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Tributes to Jack Kittredge & Julie Rawson

Jack and Julie Sep 2020

Jack & Julie, 2020. Photo provided by NOFA/Mass.

Jack and Julie attended their first NOFA/Mass meeting in the fall of 1984. For well more than three decades, the dynamic and dedicated duo has been integrally involved in NOFA, at the State and

regional level. With Julie’s nack for organizing and Jack’s fiscal savviness, they together ran the NOFA Summer Conference for 24 years! Among other roles, Julie served as Board member of NOFA/Mass until she became the Executive Director. She was treasurer of the NOFA Interstate Council (IC) until just last year. Jack was long-time Policy Director of the NOFA IC, he was on the NOFA/Mass certification committee for 12 years and, from 1988 until December of 2020, Jack was editor and publisher

of The Natural Farmer, expanding its readership and frequency from twice a year to quarterly. Jack and Julie retired from their NOFA roles last year and still own and operate Many Hands Organic

Farm in Massachusettes. The following tributes are just a snippet into how amazing these two people are and how much they’ve given to NOFA. From all of us at NOFA, Thank You!

Jack was the heart and soul and editor of TNF for decades.  His research into both sides of every topic, and non-biased approach, welcomed many diverse thoughts and voices a place in NOFA nation. TNF never preached, it informed, with facts and evidence.   Jack is irreplaceable, but we must move on.  This is on top of Julie retiring as ED of NOFA MA a month ago. In the last 2 years or so, we have seen every state chapter have leadership changes of one sort or another with new ED’s in every state chapter.  The message is clear to me

that the torch is being passed to a new generation of back-to-the landers or other like minded folks who see the tremendous value that organic food can have on a family, village, region, nation, world.  I see the new leaders as ones who have the same passion for organic practices and principles despite having grown up in a vastly different world than the one many of us 65+ folks grew up in. Jack

For many years Jack Kittredge has been the voice and public face of NOFA as the editor of The Natural Farmer. Every issue takes a deep dive into a timely issue for a thorough exploration of the topic from many viewpoints. The Natural Farmer is a marvelous educational tool for NOFA members and has also been used by agriculture students due to the depth and breadth of the articles. Thank you, Jack, for your long service to NOFA and your dedication to promoting organic farming and food. Your voice will be sorely missed! Stephanie

As an inspector who has worked over the years for about a dozen organic organizations, I have been on their mailing lists and have many of their periodic publications. The Natural Farmer is not the glossiest of these publications but in my opinion, it is the best. I rely on it to provide timely information on regional, national and sometimes international news that is relevant to the organic community. Its articles are always well written, informative and interesting. Its inserts are a valuable education resource for those of us growing or consuming organic food or other products. Al

I have known Jack and Julie since we started the NOFA chapter in MA in 1983. From that time on, I admired the way they built their homestead, ran their farm, participated in their community and raised their family of four children the many hands. My son gothis first experience that led to his career as a teacher watching the Rawson-Kittredge brood at NOFA gatherings. Jack could have made a lot more money at some other work.  He chose to live on the edge of the woods, in a small town, standing aside as the strong woman hehad chosen as a partner took the lead role in running their organic farm. Jack’s life is a wonderful demonstration of a principle that our society desperately needs to understand and embrace appreciating that what you have is enough and living that fully. Although (or maybe because) Jack is more of a libertarian than I, he has given me reign on the pages of TNF to write about political issues that he does not fully embrace food justice, food sovereignty. We quietly agree to disagree quite a contrast with the current style of public debate. Liz

Long before I joined the NOFA-NJ Staff, I enjoyed The Natural Farmer. It is truly a member benefit that supports organic farming. The themes havea wonderful depth of exploration that are deeply appreciated by the NOFA community. Thank you Jack, for leading this publication for many years.  I hope you enjoy a well-deserved retirement. Nagisa

I am so sad to learn of your resignation from NOFA. I cannot imagine a NOFA without you and Jack. You both have been the backbone of the organization for so long. I hope time will heal all wounds and we can be together again. Thank you both for your many years of dedicated service and all you have done to further our mission. All best wishes. Stephanie

At this late hour it is with great sadness that I read your letter, Julie. Ever since I’ve known you – when you and Jack rode in on White Chargers to literally save the NOFA Day by producing the 1st Massachusetts Summer Conference in Williamstown to heal the fiscal flounderings NOFA’s VT and NH found themselves in – and to go on to produce Glorious Conference after Conference; plus take on and take over and exalt NOFA/Mass and TNF and to organize and lead NOFA forward with your firm but light hearted wisdom.

We’re family, actually. We grew up with your kids at the Conferences. Our hands were joined with your Many Hands leadership that made NOFA move forward in wondrous ways. And Money? Wow, could you bring in deeply felt support and long term commitment. Policy, for one, owes a tremendous debt to your ministrations.

For so many years how can I not love you completely for all you are and all you do – and know that will never go away?

It’s so ironic that here at the dawn of NOFA’s50th -despite all of the illustrious bright light of our hard slogs and hard-fought campaigns, it’s always been the personal ties that bind us.

All I can say is there’s none of us that’s ever been above or beyond in-house criticism – and overall, once we take a deep breath, it has made us stronger and more resilient throughout all the years. For me, it is just something to deal with, to come out stronger, surely not to dwell upon the ever-present

negativities. Jack’s TNF history is incredible and all his – and yours, Julie – organizing achievements, which will stand long into the next 50 years….

As for your retirement as Treasurer – as one who deals with your function on at least a monthly basis, I’ve been in awe how you can handle farming fulltime while so admirably filling that key NOFA-IC function as a labor of love. Then I see that your email replies are usually posted at 4:15 AM, always making the time to serve our common good.

I Thank You and Jack most deeply, Julie – andWish You All the Best in what’s next, which I hope includes a NOFA presence -it would be too hard to bear going forward without you… XOX, Steve

I think a lot of us feel love, appreciation and admiration for Julie and Jack! As a team, and each one individually, they have served at the very heart of what I believe the organic movement is all about. A quality that no one has mentioned so far is that you two have never put your own egos at the center. We can all think of examples in organic agriculture of people who make inflated claims about their own special contributions, who self-aggrandize and sometimes also straight out aggrandize to add profit to their own brand.  Julie and Jack have never done that. They put NOFA and our community first.

Julie, you have such a wonderful no-nonsense way of sticking to your values, getting things done and helping others do the same. You do not fear conflict

you teach how to face it squarely. As a woman leader you have taught the rest of us so much. And Jack, you have been so creative over the years in digging up original, even idiosyncratic, farmers to interview so that TNF is worth reading cover to cover to catch the sometimes unorthodox contributions that can set one’s brain in motion with new discoveries and deeper understanding. With gratitude and love. Elizabeth

 

Aside from what Julie has given to NOFA Mass and to the IC, she has also given to all of the state chapters in times of need, transition, and sometimes turmoil. We had a situation several years ago on the NOFA NH board where Julie volunteered to come

to one of our board meetings and help mediate a serious dispute.  Her mediation allowed us to move on as a board and an organization.

 

It has been an utter joy to interact with you both, and I look forward to slower days to read those many esteemed TNF’s on my bookshelf, and to seeing you again. And so I send huge hugs of appreciation and care to you both. Jack

I want to echo the sadness we are all feeling in your choice to step away from the IC and for any hurt surrounding TNF. Julie, you have been so helpfulto me personally in my new role, always offering advice and taking the time to listen. I will forever be appreciative of your support. Jack and Julie, you have both contributed so much to the organic community NOFA would not be where it is today without your leadership. I truly hope we can find a path forward together. Best. Bethany

Links:

A video of Jack & Julie, Many Hands Farm realorganicproject.org/know-your-farmer-manyhands-farm-massachusetts/