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10 Oct 2022

MOFFA 2023 Organic Intensives Announced 

The 2023 Organic Intensives will be held Saturday, January 7th, at the Plant and Soil Sciences Building on Michigan State University campus. The Organic Intensives are a day long event during which three separate sessions are presented giving the attendees an opportunity to acquire practical, detailed information with fellow Michigan farmers and gardeners. This event also includes an organic lunch, breaks, a few booths to browse (including the MOFFA book table), and time to meet up with old friends and make new ones. Our selection of courses this year will include Keeping Outside the Box: A Comprehensive Understanding of Sustainable Beekeeping in Today’s Declining Environment; High Costs and Supply Scares of Nutrients: Overcoming Organic Crop Fertility Challenges; and Diverse, Vigorous, and Hardy Fruits and Nuts - Native and Beyond.

Keeping Outside the Box will be presented by Jessica & Keith Steller of Steller Apiaries, who became interested in beekeeping through gardening and mead-making. Knowing their yields could be greater from the benefits of the bee’s pollination, more dedication into the husbandry and natural life cycle of the bee evolved. In this session they will present what they have learned over 15 years of alternative beekeeping methods. The day will start with a look into top bar hives, sustainable and biodynamic practices, and the natural life cycle of the bee followed by a section on the steps of procuring a hive and bees. Alternative apiary management practices will be the focus of the next section covering living outside of medications, building colony numbers, tending with intention, winterizing, and off-season planning. This full day will end with an informative talk on apitherapy and alternatives to beekeeping for honey production. Each section will allow time for Q&A and a roundtable discussion.
In 2022, farmers and producers across the country saw the price of conventional fertilizers skyrocketing. Looking for alternatives, many turned to fertility sources that organic farmers had traditionally relied on, driving the price of these materials up as well as causing shortages for everyone. If this trend continues many are considering how they are going to be able to provide the necessary fertility for crops in the future. Our session, High Costs and Supply Scares of Nutrients: Strategies for Overcoming Organic Crop Fertility Challenges, will look at the problems being encountered, general soil needs, and alternative strategies and systems that may be helpful. The session will include information from researchers working on these issues and the real life experience of producers with alternative strategies for obtaining the nutrients that their crops need. 
Our third session will bring together three presenters with well over 50 years of experience with native, non-native, and exotic fruits and nuts. Allyson Levy and Scott Serrano, authors of Cold-Hardy Fruits and Nuts: 50 Easy-to-Grow Plants for the Organic Home Garden or Landscape,  garden all year long at Hortus Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, a level II accredited arboretum. The gardens have an extensive collection of unusual edible and decorative plantings. By trialing both native and exotic plants, their goal is to push the limits of what can be successfully grown in Zone 6, and help fellow gardeners expand their knowledge base and incorporate some of these garden-worthy plants at home. For the Organic Intensives they will present on Resilient Native Fruiting Plants and Low Maintenance Fruiting Plants from around the World. Ken Asmus of Oikos Tree Crops will present his experience in non-cultivar based plant breeding. First he will share techniques and tips for propagation of woody perennials and continue with how to establish and maintain these plants in an open field/permaculture situation. The principles Ken has learned over several years of experience can also be applied in orchard plantings and conservation or ecology situations. 
Stay tuned to www.moffa.net for more information and to see when registration opens. We hope to see you in January for what promises to be a very interesting and informative Organic Intensive.