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Around Amherst: Scientist, orchardist to speak at Organic Farming Association summer conference



Staff Writer
Thursday, August 03, 2017

AMHERST — A scientist who has expressed concerns about genetically modified foods and an herbicide used in a popular weed-killer product will be at the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s summer conference.

Don Huber, professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University, will discuss how genetically engineered, or GMO, foods, and glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, are affecting livestock and soil when speaking at the conference, which runs from Aug. 11 to 13 at Hampshire College. Huber is scheduled to talk Aug. 12 at 3 p.m.

Organic orchardist Michael Phillips will be the other main speaker, talking about his research into how mycorrhizal fungi can support soil fertility during the keynote address on the opening day. He will speak Aug. 11 at 7:30 p.m.

The conference, which is open to the public, is a gathering of organic farmers and gardeners who participate in more than 130 workshops, activities such as a country fair and youth conference, and connect with others with an aim to create more environmentally friendly food systems.

Julie Rawson. director of NOFA’s Massachusetts chapter, said in a statement that Huber is an important scientist.

“He has stood up against the ‘big boys’ on this issues of genetic engineering and glyphosate and taken a huge amount of heat because of his personal integrity,” Rawson said.

Phillips, too, is a steward for the Earth, she said.

“To be such a mentor to those who would raise organic apples, a very challenging crop for the Northeast, puts him right in the center of what is best about NOFA,” Rawson said.

Fort River School listening session

With a feasibility study for the Fort River School building and site being funded by Town Meeting, school officials are beginning the process of soliciting public input.

The Amherst School Committee and Interim Superintendent Michael Morris are inviting residents to a listening session Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Town Room at Town Hall. A second session, at a location to be determined, will be held Sept. 14 at 6 p.m.

The evening will include an overview of the feasibility study process and the responsibilities of the School Building Committee, which will oversee the study. The public can share ideas and ask questions.

Clambake event

An annual clambake put on at the Newman Catholic Center at the University of Massachusetts will be held Aug. 20 at the 472 North Pleasant St. site.

Guests who come to the Newman Cafe will have a choice of lobster or roast chicken, along with steamers, clam chowder, corn on the cob, potatoes and dessert.

Dinner is served at 5:30 p.m., with doors opening at 4 p.m. Reservations for the fundraising meal can be made at www.newmanumass.org or by calling 549-0300 by Aug. 10.

For more information about the meal and its cost, contact Virginia Webb at v.webb@diospringfield.org

Habitat for Humanity presentation

A discussion of Habitat for Humanity, inspired by the summer reading program theme “Build a Better World,” takes place at the Jones Library’s Woodbury Room Aug. 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Since 1989, more than 39 homes have been built by the Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity. A new Habitat project is rising in North Amherst near Simple Gifts Farm.

For more information, contact Janet Ryan, head of programming and outreach, at 259-3223.

Meetings

TUESDAY: Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee, 4:30 p.m., middle school arboretum; Historical Commission, 7 p.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall.

THURSDAY: Zoning Board of Appeals, 6 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.