In a pickle: As local food grows, so do safety standards

By on Aug 19, 2016 in Stories | 0 comments

Entering the automatic sliding doors and passing by the displays of produce, bread, pasta sauce, salsa and meat, small signs reading “your local farmer” and “close to home” remind Hannaford customers of what they increasingly want – to know where their food actually comes from. Grocery stores, as well as the food producers themselves, are learning what people hunger for. More farms have popped up in New Hampshire over the last three decades: The United States Census of Agriculture shows more than 1,600 farms were added to the state between 1982 and 2012. Small farms are more popular, too, rising from 9 to 22 percent over the same time period. Of the 17 USDA-inspected meat and egg processing facilities in New Hampshire, 11 opened over the past five years. Food safety is also a growing consideration. USDA meat and egg processing plants must have hazard control plans after a large E. coli...

Water for Cattle

By on Aug 18, 2016 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

The pond was almost empty and the cattle were thirsty. There’s plenty of grass for the cattle to eat. Rotational grazing practices help soil absorb rain water and long grass roots go deep to suck up moisture. But what to do about the lack of surface water in this drought? We move our cattle from pasture to pasture throughout the summer to allow grass to recover from grazing. In this way we have lush green grass for our cattle to eat for seven to eight months. Often there is grass to eat all the way into December. In each pasture we have different water sources. Pastures with wells still have water but a couple of our pastures use pond water. We fence the cattle out of the ponds to protect surface water from contamination from the cattle and pump the water to holding tanks which feeds water troughs from which the cattle drink. This year, for the first time in seven years, one of...

Food hub is trying to connect local farmers with local eaters

By on Aug 6, 2016 in Stories | 0 comments

Just after 10 a.m., the dirt parking lot at Sweet Beet farm stand in Bradford began to fill in. Weaving between garden plants and each other’s accompanying dogs, Saturday shoppers filled the shady stand and perused the assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, meat and dairy. The smell of breakfast sandwiches wafted from the kitchen in the back of the stand, and past a field chock-full of unpicked produce, 10 people sat under a green tent, drank mimosas and contemplated a painting of garlic scapes they were about to imitate. In the middle of all this activity was Garrett Bauer, a 27-year-old Bradford resident, and one of the 20-somethings behind the Kearsarge Food Hub. With experience and inspiration from working at Kearsarge Gore Farm in Warner as kids, Bauer and four others have erected the wooden farm stand, planted three fields and networked with local partners for the past...

Governor requests drought disaster relief for New Hampshire Farmers

By on Aug 4, 2016 in Stories | 0 comments

In response to a drought-stricken season for New Hampshire farmers, Gov. Maggie Hassan requested Thursday that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack issue a drought disaster declaration for three of the state’s counties. The USDA Farm Service Agency’s State Emergency Board voted Wednesday to seek the disaster declaration. In her Aug. 4 letter to Vilsack, Hassan indicates that crop losses of mixed forage alfalfa/grass, pumpkins and blueberries have exceeded 30 percent in Grafton, Rockingham and Strafford counties. A designation from Vilsack would qualify those three as well as any contiguous counties for any disaster-relief programs or assistance. If drought conditions persist in New Hampshire, more counties will likely reach the 30 percent threshold, and Hassan will request additional disaster declarations and relief. “New Hampshire’s agriculture industry is critical to our...

With new website and solutions, NH Gleans fights waste and food insecurity

By on Jul 31, 2016 in Stories | 0 comments

Harvesting the leftover grains, fruits and vegetables in farmers’ fields goes back millennia, but in 2016, people in New Hampshire are signing up online to do it. NH Gleans, a network trying to both reduce wasted produce and food insecurity, launched a new website this summer. By going to NHGleans.org, anyone can sign up and volunteer to pick extra blueberries or lettuce, gather unwanted apples or rooting up unused carrots, which are then destined for local food pantries, soup kitchens and senior centers. At Work Song Farm in Hopkinton last week, two women signed up to help collect snap peas. On a hot Friday morning, they were greeted in the barn by Alyssa Lemmermann, the Merrimack County Conservation District program coordinator and region organizer for NH Gleans. Steve Cook, Lemmermann’s co-worker, was there to help, too. Lemmermann has had between one and three volunteers for the...

‘Tis the season for fair food

By on Jul 31, 2016 in Stories | 0 comments

New Hampshire’s fair circuit kicked off in Stratham last week, as did the season for fair food. I’m usually content to stand on the customer’s side of the counter and gratefully receive an overly large, homemade doughnut, some sweet potato fries or a cup of fresh-squeezed lemonade. But I do get curious about the vendors, too. I always wonder what motivates people to plop themselves on a hot fairground and stand sweating it out over a fry-a-lator all day. What keeps them on the move from a park one week to an empty field the next? All of that, too, for a bunch of hungry people like me. Bob Bell and his 29-year-old son, Matt, were good people to ask. They cart their North Conway-based Cloud Nine Delights kettle corn to a bunch of different New England fairs and events, and they’ve kept it up for 16 years. Bell, who is a glass-blower by trade, said he got his start by noticing that there...

Op-ed: Witnessing a pig’s life

By on Jul 31, 2016 in A Pig's Life | 0 comments

I was just an unassuming 10-year-old kid when I sat on the couch one night and put on the PBS show Frontier House. The premise is that three families have to “live on the frontier” and imitate life in Montana in 1883. At first it was entertaining, watching one family’s teenage daughters sob over the idea of not wearing makeup for six months. Then the camera focused on a tree stump in the yard, and I didn’t really understand why there was somber music in the background. A chicken came into view, and then the father of the family. He was holding the chicken by its feet in one hand and a hatchet in the other. Chicken on the stump, he swung – and missed. Before he could give it another try, I ran over to the TV, heart racing, and frantically hit the on/off switch. I then began to cry uncontrollably at the horror of it all. If I remember correctly, my family served chicken that night. I...

Final pig podcast

By on Jul 29, 2016 in A Pig's Life | 0 comments

Alas, the “A Pig’s Life: From piglet to pork-chop,” journey has come to an end. My editor, Jon Van Fleet, and I discussed the process over some loaded ground pork nachos we made with the meat from Pink 2.0. Listen here, and the final photo gallery is below (some photos may be disturbing to viewers). Also keep an eye out for Sunday’s Monitor, where there will be an op-ed by me on reporting this story.