Urban farming has the potential to contribute significantly to addressing the already observable and inevitable climate change impacts to urban areas in Massachusetts - it enhances community building, diversifies our food supply, increases green space and more. Join this dynamic dialogue with Massachusetts Thought Leaders who will share and reflect on current issues pertaining to how Massachusetts can advance urban farming to prepare for building resilience in a changing climate. This panel is designed to formally introduce and discuss urban farming as a key component of MA climate adaptation planning. This perspective has the potential to expand the argument of the environmental, social and economic positive measurable impacts of urban farming. This perspective has the potential to expand the value of urban farming with policy makers, urban planning, funding organizations and more. 


Dialogue 2        Roof Top Urban Farming Strategies 

The possibilities abound for roof top farming and with today’s experts, you will hear about the lessons learned after a “first year” run for one local roof top farmer as well as the success stories from our seasoned panelists. Our speakers will share best practices on year-round growing, hydroponics, best crop choices, and water management practices. How can your model be fiscally and operationally sound? What do you need to consider for future expansion? Find these answers and more in this interactive dialogue. 


Dialogue 3       Marketing, Branding & Optimal Media Methods for Your City Farm 

This discussion will help urban farmers take their enterprise to the next level with the packaging of their business for optimal visibility. Advertising and social media are key components to a winning plan and our presenters will help you with standing out in a crowd, creating a distinctive look and micro-target customers. Our experts will share success stories, customer relationship management tools as well as examples to utilize social media and brand identity. What about your farm, products, services or personal history are you especially proud of or is unique? How will you balance farming and marketing opportunities? These and more guiding questions will help your business planning process.


Dialogue 4      Urban Farming Crop Planning and Production 

Our panel will share from their experience on what it takes to have a viable operation in a city setting sharing their production methods and how they address environmental concerns such as soil prep, water use and structural constraints. These experienced farmers will discuss maximizing production on your small scale farm.  

12:15 pm - 1:10 pm      Networking Lunch

1:10 pm - 2:10 pm        Session 3 


Dialogue 1        Season Extension 

With the challenges of the Massachusetts growing season, many farmers have a variety of solutions to extend their growing capacity and meet production needs. Hear our panel of experts discuss their techniques for season extension and optimizing your urban farm’s viability. This session will cover tunnel production, materials, crop selection, irrigation, harvesting, maintenance, soil protection, 

and transplants. 

Dialogue 2        Youth and Urban Farming  

More youth are leading the way to transforming empty urban land into farms and community growing spaces. There are many models that work with youth and bringing them into the conversation about farms and food. Hear the dynamic voices of several young urban growers and leaders on the work they’ve done to reshape urban spaces. What are the visions and priorities of youth leaders in the 

urban farming movement?  How do they manage the various resistance they encounter? Where do they see their futures within the urban food movement? How can more youth be engaged in this work? Get ready for an engaging session. 

Dialogue 3       Financing Urban Farming Enterprises 

The growing urban farming movement in our state has caught the eye of funding institutions and municipalities alike. Meeting the needs of this budding sector will take a strategic and comprehensive approach by our financial institutions and will also take partnerships across many sectors to identify resources and alternative funding mechanisms. Commitment and creativity to support urban 

farming is what communities need to strengthen the regional and diverse food system. Today you can participate in a conversation with leaders from several institutions, committed to engaging in the MA food systems planning process.  What are the conventional and creative vehicles needed to move capital into this new urban farming sector? This question and more will set the stage for this 



Dialogue 4        Land: Policy, Availability and Strategy 

The urban farming movement in municipalities across MA brings with it the promise of transformed vacant spaces and improving neighborhood conditions, it also presents challenges for producers.  Land insecurity issues, high infrastructure costs and zoning policies are key components that need to be addressed. Boston’s new zoning code, Article 89, serves as a model and has opened the 

conversation for city planners and entrepreneurs alike in Massachusetts. 


2:20 pm - 3:00 pm      Session 4    Mini Urban Farm Talks: 10 Minute Presentations


Urban Farm Talk 1     Building the Community Food Economy 

Urban farming is contributing to the re-localization of the entire food economy (from production, processing, and distribution to retail, consumption, and waste reprocessing). It will highlight how a more just, sustainable, and community-led food economy is emerging in Boston. 


Urban Farm Talk 2     Urban Farming without Soil? It’s Amazing (And, It’s Not About Hydroponics) 

Contaminated soil is a major barrier to inner-city food production.  Remediation is time consuming and expensive.  But several Chicago projects simply cap the soil or even grow on pavement, using compost and wood chips, but no soil.  


Urban Farm Talk 3     Cultivating Food Justice 

This talk offers different lenses to see how the intersectionality of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability and citizenship play out in the development of systemic structural and socio-spatial inequities and injustices in food systems. It develops an understanding and contextualization of the role of food justice activism within the broader narrative of the alternative food movement and offers emerging ideas about how policymakers and planners can take a role in increasing local efforts towards food justice. 


3:10 pm - 3:30 pm      Session 5    Quick Shops:  20 Minute Interactive Presentations


Quick Shop 1    Chickens in the City 

Hens can be a fantastic addition to urban farms and city yards.  Learn the basics about raising chickens for high nutrient fresh eggs, garden pest control and the latest on zoning for chickens in your neighborhood!  


Quick Shop 2     Women Urban Farmers 

Voices of Women in the Urban Farming Movement This panel seeks to shed light on some of the most salient issues facing women in movement of urban agriculture. Massachusetts has 

seen an increase in women entering the field of farming in recent years.  As women begin to find a place for their agricultural skills, how do they access resources, benefit from farming networks, increase their skill-set? Can these resources benefit urban women as they move into farming city land? Are there other issues unique to urban women that needs to be explored? 


Quick Shop 3    Legal Issues for Urban Farmers and When to Engage a Lawyer

This presentation from the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and Conservation Law Foundation will focus on common legal and regulatory issues faced by urban farmers; tips on when to engage an attorney; and key resources to help urban farmers navigate legal issues, including a new pro bono legal services program  for farmers and food entrepreneurs. 

Quick Shop 4    Urban Bee Keeping 101 

Bees in the city!? From hotel rooftops to community gardens to classroom observation hives, honey bees abound in the Boston area. At a time when bees face mounting challenges, come learn about urban beekeeping in its many forms from those who tend hives in Metro Boston for their agricultural, ecological, educational and research value. 


3:35 pm - 3:40 pm         Wrap Up

3:40 pm - 4:30 pm         Networking Reception

Panelist Bios

Dialogue1. Successes and Challenges to Urban Farming in Massachusetts Gateway Cities 

  • Amanda Barker started Nuestro Huerto Urban Farm, a thriving urban CSA with a post-industrial backdrop. 
  • Margaret Connors is Co-founder and Principal of City Growers and Co-Founder of the Urban Farming Institute, Boston.  
  • Glynn Lloyd is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of City Fresh Foods.
  • Anne Richmond is the Program Director with Gardening the Community since 2010. 
  • Lydia Sisson is the Co-Founder of Mill City Grows, an urban food production initiative in Lowell.   

Dialogue 2. Organics and Pest Management 

  • Amanda Cather is the farm manager at Waltham Fields Community Farm since 2004. 
  • Kimi Ceridon is the Boston Metro Organizer for the Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA/ Mass). 
  • Duncan Cox is currently a certification administrator for Baystate Organic Certifiers.  
  • Judy Lieberman is the co-founder and farmer at Brookwood Community Farm.

Dialogue 3. Composting and Soil Fertility 

  • Derek Christianson is the owner and farmer at Brix Bounty Farm in Dartmouth.
  • Jim Corven is a professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Plant Sciences at Bristol Community College in Fall River, MA. 
  • Bruce Fulford is owner of City Soil & Greenhouse LLC., a Boston based firm that provides environmental management and intensive crop production goods and technical services. 

Dialogue 4. Strategies for Commercial Success for City Farms 

  • Ibrahim Ali is the Youth and Project Director for Gardening the Community based in Springfield, MA. 
  • Jen Faigel is a real estate and community economic development consultant. 
  • Shani Fletcher is the Farm Manager at Victory Programs’ ReVision Urban Farm.
  • Jamey Lionette is currently employed at City Fresh, in charge of procurement, and at City Growers, both in Roxbury. 
  • Edith Murnane is the Director of Food Initiatives for the City of Boston. 

11:10 am - 12:10 pm Session 2 

Dialogue 1. Resilient Cities: Climate Adaptation and Food Security 

  • Julie Conroy serves as a Senior Regional Planner in MAPC’s Environmental Division. 
  • Crystal Johnson is an Energy Strategist and the Founder and Principal at ISES. She also presents the MA Annual Sustainable Economy Conference. 
  • MA State Representative Frank Smizik is the Chair of the MA House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. 
  • Veronica Eady is Conservation Law Foundation (CLF)’s Vice President of Healthy Communities and Environmental Justice. 

Dialogue 2.  Roof Top Urban Farming 

  • Lauren Rathmell supervises greenhouse operations, plant science, and R&D at Lufa Farms in Montreal. 
  • Brendan Shea is confounder at Recover Green Roofs, a design-build firm specializing in green roofs and living walls. 
  • John Stoddard, MS is a founder of Higher Ground Farm, a Boston-based urban agriculture company that is opening Boston’s first rooftop farm in the spring of 2013.
  • Greg Watson was sworn in as the Department’s 19th Commissioner on April 2, 2012. He also served as Commissioner (1990 to 1993) under then Governors Dukakis and Weld. 

Dialogue 3. Marketing, Branding and Optimal Media Methods for Your City Farm 

  • Myrna Greenfield is the “Top Egg” at Good Egg Marketing (goodeggmarketing.com), a Massachusetts-based business that specializes in promoting good food and good causes for farms, food producers, nonprofits, and small businesses. 
  • Nicola A. Williams is the owner and President of The Williams Agency, a full service marketing and business strategy firm that works with mission-driven projects with a focus on sustainable food and culture. 
  • Robyn Burns is the North Shore Urban Agriculture Manager for The Food Project. 
  • Bobby Walker III is a Farm Manager at City Growers and trainer for the Urban Farming Institute. 
  • Ashley Carter manages New Lands Farm, a new American farmer collective and community farm in Worcester, MA. 
  • Amanda Cather has been the farm manager at Waltham Fields Community Farm since 2004. 

1:10 pm - 2:30 pm Session 3 


Dialogue 1. Season Extension Techniques 

  • Danielle Andrews manages the Dudley Greenhouse, a 10,000 square foot production and 
  • educational greenhouse that produces food year round. 
  • Laura Feddersen is the Director of Horticulture at Green City Growers, a Somerville-based urban agriculture company. 
  • Greg Maslowe is Farm Manager of Newton Community Farm (NCF), which he has run since its inception in 2006
  • Tom Trepanier Jr. serves as production manager at Nuestras Raices, “La Finca” as the Farm Director. 

Dialogue 2. Youth and Urban Farming 

  • Tamika Francis is the Executive Director of theMOVE.
  • Jess Liborio (moderator) is the Programs & Community Outreach Manager for The Food Project’s Greater Boston Region. 
  • Chad McClain is a youth leader with Regional Environmental Council’s Food Justice Program, YouthGROW. 
  • Tyler Martin is a junior staff with “Gardening the community in Springfield, MA. 
  • Zeke Mercer-McDowall is an 18 years old senior at Another Course to College High School in Brighton who began working for The Food Project in 2011.
  • Cristal Martinez is a youth leader from the Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project, a youth-led initiative, a program of Alternatives for Community & Environment.   

Dialogue 3 Financing Urban Farming Enterprises 

  • Eric Bodzinski is with the USDA Farm Service Agency. His current position is Farm Loan Manager for Worcester, Middlesex, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Bristol County. 
  • Gustavo Perez Eugui is the Manager of Lending for New England and Internet at Accion East.
  • Ruth Goldman id currently the Consulting Program Officer at the Merck Family Fund
  • Daniel Ross is Wholesome Wave COO developing scaling strategies for innovative food & health systems social enterprises.
  • Dorothy Suput is the founder and executive director of The Carrot Project

Dialogue 4. Land: Policy, Availability & Planning 

  • Kevin Essington is the State Director for The Trust for Public land in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 
  • Barbara Knecht, R.A. has worked in various scales and types of development in cities for more than thirty years who works with UFI.
  • Jolie Olivetti has been working at Victory Programs’ ReVision Urban Farm in Dorchester, MA since 2008. 
  • John (Tad) Read is Senior Planner at the Boston Redevelopment Authority where he focuses on transit-oriented development, transportation, land use and sustainability planning. 
  • Harry Smith is Director of Sustainable Economic Development at Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. 

2:35-3:30 Session 4 


Mini Farm Talk:  (10 minute presentations) 


Urban Farm Talk 1 “Building the Community Food Economy” 

Penn Loh is Lecturer and Director of the Masters in Public Policy Program and Community Practice at Tufts University’s Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.


Urban Farm Talk 2  “Urban Farming Without Soil? It’s Amazing! 

Hugh Joseph is an Assistant Professor (adjunct) in the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program  he teaches graduate courses on Food Systems and Community Food Planning.   


Urban Farm Talk 3   “Food Justice” 

Julian Agyeman is a Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts. 


Quick shops: (20 minute interactive presentation) 

Urban Farm Talk : Chickens in the City  

  • Karen Doczi, Legalize Chickens in Boston 
  • Leonid Lacett, Mattapan Urban Farmer  

Urban Farm Talk: Women Urban Farmers 

  • Nataka Crayton-Walker has worked as an urban farmer for more than six years with the Village Farm, City Growers, and helped to create the Urban Farming Institute.
  • Kafi Dixon is a 2nd year Farming apprentice of City Growers.  
  • Jolie Olivetti has been working at Victory Programs’ ReVision Urban Farm in Dorchester, MA since 2008. 
  • Shani Fletcher is the Farm Manager at Victory Programs’ ReVision Urban 

Quick shops: (20 minute interactive presentation) 

Urban Farm Talk : Legal Issues for Urban Farmers and When to Engage a Lawyer 

  • Alli Condra is a Clinical Fellow at the FLPC.
  • Jenny Rushlow is a Staff Attorney for CLF Massachusetts in Boston, and Director of CLF’s Farm and Food Initiative. 

Urban Farm Talk:  Bee Keeping 

  • Sadie Richards, MPH, co-founded the Boston Beekeepers Club and serves as the Gardens Coordinator at Groundwork Somerville.
  • Noah Wilson-Rich earned his Ph.D. in biology from Tufts University in 2011, with a focus on honeybee health. 

Have questions about 2nd Annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference? Contact Urban Farming Institute, City Growers and MA Department of Agricultural Resources

When & Where

Northeastern University Curry Center
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

Saturday, March 8, 2014 from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (EST)

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Urban Farming Institute, City Growers and MA Department of Agricultural Resources

  Contact the Organizer
2nd Annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference
Boston, MA Events

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