Archive for September, 2009

News Round-up

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Here’s a quick selection of articles that have appeared recently. In case you missed the Barrington Natural Heritage & Agricultural Fair or the Fishtival in Portsmouth:

 

• “Big rains, big success for Barrington Natural Heritage and Agricultural Fair“, Foster’s Daily Democrat

 

• “Fishtival feeds, educates Ocean Fans in Portsmouth“, Foster’s Daily Democrat

 

 

From the “Saving the Farm” issue of NH Magazine:

 

• “Our Green Valley, Preserving the Farming Life on New Hampshire’s Fertile Edge” (by Barbara Stewart, formerly of McClary Hill Farm) and also “Seeking Local Seafood“, New Hampshire Magazine, September 2009

 

 

Sometimes eating locally means eating out, and supporting the restaurants that source from local farmers. The amount of cross-fertilization between the Portsmouth and Portland restaurant scene seemed to warrant including the last articles:

 

• “Slow Down and Stay for Dinner: Portsmouth, New Hampshire”, Gourmet, October 2009 (no link yet)

 

• “America’s Foodiest Small Town 2009: Portland, Maine“, Bon Appètit, October 2009

 

• “In Portland’s Restaurants, a Down East Banquet“, NY Times, September 15, 2009

Keep Local Farms Dairy Initiative Launched

Monday, September 28th, 2009

In response to the complicated and devastating drop in prices paid to farmers for dairy, a new initiative has been formed that looks to build off the fair trade model, putting more of the consumer’s dollar into farmers’ hands called Keep Local Farms. Last week, New Hampshire’s Commissioner of Agriculture Lorraine Merrill dedicated her column in the Weekly Market Bulletin to describing this initiative:

From Your Commissioner…

New Effort to Keep New England Dairy Farms

On Monday New England’s state commissioners and secretary of agriculture joined forces for an event at Conant Farm in Richmond, Vermont to launch a new initiative called ‘Keep Local Farms.’ The program aims to help stabilize income for dairy farms, and create new connections between New England farms and their customers and neighbors.

One of the most frequent questions we get is, “What can we do to help dairy farmers?” Many people volunteer that they would gladly pay more for milk and dairy products if they knew the money went to the farmers. Folks in the dairy industry have been scrambling to create a way for milk-drinkers and lovers of our agrarian landscape and heritage to increase the returns dairy farmers get for their milk and all the other uncompensated benefits and services farms provide to New England states and communities.

This ambitious new effort has been developed by farmers and their organizations, with help from state departments of agriculture and the Cooperative Development Institute. Inspired by the ‘fair trade’ concept, Keep Local Farms aims to return more money to the region’s strapped dairy farmers, while educating the public and strengthening ties between farms and communities.

The current cost of producing milk far outweighs the prices farmers are getting. Farm families are running out of savings and credit to cover this gap. Many New England dairy farms have been going out of business, and more will follow soon if farm incomes do not increase significantly. The federal programs to assist dairy farmers when prices are low have not been adequate in this severe downturn. The Keep Local Farms program is designed to help reduce price instability for farm businesses.

The New England dairy industry has a hugely positive economic impact on the region. The milk produced on these farms is valued at $12.2 billion, and creates over $5 billion in economic activity. There are approximately 1,880 dairy farms in New England, most of them small, with fewer than 100 cows per farm. Nonetheless, the dairy industry provides upwards of 22,000 jobs–including farming, farm supply businesses, milk haulers, processors, marketers, farm service firms and agencies.

New Englanders appreciate and rely on their stable supply of fresh dairy products. These quality foods are fresh, healthy, local, and provide a real source of food security. I remember the eloquent testimony of outdoor recreation groups and environmental advocates like the Conservation Law Foundation in support of the Northeast Dairy Compact a decade ago. Keep Local Farms provides a way for the many people who benefit from local dairy farms to ensure they remain economically sustainable.

People can learn more, and make contributions through the web site www.keeplocalfarms.org. Information is also available by calling toll-free 877-388-7381.

Funds are collected, pooled, and tabulated monthly. The New England Dairy Farms Cooperative (NEFDFC), of which all New England dairy farms will be members, will handle accounting and payments to farmers. Information on total distributions and the average amount per dairy farm will be posted on the web and through media outlets. Annual audits will also be posted on the web site.

Payments to dairy farmer members of NEFDFC will be made initially at least every six months, to coincide with high-expense periods of spring planting in April/May, and fall harvest in September/October.

The Keep Local Farms program will grow through partnerships with retailers, organizations, colleges/universities and businesses that share the core values of support for local farms, community, economy and you the consumer. These are partners who value farms, local foods and sustainable business practices.

At the launch event Deb Erb, Landaff dairy farmer and member of the New England Family Dairy Farms Cooperative board, said that as the program grows, it may be possible to make quarterly or even monthly payments to dairy farmers.

Keep Local Farms is the promotional effort to link consumers with farmers, Erb explained, and NEFDFC is the umbrella co-op representing New England farmers to distribute the funds. “This concept is several years in the making, and a lot of people have contributed to the effort,” she said. This launch comes at a critical time.

I’ll be watching to see what transpires as this initiative develops. In the meantime, I like that in addition to the regional milk processors like Oakhurst and Cabot, we have several options of buying milk from farms that bottle it themselves, enabling those farms to garner semi-direct sales.

www.keeplocalfarms.org

Measuring Northeast Food Production Capacity

Monday, September 28th, 2009

A recent round of funding from the USDA to research partner institutions sets out to measure the real and potential capacity for the Northeast — this is exciting stuff from the USDA, and I hope we hear again when the results come in:

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VILSACK ANNOUNCES FUNDING FOR RESEARCH ON FOOD SECURITY IN NORTHEAST

Sept. 17, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $230,000 in funding for studies to assess the capacity of the northeastern United States to produce enough food locally to meet market demands, rather than relying on food transported long distances to feed the burgeoning East Coast population. These studies will be conducted as part of the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative launched this week by USDA to connect people more closely with the farmers who supply their food, and to increase the production, marketing and consumption of fresh, nutritious food that is grown locally in a sustainable manner.

“This research project will help identify and quantify the capacity to produce food locally that meets the needs of large urban populations in different seasons of the year,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “The lessons that we learn and the information that we glean from this project also will give us important insights into how we build and sustain local production systems elsewhere in the United States and abroad.”

Although low fuel prices have contributed to the globalization of the U.S. food system, with food transported to market over long distances, the ARS scientists contend that relying more on the strategic production of locally grown food can counter the challenges of rising transport costs, growing population demands and vanishing farmlands.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, will provide $200,000 in additional funding to its laboratories in Orono, Maine, and Beltsville, Md., to hire two scientists to model and determine the suitability of East Coast soils for agricultural production, as well as land availability in the Northeast for local production of fruit and vegetables.

ARS is also providing $30,000 to Tufts University in Boston for a new cooperative agreement to conduct an assessment of marketing and processing options for local food production, and also to determine how land-use policies could further encourage such production.

ARS scientists at the Orono and Beltsville laboratories are mapping an array of county-level data from Maine to Virginia on factors such as weather, soil, land use, water availability, which they will use to model potential crop production along the Eastern Seaboard to find out where local food production could meet current and projected demand, and where it might fall short.

In addition to the work conducted at the Orono and Beltsville laboratories, ARS’ laboratory at University Park, Pa., is participating in the research. Two other USDA agencies-the Economic Research Service and the Agricultural Marketing Service-will also participate in this project. The team is modeling actual crop production practices and the flow of agricultural products into supply chains, including all the associated handling and transportation costs, from farm field to market. This will help identify how the costs and benefits of locally grown produce compare with product transported over long distances to the Eastern Seaboard market.

From the USDA website

New Eden Harvest Celebration rescheduled for October 4

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Due to the rainy weather, the New Eden Harvest Celebration will take place on October 4 – lots of great, free food preservation workshops are going to take place!:

We at the New Eden Collaborative are very excited about Sunday’s New Eden Harvest Celebration. We have a full roster of free educational workshops to get you excited about growing and preserving your own. All classes will be behind the church either at the parking lot or down in the community gardens.

11:00 Tips on Season Extension and Creating Good Root Storage- Erin Stack

11:30 Butterfly and Beneficial Insects at the New Eden Gardens for Beauty and Pest Control – with Dorothy Saffarewich

12:00 Lacto-fermentation Food Preservation  (Sauerkraut) – Charlotte Dion

12:30 Getting Ready for Spring this Fall: Seed saving, composting, cover crops -Charlotte Dion

1:00 Fruit drying -Tory Dolben

1:30 What Makes for Prize Winning Canning and Pickling Entries -Tory Dolben

2:00 Announcements of  Prize Winners for our Produce and Food Competitions

2:15 Permaculture tour at the New Eden Gardens and Discussion –  Charlotte Dion

Don’t forget to bring your tasty food and produce entries to the contest test. Judging will begin at 12 Noon!

Visit the New Eden Community Garden website for directions and more information >

Keeping apples fresh

Monday, September 28th, 2009

The New Hampshire Fruit Growers Association has a great blog post on keeping your apples fresh – I had no idea they liked it so cold!

“Of all the factors that affect how well apples keep that fresh-picked flavor and crispness, temperature is the most important.  How cold?  For most varieties, storage at 32oF or nearly so is ideal.

Why so cold? Apples are alive. They consume oxygen and stored food to produce the energy needed for life.  At lower temperatures, this process is slowed way down.  As a result they live much longer.

Of course, there is more to it than temperature.  High humidity is important too – around 90% relative humidity is ideal.  If you are storing apples in a frost-free home refrigerator, placing them in a loosely folded, food-grade plastic bag will help.”

NH Fruit Growers Association

Oct 9 — Oyster tasting at Seaport Fish

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

From Seaport Fish’s email newsletter:

Oyster Tasting and Beer Pairing Event
Friday October 9th 4-6pm

Come on down to Seaport Rye and try the only oysters harvested in New Hampshire by the Little Bay Oyster Company. NH Beer Distributors will also be here sampling some of their fantastic brews.

Oysters and beer, does it get better than that?

Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner — October 11

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

From Slow Food Seacoast and Chef’s Collaborative:

Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner

October 11, 2009 at 4pm

In the barn at Berry Hill and Meadow’s Mirth Farms, Stratham, NH

Come celebrate the bounty of the Seacoast region, our rich agricultural history, farmer-chef connections and the RAFT Grow-Out project.

The celebration will feature a multi-course, seated meal in a historic four-story barn overlooking picturesque Berry Hill and Meadow’s Mirth Farms in Stratham, NH.  Led by chef Evan Mallett of the Black Trumpet Bistro, Grow-Out participant chefs will each prepare a course for the meal highlighting heirloom vegetables from local Grow-Out participant farmers.  Complete with locally produced beverages and live bluegrass emanating from the hayloft, it is sure to be a night to remember.

Project farmers will be in attendance and honored at the event.  Funds raised from the dinner will support Chefs Collaborative and Slow Food Seacoast’s continued work on the RAFT Grow-Out project next year.

Cooking for the event will be:

Tom and Mariah Roberts, Owners/Bakers
Beach Pea Baking Co. in Kittery, ME

Evan Mallett, Chef/Owner
Black Trumpet Bistro in Portsmouth, NH

Kathy Gallant, Owner
Blue Moon Market, Café and Yoga in Exeter, NH

Mark Segal, Chef
One Hundred Club in Portsmouth, NH

Ted McCormack, former Chef
Flag Hill Winery in Lee, NH

Evan Hennessey, former Chef
Dunaway in Portsmouth, NH

Josh Lanahan, Chef/Owner
Fresh Local Bayside in Newington, NH

$95/person — Advanced ticket sales only

Tickets available online: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/81869 or contact Anne at 617-236-5200

Family Farm Day at Thistleridge Farm — October 10

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Family Farm Day at Thistleridge Farm.
Oct. 10th from 9am – 2pm, free admission.  Lots of fun for the whole family: pet and feed farm animals, enjoy food and goodies, pony rides, face painting, pumpkins painting, a jump house plus much more. Rain or shine.

Thistleridge Farm is a 150 year old poultry farm selling live poultry, a wide variety of eggs, vegetables, and fruit.

For more information:
phone: (603) 740-9332
email: thistleridgefarm@yahoo.com
387 Tolend Road, Dover NH

Spread the word!

NOFA-NH’s 1st Annual NH Herb & Garlic Day

Friday, September 25th, 2009

garlic.jpg

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire (NOFA-NH) is hosting its first annual NH Herb & Garlic Day. The conference features 9 workshops on backyard medicine, an herbal marketplace, and a raffle:

 

NOFA-NH’s 1st Annual Herb & Garlic Day: “Backyard Medicine”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Massabesic Audubon Center, Auburn, NH

9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 

Kick off the leaf-peeping holiday weekend with an herbal extravaganza! This daylong conference will feature herbal workshops and nature walks with some of New Hampshire’s top herbalists. Participants will learn how to identify wild plants, harvest herbs from the garden, make remedies and use plants to enrich their lives and health. The event will feature how to grow and use garlic, too! Throughout the day, the Herbal Marketplace will be open for people to shop for unique, hand-made, local and organic products, herbs, garlic and garlic seed.

 

The event is open to all levels of interest — beginners who are just learning about herbs, gardeners who would like to incorporate them into their gardens, those who grow culinary and medicinal herbs that they don’t know what to do with, experienced herbalists and organic gardeners. This is New Hampshire’s only bio-regional herbal conference featuring all local speakers, and has been planned in conjunction with the New Hampshire Herbal Network.

 

The pre-registration cost for full conference attendance is $35, and is limited to 150 attendees. An all-day vendor fair plus a raffle will be held during the conference. Lunch — featuring local, organic and herbal food — will be available from the Southern New Hampshire University Culinary Arts Program. For more information and conference schedule, visit www.nofanh.org or contact Maria Noel Groves, Conference Coordinator, at (603) 268-0548 or office@wintergreenbotanicals.com. To register for the conference, please use the following link to download and complete the registration form: 09 HGD Registration Form.pdf.


Take the night off! Eat amazing local food and support UNH students.

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

UNH Gourmet Dinner Provides Industry Experience Beyond Academia with a Local Mindset

Department of Hospitality Management presents first Gourmet Dinner fall semester 2009, to give students the opportunity to showcase fundamentals learned at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics 

Durham, NH, September 20, 2009- University of New Hampshire (UNH) students embrace the challenge of creating a fine dining event on a budget as a nonprofit venture. Every semester, Advanced Food and Beverage students in the Hospitality Management program organize two gourmet dinners that serve between 100 and 200 guests each night.

The experience gives students a glimpse of what is to come in their future after graduation, as they take full responsibility for budgeting, service standards, marketing, sustainable practices and ethics surrounding a high-end event. The exercise is a project that accompanies an intensive capstone lecture. And the students are expected to develop a theme and menu that will capture guest interest within the targeted demographic.

Students in the advanced class are chosen for executive leadership while the remaining class members become mid-level management. The method is preparatory for real life as the students graduate and transition to upper management in hotels, inns, food establishments or other hospitality positions. The executive and management teams dedicate an immense amount of time, nearly 12 hours outside the classroom, which is difficult for a full-time student.

Introductory and intermediate hospitality freshman and sophomores work for the juniors and seniors as servers and beverage attendants. Back-of-the-house kitchen staff, from the hospitality basic culinary course, join the mix for class credit.

“We’re finding team work to be the crucial ingredient to the success of the dinner. When working with a team of different skill levels, you face large challenges especially for an event of this caliber,” notes Executive Chef Kristin Jones.

The first dinner this semester, Season to Remember, a Gourmet Homecoming Celebration will feature six courses of harvest-inspired, local when available, dishes, while capturing the excitement surrounding Homecoming weekend at UNH.

The dinner will take place at Stillings, 20 Ballard Drive, Durham, NH, on October 9, beginning with cocktail hour at 6 o’clock and dinner to follow. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online at www.wsbe.unh.edu/gourmet-dinners.

The Department of Hospitality Management at UNH combines business fundamentals as well as classes geared toward the service industry sector. Hands-on education proves to be a strong and integral part of the experiential and academic curriculum.