Capturing Carbon with Vegetables: Event teaches growers to ramp up carbon flow from air to soil 

Published: 8/19/2019 9:37:15 PM
Modified: 8/19/2019 9:37:09 PM

BARRE — On Sunday, Sept. 1, the Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts chapter (NOFA/Mass) will host an educational event titled “Farming for Maximum Photosynthesis at Many Hands Organic Farm.” Attendees will be guided through this local diversified farm by farmers Julie Rawson and Jack Kittredge.

The focus of the event will be increasing the efficiency and capacity of their farm’s crops to convert CO2 into sugar — or in other words, converting atmospheric carbon into plant biomass and food for the soil’s microbes.

The study of “soil carbon sequestration,” how plant physiology, microbiology, carbon-rich soil compounds, crop management and livestock management practices intersect and influence each other, is a very active area of scientific research currently and is happening in close partnership with farmers across the world. Rawson and Kittredge are constantly innovating on their small farm to adapt their practices to incorporate the findings of these scientist-farmer collaborations — findings which point to the importance of maintaining soil cover with living plants, as well as animal and plant diversity.

Participants will experience a detailed farm tour with many stops that demonstrate the specific ways that the couple are increasing the productivity and resilience of their farm through practices that increase soil health and soil carbon. They will engage the participants in a lively discussion about the methodology, science and reasoning behind their practices, and will show attendees that, beyond the necessity and importance of this work, is a simpler motivation — as Rawson puts it, “the soil is phenomenal to work with and the farmers have more fun.”

They purchased their land in Barre in 1980 and built a house, barn and farm over the past 39 years. Their goals have always been centered around energy efficiency, stacking of enterprises, filling niches and raising as many different kinds of food – animal, vegetable, fruit and fungal – as possible. Many Hands Organic Farm has been built to maximize life in the soil, along with a rich diversity of crops and people to work on it. They are now working with their son Dan to set up a multi-generational landscape.

This educational event will be held at Many Hands Organic Farm, 411 Sheldon Rd., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pre-registration is encouraged. For more information and to register visit the NOFA/Mass events page, or email Doug Cook,

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