Local Chapters

Westminster, MA

This BFA Discussion Group is located in and around Westminster, MA.
To contact/join, please see the contact info on the left.

Chapter Benefits & Projects: 

The Westminster BFA Discussion Group spearheads "The Growing Great Food (and Flowers!) Working Group", now in its sixth year! They meet every second Sunday of the month, January through November. Different people will be contributing to the content as the season moves along. Topics vary, but examples include building permaculture concepts into homeowner-based landscape designs, basics of soil development, balancing nutrients and the living plants digestive system, troubleshooting in a real yard with real gardens, cover crops and other wintering techniques, and more!

Another set of discussions is the "Backyard Growing Series" - a four-part series sponsored by Westminster’s Agricultural Commission. The series of discussions will be held January to April, on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, from 6:30-7:30pm, and is free and open to the public.

Upcoming Events & Meetings: 

The 2020 Backyard Growing Series
When: Every third Tuesday of the month, January - April from 6:30-7:30pm
(January 21, February 18, Mar 17, April 21)
Where: Forbush Memorial Library, Eloranta Room, 118 Main St, Westminster, MA 01473 [map]

“Biochar is a carrier of nutrients and a habitat for microorganisms” and isn’t that a statement and a half! Neil Blanchard knows how to make bio-char – but even more important…he knows WHY we SHOULD make biochar. Biochar is the modern version of an OLD idea that’s part of a fantastic soil called Amazonian Terra Preta. Over 2000 years ago, people figured out that adding charcoal and compost (our terms) into a soil could stabilize nutrients and carbon in fast eroding tropical soils (lots of water, then drought and always heat). Biochar can hold up to 5X its weight in water and can hold enormous amounts of dissolved nutrients - as well as providing condos and high-rise apartment housing for all kinds of soil microbes. Neil will fill us in on all of the details. This is a fascinating reach into history for a future solution. Come check it out!!

For more information on this series, please email altobelliml260@comcast.net and put BYG in the subject line.

Growing Great Food (and Flowers!) Working Group 2020 Schedule
When: Every second Sunday of the month January through November from 2:30-4:30 pm.
See more details below
Where: Unless otherwise noted, 7 South St, Westminster, MA - Public Safety Building, Conference Room [map]
***Please park in the school parking lot opposite the building – don’t want you to be towed!***

The goal of the "Growing Great Food (and Flowers!) Working Group" is to produce the best quality plants of all kinds (fruits, flowers, veggies, trees…) for anyone who’s interested in asking questions, experimenting and participating. The end result should be that you have the best gardens that you’ve ever had and food to store, sell or share with family and friends – a win/win for sure! Healthy plants (food and flowers!!) make for a healthy body and a healthy community! You've heard that food is medicine? Well – it can be if grown well with all of the minerals needed to create a healthy plant. Healthy plants also help to brighten a neighborhood (everyone LOVES to look at flowers) and definitely help with climate change (and THAT’S a story to know about!). If any of this sounds interesting then come and check it out! We're looking forward to meeting you ☺

Note from ML (3/24/2020):
We stand at the beginning of a very strange start for the 2020 gardening season! Many of us have always had gardens and are moving steadily into the start of this year’s production…and then there are A LOT of people who are suddenly aware of the food supply chain and are gardening for the first time in years – or ever! I’m getting questions from a lot of different people and I suspect some of you are too!

Today is the first day for the shelter-in-place decree in Massachusetts (and the first real snow in weeks!) so it seemed like the perfect time to launch a Growing Great Food and Flowers Facebook page. I know some of our group are not Facebook aficionados (in fact, that’s most of us)– and I get it. But… it’s what we have for now and I say we make the most of it. Community has to continue somehow and somewhere and this seems doable… I already work with the Westminster Farmer’s Market page and I have learned a bit (if only a bit!!) about how it works. I’m more than happy if someone else wants to take this on and help to expand what we can do with it. I admit to staying in my somewhat comfort zone… Please join us!

We are most likely going to miss our April meeting for the first time - bummer but there you have it …If we can work it out then I’ll let you know ASAP. However!! We can keep the energy going and I think we more than should – even if that means some of us have to use Facebook even if only for this one thing

There have been more than a few requests for information on a whole range of gardening issues – how to start, how to grow, how to transplant…you get the idea. Let's start this page as a Q&A for all of us whether newbie or advanced gardener....and let’s get everyone involved who's been part of GGFF or who has experience growing plants for the last few years to add their experiences and solutions. There are a lot of really talented people who have a lot of experience at this point – let's use it! No one knows it all and we can all learn from each other. If we need more in-depth answers then I'll put information on the Greenery in Motion website as handouts or worksheets or….We do have all of the information from the earlier meetings. Add pictures as you can.

A few rules – but only three!
1) No politics! Granted there’s a lot that could be discussed but NOT ON THIS FORUM!!
2) I don't want to be the only one posting information. I'm happy to be part of the group but not the only one answering questions. We're going to get questions about chickens – no-one can keep chicks in stock - and I do ducks not chickens!! Goats – that's different :)
3) Anything that has to do with supporting and managing the living ecosystem we all share is appropriate but let's not turn this into a technology showcase. Yes – we all use our phones and computers but – here - only as adjuncts to the reality of growing and managing living systems… If you do have websites or apps that you've found to be invaluable – share them but not music or other sites etc. I'll add some of the websites that we've referenced through the years in individual posts as appropriate and you should feel free to do so as well.

Most likely, we won’t be meeting in April – at least on the original day and place scheduled (no town property use…). I do want to hold onto our mineral mixing day in May if at all possible so I’ll need to know if you're interested in getting involved if allowed and how much you'll be needing. The minerals still need to be ordered ahead of time. I'll confirm with everyone who signs up and no guarantee implied on my behalf or money needed on yours until we're further down this very weird time line…

OK – enough for now. Stay safe and healthy and plan to grow great food and flowers this summer!
- ML

Dates and topics for 2020

Download schedule here

February 9
Planting calendars, seed planning and starting, selecting plants for beneficial insect support

March 8
Taking and rooting different kinds of cuttings in different settings
Note: workshop to be held at Emerald City @ 51 Main St, Westminster, MA [ map ]
You’ll be able to see how some of the most current technology is working for speeding up the rooting of cuttings. We’ll take the cuttings on March 8th and you’ll be able to stop back and see how they’re progressing, and finally take home a rooted cutting.
We need to know numbers as space is somewhat limited. If you are interested in participating – please RSVP to altobelliml260@comcast.net and put BYG in the subject line.
If you have a plant that you would like to practice on - please bring it along and we’ll see what we can do (no promises!!), or provide details with your RSVP. Plants or cuttings available will be basil, fuchsia, bay tree, salvia and, perhaps, a few others.

April 12 - cancelled - see note above
Inoculating logs for edible mushrooms

May 10 @ ML’s Farm
Basics of good planting, hands on
On-Farm Mineral Mixing Day. Must attend the April event if planning on attending

June 14
Making and examining Compost tea

July 12
Working with biodynamic compost and plant bio-accumulators

August 9
Cover crops, weed suppression and other options

September 13
How good is our produce? And what are we comparing it to.

October 11 @ Westminster’s Senior Center
Food storage – concentrating on lacto-fermentation and root cellars.

November 8
Tasting pot-luck, wrap up and seed swap

There’s always room for more interested people so come and bring your energy ☺
Healthy plants help to create healthy communities and healthy people!
For more information email altobelliml260@comcast.net and put GGFF in the subject line