Archive for June, 2008

CSA socializing

Monday, June 30th, 2008

It’s amazing how many people are members of Community Supported Agriculture farms on the Seacoast – and how many more people would like to be if there were more shares available! Even my mom got a CSA share this year, and I’m receiving weekly emails like “we got these weird green stalky curly things they called scapes – what do I do with them?” (Scapn’ bits is my answer of late – mince and pan fry in a little oil until crispy, treat like bacn’ bits if bacn’ bits were made of awesome).

A lot of new and seasoned CSA members have the same things in common – questions about cooking ideas, interest in supporting local agriculture, and general excitement of the “holy crow I’ve got awesome food here!” variety.

Kathy Pearce, a first-time CSA share member but long time information/good-things-online goddess, has set up an easy to use discussion space online for CSA members throughout the Seacoast to share questions, ideas, and “holy crow” excitement. What a great initiative and idea to connect folks throughout the area!

Join in the discussion – ask questions – get and give answers and share in the comraderie at the Seacoast CSA wiki >

Well Into the Summer

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

One glance around the table proves that summer is upon us, short sleeves and cool beverages abound. Dorothea Hooper, School Board member, had a Coke that she was complaining about. “This stuff is awful,” she said, “but there wasn’t any water for me to buy.” She purchased it from a machine in the staff lounge. Luckily student vending machines offer only water and 100% juice.

This might be the big Wellness Policy planning session, but the group appears smaller than that of the previous meeting. June is a hectic month for all. The purpose of the meeting is to summarize what has been achieved by the council over the past year then submit a report to the School Board.

The most accurate and appealing way to communicate what was addressed is to write straight from the agenda set forth. Thanks to preplanning by Laurie Verville, Business Manager and head of the council, the meeting format was well organized.

Current Policy Highlights:
1. Nutrition education is integrated in as many areas of the curriculum as possible including health, physical education and science instruction. There are also wellness signs in the cafeterias and the district has a culinary program. Nurses work with students who have medical needs like diabetes.

2. The School Meals Program will work to offer several balanced meal choices to students on a daily basis. Food Service Director Mark Covell stated that the cafés are gradually moving away from canned fruit and more fresh fruit like apples, oranges and mini bananas will be offered when affordable. Currently, dark leafy greens are added to the iceberg salad mix two to three times per week. Fresh broccoli florets were added in 2007/2008, and zucchini and carrot sticks will be on the menu in 2008/2009. Breaded items are being reduced, and the food in the elementary schools will be improved all around—bravo!

3. Faculty, staff and the school community will work together to promote and reinforce healthy lifestyle habits during school hours, and for after school activities sponsored by the district. As of 2007/2008 there was not a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) board member on the council, but it would be a stellar movement to link with these groups. Snack options will be discussed with head of the YMCA after school program.  Edline, the district online communication source for staff, parents and students lists healthy snacks and fundraising items. Nutrition Nuggets, a quick read nutrition information box, is generally printed in the parent newsletter. And this last year, middle school diabetic students met with a nutritionist from Hannaford Supermarkets.

4. Food will not be used as a reward or punishment unless specified in a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or behavior plan. The council feels that improvement is needed under this section. An example, at Woodman Park elementary, it was noticed that teachers were giving out bright colored freeze pops on hot days as a hydrating treat. According to Claudia Lynch, school nurse, some students are hypersensitive to food color additives used in processed foods. Another example, at the middle school, students in two separate classrooms were given lollipops. The council agreed that teachers need to be educated and held responsible for not following the Wellness Policy. A possible solution: provide a written document explaining the policy at the beginning of each school year.

5. Food and beverages offered in school stores and vending machines, accessible to students, will be consistent with the state vending guidelines. Mark said vending machines under his management meet state guidelines. The student store, however, is an ongoing issue—big cans of iced tea were sold even after the instructor in charge was schooled on the Wellness Policy. This is to be addressed along with the culinary arts program. High school students with huge cookies were seen wandering the halls, and it’s likely they bought the cookies through the culinary arts program. Good news—chips will not be sold in the elementary schools beginning 2008/2009. Dorothea reiterated once elementary students eat healthier, they will continue with good eating habits into middle and high school. This will help with the movement towards a stronger, healthier food program. A consistent message about healthful eating is the obtainable long term goal.

6. Organizations and classes should look for alternate ways to fundraise other than the sale of food. All is well in this area, creative fundraisers like jewelry, coffee and flower bulb sales keep school programs funded.

7. Monitoring the Wellness Policy will be reported to the School Board on an annual basis. Dorothea reports to the School Board at least once a month on issues and changes.

A few bits to chew:
- The group agreed that it is on track: issues were acknowledged, some changes were made and council members have heightened awareness.
- Dover has complied with state policies, which are lenient at best. The district strives not only to meet, but to go well above the state nutritional guidelines.
- New and old recipe student taste testing will happen again in the 2008/2009 school year.
- University of New Hampshire (UNH) nutritional science interns are a viable source of aid. A meeting is set for late summer to discuss direction.
- The UNH Office of Sustainability is also a go-to source.  In fact, they just recommended the following source of farm to school information and recipes: Fresh From the Farm: The Massachusetts Farm to School Cookbook. Check it out. http://www.mass.gov/agr/markets/Farm_to_school/farm_to_school_cookbook.pdf
- The committee will look into grants to fund specific needs as they are assessed.
- Better education and communication amongst staff, parents and students is necessary for successful policy implementation. A couple of ideas that came up: print and provide healthy snack shopping lists for parents, Open House or PTA/PTO education sessions.
- All Dining Facility Council meeting dates for 2008/2009 were scheduled—excellent news for all involved. This bodes well for continuing the momentum.

The next Dover Dining Facility Council write-up will come before you know it, after school is in session, late September. For now, relax… take the kids to your local farm and dig into the Seacoast’s scrumptious bounty.

Seacoast Harvest is here!!

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Seacoast Harvest
Local Food Guide Celebrates the Seacoast’s Harvest

Seacoast Harvest, a local food guide published by Seacoast Eat Local and Slow Food Seacoast has arrived!

The guide includes a listing of the farms, orchards, and vineyards in Rockingham, Strafford, and York Counties as well as a map of the region’s twenty farmers’ markets and a harvest calendar to help consumers know what is in season and available from their local farms.

Seacoast Harvest was first published last year as A Local Foods Resource Guide and included 52 local farms. This year’s updated version has a new name, a new look, and over 100 farms.

The guide will be available at the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market as well as other area farmers’ markets and farm stands.  The official release of the guide will be on July 13 at Slow Food Seacoast’s Down on the Farm Potluck Picnic.  The picnic will be from 12-3pm at Tuckaway Farm in Lee. More information about this event is available at www.slowfoodseacoast.org

In order to help consumers find local farms and support their local economy, The Wire also included Seacoast Harvest’s farm listings as part of its annual Summer Guide.  The Summer Guide is widely available and is a great resource for finding fun things to do on the Seacoast all summer long.

Wire co-owner Karen Marzloff said it was important to her as a member of the community and local business owner to support access to locally grown food, “We included the Seacoast Harvest Guide as way of doing what we can to make sure that the groundswell of interest in our region’s meat, eggs, cheese, honey, dairy and produce traditions—good for our bodies and our environment—continue to grow in years to come, giving people of all incomes access to healthy, fresh food.”

An online version of Seacoast Harvest lists the farms in a searchable database that will help consumers find specific locally grown foods, pick-your-own farms, CSA shares, and more, available at www.seacoastharvest.org.  For chefs and small food retailers, farms that sell to restaurants and retailers are indicated. The website provides information on other regional food organizations and a glossary of farm and food terminology.  The glossary will help consumers to better understand what goes into producing their food and to help them ask better questions of the farmers they buy from.  A downloadable version is available for consumers to print their own copies of Seacoast Harvest.

“It has been an amazing effort, an amazing collaboration,” said Seacoast Harvest committee member Sara Zoe Patterson, “Seacoast Eat Local was awarded a grant from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund to help us pay for the artwork, created by local artist of Giant Ant fame Nathan Walker, and for help building the website, for which we hired a farmer in the off-season, Andy Gagnon of Andy’s Greens. Both of these individuals, actually everyone involved, put in far more effort and many more hours than they were compensated for, donating their professional services to the project.” In addition the group was able to hire a project coordinator to help manage volunteers and coordinate between Slow Food and Seacoast Eat Local.

Volunteers were also essential to completing this project.  Project Coordinator Jeff Donald describes the process, “For the guide to be useful it is necessary that it is accurate.  Volunteers contacted all of the farmers listed in the guide this spring to find out what they produced and where it was available, and asked for additional information like agricultural practices. The listings are free for the farmers to make sure we include as many as possible, and the website makes it possible to keep the information updated throughout the year, ensuring we can add farms we weren’t able to contact in the spring. Thanks to our volunteers, consumers can be sure that they are able to find what they are looking for.”

For website publishers and bloggers:
Please post widely! If you’d like include a link to Seacoast Harvest on your website, here is some code that can be pasted into the “code” or “html” section of your page or sidebar to get you started:

<a href=”http://www.seacoasteatlocal.org/seacoastharvest/” title=”Seacoast Harvest”><img src=”http://seacoasteatlocal.org/seacoastharvest/images/SHweb_link_logo.jpg” width=”200″ height=”200″ alt=”Seacoast Harvest”

 

 

Still time to make reservations – First NH Growers’ Dinner of 2008 at The Dunaway in Portsmouth

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

from the press release:

The 2008 New Hampshire Growers’ Dinner series gets underway on June 25 at the Dunaway Restaurant at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth. This series of special dinner events, organized by the NH Farm to Restaurant Connection, highlights the use of local farm and food products at local restaurants.The Dunaway is located on the grounds of Strawbery Banke Museum. The museum, through its restored houses, its featured exhibits, its historic landscapes and gardens, and its interpretive programs, tells the stories of the many generations who settled in the Portsmouth, NH, community from the late l7th to the mid-20th century. Visitors to Strawbery Banke have the opportunity to experience and imagine how people lived and worked in this typical American neighborhood throughout four centuries of history.

The Dunaway at Strawbery Banke serves Contemporary American Cuisine, with an emphasis on local. With the abundance of commercial fishing boats right near by, local seafood is a specialty here, but is not outdone by the excellent regionally sourced land-based fare.  The cuisine draws heavily from fresh, local produce, including historic and rare herbs, fruits and vegetables grown at Strawbery Banke’s own working kitchen gardens.

Executive Chef Ben Hasty is a rising star in the culinary scene.  From growing up on a farm in South Berwick, Maine to working under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, Hasty combines his culinary talents and deeply rooted respect for local and seasonal ingredients with the historic working kitchen gardens at Strawbery Banke.  Chef Hasty’s menu for June 25th will include fresh-from-the-boat seafood, seasonal produce, a selection of NH’s very best cheeses, pork from the chef’s family farm and a delightful version of strawberry shortcake.

Growers’ Dinner events are coordinated by the New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant Connection, a program linking New Hampshire farms with New Hampshire restaurants.   The Growers’ Dinner at the Dunaway is also sponsored by McIntosh Atlantic Culinary Academy in Dover and Seacoast Eat Local, an organization that works to connect consumers with sources of locally grown and locally made foods.
Call the Dunaway at 373-6112 for dinner details and reservation information.

 For more information about the NH Farm to Restaurant Connection, contact Gail McWilliam Jellie at the NH Dept. of Agriculture, Markets & Food, tel.271-3788, email: gmcwilliam@agr.state.nh.us  or visit www.nhfarmtorestaurant.com.

Fresh Local Truck at Prescott Park!

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Last spring, organizers at Prescott Park approached us asking for ideas on how they could incorporate more healthy local food options into their concessions. But they had a pretty big barrier – little or no food preparation capacity in their concession shack. Since local food pretty much comes natural, unprocessed, no packaging  (one of the reasons we all are such fans!), it was going to be pretty challenging and involve a lot of logistics, food transportation, and middle-men to cook that food to be ready-to-eat  for event attendees.

And now I read that they seem to have hit onto a solution for this year, one that supports a brand-spanking new business to boot! What a great partnership! (The below is a Prescott Park Arts Festival press release):

Prescott Park Arts Festival Joins Slow Food Movement
Festival food concessions to offer Fresh Local  menu

PORTSMOUTH, NH – Prescott Park Arts Festival has announced that it is joining the Slow Food movement with the addition of healthy, local, and organic food items as part of their food concessions this summer. Held in Prescott Park, the festival kicks off its’ 34th season with the opening night of Beauty and the Beast on Friday, June 27.

 In partnership with Fresh Local, the festival has expanded the summer menu to include a variety of items such as falafel sandwiches, meat kabobs & lobster rolls that are made with local, fresh, organic or free-range ingredients. The menu will stay interesting by offering new items when seasonally available.

Fresh Local is operated by Josh Lanahan, a locally-grown professional chef, and his partner, Michelle Lozuaway. Josh and Michelle raise their own chickens, eggs, and veggies on their Newington Farm, and are excited to be able to support other local farmers and businesses in the area.

“My goal as a chef is always the same: serve food people really love to eat. Locally grown ingredients are simply better – better tasting, and better for you. We are honored to have this opportunity with Prescott Park. It’s the perfect venue for our menu and our philosophy,” says Josh.

“Having not only healthy food choices, but also really tasty ones, is something that is important to both us and our audiences,” says Prescott Park Arts Festival executive director Ben Anderson, “I think the response is going to be incredible.”

In response to public demand, the Prescott Park Arts Festival concessions will also be open during lunch on event days, Wednesday – Sunday, in addition to event evenings. “I’m constantly being asked if we’d consider offering food again in the park during lunch hours for the many people who come to enjoy the park, so we’re working to see that this happens once again.”

Anderson says that this partnership with Fresh Local also opens a lot of other potentials for the festival. “We’ve already started talking about reviving our Sunday brunch Jazz again and offering some of Fresh Local’s amazing organic egg dishes.”

The Prescott Park Arts Festival is New England’s largest and oldest outdoor arts venue.  Since 1996, the Arts Festival has consistently been named by Yankee magazine as a “must see” tourist attraction. In its 34-year history the Arts Festival has never charged a fixed admission.  The festival offers a full array of free events from Wednesday to Sunday each week including plays, music concerts and festivals. www.prescottpark.org

In season: Garlic Scapes!

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Jen Dickert’s photo of garlic scapes Garlic scapes are here!

Now is the season where every week brings an additional available fresh food – on top of lettuces, salad greens, radishes, spring turnips, scallions, swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens and more we’ve added strawberries (about 1 week into the season, so going strong!) and now garlic scapes.

Garlic scapes are a welcome sight in my fridge – after eeking last year’s garlic supply out as long as possible, here is a food that I can treat mostly like garlic to add that needed flavor to my meals. I say mostly like garlic because they tend to be milder to the point that you add them more toward the tail end of cooking. But they are also amazing all on their own, grilled or quickly sauteed in the pan.

The New York Times had a whole article yesterday on garlic scapes, with accompanying recipes!

One of my favorite things to do is make a roasted garlic scape aioli of sorts:

  • rough chop a bunch of scapes and toss with good olive oil and a bit of salt
  • roast under the broiler or in a hot oven, tossing occasionally, until you get a bit of brown and the scapes are soft
  • using a food processor or a morter and pestle, mash to death with a bit more olive oil until you get a nice paste. Season with additional salt to taste
  • Serve on good bread as you enjoy the longest days of the year!

ready, set, strawberries!

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Strawberry season is here! We are entering the very beginnings, and for me it’s a race against the progression of the season to try to get in as many pick-my-own days and fill my freezer with frozen strawberries as well as the cupboard with jam. Not to mention all the fresh ones I’ll be gorging on!

Pick-your-own strawberry farms of the Seacoast
(ALWAYS call ahead, as different farms have different amounts, and will be ready by the phone to answer questions about picking conditions. They’d rather you come when there are plenty than go away disappointed.)

Applecrest Farm Orchards, 133 Exeter Rd, Hampton Falls NH (603) 926-3721

Blueberry Bay Farm, 38 Depot Road, Stratham NH (603) 580-1612

Butternut Farm, 195 Meaderboro Road, Farmington NH (603) 335-4705

Doles Orchard, 187 Doles Ridge Road, Limerick ME (207) 793-4409

Hickory Hill Farm, 245 Back Road, Dover NH (603) 742-0553

McKenzie’s Farm, 71 NE Pond Road, Milton NH (603) 652-9400

Monaham Farm, 2 South Road, East Kingston NH (603) 642-8186

Spiller Farm, 85 Spiller Farm Lane, Wells, ME (207) 985-2575

Sunnycrest Farm, 59 High Range Road, Londonderry NH (603) 432-7753

Warren Farm, 30 Warren Road, Barrington NH (603) 868-2001

And speaking of strawberries, South Berwick’s Strawberry Festival is coming up on June 28.  This is a great community event that helps raise money for various town nonprofit groups, made even better this year by the widespread adoption of environmentally friendly practices! More information can be found via South Berwick’s 236 Diner blog >

Grow a Row

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

In the Concord Monitor on Monday there was an article about a food pantry in Langdon, NH that has asked local gardeners to plant an extra row of vegetables that could be donated to the pantry. The Monitor followed that story up with an editorial that points out a UU church that has tilled up part of its lawn to plant vegetables to help refugee families and food pantries. Food prices have been rising while our economy has been weakening. Concurrently, gardening is gaining in popularity. I know there are plenty of new and experienced gardeners on the Seacoast, and I would encourage all of you to consider planting an extra row in your garden to set aside for your local food bank.

For a list of food pantries and soup kitchens in NH please visit the NH Food Bank at www.nhfoodbank.org/Pages/Agencies Find.html. There are at least 20 food banks located in Rockingham and Strafford Counties. Since not all food pantries are equipped to handle perishable items, please contact the pantry ahead of time to discuss their needs and capabilities.

If you’re interested in reading up and getting some advice before starting, here are some sites you may want to visit.

Plant a Row for the Hungry

http://www.gardenwriters.org/par/

Plant a Row Grow a Row

http://www.growarow.org

Finally, if anyone is interested in making this part of a community effort, please let us know.

Growers Dinner at The Dunaway, June 25th

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

NH Farm to Restaurant Connection The New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant Connection arranges Growers’ Dinners each season, in which the “majority of dinner courses are made of New Hampshire produced foods.”

The first of the 2008 season will take place right here in the Seacoast at The Dunaway Restaurant at Strawbery Banke, and is cosponsored by McIntosh Atlantic Culinary Academy and Seacoast Eat Local. Chef Ben Hasty will be offering a 5-course mostly local meal for $75 dollars.

Make your reservation today! 

Seacoast Local Festival on Saturday June 7!

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Karen Marzloff of Seacoast Local and Seacoast Buy Local wrote a wonderful summary of the Seacoast Local festival:

Seacoast Local Festival on Saturday, June 7 in Market Square from 1-4 p.m.
The third annual Festival will bring together a host of local nonprofits for an afternoon of interaction and fun in the square. There will be games, live performances from local artists and a community art project, but the Seacoast Local Festival is also about bringing the Seacoast community and our nonprofits together to highlight, encourage and sustain the natural and important connections among us. Our nonprofits help those of us in need, they ensure that art and its many benefits are ever-present here, they preserve the history that sets the Seacoast apart from other “tourist destinations,” they encourage and support our local agriculture and food economy and they work hard to both preserve and showcase our precious and wonderfully accessible natural resources.
The Seacoast Local Festival–supported by Piscataqua Savings Bank, RiverRun Bookstore and local volunteers–is about nourishing the organizations and the connections to those organizations that help each of us to thrive.

For more information, visit the Seacoast Local Festival website >