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The 12th Annual NODPA Field Days and Annual Meeting September 27 & 28, 2012
Vermont Agricultural Business & Education Center, Brattleboro, VT

By Nora Owens, NODPA event coordinator

Register now for the conference >


Added September 10, 2012. With NODPA’S Field Days and Annual Meeting just around the corner, now’s the time to sign up. The program, Farming Smarter: A Nutrient and Energy Dense Agenda to Help Farmers Become More Self-Reliant, is a direct response to this year’s grain shortages, high feed prices, low profit margins and dramatic weather patterns. NODPA is bringing together a rich array of national and regional leaders to share their knowledge and ideas about how farmers can become more self-reliant by growing more of their own feed in healthy, rich soil, and to consider whether diversifying their farming operations is an option for them.

NODPA’s Field Days will be held in Southern Vermont’s beautiful city of Brattleboro, at the Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center on Thursday, September 27th and Friday, September 28th. In addition to workshops, panel discussions and 2 farm tours, there will be a banquet of local food followed by our keynote speaker, Wisconsin Dairy Farmer Cheyenne Christianson. We will begin Field Days with the farm tours, meeting first at Miller Dairy followed by the Franklin’s Farm. Registration and lunch will follow at the Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center. For the full program, see below.

“Throughout the past twelve years, we’ve learned that one of the most important reasons farmers and their families travel to Field Days is to see one another; learn about new resources; share ideas and the latest gossip; and enjoy fresh local food, together,” said NODPA Board President, Liz Bawden.

We have a great trade show, too, with representative from all sectors of the Organic Dairy industry attending a very full trade show. Check out who will be there in the box below.
“Again this year, registration is free for organic dairy farm families, and transitioning dairy farmers and their families receive a free banquet dinner, because of the very generous support of NODPA’s many sponsors and supporters,” said Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director. (For boxes below for a full list of sponsors and supporters.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Meet at farms for start of field days.

8:30 am to Noon Farm Tours led by Dairy and Livestock
Specialist Willie Gibson

8:30 to 10 am Miller Dairy
1732 Bridgeman Rd., Vernon, VT 05354

10:30 to noon Franklin Farm
4708 Weatherhead Hollow Rd., Guilford, VT 05301

12:30 to 1:30 NODPA Field Days Registration and Lunch
Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center
8 University Way, Brattleboro, VT 05301

1:30 – 3:00 There are No Shortcuts to Productive Pasture! How to avoid the 10 top mistakes in pasture management

Grazing experts Sarah Flack (VT), Cindy Daley (CA) and Kathy Soder (PA) share their experience of managing organic pasture across the country.

3:00 – 3:30 Milk Break

3:30 – 5:00 Maintaining Cow Health while having
Realistic Production Goals and a Good Cash Flow

UVM Ag Economist Bob Parsons, USDA Resources Conservationist Karen Hoffman, Klaas Martens, Lakeview Organic Grain, NY, and Les Morrison, Morrison Custom Feeds, VT will discuss winter feed supply projections and the most efficient feed utilization based on market conditions and anticipated pay price.

5:00 – 6:00 Social Hour and Trade Show
Light refreshments and time to visit the trade show

6:00 – 7:00 Banquet and NODPA Annual Meeting
Welcome by Liz Bawden, NODPA President
NODPA Year in Review, Ed Maltby, NODPA Exec. Director

7:00 – 8:00 Keynote Speaker
Cheyenne Christianson, Wisconsin Organic Dairy Farmer and Educator, shares his experience of operating a 325 acre grass-based, no-grain organic dairy in Wisconsin.

8:00 – 9:00 Q & A and Farmer Discussion
A time for follow up questions with Cheyenne Christianson and for broader discussions among attendees.

Friday, September 28, 2012

6:30 – 9:00 am Continental Breakfast

7:00 – 9:00 Producer-Only Meeting and continuation of NODPA Annual Meeting

9:00 – 10:45 Nutrient Dense Forages and Soil Health: The basis for a sustainable future

Jack Lazor, Butterworks Farm, (VT), Dr. Cindy Daley, Chico College of Agriculture, CSU, (CA), and Dr. Heather Darby, UVM, (VT), share their ideas and philosophies on the importance of whole-farm health with practical examples on improving the soil for a sustainable and profitable future for the organic family farm.

10:45 – 11:00 Milk Break

11:00 – 11:45 The 2012 Farm Bill and Beyond: What’s happening behind the scenes in Washington

Annette Higby, Policy Director, New England Farmers Union, Dave Rogers, Policy Director, NOFA-VT, and Ed Maltby, Executive Director, NODPA, will discuss the Farm Bill and current policy issues that will impact organic dairy farm families.

12:00 – 1:30 pm Lunch and Door Prize Drawing

1:30 – 3:00 Diversification and your Farm’s Future: Is it possible to enjoy greater profits by diversifying farm and non-farm operations?

Faye Benson, Leader, Cornell Small Dairy Team, will explore the opportunities and challenges of diversification, including direct marketing, leasing land to energy companies (gas, solar, wind, cell towers), selling more crops and milking fewer cows. Panelists: Jeanette Fellows, MA organic dairy farmer, raw milk producer and cheese maker, PA organic dairy farmer Dave Johnson, retired ME dairy farmer Henry Perkins and WI dairy farmer Cheyenne Christianson.

3:00 – 5:00 Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) Organic Check-Off Program Proposal and Discussion

A panel discussion during which OTA personnel will describe their proposal for an Organic Check-Off Program and other panelists will express their alternatives. Participants will have the chance to weigh in on their preferences; ask questions of the panelists; and discuss whether an organic check-off program is in the best interest of organic dairy farmers.


VABEC (Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center) is located in Brattleboro, in the southeast corner of Vermont close to the New Hampshire and Massachusetts lines.

From the North and South: Take US 91 to Brattleboro Exit 1. Follow Canal Street toward Brattleboro. Turn right on Fairground Road. Turn right on South Main/Old Guilford Road. VABEC is a collection of red farm buildings on the right just before Ft. Dummer State Park.

From the East and West: Take Rt. 9 into Brattleboro. Go south on Main St. to Canal Street, then turn left on South Main Street. Follow South Main (it turns into Old Guilford Road). VABEC is a collection of red farm buildings on the right just before Ft. Dummer State Park.


Participants are encouraged to make lodging plans early. There are a number of very cost-effective hotels and inns in and around the Brattleboro area but these will be filling up fast with the ‘leaf-peeping’ tourists, so please plan ahead.

You can make reservations for hotels, motels, B&B’s or inns by visiting travel websites such as or by ‘googling’ Brattleboro VT lodging. Prices begin around $60 and go up at places such as Holiday Inn Express, Quality Inn and Super 8.

The local KOA Campsite has cabins, trailer hook-ups and tent sites available, call 800-562-5905 or visit for more information. For a more rustic option, Fort Dummer State Park, just minutes away, has off-season camping available, however there are no restrooms available after the season ends at Labor Day. Call the park phone 802-254-2610 for more information.

Have questions? Call Nora Owens, Field Days Coordinator, 413-772-0444 or email her at