Conferences, Panels, and Events

The United States is poised for a farming “revolution” centered around building healthier soils throughout the country. This soil health movement is being led by farmers, policymakers and non-governmental groups. In the Northeast, healthy soils initiatives that reward farmers for using healthy-soil-practices have been proposed and in some cases adopted at the state level. 

The Northeast Healthy Soil Network will strengthen and aid the healthy soil movement in the Northeast region by fostering communication and collaboration. Building on an initial conference in April 2019, the 2020 conference brought together policymakers, farmers, academics, and students for a symposium aimed at advancing healthy soils policies and practices throughout the Northeast.

Click below to view past conferences and materials!

2020 Conference

The Northeast Healthy Soil Network Presents:

Agriculture and Climate in the Northeast: Soil and Ecosystem Health

Friday, February 21, 2020

The event began on Thursday, Feb 20th, with an all-day in-depth policy working group for members of the Northeast Healthy Soil Network. Click here to see the Thursday, February 20th working group details.

The Symposium was jointly organized by the Tufts Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) and by the Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE). 

This event was made possible thanks to a grant from the French Ministry of Agriculture, for which GDAE and TIE are especially grateful. In addition, the event was also sponsored by the French Embassy in Washington D.C. and the Consulate General of France in Boston.

Event Materials

Video Content

Powerpoints and Documents

Next steps

To join the Northeast Healthy Soils Network outreach list, email Josephine Watson josephinehwatson (at)


Soild Health Symposium, Feb 21st Photos with case-sensitive password: Tufts

Friday, February 21st Schedule

8:30 am: Registration and Welcome

9:00 – 9:10 am: Welcoming remarks by the Consul General of France in Boston, Mr. Arnaud Mentré

9:10 – 10:45 am: Panel 1 on climate emergency and potential for agriculture to be part of the solution – framing the issue at the global/international level

  • 4per1000, a global network for international cooperation on accelerating the adoption of best practices of agricultural transition.
  • The status of soil health science: towards a systemic approach including both carbon storage and ecosystem services.
  • Modeling the transition of French Agriculture in a 4per1000 future
  • The challenges of the agro-ecological transition: reforming the European Union Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
  • How to incorporate agricultural transition into a Green New Deal at the national level in the US.

Click for Panel 1 Speakers

Panel 1

Moderator: Dr. Eric Kemp-Benedict, Stockholm Environment Institute U.S. Center Senior Scientist  

Professor Timothy Griffin, Friedman School of Nutrition

Timothy Griffin is Associate Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University.  At the Friedman School, he is Division Chair – Agriculture, Food and the Environment, and teaches classes on U.S. agriculture, agricultural science and policy, and the linkage between food system domains.  In 2018, he was named as the inaugural recipient of a professorship in Nutrition, Agriculture, and Sustainable Food Systems. His current research focuses on assessment of sustainability across environmental, social and economic metrics, regional food systems, and climate change impacts on agriculture. He supervises doctoral students conducting research on topics ranging from precision agriculture to food access to water rights.  He served as an Advisor to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, focusing on Sustainability, and also as a member of the National Academy of Sciences study Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. He has given many scientific and public presentations on agriculture and the food system, and published nearly 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles. Prior to coming to the Friedman School, he served as Lead Scientist/Agronomist at USDA-Agricultural Research Service (2000-2008) and Extension Specialist in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Maine (1992-2000), the first such position in the U.S.

Paul Luu – Executive Secretary of the “4 per 1000 Initiative: Soils for food security and climate”

Paul Luu is an agronomist specialized in tropical agronomy, graduate from AgroParisTech, the Institute of tropical areas of Montpellier, the National High School of Agricultural Applied Sciences of Dijon, and the University of Montpellier (PhD in “population biology”). He was in charge of multilateral relationship with FAO, the World Bank and the CGIAR, of bilateral relationship with the countries in Africa and the Mediterranean area, as well as the management of the French food aid (200 000 t of grain per year), as Head of Mission and then as Head of Department.

In 2011, Paul Luu was appointed Director of Agropolis International, the international association that represents the scientific community “Agronomy – Environment – Biodiversity – Water” of the Languedoc-Roussillon area (one of the largest in the world with over 10,000 scientists). He contributed in particular to the installation of the CGIAR Consortium in Montpellier, International organization dedicated to agricultural research for the benefit of the poorest people on the planet. He joined the organization in September 2013 as Liaison Officer with the French Authorities, then as Protocol Officer. From September 2016, Paul is Executive Secretary of the “4 per 1000 Initiative: Soils for food security and climate”, launched at COP 21 in Paris.

Laure Bamière, Institut National de la Recherche en Agriculture, Alimentation et Environnement (INRAE)

Dr. Laure Bamière is an agro-economist and senior project manager at INRAE Joint Research Unit “Public Economics”, experienced in economic and spatially explicit modeling. She holds an MS in environmental and natural resources economics, and a PhD in environmental economics from AgroParisTech. In 2003, she joined INRAE, the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, where her work focuses on the links between agriculture, energy and the environment.

Her current research work investigates the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing carbon sinks in agriculture. Dr. Bamière co-led two widely-respected national studies: the first identified opportunities for French agriculture to reduce GHG emissions; the second, “Storing 4 per 1000 carbon in soils”, targeted the agricultural sector’s potential for carbon sequestration. Since 2014 she is deputy head of the INRAE Joint Research Unit “Public Economics.”

Abad Chabbi

Dr. Abad Chabbi is a plant ecologist and soil biogeochemist. He worked at the Louisiana State University, USA; the Faculty of Environmental Science in Cottbus, Germany; the University of Pierre & Marie, Curie (UPMC), France; and the INRA research council where he has been leading the National Observatory for Environmental Research-Agro-Ecosystems, Biogeochemical Cycles and Biodiversity ( since 2009. 

Abad Chabbi is currently Director of Research at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and his research centers on the linkage between soil carbon sequestration, nutrient availability and stoichiometry in the plant-soil system and their relations to land use management and climate change. He is also working with strategic Research Infrastructures and interested in science policy and societal challenges.

Ronnie Cummins – Regeneration International, Author of Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food and a Green New Deal

Ronnie Cummins is founder and director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a non-profit, US-based network of more than two million consumers dedicated to safeguarding organic standards and promoting a healthy, just, and regenerative system of food, farming, and commerce. Cummins also serves on the steering committee of Regeneration International and OCA’s Mexican affiliate, Vía Orgánica. Ronnie authored and is releasing a book on policy recommendations for agricultural provisions of the Green New Deal, collected from grassroots networks of farmers and ranchers throughout the country. 

11:00 – 12:45 am: Panel 2 on the agricultural transition in the northeast: healthy soils for stronger viable farms and for climate adaptation and mitigation

  • Advancing Healthy Soils policies in Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New York and beyond: incorporating soil health goals into state policymaking
  • Challenges of dairy farming in the Northeast and the potential of partnerships to enable transition
  • The Soil Health Initiative and Green America’s Soil Carbon Initiative – case studies, methodology and funding challenges
  • Payment for Ecosystem Services: working group in Vermont

Click for Panel 2 Speakers

Panel 2

Moderator: Professor Tim Griffin

Dorn Cox – Wolfe’s Neck Sustainable Farming Center, OpenTEAM

Dr. Dorn Cox serves as project lead for OpenTEAM (Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management) and research director for Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment, a nonprofit research and education center, and a working organic farm on 600 acres of conserved land on the coast of Maine.

Dorn also lives and works on his family’s 300-acre certified organic farm in New Hampshire. As a co-founder of the FarmOS software platform, the GOAT (Gathering for Open Ag Tech) and Farm Hack community, he is passionate about sharing open source agricultural tools, ideas information and inspiration to accelerate innovation and quantify environmental services from regenerative agriculture. In 2018 his work as a NACD Soil Health Champion was recognized with the inaugural Hugh Hammond Bennett award for excellence in conservation given by the National Association of Conservation Districts, and in 2019, Dorn was awarded the Food Shot Global Ground Breaker prize. He has a PhD from the University of New Hampshire in Natural Resources and Earth Systems Sciences

Caro Roszell – Soil Carbon Program Coordinator at NOFA Mass 

Caro Roszell is currently coordinating the NOFA Mass Soil Carbon Proxy Tests, which measure the level of biodiversity and other aspects of soil health that are attributable to building soil carbon. These tests will help farmers get an idea of how well your soils are supporting life and storing carbon.

Caro has worked with the Northeast Organic Farming Association for over 4 years filling various roles.  She is an experienced program manager, educator and consultant in organic and regenerative agriculture with a specialization in soil health assessment, soil carbon sequestration and small-farm practices for enhancing soil ecosystem function.

Passionate about projects which support the regeneration of regional ecosystems and the development of economically, socially, and ecologically-interconnected communities.

Ian McSweeney – The Agrarian Trust

Ian McSweeney, Organizational Director of the Agrarian Trust, is working to create a local Agrarian Commons through establishing 501(c)(2) land-holding entities to support land access and tenure for the next generation of farmers.

Ian’s career and his life’s work has been focused on the human connection to soil and food. Most recently, he served as Executive Director of the Russell Foundation, a private foundation focused on assisting landowners and farmers through customized approaches to farmland ownership, conservation, management and stewardship. Ian has also participated in many farmland and food systems initiatives and has served as a consultant to a number of organizations, locally, regionally and nationally. He has served on zoning, conservation, planning and agricultural Boards and Commissions, County Conservation District, Regional Planning Commission and University Extension Coverts Program. Additionally, Ian speaks on farmland transfer, conservation, secure tenure, and fundraising models around the country. Ian has been recognized as a 40 under 40 leader in NH and selected for the Leadership Institute at Food Solutions New England.

Peter Lehner – EarthJustice

Peter Lehner directs Earthjustice’s Sustainable Food & Farming Program, developing strategies to promote a more environmentally sound agricultural system and to reduce health, environmental, and climate harms from the production of our food.

From 2007–2015, Peter was the Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the NRDC Action Fund. Among other new initiatives, Peter shaped a clean food program with food waste, antibiotic-free meat, regional food, and climate mitigation projects.

From 1999–2006, Peter served as chief of the Environmental Protection Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s office. He supervised all environmental litigation by and against the state. He prosecuted a wide variety of polluters, developed innovative multi-state strategies targeting global warming and air pollution emissions from electric utilities, and spearheaded novel watershed-wide enforcement programs.

Peter previously served at NRDC for four years directing the clean water program where he brought important attention to stormwater pollution. Before that, he created and led the environmental prosecution unit for the New York City Law Department. He clerked for Chief Judge James Browning of the Ninth Circuit.

Didi Pershouse – Author of the Ecology of Care

Didi Pershouse is the author of  The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities and Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function. She teaches participatory workshops both in-person and online, helping to connect the dots between soil health, human health, water, and climate resiliency.  She is the president of the Soil Carbon Coalition, the founder of the Center for Sustainable Medicine and the Land and Leadership Initiative, and a co-founder of the “Can we Rehydrate California?” Initiative. She was one of five speakers at the United Nations-FAO World Soil Day in 2017. Didi will be giving a short summary and her impressions of the activity of the discussion the Northeast Healthy Soil Network held on Thursday. 

12:45 – 2:00 pm:  Luncheon Buffet

2:00 – 4:00 pm: Afternoon Workshops Track One: Building the Heathy Soil Network in the Northeast US

Strengthening and Broadening the Northeast Healthy Soil Network: towards a regional coalition (2 sessions)

Session 1: Economic incentives and funding streams needed to ensure the implementation of  successful healthy soils policies

  • Report from Thursday Working Group.
  • Review of existing practices for healthy soils funding. 
  • Development of specific proposals for economic incentives and funding.

2:00 – 4:00 pm: Afternoon Workshop Track Two: International Case Studies hosted by the 4per1000 initiative, moderated by Paul Luu

A conversation with French and American experts on the challenges and opportunities of agricultural transitions across the world with Laure Bamière (INRAE), Abad Chabbi (INRAE), Tim Wise (Small Planet Institute), Seth Itzkan (soil4climate)

4:00 – 5:30 pm: Afternoon Workshops Track One: Building the Healthy Soil Network in the Northeast US

Session 2: Reviewing and discussing healthy soil bills in Northeast States

  • Report from Thursday Working Group.
  • Sciences and measurement methodology.
  • Strategy for promoting and implementing healthy soil legislation.

5:30 pm: light refreshments/closing reception.

2019 Conference

On April 4th, GDAE, in collaboration with the Consulate General of France, Tufts Institute of the Environment, and the International 4 per 1000 Initiative, sponsored a forum and panel discussion on “Soil Health, Agriculture, and Climate in New England”. Presentations at the panel reflected the work of a team of food system advocates, including farmers, researchers, students, and policymakers aiming to launch a Soil Health Initiative that will enhance and expand the regional system of soil management in New England States.

Speakers included:
Dr. Timothy Griffin, Tufts Friedman School 
Ellen Griswold, Maine Farmland Trust
Julie Davenson, Executive Director of Stonewall Farms 
Didi Pershouse, Author of “The Ecology of Care” 
Sylvain Maestracci, French Embassy in Washington D.C. 

View event meeting notes
See event flyer

Jonathan Sanderman, Woods Hole Research Center, “Soil carbon sequestration: from potential to reality

Paul Luu, Executive Secretary of 4 per 1000 Initiative, “The 4 per 1000 InitiativeGeneral Presentation” 
The International 4 per 1000 Initiative, launched by the French government, aims to promote greenhouse gas emissions reduction though greater carbon absorption in agricultural soils. “4 per 1000” refers to the great potential for carbon absorption through practices that increase soil carbon sequestration by 0.4% per year, both to combat climate change and to increase food security.

Will Szal, Economics at Regen Network, “Regen Network

Sylvain Maestracci, Agricultural Counselor, French Embassy in Washington D.C, “Soil Health, Agriculture & Climate in New England – 4p1000 initiative

Steven Keleti, Tufts Northeast Healthy Soils Initiative, “Healthy Soils Legislation and Policy

Julie Davenson, Executive Director of Stonewall Farms, “Stonewall Farms

Didi Pershouse, Author of “The Ecology of Care”, “The Soil Sponge: The living matrix that supports life on earth

Related GDAE Publications
Climate smart or regenerative agriculture? Defining climate policies based on soil health, Anne-Marie Codur and Josephine Watson, GDAE Climate Policy Brief #9, April 2018

Hope Below Our Feet Soil as a Climate Solution, Anne-Marie Codur, Seth Itzkan, William Moomaw, Karl Thidemann, and Jonathan Harris, GDAE Climate Policy Brief #4, April 2017

Additional Articles and Resources
Soil Health Initiatives in New York: Building Momentum, NOFA-NY, 2019

Farmers Are Excited About Soil Health. That’s Good News for All of Us., Karen Stillerman, Union of Concerned Scientists, April 2019

Healthy Soils to Cool The Planet: A Philanthropic Action Guide , Betsy Taylor, Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions, February 2019

Climate Instability and Agriculture: The Challenge and Solution, Fact Sheet, Earthjustice, February 2019

Managing for soil carbon sequestration: Let’s get realistic, William H. Schlesinger, Global Change Biology, November 2018

Summary of State Efforts To Promote Healthy Soils and Soil Carbon SequestrationRegeneration International, July 2017

“Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function: A Teacher’s Manual”, Didi Pershouse, August 2017

Soil Health Institute
The Regen Network 
Soil Carbon Coalition

This event was sponsored by GDAE at Tufts University, the Friedman School at Tufts University, Tufts Institute of the Environment, the international 4 per 1000 Initiative, and the Consulate General of France in Boston.