Archive for March, 2010

In the News: Slaughterhouse Shortage Limits Local Food

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

On Friday, March 26, 2010, the New York Times published an article by Katie Zezima titled “Push to Eat Local Food Is Hampered by Shortage.” What’s this shortage hampering local food you ask? Slaughterhouses. There just aren’t enough of them to go around anymore.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the number of slaughterhouses nationwide declined to 809 in 2008 from 1,211 in 1992, while the number of small farmers has increased by 108,000 in the past five years.  

The article is full of compelling information and personal accounts. Like this tidbit:

Brian Moyer, director of Rural Vermont, a nonprofit farm advocacy group, uses the image of an hourglass. “At the top of the hourglass we’ve got the farmers,” he said, “the bottom part is consumers and in the middle, what’s straining those grains of sand, is the infrastructure that’s lacking.” 

 And one of the hardest things to swallow is that everyone says we need more slaughterhouses, but harldy anyone wants one near them. On the upside, mobile units, which have been used mostly for poultry, are beginning to be used with larger animals.

Click here for the full article.

Spring Open House at Jenness Farm

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Check your calendars for the weekend of April 17 and 18, 2010. Jenness Farm, in Nottingham, is holding its Spring Open House/Open Farm from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. both days. There will be lots for both young and old. Special attractions included in the weekend are new piglets, baby goats, Rhun the Frisbee dog, the chicks are scheduled to hatch, and maybe some lambs. 

Bring a picnic lunch and come with any questions you may have. And don’t be afraid to ask them!

Visit Jenness Farm’s website for more details. 

In the News: Red Tide Closes Clam Flats a Month Early

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

On Wednesday, March 24, 2010, the Maine Department of Marine Resources issued its first clam flat closure of the 2010 season. The closure comes a month earlier than usual, as it’s typically open to the end of April. According to an article by  Seacoast Online:

“I don’t think it will be too much longer that we’ll have additional closures for mussels,” said Darcie Couture, director of the Biotoxin Monitoring Program for the state. “It’s lining up to be a very bad year.”

Couture blames the early closure on the unusually warm weather this year. The article relates that the department

banned the harvesting of surf and hen clams, which are bigger than the traditional steamers, in certain coastal areas such as Harpswell. The state also closed the harvesting of mussels in Brunswick and of carnivorous snails in some areas.

Additionally, due to high bacteria counts caused by flooding, the York flats are closed for digging steamers. State test were scheduled to confirm or deny the reopening of the flats for Sunday. The flats were only planned to be open through April 25, 2010.

To read the full article, click here.

Calling All Chefs, Retailers, and Distributors, Come Eat Local Cheese!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

The New Hampshire Cheesemakers Guild is hosting a tasting event for local chefs, retailers, and distributors to come taste our local cheese. The event will take place from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 13, 2010, at the Common Man restaurant, 25 Water Street, Concord. The event is geared to help chefs, retailers, and distributors learn about our local cow and goat cheeses as well as to allow them to meet the artisans who make the cheese. The event is expected to highlight more than 20 different cheeses from 8-10 cheesemakers.

The event is made possible by the NH Cheesemakers Guild in conjunction with Granite State Dairy Promotion and the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food.

If you have any questions for would like to RSVP for the event, please contact Gail McWilliam Jellie at gmcwilliam@agr.state.nh.us or 603.271.3788.

In the News: Dairies Struggling to Survive

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

It’s been a hard few years for everyone. For our dairy farmers, hard is an understatement. This is from a recent article by Alexis Macarchuk for Seacoast Online:

Six of the state’s 130 dairy farms — some of which were in business for generations — closed last year. Many New England dairy farmers make less than what it costs to run their farms, forcing them to choose between long-term debt and slaughtering their cows.

“It’s been really horrific,” said Lorraine Merrill, the New Hampshire commissioner of Agriculture Markets and Food, after addressing attendees at Thursday’s annual New England Leadership Conference on conservation issues.

 At that conference,  Merrill gave a presentation about a new program, started by all six of the New England states’ departments of agriculture, Keep Local Farms. This program is an effort to support dairy farms, through monetary donations, consumer education, and milk and dairy product promotion. According to the article, “ultimately, Merrill would like to see reform on a national level that would stabilize milk prices.” But Merrill said, “Farmers are working to give up their money. It’s almost like they’re the ones subsidizing the consumers and the grocery stores, and that needs to stop.”

According to the Support Local Farms website, there are several things you can do to support your local dairy farms.

  1. Buy milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products at the store.  If you can, purchase dairy products that are made locally in our region.
  2. Contribute as generously as you can to the Keep Local Farms program.  One hundred percent of your contribution will go directly to assist New England dairy farmers and help stabilize and enhance their income despite fluctuations in milk prices.  
  3. Support the businesses and organizations that display the Keep Local Farms logo. 

Many of our dairy farmers’ milk goes to the Hood plant in Concord or to Cabot. So if you’re buying a gallon of Hood milk and a package of Cabot cheddar, then you’re helping a little to support our local farmers.

Please read the full article. And visit the Keep Local Farms website.

Locally Made Apple Boxes

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Greenfield Apple Box, in Greenfield, NH, is constructing apple boxes out of local on-site custom sawn lumber made from New England white pine. The sturdy boxes are good for apple storage and are great for displaying produce at farm stands and farmers’ markets. They produce a couple different sizes and are priced from $7 to $8, a price which drops with quantities of 20 or more. All sizes nest together for portability and easy storage.

Visit their website to learn more about this great local product.  

In the News: Do Roosters Make North Hampton More Rural?

Monday, March 29th, 2010

In North Hampton, a proposal to change zoning laws has caused some debate. Seacoast Online has reported on the issue. This is a section from the article:

Changes proposed to the existing ordinance governing agricultural activities in town would have defined what those activities could include. It allowed the breeding, raising, housing and sale of livestock, from buffalo to pigs, on any parcel of land two acres or more. The proposal also allowed for the storage of manure on the property and lowered setbacks required from neighboring property lines to 50 feet or 85 feet from a neighboring residence from the current 200 feet. It also took fowl and poultry out of the town’s current definition of livestock and gave them their own category.

Agriculture Commission member Cindy Jenkins told Planning Board members her group was submitting the proposed changes to bring the town into compliance with state law. RSA 672:1, states: “Agricultural activities are a beneficial and worthwhile feature of the New Hampshire landscape and shall not be unreasonably limited by use of municipal planning and zoning powers or by the unreasonable interpretation of such powers.”

“The 200-foot setback struck us as being an unreasonable application of zoning powers in North Hampton,” Jenkins said. “The state of New Hampshire is encouraging us to have more to do with the food we eat. There is no sustainability if we have to rely on commercial food operations and trucking for food.”

In the end, “the Planning Board voted 4-0, with Dr. Joseph Arena abstaining, to hold off on recommending the Agricultural Commission’s amendment to town voters at the May 11 town elections. Instead, board and commission members will join with residents in trying to develop a way for property owners to raise their own food, while limiting the amount of nuisance that activity would cause abutters.”

To read the entire article, click here.

Farmers’ Trip to Chelsea Market

Monday, March 29th, 2010

In the wee hours of the morning, 3:00 a.m. to be exact, on Wednesday, April 22, 2010, the York County Farmers’ Network and the York County Farm Bureau are organizing a trip to the Chelsea Market, right outside of Boston. This trip will allow farmers’ to see how food is distributed throughout New England, where it comes from, how it is packaged, and the quality standards that are required.

All farmers are welcome!

Those attending should meet at the Wells Transport Center at 3:00 a.m. to carpool to the market. The intended arrival will be 5:00 a.m. With an estimated return to Wells of around 9:00 a.m. Click here for the announcement about the event Chelsea Market on April 22, 2010.

If you have questions contact Frank Wertheim, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, York County, at 207.324.2814 or 1-800-287-1535 (in Maine) or  frankw@umext.maine.edu.

Kittery School Kitchen Manager honored by State

Monday, March 29th, 2010

If you’ve caught the first couple of episodes of the new television show, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, you’ve seen what an important role schools play in teaching children about food. It’s cheering to see that Cheryl Dixon, the Kitchen Manager for Mitchell School in Kittery, has recently been recognized with an award for excellence for her work in promoting healthy eating and local food in her school:

 

Dixon’s idea was simple: Teach students to lead healthy lifestyles by exposing them to a variety of fresh and local foods.

“It’s so important,” said Dixon, who instituted several programs at the Mitchell School to support her vision. “These are the formative years.”

The first project, the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program, is a unique partnership of several Maine health, business and community-based organizations. The five-year initiative promotes healthy lifestyles for kids and their families, by encouraging individuals to eat five or more fruits or vegetables, limit screen time to two hours, exercise for one hour and drink zero sugary beverages each day. Dixon promoted these goals throughout the school by hanging posters and integrating daily goals into art, library and other classroom lessons.

Dixon also brought the Farm-to-School program to Mitchell School, providing lessons in farming, composting and environmental awareness by exposing kids to fresh produce and locally made dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt.

For full article >

As for Jamie Oliver, he won this year’s TED Prize, an award that includes “one wish to change the world.” His wish: Teach every child about food. Thank-you, Cheryl, for helping to make this wish happen!

Greenland Community Garden

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Another new community garden is forming, this time in Greenland:

 

Greenland Community Garden

Living Innovations, a provider of in-home and community-bases services for elders and people with disabilities has a corporate office at 47 Tide Mill Road in Greenland, situated between the Golf and Ski Warehouse and the historic Weeks Mansion on Route 33. This growing season they would like to have the company of gardeners at their home, located on four acres of nicely landscaped property with fields fit for planting. Living Innovations will provide the land, fencing, water and a portable toilet. One of the sections of the garden will be reserved for a group of active seniors who belong to Wentworth Connections, a membership organization and senior center on Parrott Avenue in Portsmouth. The other plots will be available to Greenland and other Seacoast residents on a first-come basis.

Living Innovations is seeking gardeners and volunteers for a Community Garden Committee to oversee the garden.  A representative of the UNH Cooperative Extension will help get things going; and we have guidebooks from successful projects in other communities.

If you are interested in getting involved in establishing Greenland’s Community Garden, please contact: Neal Ouellett or Veronica Polak, Living Innovations, 47 Tide Mill Road, Greenland, NH, (603) 422-7308 or nouellett@livinginnovations.com

Consider joining a community garden if you live in place that’s too shaded or doesn’t have enough space, or if you simply enjoy gardening in the company of others!