For the tenth year, let’s shine a light on local food, farms, and our Monadnock Region food system during New Hampshire Eats Local Month, a month-long celebration of our state’s harvest in August.
Our food system includes all the pieces needed to bring local food from the farm to our plates: the soil, farm workers, transportation networks, markets, and more -- everything needed to grow, harvest, and distribute these goods to us. These pieces come together to form our local food system.
Please dig in and enjoy part one of this year’s bounty of updates!
Marty Castriotta of Village Roots Permaculture in Alstead recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to help him write a book called Emerging Patterns of Resilience. The book will explore some of the best examples of permaculture design in the Northeast, including farms and backyard gardens.
Permaculture uses ecological principles -- inspiration from nature -- to design and regenerate healthy, productive landscapes and communities. Marty aims to inspire the next generation, the climate generation, to co-create a future of abundance.
Support Village Roots Today!
Exciting news for local food producers in our region! Monadnock Food Co-op purchased a food production facility on the other side of their parking lot. Ten years ago, the building housed a shared-use space called Neighbor Made to support local producers.
While Neighbor Made closed, a plant-based meal producer, MamaSezz, currently utilizes the space. MamaSezz plans to outgrow the space within the next three years.
What’s next for the space? The Co-op hopes to establish a place that supports its own growth while providing production space for local food producers. Have ideas or questions? Please contact General Manager Michael Faber at email@example.com.
This August, round up your purchases at Monadnock Food Co-op and donate your change to Food Connects, a food hub based in Brattleboro, VT. Food Connects proudly serves New England farmers and food producers and recognizes that local shopping strengthens our local economy.
In 2021, Food Connects broke all previous records and returned over $1,240,000 in sales to its farmers and food producers, demonstrating its commitment to New England food systems. New Hampshire food producers generated about 38% of these sales. Food Connects also joined the New Hampshire Food Hub Network, made up of six food hubs working collaboratively to strengthen our state’s local food economy.
“We’re thrilled to formally partner with the NH Food Hub Network to strengthen our hub’s connection to others across the state,” said Alex McCullough, Food Hub Co-Director, “Regional partnerships like this provide Food Connects with the ability to connect New Hampshire producers to new markets to the west and south.”
Cornucopia Project works to plant the seeds for a lifetime of healthy eating. This year’s fresh new offering includes a traveling hydroponic tower for growing food in our region’s schools, libraries, and institutions. They piloted the hydroponic tower in an eighth-grade science classroom and it quickly engaged the students.
Students helped establish the “baby” plants grown on Cornucopia Project’s educational farm in Peterborough and learned how to keep the plants nourished throughout the spring. Lettuce, spinach, pea, tomato, sage, basil, and Swiss chard (a favorite!) provided snacks every week, along with water chemistry and biology lessons.
“We are seeing the impact of firsthand experience on our participants’ learning, joy, curiosity, and engagement with the local food system,” shared Jess Gerrior, Cornucopia Project Program Specialist. “We celebrate our local farmers, restaurants, gardeners, seed savers, and others who are making those lifelong connections.”
One thing for sure, food can only be grown locally if there is local land on which to grow it. That’s why the Monadnock Conservancy is working to protect some of the most beloved farms in our region. Using a tool called a conservation easement – a permanent agreement that prohibits development but permits forestry and farming – the Conservancy ensures local farms stay farms in perpetuity while remaining more affordable for future farmers. What’s more, when established, many farm conservation easements provide cash to farmers to expand their business, pay down debt, or plan to transfer the farm to the next generation.
This summer, the Conservancy partnered with Kroka Expeditions to protect 15.5 acres of farmland in Alstead, where the wilderness school grows much of the food consumed by their students and livestock. The soil on the property is considered “prime” by the US Department of Agriculture, meaning it is among the country’s most fertile and productive farmland.
Monadnock Conservancy will work this summer to conserve seven acres of prime land owned and farmed by Pete’s Stand, a third generation farmstand, along the Connecticut River in Walpole. Looking ahead, Picadilly Farm in Winchester will conserve the last 25 unprotected acres of their 71-acre property, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm that feeds 1,000 households in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts.
“We are honored to partner with local farmers to ensure that their land remains available to farm forever and that their businesses thrive,” said Monadnock Conservancy Executive Director Ryan Owens. “The Monadnock Region’s farms are the cornerstones of our communities.”
Now, get out there and enjoy our farms! Attend the fourth annual Monadnock Farm Tour on Saturday, August 20, from 12 – 5 pm. Twelve vibrant Monadnock farms will open their barns, fields, hen houses, kitchens, and a pudding plant. The event highlights the impact farms have on our local economy, their role in preserving open space, and how they contribute to our quality of life. The tour costs $10 per car or $5 per person. This Monadnock Farm Tour is produced by the Monadnock Farm & Community Coalition and Monadnock Food Co-op.
Stay tuned for part two of this article in August, including local food and farm updates from Cheshire County Conservation District, The Community Kitchen’s Mobile Food Pantry, and more!
Thank you to all the individuals, programs, policies, and initiatives that continue to build a more robust local and regional food system in our corner of the state and throughout New England. Together, we’re cultivating healthier citizens, communities, and economies.
We’re wrapping up NH Eats Local Month -- a month-long celebration of local food, farmers, producers, and our local food system. A strong local food system keeps communities vibrant, economies growing, and landscapes healthy. When you eat local food, the benefits ripple out through our community, helping small businesses thrive.
Here’s part two of our article highlighting updates in our local food system.
The Local Crowd Monadnock and The Local Crowd Upper Valley launched a crowdfunding campaign to support Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire and Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont Farm Share Programs. These two programs support organic farmers while making high-quality local food more accessible to community members in need.
Funds raised from this crowdfunding campaign will allow more children, families, seniors, and other low-income individuals to receive a season’s worth of farm-fresh, organic produce at a reduced cost. Learn more and support this campaign today.
Support This Campaign
The Monadnock Food Co-op conducted its inaugural Producer Survey this year in partnership with the Cheshire Country Conservation District. The survey collected baseline data from 110 locally owned businesses growing or making products in our region.
These businesses’ most significant challenges include hiring labor, generating a profit, and developing marketing options. In terms of opportunities, survey respondents shared that they’d like to see local food system builders support Eat Local/Shop Local education, boost grant programs, and invest in labor resources. Learn more about the survey at monadnockfood.coop/vendors.
In 2022, Cheshire Country Conservation District partnered with the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship and National Center for Appropriate Technology to host a free business planning course for local food producers. Participating farmers learned how to enhance the competitiveness of their business, created a business plan, and received a $2,000 stipend. Stay tuned for another course this fall at cheshireconservation.org/businessplanning.
The Community Kitchen hosted its first Monadnock Mobile Food Pantry pop-up event at the Senior Living Center in Winchester this summer. In addition to pantry staples, the pantry offered locally grown produce from Picadilly Farm in Winchester. Southwestern Community Services provided information about food and heating assistance, and the Monadnock Humane Society offered pet food and information on animal care.
Help bring more local food to the Mobile Food Pantry by contributing to the Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition Locals’ Local Fund at bit.ly/localsfund. This fund will support local farmers who sell fresh, local food at a negotiated price to the mobile pantry. Interested in future mobile pop-up events or volunteering? Please call Kate at 603-352-3200.
Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition will launch a new marketing campaign to help you more easily identify products made or grown in the Monadnock Region. The “Monadnock Grown” designation will inspire us to choose local and boost our local economy by purchasing Monadnock made and grown products at grocery outlets and farm stands. Stay tuned at mfcommunitycoalition.org.
Some thirty gardeners are growing produce on more than sixty plots at Monadnock View Community Garden (MVCG) in West Keene this season. MVCG also includes a pollinator garden and a communal raspberry patch. Subsidized plots are available for community members who may need assistance, courtesy of Antioch University’s Community Garden Connections.
Gardeners donated seedlings and purchased plants to six dedicated 'Giving Garden' plots to grow vegetables for The Community Kitchen and Hundred Nights Shelter. Volunteer garden angels share in the watering, weeding, and harvesting.
"Impacts from food insecurity, supply chain issues, and climate change mean providing healthy local food to those who need it is more important than ever," shared Rowland Russell, who co-coordinates the Giving Garden with Toni Spring-Baker.
If you are interested in securing a plot at the garden next year, contact Kristy Morrison with the City of Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Rowland to learn more about becoming a garden angel at email@example.com.
Thank you to all the individuals, programs, policies, and initiatives that continue to build more robust local and regional food systems in our corner of the state and throughout New England. Together, we’re cultivating healthier citizens, communities, and economies.
The Local Crowd Monadnock - Mailing Address: 63 Emerald St. #114, Keene, NH 03431