1971 - 2021
NOFA-NH's 50th Anniversary Archive
Celebrating Five Decades of Organic Farming, Gardening and Food

History & Archives

In 1971, the Northeast Organic Farming Association was started by Samuel Kaymen along with a group of young environmentalists, farmers, and concerned citizens. Since that time, the organization has grown branches in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. NOFA-NH is proud to be a founding chapter along with our neighbors at NOFA-VT.

This page is home to some of our archived material, including:

 

Were you involved in NOFA in the early days? If so, do you have photos, pamphlets, stories, or other archival information to share? Please contact us!

ORGANIC ROOTS

50 Years of the Northeast Organic Farming Association

Documentary Film

In June of 1971, farmers and homesteaders gathered on a Vermont hillside with one thing in common: the desire to grow food in a way that was healthy for themselves and for the earth. This is the story of the organization that was born that day - NOFA. See the faces and hear the voices of the people who have nurtured the NOFA community and the organic movement in this region for the last 50 years. Full Documentary.

​​To hear more from the 50th anniversary of NOFA in 2021, watch ”Thrilling Tales of Yesteryear”a lively panel discussion of dynamic early members who laid the groundwork for NOFA. And “The Next 50 Years of NOFA”, where three founding farmers and four younger organic activists turn their gaze to the future of our movement to create a way of life centered in just, equitable and diverse communities.

​​To hear more from the 50th anniversary of NOFA in 2021, watch ”Thrilling Tales of Yesteryear”a lively panel discussion of dynamic early members who laid the groundwork for NOFA. And “The Next 50 Years of NOFA”, where three founding farmers and four younger organic activists turn their gaze to the future of our movement to create a way of life centered in just, equitable and diverse communities.

Conversations With the Founders Video Series

We were delighted to speak with a number of NOFA's founders, early volunteers, members and board members in honor of our 50th anniversary. Hear from those who seeded the movement about the most important things NOFA accomplished in its first 50 years, our most pressing tasks for the future, advice for beginning farmers, favorite memories, overcoming hardships, and so much more.

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Featured Founders: One-on-one Interviews

Compilations

 

We are grateful to the many individuals who helped grow NOFA and the organic farming community in New Hampshire through the years.

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Samuel Kaymen convened the first meeting of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) in June of 1971 on a hillside in Westminster West, Vermont, to learn more about organic farming and meet like-minded farmers. It turned out, there were many growers who felt the same way. Over the following 50 years, the organization has developed seven branches across the region representing thousands of farmers, gardeners, educated consumers and activists in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York. After starting NOFA, Samuel went on to found the successful dairy company, Stonyfield. Learn more about NOFA’s history, challenges and successes through the years along with Samuel's hopes for the future.

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Gary Hirshberg was an early Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) volunteer, and early partner in the successful dairy company, Stonyfield. He later served as the company's CEO and Chair, founded the Hirshberg Entrepreneurial Institute, and other ventures. Gary's wife, Meg Hirshberg, started the New Jersey chapter of NOFA, and the two met at a NOFA conference. Learn more about NOFA’s history, challenges and successes through the years along with Gary's advice, current activities, and hopes for the future.

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Paul Doscher was an early Northeast Organic Farming Association conference volunteer and NOFA-NH board chair. He was also involved in getting the first New Hampshire organic certification program passed by the state legislature in 1985. Paul's farm was the recipient of Rodale's National Organic Gardener of the Year award in 1986, and he continues to steward the land, growing organic Christmas trees at Windcrest Farm. Learn more about NOFA’s history, challenges and successes through the years along with Paul's advice and hopes for the future.

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Timothy Meeh and Jill McCullough were early Northeast Organic Farming Association volunteers, conference goers, and members. Jill served as the NOFA-NH membership coordinator and was a member of the NOFA-NH board of directors. The two have been farming at North Family Farm since 1974 where they continue to produce hay, maple syrup, honey, and firewood with an emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Learn more about NOFA’s history, challenges and successes through the years along with Timothy and Jill's advice and hopes for the future.

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Chuck Cox was board president of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire in the 1980s. He has been farming organically at Tuckaway Farm with his family for decades, growing vegetables, fruits, grains, hay, oilseed crops, Indigenous corn, and raising livestock using draft horse power and no/low-till practices whenever possible. Learn more about NOFA’s history, challenges and successes through the years along with Chuck's advice, insights, and hopes for the future.

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Mary (Shields) Kerwin was a Northeast Organic Farming Association workshop and conference educator in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. In addition to farming and education, she sold garlic and herbs for some of the early NOFA conferences, and in the 1970s, hosted NOFA's founder, Samuel Kaymen, for a one day soil science course on her farm – a lecture she describes as life-changing for many in attendance. Learn more about NOFA’s history, challenges and successes through the years along with Mary's advice and hopes for the future.

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Kirke Olson is a clinical and school psychologist, former homestead farmer, and early Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire volunteer and board member who also orchestrated the NOFA conference catering in the 1970s, placing an emphasis on sourcing local, organic foods. Learn more about NOFA’s history, challenges and successes through the years along with Kirke's advice and hopes for the future.

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Rick Estes was a farmer, early member and board member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire. He was also involved in writing the first organic certification standards for the state of New Hampshire and helped run the program for several years before it was moved to the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food. Learn more about NOFA’s history, challenges and successes through the years along with Rick's advice and hopes for the future.

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NOFA's Most Important Accomplishments in Its First 50 Years

The Northeast Organic Farming Association was founded in New Hampshire and Vermont in 1971. From helping to develop organic certification to bringing farmers markets into the mainstream, hear about NOFA's most important accomplishments over its first 50 years from those who seeded the movement in this short compilation.

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Next 50 Years of Organic Growing in NH

From 1971 to today, the Northeast Organic Farming Association has been working to support small organic farmers and gardeners, and the organic food community. From education to mitigating climate change, advocacy to business skills, hear about NOFA's most pressing tasks for the future from those who seeded the movement in this short compilation.

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Advice for Beginning Farmers

The Northeast Organic Farming Association was founded in 1971 with the intention of growing a learning community of organic farmers. Fifty years later, seven state chapters continue to gather, educate, and represent thousands of farmers and gardeners of all experience levels across the northeast. In this compilation, a group of NOFA's early founders, educators, and volunteers share their time-tested tips for those just starting out.

 Stories, Memories & Anecdotes 

Early members, volunteers, and supporters shared some of their memories and history with NOFA-NH below!

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Edward and Christine Stockman (above) owned what may have been the first and only organic farming and gardening supply store in New Hampshire in the 1970s. Ed was a biology teacher in Belmont and a market gardener who, in seeing the need firsthand, began selling organic farming and gardening supplies from Vermont Organics out of his own barn in West Franklin, NH, after school and on Saturdays during the spring.

Ed attended early NOFA meetings led by Samuel Kaymen as well as the first three NOFA conferences. In addition to teaching in the Belmont school district, he taught organic food production in the evenings at Laconia Tech.

 

In 1984, Ed and his family moved to Plainfield, MA, for better farmland where he has been living and farming ever since. Once in Massachusetts, Ed became closely involved with NOFA/Mass. He was an organic agriculture Extension educator, and taught NOFA Summer Conference workshops for over 30 years, as well as Winter Conference workshops in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

 

Like NOFA, Ed is celebrating 50 years of farming in 2021. Today, he manages 200 high bush blueberries and a home garden. He is the Chairman of the NOFA/Mass policy committee, cofounder of Massachusetts GMO Right to Know, which worked to establish GMO labeling in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut, and is the cofounder of Regeneration Massachusetts, a statewide organization dedicated to educating consumers about the healthy, carbon-capturing soils associated with regenerative organic agriculture and the critical role they play in human nutrition and in mitigating climate change. 

 

Ed is proud to have been a part of the organic movement in its early years and to see this work carried forward by his sons: one is a full-time organic farmer in Vermont and the other is an organic gardener in Massachusetts. 

 

David Trumble, Farmer at Good Earth Farm and Former Board Member shared his experiences with NOFA-NH in the 1980s, including the early days of organic certification in New Hampshire:

NOFA-NH has long been the primary voice for organic agriculture in New Hampshire. In the late 1980s, I was on the Board of Directors of NOFA-NH and served as the Program Director. There was a real feeling of camaraderie on the Board. We all worked together to promote organic agriculture, which was in its early years and many people did not consider it a viable alternative. 

 

One of my biggest memories of NOFA-NH was the start of the Organic Certification program. In the beginning, NOFA-NH was the certifying agent for organic in New Hampshire (as the delegated agent of the NH Department of Agriculture). In the first year, 1987, eight of us had our farms certified as organic. The certification was essentially done by the Board. As a group we reviewed the paperwork and Rick Estes (President of NOFA-NH) did the field inspections. NOFA-NH did organic certification for a couple of years and the number of farms increased slowly. Vickie Smith from the NH Department of Agriculture came to our monthly board meetings. One evening, Vickie asked what we would think if NHDA took over the Organic Certification? The consensus reaction was enthusiastic support. We did not have the resources to expand the program and felt that NHDA would give certification increased credibility. Vickie ran the program at NHDA for many years, and they have turned it into one of the best programs in the country.  A historical note is that the first draft of the farm-level organic rules for New Hampshire was put together by Rick Estes (an organic farmer as well as President of the Board) with the invaluable help of two experienced organic farmers, Mark Lucard of Henniker, and Bruce Kaufman from New Durham. 

 

In 1991, I started a CSA and have been a CSA farmer ever since.  When my wife and I had two children it became harder to keep running our own CSA. I had read about a multi-farm CSA in Kansas and in 2001 approached NOFA-NH about starting something similar. Elizabeth Obelenus was the Program Coordinator for NOFA-NH and was enthusiastic about the idea. Together we submitted a SARE grant to help Local Harvest CSA get started. Elizabeth was an amazing person and was the first Manager for Local Harvest CSA. Long time organic farms from the beginning that are still members of Local Harvest CSA are Kearsarge Gore Farm, Vegetable Ranch, Middle Branch Farm, Stone Ridge Farm and Good Earth Farm. Almost 20 years later, we are still providing organic produce from 6 organic farms to over 200 members. I am grateful to Elizabeth and NOFA-NH for their support in helping us get started.


Congratulations to NOFA on 50 years of service to the soil, to organic farmers and gardeners, and everyone in the local organic food community. I hope NOFA is still active and growing in another 50 years.

 

David Trumble
Good Earth Farm
Weare, NH

 Photos, Flyers & More 

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A profile of Samuel Kaymen, NOFA's founder, in New Roots for the North, 1981.

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Poster from the 6th annual NOFA conference, held at UNH, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Stuart Hill, (then) Director of the Ecological Agricultural Project.

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Program guide from the 8th annual NOFA conference, held at UNH, 1982. 

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New Hampshire Farm Products Guide (above and below), designed and published by NOFA-NH,1979. 

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