Archive for the ‘author: Jeff’ Category

No Farms, No Beer

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Throwback BreweryThrough sheer persistence and offers of free labor I recently managed to worm my way into a tour and tasting at the soon to be opened Throwback Brewery in North Hampton.  Annette and Nicole were hosting a couple of local beer bloggers and decided to let Kate and me tag along.  For a thorough description of the beers we tried, check out Seacoast Beverage Lab and Beer Zen Girl.

Annette is truly committed to sourcing locally for her beers and has begun by buying 1,000 pounds of grain from Brookford Farm for her Hog Happy Hefeweisen.  As a farmer, Kate wanted to know what she might be able to grow for Throwback and how much land it would take.  Barley, wheat, and hops can all be grown in the northeast and Annette is eager to see how local varieties can be used for her brewing.

We had a great time drinking beers brewed with hot peppers, peanuts, rye, wheat, chipotles, and more.  You can count on me being first in line to pick up a bottle of Campfire Smoked Porter and Dippity Do Brown Ale.Hog Happy Hef

Throwback is still moving through the arduous and multi-tiered process of getting their beers approved for sale, but we’re hoping that they’ll be available soon.  We’ve had our first taste and are eager to try some more.

And because he’s a friend of mine, I feel I should mention that the images for their beer labels (such as the soon to be iconic happy hog) are being designed by Nate Walker, builder of the giant ant.

Agricultural Commissions

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

According to the NH Coaltion for Sustaining Agriculture’s guide, How to Create an Agricultural Commission in Your Hometown, “The purpose of an agricultural commission is to protect agricultural lands, preserve rural character, provide a voice for farmers, and encourage agriculture-based businesses. For years New Hampshire farmers have served as stewards of land and water resources, and provided habitat for native plants and animals. As New Hampshire communities grow and change, citizens are looking for ways to support local farms, and foster new ones.”

 The Rockingham Planning Commission and UNH Cooperative Extension are hosting a workshop on March 16 called “How-to Establish an Agricultural Commission”.  From their flyer:

Join us for an in-depth discussion on how to establish an Agricultural Commission, the duties of a Commission, and an explanation of grant funds available to assist in establishing or sustaining an Agricultural Commission. Workshop leaders include Nada Haddad of UNH Cooperative Extension, Erick Sawtelle of the Lee Agricultural Commission, Dick Wollmar of the North Hampton Agricultural Commission, George Malette of the Weare Agricultural Commission, John Lastowka of the Merrimack Agricultural Commission, and Theresa Walker of the Rockingham Planning Commission. Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner of the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food, will join us at the start of the workshop.

When:                                                                                                                                    Tuesday, March 16, 2010 (Snow date is March 17)                                                                    5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, refreshments provided

Where:                                                                                                                                Hilton Auditorium                                                                                                         Rockingham County Nursing Home                                                                                        117 North Road, Brentwood, NH

RSVP:                                                                                                                              Theresa Walker, Rockingham Planning Commission, 603-778-0885, twalker@rpc-nh.org    Nada Haddad, UNH Cooperative Extension, 603-679-5616, nada.haddad@unh.edu

This workshop is targeted at communities in the I-93 corridor, Atkinson, Sandown, Hampstead, Fremont, Danville, and Windham, but is open to all towns in Rockingham County. 

Other Regional Planning Commissions will be hosting workshops on Agricultural Commissions as well.  

Another Good Reason to Support Local Farmers…

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

It’s easier than having to grow it all yourself.

Beth Poitier has nice post up at UNH’s Discover(ing) Sustainability blog.  She’s thankful that the Seacoast’s farmers have had more success with their farms than she has had with her garden.  And she’s right.  The growers that we get our food from have a lot more training and experience than your average backyard gardener.  They’re also growing food for a living so they have a bit more invested in ensuring that things go well and that their crops make it to market.  So the next time you look in your backyard and the pickings look a little slim remember that they are plenty of farmers’ markets and farm stands nearby to bail you out and the growing season isn’t over yet.

Homebrewing and Microbrew Tastings

Friday, September 18th, 2009

For those of you who enjoy beer, there are a few nice events coming up in the next month.  First, on October 3 Redhook Brewery, WHEB and Prescott Park are hosting NH Brew Fest 2009.  There will 30 brewers, 90 brews, and 2 tasting sessions.  I’ve already bought my tickets online and hope to see you there.

On October 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Shapleigh Hops Craft Brewing Supply is hosting an open house and brewing demonstration. There will be demos for beer, wine, cider, and mead.  Shapleigh Hops can be found at 37 Grant Road in Shapleigh, Maine.  They can be reached at 207-432-3677.

And finally, there’s a new brewery in Hooksett, NH, White Birch Brewing.  I haven’t tried the beer yet, but hopefully I’ll make it to one of the tastings being held in Hooksett on October 14 and New Durham on October 21.  White Birch also posts regular updates on his progress over at Twitter.

Enjoy your beer!

Many NH Dairies Continue to Struggle

Friday, August 14th, 2009

On August 6 the Concord Monitor ran a good story by Chelsea Conaboy on the challenges currently facing New Hampshire’s dairies.  The gist of the story is this, the process by which prices for bulk milk are set has led to a situation where farmers are receiving less money for their milk than it costs to produce.

It is a sad truth that dairy farmers, and many other farmers as well, are price-takers instead of price-makers.  In most industries producers create a product and then charge the retailers or consumers whatever it cost to produce and then their profit on top of that.  Dairy farmers however, are forced to accept prices set by someone else, regardless of whether or not it earns them a profit or even covers the costs of production.

I recommend that all of you read the Monitor’s article so that you’ll have a better understanding of what our dairies are facing.  Six NH dairies have closed so far and more are likely to follow suit.  The one highlight of the article for me was reading our Commissioner of Agriculture, Lorainne Merrill say “What we have seen is a tremendous transfer of wealth, of equity, from dairy farm families to these corporations,” in reference to the increased profits of the Dean Foods corporation at a time when the farmers it buys from are having trouble holding onto their farms.

Seacoast Harvest Returns!

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

The 2009 Seacoast Harvest is now available and ready to help you find local sources of your favorite foods.

Copies of Seacoast Harvest can be picked up for free at the Portsmouth, Durham, Newmarket, Exeter, and York farmers’ markets.  You can also find them at farms such as Riverslea Farm in Epping, Barker’s Farm in Stratham, and Brookford Farm in Rollinsford.  We are currently working on getting copies out to farm stands, markets, and events throughout Rockingham, Strafford, and York Counties, so be on the lookout for it.

This year’s Seacoast Harvest is 24 full-color pages of information about many of the farms, farm stands, and farmers’ markets in our region, including products available and where they can be purchased.  Information is provided for over 140 farms and two dozen farmers’ markets. It also includes seasonal availability charts for local produce and New England seafood, a farming practices glossary, and a quick reference guide to help consumers find what they’re looking for.

Seacoast Harvest is the local food guide for York, Strafford, and Rockingham Counties and is updated annually to ensure that it is an effective resource for consumers and farmers.  It is a collaborative project of Seacoast Eat Local and Slow Food Seacoast and is accomplished through the hard work of their volunteers as well as the generous contributions of both business and nonprofit sponsors and individual donors.

Seacoast Harvest‘s launch will be held in conjunction with  Slow Food Seacoast’s Down on the Farm Picnic on July 12, 2009 from 11am-3pm at Osprey Cove Farm in Madbury.

Be sure to visit to www.seacoastharvest.org for more useful information as well as a searchable database of local farms.

Farmers and Farmland, a match made in heaven

Friday, June 5th, 2009

For farmers trying to enter into farming as a full-time profession affordable farmland is hard to come by.  Many landowners and older farmers have land that they wish was being put to good use as fields for growing vegetables or pasturing livestock.  Organizations around the country have established LandLinks to help put these two groups together.  LandLinks serve as a database of farmers looking for land to lease or buy and landowners who would like to sell or lease their farmland.  Both farmers and landowners are often open to a variety of mutually beneficial arrangements.

New England LandLink exists to serve just such a purpose. NE LandLink is hosted by the New England Small Farm Institute in Massachusetts and lists farms in New England and New York that are in search of farmers.

Farmers can join LandLink for $10 and will receive contact information for farms that interest them as well as updates on new properties.

NH Farm Link was formed on June 21, 2000 and has now joined NE LandLink to connect more New Hampshire farmers and landowners.

For more information, contact John C. Porter, UNH Cooperative Extension Dairy Specialist/Professor, Emeritus at john.porter@unh.edu.

Oilseed & Grain Growing Workshop at UNH

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

On Saturday, June 13 from Green Start, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the use and availability of biodiesel, is hosting a workshop entitled “Putting Oilseeds & Grains into your Rotation: Organic No-till and Cover Cropping“.

The  workshop starts at 9:00 AM at Burton Hall on UNH’s Durham campus. The event will feature speakers from the Rodale Institute, the US National Resource Conservation Service and Cooperative Extension agents from UNH and U Maine.

Following the morning workshops there will be farm tours and a display and demonstration of no-till equipment.

To download the registration form, click here.

On Friday, June 12 Green Start will also be hosting a workshop on carbon sequestration and cover-cropping.  “Farming for Carbon in New England – Food and Fuel Policy and Application” is also being held at Burton Hall at UNH.

To download the registration form, click here.

For more information about either of these workshops please visit www.greenstartnh.org or call Barclay Jackson at 603-498-8252 or Suzanne Hebert at 603-862-3200.

Catching up on the news

Monday, April 27th, 2009

I’m taking the easy way out today and just giving you all some links to make sure you’re keeping on the news.  Much of this comes from NHPR, so good for them and don’t forget to pledge!  Below we have stories on Seafood, conserved farmland, a misguided attempt to merge the Dept of Agriculture with a few other departments, and more.

Seacoast Fishermen Begin to Advertise Locally Caught Fish

Littleton Coop Expected to Boost North Country Economy

Commissioner of Agriculture, Markets, and Food, Lorraine Stuart Merrill

Merger Plan Hears Broad ‘No’

Agreement Reached to Permanently Protect Scamman Farm

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.