October's Member of the Month: Maria Reade
We are excited to share NOFA-VT's Member of the Month for October! In this new monthly feature, we'll choose a member to recognize each month as a way to celebrate all the wonderful people that make up the NOFA-VT community. Thank you for being a part of it!
Why are you a NOFA-VT member?
Because I believe in the work of this organization. I know that everyone on the NOFA team is 100% dedicated to meeting the varied needs of farmers and gardeners. They serve as highly respected advocates for organic agriculture throughout Vermont and the Northeast.
What do you value most about NOFA-VT’s work?
Their commitment to education through workshops, trainings, and sharing of knowledge. The staff understands that farmers and producers are insanely busy so they cut through the noise and provide the most clear, direct, and effective information possible.
How long have you been a member?
Do you identify as a…. (eater, gardener, homesteader, farmer, etc.)?
I’m both a farmer and a gardener. And most definitely an eater! Food got me into farming and gardening. I had been a fairly serious home cook but realized about ten years ago that I had no idea how to grow food. Yeah, pretty lame. So in addition to reading about growing food and volunteering on a number of farms in Vermont in 2010, I attended as many NOFA workshops as I could that summer. Long story short: Those experiences inspired me to change careers from teaching to farming and writing.
How have you been involved with NOFA-VT in the last year?
I serve as a NOFA Farm to Community mentor for southern Vermont; I write for the NOFA newsletter; I submit photographs for whatever they need. I also produced (in conjunction with videographer James Chandler) a documentary called “Vermont Farm Kids: Rooted in the Land” for NOFA’s Agricultural Literacy Week last November 2017. If NOFA offers an opportunity to create or collaborate on a project, I’m there! I also lend a hand with making pizzas whenever that beautiful wood-fired oven rolls into southern Vermont.
What's the best garden/farm experiment you did this year?
I’m a working partner with Scout Proft at Someday Farm in East Dorset. We pick up a ton of shredded office paper from the Vermont Country Store in Manchester, and we’ve been experimenting with using thick layers of that material as mulch for some of our longer term crops. It’s been amazing to see how it impedes weed growth and stimulates beneficial worm activity in the soil beneath!
Why does organic matter to you?
Because nothing healthy comes from putting potentially harmful chemicals into our food or bodies. I relish the joy of pulling a carrot from the soil or chomping on just harvested broccoli, without having to wash it first. Even better is introducing that experience to someone else and watching their eyes light up: ‘Ohhh, so this is what organic means!’
What's your number one priority for NOFA-VT this year?
To continue their advocacy work and educational mission. In turn, I will do whatever I can to support the considerable efforts of the amazing NOFA staff. I am deeply honored to be part of the extended working team and happy to serve however I can.