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New Hampshire Eats Local Month: A Decade of Shining a Light on Local Food, Farms, and our Food System

For the tenth year, let’s shine a light on local food, farms, and our Monadnock Region food system during New Hampshire Eats Local Month, a month-long celebration of our state’s harvest in August.

What do we mean by a food system?

Our food system includes all the pieces needed to bring local food from the farm to our plates: the soil, farm workers, transportation networks, markets, and more — everything needed to grow, harvest, and distribute these goods to us.  These pieces come together to form our local food system.

Please dig in and enjoy part one of this year’s bounty of updates!

Northeast Permaculture in Action

Marty Castriotta of Village Roots Permaculture in Alstead recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to help him write a book called Emerging Patterns of Resilience.  The book will explore some of the best examples of permaculture design in the Northeast, including farms and backyard gardens.

Permaculture uses ecological principles — inspiration from nature — to design and regenerate healthy, productive landscapes and communities. Marty aims to inspire the next generation, the climate generation, to co-create a future of abundance.

Support Village Roots Today!

Growing Together

Exciting news for local food producers in our region!  Monadnock Food Co-op purchased a food production facility on the other side of their parking lot.  Ten years ago, the building housed a shared-use space called Neighbor Made to support local producers.

While Neighbor Made closed, a plant-based meal producer, MamaSezz, currently utilizes the space. MamaSezz plans to outgrow the space within the next three years.

What’s next for the space? The Co-op hopes to establish a place that supports its own growth while providing production space for local food producers. Have ideas or questions? Please contact General Manager Michael Faber at gm@monadnockfood.coop.

Round It Up for Food Connects

This August, round up your purchases at Monadnock Food Co-op and donate your change to Food Connects, a food hub based in Brattleboro, VT.  Food Connects proudly serves New England farmers and food producers and recognizes that local shopping strengthens our local economy.

In 2021, Food Connects broke all previous records and returned over $1,240,000 in sales to its farmers and food producers, demonstrating its commitment to New England food systems. New Hampshire food producers generated about 38% of these sales.  Food Connects also joined the New Hampshire Food Hub Network, made up of six food hubs working collaboratively to strengthen our state’s local food economy.

“We’re thrilled to formally partner with the NH Food Hub Network to strengthen our hub’s connection to others across the state,” said Alex McCullough, Food Hub Co-Director, “Regional partnerships like this provide Food Connects with the ability to connect New Hampshire producers to new markets to the west and south.”

Fresh Local Food Offerings

Cornucopia Project works to plant the seeds for a lifetime of healthy eating. This year’s fresh new offering includes a traveling hydroponic tower for growing food in our region’s schools, libraries, and institutions. They piloted the hydroponic tower in an eighth-grade science classroom and it quickly engaged the students.

Students helped establish the “baby” plants grown on Cornucopia Project’s educational farm in Peterborough and learned how to keep the plants nourished throughout the spring. Lettuce, spinach, pea, tomato, sage, basil, and Swiss chard (a favorite!) provided snacks every week, along with water chemistry and biology lessons.

“We are seeing the impact of firsthand experience on our participants’ learning, joy, curiosity, and engagement with the local food system,” shared Jess Gerrior, Cornucopia Project Program Specialist.  “We celebrate our local farmers, restaurants, gardeners, seed savers, and others who are making those lifelong connections.”

Protecting Land for Local Farmers

One thing for sure, food can only be grown locally if there is local land on which to grow it. That’s why the Monadnock Conservancy is working to protect some of the most beloved farms in our region. Using a tool called a conservation easement – a permanent agreement that prohibits development but permits forestry and farming – the Conservancy ensures local farms stay farms in perpetuity while remaining more affordable for future farmers. What’s more, when established, many farm conservation easements provide cash to farmers to expand their business, pay down debt, or plan to transfer the farm to the next generation.

This summer, the Conservancy partnered with Kroka Expeditions to protect 15.5 acres of farmland in Alstead, where the wilderness school grows much of the food consumed by their students and livestock. The soil on the property is considered “prime” by the US Department of Agriculture, meaning it is among the country’s most fertile and productive farmland.

Monadnock Conservancy will work this summer to conserve seven acres of prime land owned and farmed by Pete’s Stand, a third generation farmstand, along the Connecticut River in Walpole.  Looking ahead, Picadilly Farm in Winchester will conserve the last 25 unprotected acres of their 71-acre property, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm that feeds 1,000 households in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

“We are honored to partner with local farmers to ensure that their land remains available to farm forever and that their businesses thrive,” said Monadnock Conservancy Executive Director Ryan Owens. “The Monadnock Region’s farms are the cornerstones of our communities.”

Visit a Monadnock Farm

Now, get out there and enjoy our farms!  Attend the fourth annual Monadnock Farm Tour on Saturday, August 20, from 12 – 5 pm. Twelve vibrant Monadnock farms will open their barns, fields, hen houses, kitchens, and a pudding plant. The event highlights the impact farms have on our local economy, their role in preserving open space, and how they contribute to our quality of life. The tour costs $10 per car or $5 per person. This Monadnock Farm Tour is produced by the Monadnock Farm & Community Coalition and Monadnock Food Co-op.

Discover more!

Stay tuned for part two of this article in August, including local food and farm updates from Cheshire County Conservation District, The Community Kitchen’s Mobile Food Pantry, and more!

Thank you to all the individuals, programs, policies, and initiatives that continue to build a more robust local and regional food system in our corner of the state and throughout New England.  Together, we’re cultivating healthier citizens, communities, and economies.