33rd Annual Winter Conference

Growing the Garden State Together

January 28, 2023 at Rutgers University

Full and Partial Scholarships Available (Email nofainfo@nofanj.org for information)

NOFA NJ’s 33rd Annual Winter Conference, New Jersey’s premier organic food and agricultural event, is returning to Rutgers University on January 28, 2023!

The NOFA NJ Winter Conference is not just for farmers and gardeners… our community and audience also includes students, educators, ag industry professionals, chefs, conservationists, foodies, brewers, and more. This year, we aim to galvanize our community in a time when cooperation is needed most, focusing on local connections and collaboration that carries on into the growing season. Join us in celebration of NJ food & agriculture and help us Grow the Garden State Together!

Keynote Presentation

Jeff Moyer

CEO, Rodale Institute

Jeff Moyer is a world-renowned authority in organic agriculture with expertise in organic crop production systems, weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design. His vast experience and knowledge regarding organic farming has provided the media with a reliable source and perspective for information on current agricultural issues.

Jeff has dedicated most of his career to Rodale Institute, starting at the nonprofit in 1976. He was promoted to the position of Farm Manager in 1982 and later served as Farm Director, supervising research and operations of the 386-acre experimental farm for 15 years. Jeff was named executive director of the institute in 2015 and was appointed CEO in September of 2019. In conjunction with his position at Rodale Institute, Jeff currently serves as Board Chair of the Regenerative Organic Alliance and holds a director’s position on the board of the Soil Health Institute.

Workshop Title: Regenerative Organic: A journey towards healing

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Conference Speakers

Bonnetta Adeeb

Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance

Bonnetta Adeeb is the President of Steam Onward, Inc., an organization dedicated to increasing the number of minority and under-served youth pursuing higher education in STEM related fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In 2020, Adeeb founded the Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance (UCFA), a collective of emergent and seasoned BIPOC growers, farmers, and gardeners who cultivate and distribute heirloom seeds as well as grow culturally meaningful crops for food, healing, and textiles. Support UCFA by purchasing UJAMAA SEEDS at ujamaaseeds.com.

Workshop Title: How to Begin: Empowering Community-Based Transformation through Agriculture

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Renata Barnes

Associate Director, Outdoor Equity Alliance

Renata Barnes is the Associate Director for the Outdoor Equity Alliance. She has successfully implemented programs designed to create educational, recreational, and career opportunities for underserved community members to enjoy nature and become stewards of the outdoors. One of the most recent programs was 2021’s FoHVOS Avian Internship that paid intern salaries through a NJCF Parker Grant along with sporting 2022’s Agrihood Internship program which she introduced and wrote. Renata led OEA efforts to partner with Legislative District 15, The Mercer County Park Commission and the Trenton African American Cultural Collaborative to bring the first Juneteenth weekend festival to Trenton where she coordinated events from a Black Cowboys presentation to a reimagining of traditional African American Foods throughout Mercer County

Workshop Title: Now What? Next Steps for Sustaining Food Systems Change and the New Age of Farming

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Jess Niederer

Owner, Chickadee Creek Farm

After stints in conservation biology, ornithology, disaster relief, and development work, Jess Niederer started Chickadee Creek Farm in 2010 and instructs the NOFA NJ course Exploring the Small Farm Dream. Jess is a graduate of Cornell University and has a degree in Natural Resources. She has enjoyed her involvement in multiple Rutgers University and Pasa Farming crop and farm profitabilityy analyses.

Workshop Title: Practising Profitability

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Richard McCoy

Richard A. McCoy Horticultural Services, Inc.

Richard McCoy is a 30-year Green Industry Professional, Naturalist and owner of Richard A. McCoy Horticultural Services, Inc. Established in 1998, McCoy Horticultural became one of NJ’s leading 100% organic, ecological, and low-impact land care companies in 2005. Richard is a NOFA-accredited Land Care Professional, NJ’s first American Green Zone Alliance Certified Service Pro, a Certified Natural Turf & Landscape Manager and an advisor to industry and community groups.

Workshop Title: Introduction to Organic, Ecological, and Low-Impact Land Care

Read Full Bio      AGZA Certification Flyer  AGZA Postcard    Recommended Reading for Organic Ecological Land Care

Jared Rosenbaum

Wild Ridge Plants, LLC.

Jared Rosenbaum is a botanist, native plant grower, and Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner. He is a founding partner at Wild Ridge Plants LLC, a business that grows local ecotype native plants using sustainable practices and performs botanical surveys. Jared is the author of the book Wild Plant Culture: A Guide to Restoring Native Edible and Medicinal Plant Communities, as well as children’s book The Puddle Garden, about native plants and wildlife.

Workshop Title: Wild Plant Culture: Restoring Edible and Medicinal Native Plant Communities

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Lindsay Napolitano & Johann Rinkens

Fields Without Fences

Lindsay Napolitano & Johann Rinkens are the co-founders of Fields Without Fences, a 45-acre agroforestry operation and agroecology consulting service. On our farm, located within the Delaware River watershed, we integrate approaches found in environmental restoration, permaculture design, and regenerative agriculture to create low input, self-renewing, agroecological systems that naturally restore health and integrity to our shared landscape. Beyond our fields, we bring these practices to our consulting and design work with farmers, landowners, and organizations.

Workshop Title: Integrating Ecological Restoration & Agricultural Production

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Maria Stewart

Owner & Founder, Growing Brilliance LLC

As a grant writer, Maria has secured over $630,000 of grant funding for 13 projects that support small business expansion, research, & educational program development. In 2014, Maria completed an intensive grant writing program from the National Institutes of Health, which provides the foundation for crafting compelling funding proposals. Maria’s perspectives from her own goat dairy farm (Gorgeous Goat Creamery in Stockton, NJ) as well as eight years of academic grant writing experience have enabled her clients to secure significant support from the USDA to grow their own agricultural enterprises. Maria has a doctorate in Nutrition Science from the University of Minnesota. When she’s not writing grant proposals or tending to her goats, you’ll find her hiking or mountain biking in the forest.

Workshop Title: Funding Your Dream: Leveraging Grants to Support Your Farm’s Goals

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Lana Mustafa & Montclair Community Farms Team

Farm Director/Program Coordinator, Montclair Community Farms

Montclair Community Farms is a local non-profit whose mission is to serve as a local hands-on resource that engages and educates the community through urban farming, affordable food access and healthy living.  At the heart of Montclair Community Farms is its Coalition, partners, and community volunteers. Joining Lana will be Satoni Zaccaro (Farm Manager), Bridget Allison (Americorps Member), & Farmpreneurs (Youth Interns) 

Workshop Title: Empowering Youth in Food Systems Work

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Virginia Lamb

Founder, Groundwork Education & Consulting

Virginia Lamb is an Environmental Educator with over 25 years’ experience in recycling, composting, soil health and organic gardening. She has a BA in Environmental Studies from Stockton University and an MS in Soil Science from UMass Amherst, as well as Compost Operator certifications from Vermont DEC and the Maine Compost School. Virginia has a long history of dedication to organics management and local food production and distribution in NJ.  She has extensive experience advising local governments, companies, non-profit organizations and farmers. Virginia lives in Maplewood with her family and loveable dog Callie. 

Workshop Title: Common Ground: Why Soil Stewardship Matters to Everyone

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Kyle Smith

Owner, Smith Poultry Farm

Kyle is owner and operator of Smith Poultry Farm in Williamstown, NJ. A Veteran and first-generation farmer, Kyle raises poultry, pork, beef, and produce on his farm and on a nearby farmer’s land. He regularly hosts on-farm educational food workshops and constantly supports fellow farms and community organizations and works to decrease food security in NJ.

Workshop Title: Raising Hogs for Profit in NJ

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Jeanine Cava

Co-Founder & Lead Facilitator, NJ Food Democracy Collaborative

Jeanine Cava is the co-founder and lead facilitator of the New Jersey Food Democracy Collaborative, a statewide food system policy and systems-change network, focused on building resilience and equity in the food system through facilitating intentional cross-sector collaboration, advancing public policy, and advocating for optimization of public programs. Jeanine’s passion for food and agriculture policy comes from over a decade of working in regenerative, small-scale, community-centered agriculture, urban farming and urban food systems, healthcare-based food access programs, and firsthand experience navigating the SNAP program, both as a recipient and an authorized retailer/farm owner. She has a master’s degree in Environmental Policy & Sustainability from New Jersey Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Rutgers University.

Workshop Title: Farm & Food System Advocacy 101

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Ed Wengryn

Research Associate, NJ Farm Bureau

Wengryn is Farm Bureau’s representative for right to farm, equine agricultural management practices development, farmland assessment, and humane standards for the care and keeping of livestock including equine animals. A 1986 graduate of Delaware Valley University, Wengryn has used horses as an opportunity to introduce more people to agriculture through equine activities such as riding and equestrian sport.

Workshop Title: Farm & Food System Advocacy 101

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Hillary Barile

Co-Owner & Head Maltster, Rabbit Hill Farms

Hillary Barile is a 5th generation farmer and head maltster for Rabbit Hill Farms and Malthouse, a producer of NJ grown ingredients for craft brewers and distillers. The family farm also grows sod and commodity grains on the 585 acres in  southern NJ. As a former student of Environmental Chemistry and Farmland Conservation Planner, Hillary is particularly interested in finding strategies to build more environmentally and economically sustainable farm systems – starting with her own land. She lives on the farm with her husband and two sons.

Workshop Title: Traditions, Transitions, and Finding Our Niche

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Paige Vaccaro

Founder, CROPS NJ (Communities Revolutionizing Open Public Spaces)

After 12 years of teaching in public schools in Baltimore, Brooklyn, Newark, and suburban NJ, Paige relocated to Atlantic County and set out to forage new paths to bridge the gaps within and between communities. Paige’s zeal for helping others parallels her deep-rooted connection to the earth, which she believes is a great equalizer. By empowering people to connect with nature and with one another, she believes that everyone benefits regardless of their age, socioeconomic status, experience, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or political beliefs. Her father used to say, “Girl, no grass grows under your feet!” That saying is true because you can always find her on the move with her four children right beside her, planting seeds everywhere she can and nurturing them with love.

Workshop Title: A Revolution in Real Time: How to Achieve Against All Odds

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Kim Hines

Leadership Co-Chair, North American Food Systems Network

Kim Hines is a Leadership Co-Chair of the North American Food Systems Network and a consultant for the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. Her current interest is following national trends in local and regional food systems employment by curating public access to a national jobs board, analyzing jobs data, and career coaching. As the former Executive Director for Augusta Locally Grown in 2010-2020, Kim helped grow the local foods economy along the Central Savannah River region of Georgia. Kim serves as an adjunct assistant professor of sustainable food systems studies at Augusta University; a preceptor for graduate students at Syracuse University; and a leadership guide for Cornell University work study students. She currently lives in Washington DC.

Workshop Title: Finding Your Future in Food Systems: Professional Trends, Opportunities, & Challenges

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Lisa Martin, Jasmine Moreano, & Liz Kleisner

City Green, Inc.

City Green is an urban farming and gardening organization, based in Clifton, New Jersey. We work to increase access to healthy, local food and cultivate education in food systems, nutrition, and the environment to create livable, green, sustainable urban communities. As a result of the urban farm, garden, and greening projects carried out by the community with our help, residents have access to bountiful fresh produce; youth have volunteer, work and leadership opportunities in the community; and neighborhoods have welcoming natural respites that are a focal point for sociability, community involvement, cultural expression, and individual empowerment.

Workshop Title: Community Connections: Low-Impact Ways to Engage Community on the Farm

Learn More  City Green Community Connections Handout

Adi Benito-Herrero, MD

Princeton Integral Endocrinology

Adi Benito-Herrero, M.D., is board certified in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, and has a clinical practice in the Princeton area. She applies the knowledge obtained through rigorous academic research and clinical training in endocrinology and distills it through the wisdom of integrative medicine. She attended medical school in Spain and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Pennsylvania Hospital and a fellowship in endocrinology at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Benito completed a two-year fellowship in Integrative Medicine, four years of herbal studies, and is a certified meditation teacher.

Workshop Title: Eating for Personal & Planetary Health

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Mike Rassweiler

Owner, NorthSlope Farm

A long-established organic farmer of Produce, Flowers and Specialty Herbs, Mike and Partners have been exploring the opportunity of establishing a Cannabis Cultivation operation on his farm,under the Enterprise name NJ Grow Free llc.  In 2022 Mike was granted a Hemp Permit from the NJ Dept. of Agriculture and the results of the first season growing Cannabis Sativa for CBD flower and Hemp Seed proved the viability of growing the plant, but there remain many hurdles to overcome before securing Municipal Approval in a town that Allows “Unlimited Cultivation Centers” but prohibits farmers from growing the crop in the sun, outdoors or greenhouses.

Workshop Title: Sun-Grown Cannabis: Making It Work for NJ Farmers (Panel Discussion)

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Ken Wolski, RN, MPA

Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana–New Jersey, Inc.

Ken Wolski retired in 2006 from the State of New Jersey after 25 years of service with the Department of Human Services and the Department of Corrections. Serving various roles including Institutional Attendant, Charge Attendant, Staff Nurse, Head Nurse, Supervisor of Nurses, Quality Assurance Specialist, Quality Assurance Coordinator, and Health Services Manager, he also worked for eight years in Acute Care Facilities as an Intensive Care Unit and Cardiac Care Unit (ICU/CCU) Nurse and as a Public Health Nurse for the City of Trenton. In 2003, Ken Co-Founded the Coalition for Medical Marijuana – New Jersey, Inc. and volunteers as Chairman of the Cannabis Advisory Committee of Trenton, NJ. 

Workshop Title: Sun-Grown Cannabis: Making It Work for NJ Farmers (Panel Discussion)

Learn More      CMMNJ Handout

Smrita Choubey

Founder, Veda Farms
Smrita is the Founder & CEO of Veda Warrior, an Ayurvedic mental health company that makes plant-based vitamins for stress relief that are customized to your stress type. As an Indian American, Smrita was exposed to the art and science of holistic healing since childhood. Her family has owned and operated farms in Northern India since the 1800s, which grow Ayurvedic medicinal plants to this day. Smrita has founded Veda Farms, a regenerative cannabis company that seeks plant-based health solutions.

Workshop Title: Sun-Grown Cannabis: Making It Work for NJ Farmers (Panel Discussion)

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Ruth Peretti

Creative Director, Restauranteur, Cultivator, and Founder of Marksboro Mills

Ruth Perretti started her career in Fashion and Design, working on and off for Ralph Lauren for over 23 years, ending as Senior Vice President of Women’s Design. Her involvement in agriculture started upon opening a restaurant in Montclair, Ruthie’s BBQ and Pizza, and their subsequent purchase of  a family farm in Warren County, NJ. In 2016, Ruth began to explore regional grain growing in collaboration with River Valley Community Grains. Ruthie’s now serves pizzas made from RVCG flour. Further interest in regional food systems led to the development of  Marksboro Mill in Frelinghuysen Township, which aims to provide infrastructure for grower collaboration. Ruth also works in collaboration with Montclair Community Farms the Empowering Youth Entrepreneurs from Seed to Sale Program which received funding from the USDA with a particular focus on small grain production and vocational opportunities, and she currently serves as Board President of the Foodshed Alliance in Northwest NJ. 

Workshop Title: Growing the Grainshed: Connecting Farmers, Millers, and Bakers

Learn More      WSJ Article

Joseph Heckman, Ph.D.

Rutgers Professor of Soil Science & Owner, Neshanic Pastures

Joseph Heckman, Ph.D. Professor of Soil Science, Rutgers University, teaches courses in Soil Fertility, Organic Crop Production, and Graduate Student Seminar.  He conducts research and extension programs on optimizing nutrition and soil quality in support of plant, animal, and human health. Dr. Heckman has authored numerous publications on soil fertility and organic farming.  He is co-author of books on Fresh Milk Production, The Cow Edition and Fresh Milk Production, The Goat Edition.

Workshop Title: History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Organic Farming

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Vince Aloyo

Aloyo Apiculture and Education, LLC

As an undergraduate at Cornell University, Vincent Aloyo was introduced to beekeeping by Prof. Roger Morse and has kept honeybees since that time, in New York, Tennessee, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, as well as in The Netherlands.  He co-designed and taught a beekeeping short course as a member of the Memphis, TN Beekeeping Club, and has served as an apiary inspector in both Tennessee and Pennsylvania.  Currently, he teaches undergraduate and continuing education beekeeping courses at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, PA, and at Temple University, Ambler, PA.  Vince is a member of several local beekeeping clubs, including the Montgomery County Beekeepers’ Club, the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers’ Association and is a life member and Master Beekeeper of the Eastern Apicultural Society. In recognition of his contributions to beekeeping, Vince was named 2020 Pennsylvania Beekeeper of the Year.

Workshop Title: Management of Honeybees Using Organic Methods

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Jon E. Higgins, VMD

Acorn Farmvets LLC

Jon Higgins is a farm veterinarian specializing in ruminant medicine and herd health with 33+ years experience. Jon’s practice focuses on preventative medicine with an emphasis on parasite control in small ruminants. Dr. Higgins started acornembryo LLC in 1989 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Growing up in NJ, raising Suffolk sheep and Angus cattle, Jon worked on local farms leading to a degree from University of Vermont in Dairy Science. With a particular interest in reproduction medicine in the first 15 years, the practice has now broadened to include all species and sizes of farm animals and their farms.

Workshop Title: Parasite Management Techniques for Organic Livestock Producers

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Tomia MacQueen, Tessa Desmond, & Matt Wilkinson

Tomia MacQueen is a farmer, educator, dance instructor, and owner/operator of Wildflower Farm in Pennington, NJ. Tessa Desmond is an associate research scholar and lecturer in the Effron Center for the Study of America at Princeton University and owns Firefly Homestead in Hopewell, NJ. Matt Wilkinson is a teacher at Princeton Public High School and owns Hard Cider Homestead in Ringoes, NJ. 

Workshop Title: Integrated Systems: Balancing Family & Diversified Production on the Homestead

Nate Kleinman & Patrick McDuffee

Nate Kleinman is co-founder/co-director of Experimental Farm Network (EFN) and director of seed and farming operations for Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance (UCFA). A native Philadelphian, Nate graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2004. Prior to becoming a farmer, he mainly worked in politics and organizing. He currently serves on the executive board of the Philadelphia Orchard Project and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of NJ (NOFA-NJ), and on the administrative team of UCFA.

Patrick McDuffee is the 3rd generation of Well-Sweep Herb Farm, studying under and continuing the knowledge of renowned lecturer, Cyrus Hyde, his grandfather. Patrick brought with him a B.S. in Biology from James Madison University in 2012, giving him a deep scientific understanding of the ethnobotanical stories passed down to him.

Workshop Title: Growing & Preserving Medicinals in NJ

Leo Bridgewater

Leo Bridgewater is a U.S. Army Veteran and advocate for cannabis as medicine. He currently serves as the National Director of Veterans Outreach for Minorities for Medical Marijuana, a Partner at Heart Community Capital, and Founder of Bridge H20 LLC.

Workshop Title: Cannabis, and the State of the State