Heron Pond Farm, one of the larger small farms in our area, is a major participant in the new and growing “Get Smart, Eat Local” Farm to School program facilitated by the University of New Hampshire. The article in the Boston Globe provides some interesting details about how it works and how it is benefiting the farm and schools.
some choice quotes:
“It’s maximizing the time money stays in one place,” Andre Cantelmo, owner of Heron Pond Farm said of buying local, a dirtied white baseball hat shielding his eyes as he stood in Heron Pond’s dusty parking lot. ” ‘Cause once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Also, buying from area farmers keeps land undeveloped, and the food is similarly fresher “and frankly, tastes better,” he asserted. Once people eat fresh produce, he said, they’ll be turned off from grocery store food.
“People like New Hampshire the way it is: a rural state. But if we don’t support our local businesses, it’s not going to stay that way,” Duclos, program director said. “If we can replace even 10 percent of [school cafeteria food] with local food, it would make a big difference.”
It already has for Cantelmo. Farm to School accounted for about 20 percent, or roughly $25,000, of his business this year, he said.
The program has provided him with a more solid backing, he said, and has enabled him to grow extra crops. Lettuce, for example, has never been a huge money producer for him – he hasn’t been able to sell it at a competitive price that would also make money – but next year, he plans to grow significantly more of it because several schools are requesting the leafy salad staple.
I love reading evidence that the focus on buying local is changing the landscape of agriculture in our area for the better. The concept of buying quality food for our children is an important one, and one that I know could significantly improve our chances at addressing children’s illnesses brought on by too many calories and too little nutrition. Kids know just as well as anybody else – fresh food tastes better, and food that is bred to be consumed in the here and now tastes better than food that underwent too much travel.