Northeast Organic Farming Association Organic Practices Handbook Series

2002 Annual Report for LNE02-169

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $33,014.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $17,942.00
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:

Northeast Organic Farming Association Organic Practices Handbook Series


A structure and a team including farmers, writers, artists, administrative people, a fine publishing company, and the elements of a distribution system have been set in place to produce 10 informative and readable manuals on organic agricultural practices for moderately skilled farmers. Two of the 10 manuals have already been produced and are ready to be sold. Two more are under way, with writers already working, and an artist and manuscript reviewers hired and ready.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The NOFA Organic Practices Manuals Series will produce 10 manual titles, two of which are existing books to be republished, and eight of which are to be created new. The object is to create books that will appeal to farmers interested in organic methods and improve their knowledge of agricultural principles and practices.


The project is on schedule. Chelsea Green has published “Organic Weed Management” and “Organic Soil Fertility Management” with glossy, four-color covers. (These are the two manuals, reformatted and re-bound, that NOFA/Mass produced earlier). As specified in our proposal, 200 copies of each book recently arrived at the NOFA offices for us to sell ourselves. We are currently refining a plan for offering the manuals, one that involves the seven NOFA state chapters. We’ll also be offering them to other NOFA-type organizations (MOFGA, PASA, etc.) and have had initial conversations with Andy Clark to sell through SAN. Meanwhile, Chelsea Green is offering the books in its catalog for the book trade.

Besides the two that are out, two more are in the research and writing stages––also on schedule. Elizabeth Henderson and Karl North have been hired as co-authors to write “Whole Farm Planning: Ordering the Elements of a Well-Working Organic Farm,” and Brian Caldwell to write “The Plant-Positive Way to Crop Health: Helping Nature Control Diseases and Pests Organically.” Book content committees have been set up for each, and academic experts retained to do the scientific review of the manuscripts. An artist, Jocelyn Langer, has been hired to provide the illustrations for the entire series.

As project coordinator, I oversaw the search for writers and artists and their selection, coordinated the job of refining the titles for the series, and created detailed production schedules, job descriptions and contracts for this round. I have been funneling comments on the author’s outlines of “Whole Farm and Crop Health” and working with the writers. I’ve worked closely with the manuals project committee, the core group named by the NOFA Interstate Council. The committee has exchanged many e-mails and conferred twice by telephone. The members are Bill Duesing, Steve Gilman, Elizabeth Henderson, Tom Johnson, Elizabeth Obelenus and Julie Rawson––all experienced farmers or gardeners and educators––and Jonathan von Ranson, the project coordinator/editor, with years of experience in the publishing field.

The father/daughter team of Doug and Sarah Flack of Flack Family Farm in Vermont are the special book content committee members for “Whole Farm Planning,” and the scientific reviewer is Ed Martsolf of University of Arkansas. Jim Crawford at New Morning Farm in Pennsylvania is the farmer-reviewer specialist for “Crop Health,” and two scientific reviewers––Ruth Hazzard and Rob Wick, both of the University of Massachusetts––will share scientific review of that book.

In setting up this project, a list of around 50 interested farmer/writers has been generated from all over the Northeast. These people are likely candidates to write the six remaining titles in the series.

Here are the projected titles of all ten manuals as decided by the project committee:

• Organic Weed Management

• Organic Soil Fertility Management

• The Plant-Positive Way to Crop Health: Helping Nature Control Diseases and Pests Organically

• Whole-Farm Planning: Ordering the Elements of a Well-Working Organic Farm

• Soil Resiliency and Health: Crop Rotation and Cover Cropping on the Organic Farm

• Compost, Vermicompost & Compost Tea: Feeding the Soil on the Organic Farm

• The Organic Farmer’s Guide to Marketing and Community Relations

• Organic Grower’s Guide: Humane and Healthy Production of Eggs and Poultry

• The Wisdom of Plant Heritage: Organic Seed Production and Saving

• Making Milk and Dairy Products Organically


Elizabeth Henderson

author, farmer
Julie Rawson

Executive Coordinator, NOFA/Mass
Bill Duesing

NOFA Interstate Council
Steve Gilman

author, farmer