Archive for the ‘author: Sara Zoe’ Category

We’re moving this blog!

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

After 4 wonderful years at this blog address, we’re up and moving (to our amazing new website, more about that soon). But we wanted to make sure that everyone who is reading this blog from this website or an rss reader got early notice that we’re not publishing here anymore.

Our new blog address is and for the rss reader users, here’s the feed.

If you’ve been subscribed via email, we’ve migrated that service to the new blog location. Email you say? Here’s how to sign up for that:

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We’re moved most of the archives from this blog over there, and will be finishing up that project in the coming weeks. It’s been quite a trip down memory lane to read about what we were doing and thinking in June of 2007 to June of 2011, and I want to thank you all for your readership, comments, and involvement – see you on the new blog!

– Sara Zoe Patterson, on behalf of Seacoast Eat Local

NH Shellfish Program, slated for elimination

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

By now you’ve likely heard that the NH Shellfish Program, run by the DES ensuring water quality and safe shellfish harvesting, is slated to be eliminated in NH. This would mean not only an end to our emerging oyster farms in the Great Bay (which contribute positively to water quality there), but also our own ability to go clamming in NH waters.

Below is the letter I just sent to my NH Senator, copied heavily from a letter Jocelyn and Will Carey of Little Bay Oyster Co. sent along. Please do copy/adapt and send!

Dear Ms. Stiles,

I am writing to express grave concern over the proposal to eliminate the Shellfish Sanitation Program run by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services under the New Hampshire House of Representatives’ proposed 2011-2012 budget. I urge you to restore funding for the Shellfish Sanitation Program in the senate budget proposal.

The loss of shellfish farms from New Hampshire waters would be a loss for the state. Shellfish aquaculture is good for New Hampshire and is an area worth our support.

Oyster Farming is a Green Industry
• Water Filtration: Oysters filter pollutants (suspended solids) from the waters of the Great Bay Estuary, an area whose water quality is now the subject of mandates from the EPA. Each oyster filters 20-50 gallons of water per day. Little Bay Oyster Co.,  with 1 million oysters filters 20-50 million gallons of water per day. This improves water clarity and promotes recovery eel-grass beds, a critical habitat for juveniles of many commercially and recreationally important fish species.
• Water Monitoring: The existence of the water monitoring program ensures that we keep a close eye on the quality of water in the Great Bay Estuary as well as clam and mussel harvesting sites. Monitoring runoff in the GBE alerts the state to any waste water treatment problems that need to be addressed.

Economic Benefits
• Job Creation: Shellfish aquaculture is a growing industry and has the potential to create jobs for New Hampshire residents.
• Recreational Harvesters: Approximately 1,500 recreational harvesters paid permit fees to Fish and Game ($40,000-$50,000per year) and additionally spend monies (gas, food, equipment etc.) that generate state and local revenue while permitting our residents to feed themselves.
• Permit Costs: Commercial shellfish operations in New Hampshire are subject to a number of fees. Permit fees, as well as the required $0.015 paid to Fish and Game per oyster sold by permit holders, generate revenue.
• Presence of a Local Product: New Hampshire prides itself on “fresh and local”. Without water monitoring, New Hampshire residents will be forced to buy shellfish from out of state.

Ensuring water quality and keeping our shellfish businesses open is inherent to maintaining our core values as proud residents of New Hampshire.

I would appreciate updates on the status of this program and funding.


Winter grown greens at the UNH Dairy Bar

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Seacoast Eat Local is happy and proud to be a partner in the winter growing grant that sparked this terrific partnership! It’s great to note this research and know that it is helping to inform winter growing of greens – much of which is also being done in unheated or minimally heated greenhouses in the ground.

UNH Dairy Bar Serving Local Greens With a Side of Science

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire’s Dairy Bar, a restaurant with the tag line “Local, Fresh, Sustainable,” is serving salad greens this spring that couldn’t be more local: they’re grown several hundred yards away in the UNH Macfarlane Greenhouses. And before they’re doused in vinaigrette, the gourmet greens have served science and helped inform New Hampshire growers about a potential new winter crop.

The project represents a collaboration among UNH Dining, which operates the Dairy Bar, and UNH Cooperative Extension and the N.H. Agricultural Experiment Station at UNH, which spearheaded the research.

“The goal of the research project was to investigate the feasibility of profitably producing greens and herbs in underutilized greenhouses during the winter months,” says Becky Sideman, associate professor and Extension specialist in sustainable horticulture, who is conducting the research with Brian Krug, Extension specialist in greenhouse production.

Greenhouses around the state are often empty between November and February, Sideman says. Yet this time period coincides with the coldest, darkest time of the year. Given energy costs, she and Krug wondered, what are the optimum amounts of supplemental heat and light needed for growers to produce a profitable winter crop of gourmet greens?

The researchers launched their pilot study in September 2010 by planting 12 varieties of greens – including lettuce, endive, arugula, mache, mizuna, tatsoi, and spinach – in two identical UNH greenhouses with minimum temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit in one and 40 degrees in another. All were grown in potting mix in “benchtop production” rather than in beds, since that’s the setup of many greenhouses that are empty during this time period.

Calculating growth rate and production costs, the duo refined their pilot for a second planting in March 2011; it’s these greens that are being used by the Dairy Bar. While results are very preliminary, Sideman notes that production during a New Hampshire winter is not cheap.

“The key to any kind of winter production is to have a pretty good market,” she says. “Producers would need to sell these greens direct to consumers who are willing to pay for a local product.” Farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSAs), or perhaps restaurants committed to local procurement are potential outlets, she says.

Primarily supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, the project received additional support from UNH Dining, which is using about 50 pounds week of the greens per in Dairy Bar salads. “We’re hoping it can go from a research project to how we do business,” says Rick MacDonald, assistant director of UNH Dining. “The greens are delicious, and people really like them.”

No stranger to sourcing local food, UNH Dining, through its Local Harvest Initiative, spends more than 20 percent of its budget on items produced within a 250 mile radius of UNH and hosts a popular Local Harvest Feast each fall. It regularly serves apples from UNH’s Woodman Farm and since 2008 have cooperated with professor of plant biology Brent Loy to serve a butternut squash hybrid he was developing for farmers in the Northeast (see news release here:

The Dairy Bar, revamped in summer 2008 with a focus on local foods and sustainable operations, provides the ideal outlet for Sideman and Krug’s winter greens. “They’re as fresh as you can get,” says MacDonald.

“They’re just fantastic,” Sideman adds.

Sharon Astyk in Newburyport, June 2

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Transition Newburyport, along with a host of other great organizations in the area, are bringing Sharon Astyk to speak about creating healthy, resiliant, and equitable food systems. I’ve read a number of her books, thanks to a recommendation from Audrey, and the practicalities alongside the vision help spur concrete action. This event is free and open to the public:

Sharon Astyk, a North Shore native and nationally known energy and environmental writer, will speak about local food resilience on Thursday, June 2 at 7:00 PM.  She will talk about the importance of developing a strong local food system and how we can work toward individual and community food resilience, including eating local food year-round. This is the second event of a local food series organized by Transition Newburyport.

“The structure of our globalized industrial food system is not sustainable or healthy for us or the planet.” says Elizabeth Marcus of Transition Newburyport, “Sharon Astyk is a leader in creating a new approach by showing how we can create sustainable food systems and a vibrant local economy through buying, growing, preparing and eating local food.”

Sharon Astyk is a farmer near Albany, NY, and an expert on building individual and community resilience in the face of an uncertain future. She has authored several books including A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil (co-author Aaron Newton), Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Homefront, and Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation. Ms. Astyk is a member of the Board of Directors for ASPO-USA (Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas-USA) and is a prolific, insightful blogger whose posts regularly appear in the Energy Bulletin and at Science Blogs.

This program to be held at the First Parish Church of Newbury at 20 High Road is sponsored by the Central Congregational Church (UCC), First Parish Church, First Religious Society of Newburyport (UU), New Eden Collaborative, Northshore Permaculture, Pennies for Poverty: 2 Cents for Change, Newburyport Farmers Market and Transition Newburyport.  The program is free and open to the public.

For inquiries please contact

Help Wanted: Willow Pond Community Farm

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Willow Pond Community Farm, a 4 acre certified organic vegetable CSA in Brentwood, NH is seeking one motivated and hard-working individual to work on the farm this season. The worker or intern will participate in all aspects of organic vegetable growing. Work will include: planting, weeding, irrigating, harvesting, washing and distributing vegetables to members of the farm. There will be many opportunities to learn about organic soil fertility management, pest and disease control, cropping patterns, etc. Pre-requisites for the position include: a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, the ability to lift 50lbs, and the ability to work outside in all weather conditions. We are looking for someone who is able to work approximately 25 hours per week from May-August or September. For more information please contact Maggie Donovan at or go to our website at

Help Wanted: Seasonal/Part-time Selling Plants at Farmers’ Markets

Friday, March 25th, 2011

From Catnip Acres Herb Farm:

HELP WANTED: Seasonal/part-time
7 Portsmouth markets on Saturdays 7am-1pm 5/7-6/18, possibly more if it goes well.
6 Exeter markets on Thursdays 2pm-6pm 5/5-6/9.

Must be honest, dependable, on time, able to work in all weather, cold/heat/rain etc. The market goes on unless there’s a hurricane! Must also be strong enough to put up an e-z up tent, must be good with people, have a positive, cheerful, helpful attitude. Experience in retail sales, and/or knowledge of herb and vegetable plants and organic gardening a plus but not necessary.

Pay is: $50 per Saturday Portsmouth Market, $35 per Thursday Exeter Market
pay may be negotiably higher if one were willing to take partial payment in farm products. (seedlings, p.y.o raspberries, basil, tomatoes, etc.)

If interested please email Wende at with your choice of interview day and time. Brief 1/2 hour interviews will be held in the next few upcoming weeks at the farm on 107 High Rd. Epping, NH Available interview times: tues., weds.,thurs.,sats. march 22,23,24,26…29,30,31,april 2… april 5,6,7,9.
times: 10am, 10:30, 11, 11:30, 12, 12:30, 1:00.

directions to the farm and a list of the plants grown can be seen on  fledgling website:

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Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

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Locally Grown Food May Make Us Healthier

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Emily Bowers, a student at UNH, recently attended the FARMpreneurs event at the Idea Greenhouse in Durham. It was a great event that captures the point at which passion and business come together around  food and agriculture. Emily has graciously allowed us to repost her article here; one statistic that has now become ingrained in my brain thanks to reading it below, “According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 90 percent of American food is processed” :

     Something happened to Charlie Reid in 1968. That year he and some friends ventured from Hampton Beach, New Hampshire across the country to California to see Hollywood. Instead of rubbing elbows with the stars, however, Charlie Reid learned about organic gardening from a neighbor on his block.

                  “There was no such thing as the word ‘organic’ to describe what she was doing,” Reid said. “It was just growing food with no chemicals.”

                  In 1968, Reid learned that craft and he helped that woman with her garden everyday. One of those days he headed to her house to find black limousines parked out front and the woman arguing with some men in suits. When they left she told him that those men were the American Cancer Society.

                  “She showed me her x-rays,” Reid said. “She had cured herself of cancer—she had cancer all through her—and they wanted to know how she did it.” Reid said she attributed her healing to her garden and a fresh supply of chemical-free fruits and vegetables.

                  Reid was talking as a recent panelist at FARMpreneurs, a panel discussion organized by UNH professor John Carroll in Durham last week. The purpose of the event was to demonstrate, in Carroll’s words, that “local food and farming is economic development, at both the production and the consumption level.” While based upon the potential of local farming for economic development, one of the themes that surfaced at the event was the positive impact of “real” local food for personal and community health and wellbeing.

                  Reid continued his story by telling the audience that the woman who had cured herself of cancer blamed the food supply for her illness. “She pointed down the valley at Glendale California and said, ‘There’s your problem right there. There’s where all your cancer is coming from. All the processed foods, they’re all full of chemicals. “

                  Cancer isn’t the only one of America’s health concerns. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website ( states that in 2007-2008, 34 percent of adults over the age of 20 were overweight and an additional 34 percent were obese. The American Heart Association’s website states that cardiovascular disease was responsible for 34 percent of all deaths in the United States in 2006, or about one out of every three. Coronary heart disease was the single leading cause of death in that year. 

                  Carroll, professor in the natural resources department and author of many books including Pastures of Plenty: The Future of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Conservation in New England and The Real Dirt: Toward Food Sufficiency and Farm Sustainability in New England said that what America eats is largely to blame. Consumption of processed foods has only increased since the middle of last century with the emergence of our industrial food system.

                  Regarding processed food Carroll said, “It’s not food. It’s highly processed, manufactured product that we eat, but it’s not food.” He cites the lack of nutrition in these foods as one force beyond America’s poor health.

                  Kate Kennington, a certified holistic health coach in Berwick, Maine, who works with her clients on finding diets that are best for their individual bodies, said that nutrition is often lacking in processed food. She gives the example of processed white bread in which the brown hull of the wheat grain, where the majority of the nutrients occur, is stripped away.  Manufactured nutrients must be added in during processing in order to compensate for the refining of the grain.   

                  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 90 percent of American food is processed, which means the food has been mixed with other ingredients—often preservatives—before being sold to the public.

                  “If your food comes in a box or a package,” said Kennington, “It has been processed.”

                  Even the World Health Organizations (WHO) has cited processed foods as largely to blame for the sharp rise rates of obesity and chronic disease. In a report they released in 2003 they encouraged people to eat less of these foods and more fruits and vegetables.

Because these recommended foods are found in abundance at local farmers markets, eating locally might become a solution to America’s health problems.

In 2008, a group of MIT researchers released results of a study in which they concluded that America’s obesity problem was largely due to the national-scale of our food supply production and distribution system. In other words, our industrial food system causes obesity.

A year later, in October of 2009, the same researchers proposed a solution to this problem by suggesting a substantial increase in regional food consumption. They recommended that Americans living in metropolitan areas should get most of their nutrition from the regional ‘foodshed’ that surrounds their cities. This solution may take into account that most locally grown food is unprocessed, or in ‘whole’ form, as both Kennington and Carroll point out.

In a 2009 article in MIT news the man who organized the study, Dr. Tenley Albright, said, “To end obesity, we need to produce healthier, more accessible, more affordable food.”

                  Along with Charlie Reid, Joseph Marquette of Yellowhouse Farm was also a panalist at FARMpreneurs. Marquette raises heritage poultry in Barrington, New Hampshire, for sale at local markets. Heritage poultry refers to, in Marquette’s words, “real chickens” versus their factory-farmed, hybridized equivalents sold at grocery stores and served in most restaurants.

Marquette raised the point that the requirements of a large and diverse breeding pool coupled with the land required to raise heritage poultry begets much higher costs than are associated with factory-farmed poultry.  This is one of the challenges of small-scale, local agriculture operations: prices are often higher. But that hasn’t yet been a problem for Marquette.

“Many people have woken up to the idea that quality food comes with expense,” said Marquette. “It’s not so much that we are discovering this, it’s that we are remembering it. Food was always costly, but it was also always food.”

While the general affluence of the seacoast area may protect Marquette from a lack of customers, the U.S. Census Bureau still estimates that between three and 10 percent of seacoast-area residents live in poverty. The higher price of local food, due in part to a lack of federal subsidies that the industrial sector is afforded, can prevent people of lower income brackets from making healthy food decisions that include locally grown food.

 The difference in price between whole foods and process foods is astounding. In 2004, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition released a study that showed that although one-dollar could buy 1,200 calories of potato chips and 875 calories of soda, it would only stretch to cover 170 calories of fresh-fruits and 250 calories of fresh-vegetables. 

Sara Zoe Patterson, the coordinator of Seacoast Eat Local—an organization that connects consumers with sources of locally grown and locally made food—is already on top of that issue. Also a panelist at the FARMpreneur event she mentioned that Seacoast Eat Local was working on bringing SNAP food stamp access to farmers markets in the seacoast area.

According to the USDA, the number of New Hampshire residents that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP increased by over 14.5% between 2009 and 2010. Bringing food stamp access to seacoast farmers markets could allow lower-income residents greater access to fresh and healthy local food. The processing of making farmers markets SNAP accessible could also have positive benefits for sales.

“The brilliance is that with the machinery required to run the snap program…comes the ability to accept debit cards as well,” Patterson said. This initiative is just one aspect of what Seacoast Eat Local is doing to provide seacoast-area residents with fresh, local food while supporting local farms.

To explain the reasoning behind Seacoast Eat Local’s general goals Patterson said, “We think that farms are businesses that deserve a special place in our culture; they are growing our food, and I feel like there’s nothing more personable, more intimate, than being able to know the person that’s growing the very thing that is keeping you alive, and contributing to your health, and making you happy.”

Help Wanted: Full Time Gardener for Arrows Restaurant

Friday, February 25th, 2011

FULL TIME GARDENER wanted for famed Southern Maine Restaurant

James Beard Award winning Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier of Arrows Restaurant and MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine are searching for a full time gardener for their high production restaurant garden in Southern Maine. 

Salary is commensurate with experience.  Please send resumes to,  Attn: garden position.

According to the Daily, “Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier are stalwart forerunners of the sustainable movement”.  In 1992, long before “green” was a hot topic, the Arrows garden was founded.  Today it provides up to 90% of Arrows produce needs.  Its three full time gardeners, under the direction of Master Gardener Rae Avery, tend this highly cultivated organic farm.

New Dietary Guidelines, now with (a little) gumption

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

I’ve been reading through the new USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, as well as reading through the enormous amount of online analysis. The sheer quantity of news items written about these guidelines help convey the impact the guidelines have on our policy system, if not on how actual Americans decide what to eat. The last time these guidelines were updated, 2005, they were lame and vague, with advice like, “eat more vegetables.” Now the message is more clear, concise and concrete, “make half your plate fruits and vegetables” and “drink water instead of sugary drinks” and one of my favorites, “enjoy your food, but eat less.”

 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans including Selected Messages for Consumers (.pdf)

 NYT, Dietary Guidelines Urge Less Soda And Smaller Meals 

As the nation’s obesity crisis continues unabated, federal regulators on Monday issued their bluntest nutrition advice to date: drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda, fill your plate with fruits and vegetables and cut down on processed foods filled with sodium, fat or sugar. More important, perhaps, the government told Americans, “Enjoy your food, but eat less.” Many Americans eat too many calories every day, expanding their waistlines and imperiling their health.

While the recommendations may seem obvious, it is nonetheless considered major progress for federal regulators, who have long skirted the issue, wary of the powerful food lobby. (The 112-page report even subtly suggests that people eat less pizza and dessert.)

Previous guidelines urged Americans to curb sugar, solid fats and salt, but avoided naming specific foods, let alone urging consumers to eat less food over all.

“For them to have said ‘eat less’ is really new. Who would have thought?” said Margo G. Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “We should have been saying ‘eat less’ for a decade.”

Ms. Wootan said she was nonetheless pleased that the guidelines provided “understandable and actionable” advice rather than the “big vague messages” of the past.

For instance, she applauded the advice to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.

Getting Beyond Jargon: A Close Look at the New Dietary Guidelines, Marion Nestle on The Atlantic

The report translates its advice on pages 62 to 68. It translates “Cut back on foods and drinks with added sugars,” a nutrition euphemism, as:

Drink few or no regular sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and fruit drinks. Eat less cake, cookies, ice cream, other desserts, and candy. If you do have these foods and drinks, have a small portion.

But it translates “Cut back on solid fats” in yet another euphemism: “Select lean meats and poultry, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.” This, no doubt, is to avoid the politically impossible “eat less meat.”

The report makes it clear that the food environment strongly influences the food choices of individuals, and it urges efforts to

• Improve access to healthy foods

• Empower people with improved nutrition literacy, gardening and cooking skills

• Develop policies to prevent and reduce obesity

• And for kids, fix school meals, encourage physical activity, and reduce screen time

In short, there is plenty to work with here. You just have to look hard and dig deep to find it.