Workshops for Farmers: Developing Leadership and Human Resource Management Skills

From UNH Cooperative Extension, a 4-session labor management series held at the Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth:

 

2017 Labor Management Series, Portsmouth NH – Developing Leadership and Human Resource Management Skills for Farmers

January 31, February 7, 14 and 28th

Urban Forestry Center
Portsmouth, NH

An interactive, four-session, workshop to better understand labor management issues: employment law, employee training, goal-setting, employee recruitment and job description writing. Customize your training by attending all four sessions or choose only those that are applicable to you and your farm. Farmers of all knowledge levels welcome to help enhance the educational experience for all.

Session One, January 31: Hiring and Compensation Laws

Hiring and compensation, legal workers classification, tax forms, workers comp, unemployment insurance, payroll taxes, working in the US, handbooks and contracts.

Session Two, February 7: The Business of Labor – Understanding the Full Cost of Employees

Setting the pace, efficiency in body motion and tools, setting employees up for success, building effective crews, creating a productive work environment, full cost of hiring an employee, hiring employees vs. making equipment purchasing decisions.

Session Three, February 14: On Farm Leadership & Communication

Systems in managing people, employee satisfaction & productivity, communication, performance management skills, methods of corporate America.

Session Four, February 28: Hiring & Retaining

Finding good employees, interviewing, effective training & on-boarding, developing effective job descriptions, and setting up expectations. Whole Farm Revenue Program and Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2015-49200-24225.

 

To register:

http://bit.ly/2erUmpo

Location:

  • Urban Forestry Center – 45 Elwyn Rd., Portsmouth NH 03801 View Map

Fee:

$25 per session / $30 at door – lunch included

 

 

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Brooke’s Post: A Wonderful Experience!

Editor’s Note: We can say that we loved having you, too, Brooke! More than many interns we have had in the past (though they have all been great), we really appreciated and were heartened to see the learning and growth that Brooke experienced through her work with us, as well as the enthusiasm for local foods that we saw her develop! We know she will take this experience with her as she moves forward with her education — watch out world, she’s a special one!

As I was helping clean up my last farmers market I realized just how much I am going to miss being an intern at Seacoast Eat Local. Beginning this internship I was excited to learn about the SNAP program and simply work at a farmers market every week. I have always loved shopping at my local farmers market at home in Connecticut and this internship was exciting for me to be able to continue something I love while at school. I was planning on learning about agriculture and maybe some farming through working at the market but this experience offered so much more. The connections I made with the farmers and customers have made this experience one that I will never forget.

This internship has been nutritionally informative for me, talking to the farmers and learning about the local produce in New Hampshire has been so interesting. Believe it or not there were certain items at the market that I never knew existed, like delicata squash! I learned how to cook it , grow it and the nutritional information behind it, all from the farmer himself. Throughout this experience I have had the chance to talk to customers about recipes and how to make healthier choices when it comes to cooking. Discussing the produce with the farmers provided me with sustainable, nutritional, and local information that I was able to relay to the customers when they came to our table. I have grown so much through this program talking and interacting with the customers and listening to their stories. I cannot thank SEL, the farmers and customers enough for a wonderful semester.

Always remember shopping at farmers market not only supports your local farmers but keeps your body healthy and happy.

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Amber’s Post: The Comfort of Mom’s Soup

A warm meal on a cold night— nothing quite compares. This weekend, as the air is frigid and snow begins to fall, I suggest a winter soup to warm you up! Especially when the meal comes from your mom!

My mom is all about emptying the fridge of veggies, and combining rice and beans for a complete protein, in order to make a delicious soup. She tends to throw everything together, as measurements are not really a concern. Instead, over time the right consistency is eventually reached. A mixture of spices, including turmeric— which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant— complete the soup.

This week I was presented with some good comfort food from my mom. The following ingredients were used to make the soup:

  • leeks
  • celery
  • zuchinni

all sautéed with pepper and salt and then combine the following

  • Carrots
  • rice
  • water

Boil till cooked and then add

  • diced tomatoes
  • pinto beans
  • kidney beans
  • fresh dill and turmeric
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Talking Sustainable Food with High School Students

I was recently approached by a Portsmouth High School student taking an honors ecology class to answer some questions about sustainable local food. The poor girl probably received far more than she bargained for, as I tend to digress, but I thought I would share the questions and answers with our blogosphere:

  1. How would you define the farm to table movement?
I think the most simple definition of this would be to say that it revolves around increasing the accessibility of and frequency with which local foods end up on family dinner tables (or breakfast, or lunch!), while also decreasing the intermediary steps in the supply chain between farmers and families, so that local farms retain more of the profit and develop direct-to-consumer relationships. Of course, there are many other smaller pieces orbiting around this central idea— certain ‘food trends’ and diet/lifestyle choices, economic trending around local purchasing and small scale economies and increased interest in growing foods at home.
2. What are the current trends that you notice?
Generally, see the last bit of my answer above. More specifically to farmers’ markets, CSA programs etc… there is an emerging anxiety that the ‘bubble is bursting’ around farmers’ market and CSA participation. There was a recent article about this through some local news outlets that has received a lot of attention and is worth reading. I think that whenever you have a ‘new trend’ or idea, as these things have been over the last decade, they experience a lot of growth, as there is nowhere to go but up. Eventually, numbers plateau because the ‘low hanging fruit’ — people in the population that were most likely or most predisposed to participate, have all been reached. I think the defining question moving forward will be ‘how can we continue to expand to new communities, populations and groups of people?’ If 10% of the population participates in these activities now, what will it take to engage 20% or 50%? This is a question that many, many people– including us– are very actively working on and the solutions will require innovation, collaboration and commitment to reach.
3. How do these trends relate to ecological sustainability?
Everyone accesses local foods differently. For some, there is a heritage piece– themselves or relatives of past generations were farmers. Others are interested in what they feel is the highest quality or most nutritious food. Others are committed to keeping their dollars as local as possible. Of course, there is an environmental aspect to this too, which is huge. Purchasing local foods reduces carbon emissions and packaging waste, among other things, because that food is less processed, less packaged and travels less far than foods at the grocery store. At the farm level, there are also important environmental considerations– in this area particularly, small farms are able to exist due to conservation easements that reduce property costs for farmers to have land, and ensure that that land is used responsibly for farming. Soil health also is increased by responsible farming practices, as it is central to growing good crop yields and quality products. Finally, and especially in the Great Bay watershed, there is an important interplay between responsible farming practices, good soil heath and water quality and management. With summers of drought, farmers must think more sustainably and more long term about using water resources as efficiently as possible and also ensuring that they adopt practices that decrease the opportunity for runoff of chemicals or waste into waterways. Each of these are very complex issues, but ones which have and continue to receive a lot of attention in our communities and have been the subject of longstanding and ongoing work and study.
4. Please share a few examples of your business’s connections to sustainable eating.
Why, it’s what we do! To paraphrase somewhat, the mission of our organization is to assist in connecting local farms to local residents, so that all people can eat locally all year long. We achieve this in a wide variety of ways— through an annual local foods directory (Seacoast Harvest), by managing a winter farmers’ market series, providing SNAP/EBT acceptance and incentive services, through our new mobile market program and also through a wide array of more informal tasks which could generally be described as working to be a strong community member that connects leaders of various sectors– healthcare, social services, farming, hospitality, small business, policy makers etc.
5. How do you think the farm to table movement will look in ten years?
I wish we could see the future! I think the answer to this question lies in what I mentioned before, in determining how we can continue to expand the percent of the population that is engaging with local foods. This is a very, very complex issue and the solutions, as I mentioned, will be multi-faceted. I think the first step is in understanding the barriers that exist for individuals who are not participating in this way.. but it’s a difficult thing to ask a community that you do not know, why they are not doing something. However, there is already a lot of work being done around this and we do understand a lot of the barriers— essentially: cost, convenience and, for the sake of alliteration, conceptual. By conceptual, I mean that I believe a lot of education is left to be done around why it is so vital to support our local farms for a wide variety of reasons and why it is possible for all people to do so. Convenience is fairly clear– it needs to be easy to purchase foods locally and, furthermore, to purchase all the foods that a family needs to feed itself. Farmers are very dedicated and innovative people and they are working on this! Cost, I believe, will become the defining issue of our time and it is something that I think about a lot. How can good, local food be affordable for all but also support living wages for farm owners and workers? This is a national and international issue, comprised of forces much larger than you and I. There is an inherent conflict in our larger food system, I believe, where we have been accustomed to inexpensive food at the cost of small farmers. To support local farms, we must be willing to pay more for our food as a nation (but also get more for that price in terms of quality, health/economic/environmental benefits) so that farmers may earn a dignified and living wage for hard and honorable work that they then reinvest in their communities (hiring staff, building infrastructure). The added difficultly here, in addition to our general reluctance to pay more, is that we cannot exclude our most vulnerable Americans – those who are low-income and/or food insecure and, arguably, have the most to gain from eating more locally (decreasing social isolation, increased health benefits for a population that is more at risk of diet related disease and illness). This is where our SNAP/EBT acceptance and incentives programs are so key, in that they assist low-income individuals and families in making local foods more affordable. These are rather simplified explanations, but I hope that the gist is clear. To bring this all back around– there is a lot of work to do for everyone– education to be done by organizations like ours, innovative solutions to be found by farmers and local food businesses and commitments to be made by average Americans to value and support local food systems for the incredible and far-reaching value that they provide.
 6. How did you come to choose to be a part of the farm to table movement?
Personally, it was a long, slow arch over several years. This was not something that my family valued during the time that I was growing up (or now, for that matter, despite my efforts). For myself, I was always interested in and often worked with various livestock (I started with horses as a sport, but also worked with goats and sheep later in life). I also enjoy and have often had a garden. To be somewhat succinct, I had a series of learnings, experiences and acquaintances over maybe a decade that brought me to this mentality, incrementally, as a way of life. Professionally, it was somewhat of a happy accident where I heard of my current position through a friend and was fortunate enough to be hired by the organization.
7. What ecologically conscious food products are you most proud to offer?
Seacoast Eat Local does not offer or grow food products that we produce. Our goal, or at least one primary goal that we have, is to support the farms and businesses that do produce these items. However, as we celebrate ten years of winter farmers’ markets, something that I am very proud of is the sheer array of foods available to consumers at all times of the year, as well as the numbers of farms in essentially year-round operation. This signifies the health of our local economy and food system, the market demand by local residents and the incredible commitment of our farmers who made many sacrifices and investments to be able to meet these demands.
8. In your opinion, what tools or resources are most successful for educating the community about sustainable eating?
I think it hinges on personal experiences and appealing to a variety of levels of engagement and points of interest. I mentioned earlier that there are many reasons and ways to approach eating locally and they appeal to different people with varying strength. That’s OK and they are all valid and worthy reasons. We have to learn about our audiences to know what the most motivating factors will be– environmental, health related, economic etc. Also, we have to accept a spectrum of engagement levels and think in building blocks rather than absolutist terms. Yes, we wish all people purchased 100% of their food from local sources, but we have to accept, encourage and support those who choose to shop at a farmers’ market once per year or choose to only purchase a local turkey for Thanksgiving or visit a pick your own farm once during blueberry season. There is a lot of absolutism in our world today and we can see how it divides us. We cannot allow the local food movement to devolve into these terms. I’m an educator by training and I believe that these are important entryways and learning opportunities for consumers. This brings me to personal experience– I hope that all people can have at least one positive experience with local food this year (consider a resolution!). Support a local farmer, even just once, and use it as an opportunity to learn. What does that farmers grow or raise and how? What do they believe? Consider your own experience– was the product good and high quality? How did it make you feel to purchase food from a local source? Take a moment to learn or to seek out information about the positive effects of purchasing food locally. I think that as local individuals can accrue these experiences, and we can support and educate them in that process, we can all grow our engagement in local foods together.
9. What is one simple thing everyone could do to lower our ecological footprint?
Purchase food locally, of course! As I said before, we cannot stake out our goals in strictly absolutist terms. So, I would ask everyone– what do you do currently to support local foods? What might be one sustainable step in increasing that support? It might be product focused– such as committing to purchasing meat only from local sources. It might be frequency related– if you only visit a farmers market once per summer, could you try to visit monthly? It could be to try a new method of engagement— if you have never tried a CSA before, maybe this year is the year. The one thing I can say with absolute certainty from the mouths of all of our farmers, is that every step counts no matter how insignificant you feel it is. You could very likely be the difference for a farmer between losing money and breaking even. Health data shows that even small changes have the potential to make a difference, local eggs for instance are higher in Omega 3s and purchasing eggs only locally could contribute to overall better health in this way.
 10. Tell me key point I should know understand about the relationship between the farm to table movement and sustainability.
As with many of my answers, the relationship here is multi-faceted and complex. Different organizations or players in this industry will have different answers and all of them are quite valid. For me and I think also for my organization, I have to come back to increasing that percentage of the population who is engaging with local foods. Local foods must be for all people and the percentage of the population engaging with it must continue to increase to having a sustaining effect for local food systems. This, I suppose, frames sustainability (a tricky word!) in terms of financial viability and longevity. However, as I think I have explained– all these kinds of sustainability are interconnected. If farms are financially viable, they continue to operate and to make choices and investments that have ripple effects. Consumers who purchase foods locally also create these ripple effects, so that financial sustainability of farms is attached to increasing local foods consumption and the related benefits. Overall, more open lands will be preserved and used responsibly, more dollars will remain in our local economy, individuals will experience better health outcomes and our communities will remain vibrant places.
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Kathleen’s Post: Puppy Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cookies

fullsizerender-7My sweet girl, Miss Charley, and I got to spend our first Christmas together and you bet I am that crazy new dog mom that spoiled my dog as much as my family on gifts.

Come visit our Winter Markets to check out all of the pet items local farmers and artists are bringing! My favorite was finding the folks at Velvet Pastures who sell elk meat and also sell the antlers for dogs. I always buy antlers over most dog bones because they don’t splinter the way raw hides do. The farmers are there to answer any questions about how the bones are treated so you never have to question what might be on the bones like you do in stores.

Here is a recipe for your pup during the holiday season:

  • 3 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon raw local honey (optional)
  • ¼ cup all natural and unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 local eggs
  • 15 oz local pumpkin, boiled in water and mashed.

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350F
  2. Mix all ingredients together, forming a dough.
  3. Roll out the dough and cut up using cookie cutters.
  4. Bake until dry and golden brown, usually between 30-40 minutes.
  5. These can store at room temp for up to a week or can be frozen to be kept longer!

 

Happy holidays!

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Amber’s Post: Ginger for the Holidays

gingerTo me the holiday season means spending time with my family, enjoying the warmth of a fireplace, and gingerbread. There’s nothing like a soft gingerbread cookie on the eve of Christmas. This year, eager to make more food from scratch, I was curious about growing ginger myself. For any fellow ginger lovers out there, I discovered growing ginger indoors is super easy, and in 10 months (just enough time for the next holiday season), you could be using your own ginger to make cookies or bread!

Follow these steps to grow your own ginger indoors!

  1. The best ginger to plant is purchased from a garden center or seed catalog. The root you choose to plant should be plump with tight skin. Once you have chosen your root, begin by soaking it over night to get it ready for planting.
  2. Ginger loves shallow, wide pots. Fill your pot with very rich but well-draining potting soil.
  3. Stick the ginger root with the eye bud pointing up in the soil and cover it with 1-2 inches of soil. Water it well!
  4. Place the pot in a spot that stays reasonably warm and doesn’t get too much bright sunlight.
  5. Keep the soil moist, using a spray bottle to mist it, or water it lightly.
  6. Ginger is very slow growing… after a few weeks you should see some shoots popping up out of the soil. Continue to water the plant regularly, and keep it warm.

What about harvesting?

  • At about 3-4 months small pieces of ginger can be harvested after growth begins.
  • Pull aside some of the soil at the edges of the pot to find some rhizomes beneath the surface.
  • Cut the needed amount off, and return the soil
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Brooke’s Post: Vegetarian Chili for Chilly Days

fullsizerender-12The first snowfall just hit and I automatically started to crave some warm chili. The typical recipe that you probably think of calls for ground turkey, chicken or ground beef, but in my case I use a plethora of beans and vegetables. Most meat-eaters are probably thinking that’s not chili, you need meat in your chili. Trust me when I say this vegetarian chili can beat all. The great thing about homemade chili is that you can add or leave out anything you please. I usually never measure out my ingredients, I chop and add as much as I plan to eat, therefore just buy all your ingredients and add as you please. I have always made my chili in a simple stainless steal pot on the stove, but I know a lot prefer a crock pot. Either way they both work great. So here it is my favorite chili recipe filled with all my favorite beans, veggies, spices and grains.
My personal favorite ingredients
·      Chopped carrots
·      Chopped red, yellow and orange peppers
·       Chopped tomatoes (one of my favorite foods are tomatoes so I always add extra)
·      Chopped red onion
·      Chopped celery
·      1 can of kidney beans
·      1 can of white beans
·      ½ cup of cooked quinoa
·      1 can of garden salsa
·      Sauteed spinach
·      Cumin and Paprika
The ingredients above are my personal favorites and all together make a delicious chili. I recommend adding or taking out ingredients to suit your personal preferences. Don’t be shy when it comes to trying new veggies, grain, spices and legumes. Vegetarian chili is a great way to get in all your veggies, grains and legumes for the day. One bowl of this chili is very nutrient-dense, taking care of a good chunk of your needed vitamins and minerals for the day. Lastly, adding sliced avocado and cilantro to top the chili off makes the perfect cold winter night dinner.
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Welcoming Theresa Walker and Chris Duffy to the Seacoast Eat Local board!

We’re thrilled to welcome two new members to the Seacoast Eat Local board! We’re excited for the experience, networks, and great ideas they bring to the work of connecting more people with more locally grown food! 

 

theresaTheresa Walker and her family live in Durham and raise Romney and Merino sheep for fiber and breed stock.  Theresa has worked with communities in Seacoast New Hampshire for 30 years on a wide variety of land use planning and natural resource protection projects.  Theresa is chair of the Town of Durham’s Agricultural Commission and is vested in strengthening the bond between farms, farmers, and their communities. Follow her farm on Instagram @greatbaywoolworks

 

chrisduffy

Chris Duffy currently works as a business advisor at the Regional Economic Development Center assisting businesses with financial management, loan structure and application development, and strategies for growth. Previously Chris worked as a business advisor for the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, assisting a variety of small business clients with basic business planning skills, business plan development, financing and marketing plan development. In 1995, Chris conceived and co-founded GreatBay Aquaculture – the first commercial marine fish hatchery for summer flounder, Atlantic cod and cobia in the US. Chris graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Zoology in 1980. He held various positions in the wild harvest fishery, including commercial fishing, fish processing, distribution and sales. He received his MBA from the UNH Whittemore School in 1988. When not working Chris is a dedicated backyard farmer, growing vegetables, chickens, turkeys and pigs. He needs more land!

Seacoast Eat Local’s Board

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Local Dollars Support Local Foods- Make Your Gift Today

Support the work of Seacoast Eat Local in this season of giving! Your donations will support our continued work towards a more abundant and equitable local food system for farmers and consumers. 
 
cabbage and romanesco

You don’t have to be a world leader or a billionaire to give back. Seacoast Eat Local all about ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things.

 

 

givewidget

 
Now more than ever, Seacoast Eat Local needs your help to connect people with sources of locally grown foods and to advocate eating locally for the health of our environment, community, culture and economy.

Give your year-end gift today!

Even small amounts make a big difference and every donation to our registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization is tax-deductible.

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Amber’s Post: Gingerbread Granola

granolaAs the holiday season rolls into town, granola is a sweet homemade gift idea for friends and family.

This week I adapted the Minimalist Baker’s recipe, Gingerbread Granola. Although I excluded the nuts, try adding almonds, walnuts, or even craisins to yours!

Serves 10, ½ cup per serving

Dry Ingredients 

  • 3 1/4 cups rolled oats (GF for gluten free eaters)
  • 1 3/4 cups raw nuts
  • 3 Tbsp organic cane sugar (or sub extra molasses or maple syrup mixed in with wet ingredients)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch ground cloves (optional)

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coconut or olive oil
  • 1/3 cup local maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • (optional) 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, warm the coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses and vanilla extract. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Spread the mixture evenly onto a large baking sheet and bake for 18–22 minutes, stirring near the halfway point to ensure even cooking. The coconut oil will help this granola crisp up nicely, but be sure to watch it carefully as it browns quickly.
  5. Once the granola is visibly browned (about 19 minutes for me), remove from the oven and let cool completely on the pan before storing.

Keep in a container that has an air-tight seal and it should keep for a few weeks!

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