Archive for March, 2009

Maple Syrup

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

As the sap is literally running like a stream out of our over 100 year old Sugar Maple tree, damaged from the ice storm this past winter, my family and I headed up to SugarMomma’s for some good old fashioned maple syrup products.  We tried popcorn, ice cream, cotton candy, maple covered nuts, and yes they even served a pancake breakfast… delicious!   The actually Sugar Momma was feeding the fire for the making of the syrup and telling wonderful stories to whoever walked into the sugar shack.  Did you know that Maple Syrup contains vitamins, folic acid and enough calcium to match a cup of milk, unlike it’s copy cat of corn syrup, syrup?

Last night I tried a new recipe with our  maple syrup and I highly recommend it.

Maple Parsnip Soup

3 Tbsp of Butter

1 lb of parsnips chopped

2 medium onions chopped

2 cloves of garlic minced

6 cups of chicken or veggie broth

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/2 cup of evaporated milk

1/3 cup of maple syrup

2 tbsp of Dijon mustard

Salt to taste

3/4 cup toasted pine nuts or nut of your choice

Melt butter in heavy bottomed pan.  Add parsnips, onions, and garlic until onions are translucent.  Add stock and nutmeg, simmer until parsnips are soft, about 40 minutes.  Add the evaporated milk, and remove from heat.  Pour into a blender and puree until velvety smooth.  Stir in maple syrup, mustard and a little salt.  Serve with 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts or other nuts.

Serve with homemade baked bread.   ENJOY!

from Simply  in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert

UNH Sustainable Agriculture seminar series

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Sustainable Agriculture Seminar Series 2009 – Free and open to the public

Mar 30 Biological Buffering: Building Resilience into Agricultural Systems, Larry Phelan, Ohio State University, Wooster

Apr  6 A Holon Approach to Agroecology: Interdisciplinary Thinking for an Interdisciplinary World, Michael Bell, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Apr 13 Sustainable Agriculture in a Post-Industrial World, Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University

Apr 20 Enabling Sustainable Agriculture Research to Succeed: Perspectives of an Agroecologist, Dave Mortensen, Pennsylvania State University
Lectures will be held on Mondays from 4:00 pm in Cole Hall, Room 219, at the Thompson School on the UNH Campus and will be preceded by a reception beginning at 3:30pm.

More information >

Advocacy Works: the White House garden

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

After innumerable emails, entreaties, blog posts, video contests, op-eds, letters to the editor, and interviews, Roger Doiron, Michael Pollan and others have convinced the President and First Lady to plant an organic garden at the White House.  There was a great article in the NY Times on March 19, “Obamas Prepare to Plant White House Vegetable Garden” which gave me the impression that some of the White House staff are as excited about this as the sustainable food advocates.  One of the groups spearheading this campaign was Eat the View, so without further ado, here’s their press release.

Press Release

100,000 Applaud Announcement of a New White House Food Garden

Environment, Nation’s Food System and People’s Health Stand to Benefit

( Scarborough , Maine ) –100,000 people signed a petition asking the Obamas to replant a Victory Garden at the White House, and recent news reports indicate that they are about to reap what they sowed.

For advocates of sustainable and healthy foods, this harvest of good news was as welcome as the summer’s first red-ripe tomato.  “I’m thrilled for the Obama family and for all who will be inspired by their example to grow gardens of their own this year,” said Roger Doiron, founder of the nonprofit Kitchen Gardeners International and leader of the successful petition campaign, “Eat the View.”

Launched in February 2008, Eat the View proposed that the Obamas replant a White House Victory Garden while planting a few extra rows for the hungry. The campaign used viral videos and social networking technologies like Facebook to grow a large support base, attract international media attention and help inspire a larger grassroots effort. In January, 2009, Eat the View won the “On Day One” contest sponsored by the United Nations Foundation, beating out 4,000 other entries and resulting in thousands of messages being sent to the White House in support of its proposal.

Over the course of the past month, the Eat the View campaign has touted the economic benefits of home gardens as part of its pitch to White House staff members.  As proof, Doiron and his wife spent nine months weighing and recording each vegetable they pulled from their 1,600-square-foot garden outside Portland , Maine . After counting the final winter leaves of salad, they found that they had saved about $2,150 by growing produce for their family of five instead of buying it.  “If you consider that there are millions of American families who could be making similar, home-grown savings, those are no small potatoes,” Doiron said.

Although the White House garden campaign is now winding down, Doiron says the Eat the View campaign is just getting warmed up.  “Now that the Obamas are on board, we’re going to be reaching out to other people and identifying other high-profile pieces of land that could be transformed into edible landscapes.  Sprawling lawns around governors’ residences, schoolyards, vacant urban lots: those are all views that should be eaten.”

History of Harvest at the White House

While the Obamas’ garden and the online technologies that campaigned for it might be new, the idea of an edible landscape at the White House is not.  Throughout its history, the White House has been home to food gardens of different shapes and sizes and even to a lawn-mowing herd of sheep in 1918.  The appeal of the White House garden project, Doiron asserts, is that it serves as a bridge between the country’s past and its future.  “The last time food was grown on the White House lawn was in 1943, when the country was at war, the economy was struggling and people were looking to the First Family for leadership. It made sense before and it makes sense again as we try to live within our own means and those of the planet.”

Now if we can just get the rest of American to follow the First Family’s example we’ll all be a little better off.

Grass Fed Beef from Pinewood Yankee Farm – custom ordering available

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Pinewoods Yankee Farm is shipping a beef animal to processing soon – if you would like to custom order some particular cuts, give them a call. In general, they have plenty of steaks and ground beef available at the farm. [Consider getting an order together with some friends, neighbors, or coworkers to save on some driving!]

$3.15/lb hanging weight on custom cut sides. Ground is $4/lb grass fed 92% lean, steaks range from $6/lb sirloin to $8.50/lb rib.

Pinewoods Yankee Farm
Tina Sawteelle
93 North River Road
Lee, NH 03861

Barrington Menu for the Future Discussion Course

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

A Menu for the future group is starting up in Barrington, and they are looking for folks to join in!

This excellent discussion-based course cost only $20 for the workbook, and provides participants “the opportunity to explore food systems and their impacts on culture, society and ecological systems, gain insight into agricultural and individual practices that promote personal and ecological well-being, and to consider your role in creating or supporting sustainable food systems.”

Starting April 13th every Monday night for 6 weeks in Barrington, NH

email   to sign up, space is limited

Topics Covered:

1. What’s Eating America: Given the array of food choices and advice, eating in modern industrial society can be wrought with confusion, contradictions and anxiety.  Session One considers the effects of modern industrial eating habits on culture, society and ecological systems.

2. Anonymous Food:  Session Two traces the historical shift from family farms to industrial agriculture to present day questions surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMO) and industrial organics.  The session examines the ecological and economic impacts that have accompanied the changes in how we grow and prepare food.

3. Farming for the Future:  Session Three explores emerging food system alternatives, highlighting sustainable growing practices and the benefits of small farms and urban food production.  The session considers how individuals can make choices that lead to a more sustainable food supply.

4. You Are What You Eat: Session Four explores food systems from a human health perspective.  The session considers the influences that shape our choices and food policies from the fields to Capitol Hill, and the implications for our health and well-being.

5. Toward a Just Food System:  The readings in Session Five examine issues of hunger, equity, and Fair Trade.  The session considers the role that governments, communities and individuals can play in addressing these issues to create a more just food system.

6.  Choices for Change: Individuals and communities are discovering the benefits of choosing local, seasonal and sustainably grown and produced foods.  Session Six offers inspiration and practical advice in taking steps to create more sustainable food systems.

Food in the News

Monday, March 16th, 2009

In case you’ve missed it, there’s been plenty of talk about the nation’s food supply in the news recently.  Here are a few articles to help keep you up to date.

From the Foster’s Daily Democrat, learn about how milk prices are affecting NH farmers.  The article focuses a considerable amount of attention on the great farms over at Brookford Farm, who serve up some delicious organic raw milk.

“Dairy farmers reeling from low milk prices”

Next up, Rachel Forrest from the Portsmouth Herald discusses the pros and cons of drinking raw.  She drinks raw milk from Brookford Farm and I must confess, so do I.

 “I drink it raw”

And finally, a topic that’s near and dear to the hearts of many of our readers and local farmers, NAIS.  Last Tuesday, March 10 the NY Times published a great piece by farmer and author Shannon Hayes on the dangers of the National Animal Identification System.  NAIS would further burden small farmers while essentially giving CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) a free pass, all with a misguided sense of food safety in mind.

Remember to support your local farmers, your community, your family’s health, the envireonment, and our working landscapes by telling your elected representatives what you think and by voting with your dollars.

Visit Seacoast Harvest to find sources of local food and find out who your State Rep and State Senators are let them know what’s on your mind.

Grow your own: Ask a Grower at Agway!

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Garen Heller of Back River Farm will be at the Dover Agway on March 21 from 10-2 answering gardening questions. Stop by anytime between 10 and 2 to ask for advice, information, or just to hear about his own sustainable growing practices.

Free and open to the public.

The Dover Agway is at 25 Charles St, just off exit 7 of the Spaulding Turnpike. 

Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

There’s been a lot of online buzz about HR 875, or the Food Safety Modernization Act. Some folks are very worried about the limits that this act might impose – everything from home gardening to the organic food program have been named as potential victims of this act. The available information is definitely confusing, but as we muddle our way through actually reading the contents of HR 875 to try to understand it, it’s interesting to note that President Obama used his weekly address to talk about it.

I’m not sure I agree with Obama’s premise that food safety is an area that government alone should be responsible for – I think we need to be responsible and educated consumers, too, and the only way we can do that with our food is to have the sort of connection with the producer that is possible when you are buying local foods.

Read up on HR 875 by searching for that bill number on Thomas >

Grow your own: South Berwick Workshop on Sustainable Growing

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

found via the 236diner:

A Workshop on Sustainable Growing …native plants, xeriscaping, permaculture, organic growing and more!

South Berwick Town Hall

Wednesday March 25th  7:00 p.m.


Guest Speakers:
Jill Crosbie, Gardener
Karen Spillane, Organic Grower for White Heron Teas
Rian Bedard, Certified Permaculture Designer and Instructor

Jill Crosbie, Karen Spillane, and Rian Bedard will speak to us briefly about their varied organic and sustainable growing practices; we’ll then break-up into groups and there will be plenty of time to ask them your sustainable growing questions and get planning advice.  These are three amazing experts so come with questions, paper, and a pencil!

Jill is a local gardener with years of sustainable landscaping experience.  She is also on the board of the Great Works Land Trust.  Karen’s greenhouse is the envy of South Berwick and she grows many of the herbs used by White Heron Teas.  Rian is a certified permaculture instructor and designer and his permaculture practice has brought cooperative composting to many of the restaurants in Portsmouth.

Michelle Obama and food

Friday, March 13th, 2009

From the New York Times: 

THE television cameras were rolling, the journalists were scribbling and the first lady, Michelle Obama, was standing in a soup kitchen rhapsodizing about steamed broccoli. And homemade mushroom risotto. And freshly baked apple-carrot muffins.

Mrs. Obama was praising the menu last week at Miriam’s Kitchen, a nonprofit drop-in center serving this city’s homeless. And she seized the moment to urge Americans to provide fresh, unprocessed and locally grown foods to their families and to the neediest in their communities.

“You know, we want to make sure our guests here and across the nation are eating nutritious items,” said Mrs. Obama, who served lunch to several homeless men and women and delivered eight cases of fresh fruit to the soup kitchen, all donated by White House employees.

“Collect some fruits and vegetables; bring by some good healthy food,” she said. “We can provide this kind of healthy food for communities across the country, and we can do it by each of us lending a hand.”

In her first weeks in the White House, Mrs. Obama has emerged as a champion of healthy food and healthy living. She has praised community vegetable gardens, opened up her own kitchen to show off the White House chefs’ prowess with vegetables and told stories about feeding less fattening foods to her daughters.

White House officials say the focus on healthy living will be a significant item on Mrs. Obama’s agenda, which already includes supporting working families and military spouses. As the nation battles an obesity epidemic and a hard-to-break taste for oversweetened and oversalted dishes, her message is clear: Fresh, nutritious foods are not delicacies to be savored by the wealthy, but critical components of the diets of ordinary and struggling families.

Read the full article >

And while you’re planning this year’s garden, why not take up Michelle Obama’s suggestion and plan to grow a little extra to donate to a local food pantry – many in our area accept donations of fresh food. For a list, including contact information and logistics such as who to contact and when food can be dropped off, visit