Demand for local food far outstrips supply in our region. A prime goal of the Keep Growing initiative is to grow supply – and a key strategy is to increase local land in agricultural production. We are starting a land access project to link landowners with people who want to grow, graze, use land for haying, or offer other ways of bringing land back into agricultural production.
We will meet with landowners and land seekers in small groups and individually to understand farming interests and share ways to meet them through leasing or selling to next generation farmers or farm expanders. Each participating landowner will help create a conceptual agricultural site plan showing potential uses for their land, farm seekers will learn what land resources are available in the area and both will learn how they may work together to increase good local food.
Landowners and land seekers are invited to join us on Friday March 15 at 2 p.m. at the Rocks in Bethlehem to meet with Bob Bernstein (formerly of Land for Good, now Northeast Farm Access) who is working with us on this project. Bob has worked for many years on land access throughout New England.
Please RSVP as space is limited. To reply, or if you are interested but cannot make this meeting, please contact Rebecca Brown at the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust, firstname.lastname@example.org, 603-823-7777.
With the hard frost expected tonight, some gardeners may be making their last harvest of tomatoes, lettuce, and other tender vegetables. If you have more produce than you know what to do with, it’s a great time to share the bounty of our gardens. The Franconia Community Church offers an easy and excellent way to share your surplus with other families.
You can drop off your clean, ripe, fresh vegetables at the church, located at 44 Church Street in Franconia, on Mondays until 5pm and on Tuesdays until 1pm. Recent favorites at the pantry include tomatoes of all varieties, eggplant, and squash, thanks to the Littleton Food Co-op.
The community church is working with Keep Growing, the region’s local food and agricultural revitalization initiative. Their goal is to make more fresh local food available to area families by increasing the participation of backyard gardeners.
For more information, please call Holly at the church at 823-8421.
The Keep Growing/Strengthening Economies Together team met for the first time Oct. 19. Meeting notes can be downloaded here. Early in the discussion we named our “hopes” for this process. “Intent” would also be apt. Among our aspirations:
- that our region is less susceptible to the whims or vagaries of outside money
- our money stays local
- a sense of optimism
- our region is independent, and self-sustaining
- that the next generation is part of building the future
- our economy is not out-sourced
- we are food secure
- we focus on what we are for
- that our work is a unifier – systems fragment under pressure, working collectively/cooperatively can keep our regional systems together
- increase in value-added opportunities
- economic development encompasses quality of life issues, such as culture, education, and health
It was an inspiring conversation. We are trying to start at the beginning – no preconceptions, no assumptions – even though the people participating represent many years of experience in North Country and Northeast Kingdom farming, economic development, business enterprise, conservation, and just plain living. Our goal is an economic development plan centered on local agriculture. Our next meeting is December 7. If you’re intrigued – please join us.
We will endeavor to have meeting notes and other pertinent information available here.
“Until recently there have been two associations with hydroponics: 1. Marijuana, 2. No flavor. But state-of-the-art operations have won converts among chefs who venerate local produce and celebrate terroir.”
This is from a story in the New York Times earlier this summer, “Want Fresher Produce? Leave Dirt Behind.” It spotlights urban gardening taking place under glass – greenhouse style, done hydroponically, and supplying New York restaurants. The theme points at the potential right here in the North Country with ideas for reusing the Groveton paper for controlled indoor agriculture. The mill reuse project got a shot in the arm last week with a $150,000 federal grant for North Country Council to explore the feasibility. The Groveton mill could be a model for conversion of many other closed mills in the Northeast. Keep Growing is a way to keep abreast of what’s happening - stay tuned!
By Courtney Bowler
I know in this big world it is easy to feel like anything I, one person among billions, can’t possible make any kind of difference. But it is important to remember that people inspire others to make changes, it is the ripple effect in making a change for the better. For instance, it seems easier to buy a plastic bottle of water when you’re thirsty rather than search for a water fountain or carry around a reusable water bottle to fill.
Just for perspective, to produce a 20-ounce bottle of water requires 18 gallons of water. It takes 18 gallons of water to create 20 ounces of drinkable bottled water. Ask yourself where that trade off might be? Likely you would say a buck or two. The reality is that people, likely living in a landscape where drought is common are having their drinking water being used up to produce that plastic bottle that contains refreshingly crisp tap water. That’s right. Tap water.
I don’t want to preach to the choir on the water topic. Water is similar to oil though. Oil will run out one day, water may have the same fate if we don’t begin to make the difficult decisions to use water wisely.
There are so many thing I could recommend to do that would not only save yourself a penny or two, but if every household made an effort that would create a larger effort on the whole. Turn off the lights when you leave the room, shut off the faucet when brushing your teeth, unplug appliances you’re not using, use a reusable container for food and drinks rather than plastic baggies and plastic throw away cups, avoid using drink straws, order ice cream on a cone rather a Styrofoam bowl, walk down the street to run a quick errand rather than driving the car for two minutes; the list goes on and on.
Is now the time to grow our local food movement?
If well over 200 people showing up on a summer Sunday evening is any indication, the answer is an emphatic yes. OK, the great (free) food offered by the Littleton Food Coop and Meadowstone Farm was a tantalizer, but the energy of the crowd in Bethlehem’s Colonial Theater was definitely about what we can all do together.
Here is the link to Jeff Woodburn’s story and video in the White Mountain News. Here is the story that appeared in the Littleton Record by Paul Hayes. Click on the photo below to link to many more images from the Keep Growing Kick Off.
Participants at the Colonial Theater kick off sign up to join in Keep Growin
By Courtney Bowler
This can be a big debate discussion. But the bottom line is that local food regardless of organically certified is better for health, nutrition, and energy costs compared to foods imported from other regions and continents. Organic is great, don’t get me wrong. But local farmers may not be able to compete with commercial growing operations.
I’ve talked with Dick Mordhorst owner of the Lyman View Farm in NH, and he grows all-natural. He does use pesticides to protect his crops from pest insects, but his produce grows outside under the sun, fertilized with manure from his chickens and watered by the rain that falls on the New Hampshire landscape. He lets his plants grow on their own and only protects them when pest insects become an issue.
If you’ve ever heard of No Impact Man, Colin Beavan, and seen the documentary No Impact Man I recommend it. He visits a dairy farm where he gets his milk. The farm is not certified organic because this would mean if a cow became sick they would not be able to treat the animal, it would likely die. This farm, instead, focuses on providing a quality life for the cows. This ensures a quality food product.
Personally I feel that organic and all-natural have become buzz words. But it is important to support local farmers no matter if their products are organic or not. Local is always better than commercial super farm products. We have the opportunity to have a relationship with the people who bring the food we eat in our kitchen. It’s a wonderful opportunity to have when you can talk to the person who grew or raise the food you eat every day.
Free Film: Ladies of the Land
Lively Discussion: Featured speaker John Carroll, professor at UNH, author of The Real Dirt: Toward Food Sufficiency and Farm Sustainability in New England. Discussion with panelists John Carroll; David Craxton of Roots & Fruits Farm, Dalton, NH; Cindy-Lu Amey of Indian Stream Farm, Pittsburg, N.H.; Charlie Burke, NH Farm to Restaurant Connection; Tim Wennrich, Meadowstone Farm, Bethlehem, N.H.
And splendid local fare courtesy of the Littleton Food Coop, Meadowstone Farm, Luther & Zora’s Organic Farm, Four Corner’s Farm, Le Rendez-Vous Bakery, and Maplebrook Farms. Watch the video: Sam Brown and Jenny Johnson of Meadowstone Farm talk about food for the event.
Colonial Theater, Bethlehem, N.H.
Sunday August 7th 5:00 – 7 p.m.
Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust
The Colonial Theater
The Littleton Food Coop