Emily’s Post: A Summer Internship Gone By

I had a rough idea of what my internship with Seacoast Eat Local was going to look like when I began working with them at the start of this summer. Working at the Saturday Portsmouth Farmer’s Markets, posting weekly on the blog, and attending a few meetings with Jill and Shelly. What I did not realize, however, is that I was becoming part of a community of strong and powerful women who are running a successful nonprofit. In nearly every encounter that I had with them, they had an unending list of tasks to accomplish, always managing to communicate them effectively and keeping organized amidst all of the craziness. This, I am beginning to learn, is the art of running a small nonprofit.

When in this type of work, it is important to find people that you trust and can rely on, potentially for years to come. I experienced this firsthand by meeting many of the past interns, who now either work for Seacoast Eat Local, help out occasionally, or happily come and visit our booth at the market. In this number is my dear friend Caitlin, who put up with me for seven hours every Saturday in Portsmouth. I will miss that time with you dearly!! That being said, I am very happy to part of the SEL family, and will continue to support them in any way that I can.

Another truly amazing experience for me personally throughout this internship was developing connections with many of the local farmers in the area. These people were kind enough to welcome me into their farms, and spend an hour (or more) chatting with me about their lives and their careers. I have learned so much from them about farming, the local food system, and the type of character and grit it takes to succeed in such a difficult (but rewarding) career. Thank you to Anna, Andre, Lis, and Josh for your time and stories! I wish that I had more time to do this with all of the local farms in the area.

Seacoast Eat Local has transformed me into a local foods activist and avid local farm supporter. I will seek and support this community wherever I land in my travels. Next stop, studying abroad in Ecuador! Thanks again to Jill and Shelly for welcoming me into their world for a summer. I will never forget it!

Posted in author: Emily B | Leave a comment

Emily’s Post: What’s with Organic, anyway?

dandelion greens, photo by Caitlin PorterOne of the most important topics of conversation concerning our local food climate today is the commonly heard debate; organic or conventional? Every farmer has a slightly different philosophy and set of growing practices, some of which fall into the USDA certification of organic. However, after speaking with many of the local farmers in the area, it has become clear that farmers and consumers have quite a different perception of this label, as well as what it means to be a ‘conventional farmer.’ For the purpose of this conversation, I focused on local vegetable growers, as the organic conversation becomes all the more complex where fruit, dairy and meat are concerned.

Andre Cantelmo, the co-owner of Heron Pond Farm in South Hampton, NH, is what many consider a ‘conventional farmer.’ He is aware of the stereotype of this type of grower, as he explained in his interview. “There are guys (we call them nozzle heads) that are conventional growers, which is what most people think of… guys on a sprayer, spraying [chemicals] all of the time,” said Andre. “That’s the perception [and those farmers do exist], but that’s not the way that any farmers that I have had the pleasure of being around operate.” 

As soil scientists, both Andre and his partner Greg care a great deal about their land and how they take care of it. Many of their practices are the same as those required under the organic certification. However, based on the scale of their operations, it is important to consider both what is best for their plants as well as what is most economically sustainable. “There is a fungus called late blight that can wipe out an entire crop of potatoes or tomatoes,” Andre said. “These are the biggest money makers of the farm. If I lose those crops, I have to immediately lay off half of my work force, and worry about paying my mortgages.” He uses many non-invasive preventative measures against these types of disease, but would use a spray if this disastrous scenario took place.

Josh Jennings, the owner of Meadow’s Mirth Farm in Stratham, NH, is a certified organic farmer, and has been from the start of his operations. He has a “hierarchy of reasons” for this decision. Primarily, it is because he lives on the land, he has workers on the farm, and he wants to ensure that he is taking care of both himself and those that work alongside him. His second reason is environmental, because he believes his methods of growing are inherently better for the local ecosystem. Lastly, he wants to feed a healthy product to his consumers. 

Josh acknowledges that it is possible to accomplish all of these things without the organic certification, and even identified that he might not maintain his organic certification if he only sold wholesale to restaurants and other institutions. However, it is the positive marketing that incentivizes his continued participation in this federal program, despite high cost of certification and many regulations. “People think a certain thing when they see that you are certified organic,” Josh said. “It is not usually accurate. People have no idea that there are organic pesticides, and that farms use them. But it gives people a sense, which helps people to buy your food [especially in new markets].” 

As Josh said, it is not commonly known that there are many organic pesticides, allowing farmers to use chemical prevention against disease while also maintaining their organic certification. In his interview, Andre Cantelmo went into detail about the most popular organic insecticide, called Entrust (Spinosad is the chemical name). According to him, there is a non-organic product called Blackhawk that is composed of exactly the same chemical. The only difference is that Entrust is the product of bacterial digestion (and therefore organic), while the other is formed by a chemical process. However, both take place in a lab, and are produced by the same company: DOW Chemical.

Lis Schneider, co-owner of White Cedar Farm in Kingston, NH, is a spray-free farmer. Her reasoning behind this is similar to both Andre and Josh; the health of herself, her relatives and her animals is a top priority. Lis also mentioned research she has done on how certain pesticides harm bee populations, which would threaten her entire operation. She doesn’t believe spraying crops is necessary, because she is able to grow a seasonal, balanced diet without it. “People want to know that everything we grow is clean,” Lis said. “There is a want and a demand for it. Lis is not certified organic, and trusts other certifications like NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) and MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) more than the generalized USDA certification, because they put a greater focus on soil health. 

In terms of the work of Seacoast Eat Local, we do not put any preference on a particular growing practice. Our mission is to support local farms and food and to help educate consumers to make their own informed decisions. In the debate about organic vs. not organic, we believe there are many responsible practices across the spectrum. We believe our role is to educate consumers with detailed and accurate information (such as listing growing practices in Seacoast Harvest) and to support farms in their quest to grow food for our region sustainably and responsibly.

I have developed a few main takeaways from my conversations, which are as follows:

  • There is a public perception of organic food that is not necessarily accurate for all organic produce… therefore, being certified organic is not a clear or definitive determinant of growing practices on a farm
  • In general (and in this area specifically), both organic and conventional farmers care about their land, their soil, and their crops — as well as their customers– and try to take care of these things responsibly
  • It is possible to grow and produce high quality crops without the organic certification
  • In terms of sustainability, it is essential to consider both the growing practices of farmers as well as where (geographically) the food is coming from. Local food, due to reduced travel and storage (read: greenhouse gas use) is typically more sustainable than food coming from a non-native source.
  • Most importantly, rather than reading a label, consumers should learn more about the farmers that they are buying from and understand their specific growing practices and philosophy.

This is, of course, not a comprehensive explanation of the debate. However, it is a contribution, which will hopefully encourage those to continue reading on this interesting and highly important topic!

Posted in author: Emily B | Leave a comment

WIN MARKET TOKENS: Selfie with Seacoast Harvest!

#SelfiewithSeacoastHarvest

Where do you pick up your annual edition of Seacoast Harvest? Seacoast Eat Local publishes 8,000 copies of our food guide, Seacoast Harvest, each year and distributes them to dozens of locations across Strafford, Rockingham and York Counties. We want to know where on the Seacoast you have spotted Seacoast Harvest! Selfie with Seacoast Harvest for your chance to win $25 in market tokens!

How to Participate

  1. Pick up a print copy of Seacoast Harvest at one of dozens of locations, including local foods markets, restaurants, libraries, municipal offices and farmers’ markets.
  2. Selfie with Seacoast Harvest!
  3. Post your photo, including the pickup location, to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Tag Seacoast Eat Local and use the hashtag #selfiewithseacoastharvest
  4. We will draw a winner on September 30th who will receive $25 in market tokens!

 

We can’t wait to see all the locations across the Seacoast where you pick up your Seacoast Harvest!

Posted in author: Jill | Leave a comment

5th Annual Durham Farm Day, August 19th

Durham’s 5th Annual Farm Day is full of so many fun options! Rain or shine!

Durham Farm Day

 

Mark your calendars and make the day of it!

Posted in events | Leave a comment

Eat Local with Embers Bakery and Garrison City Beerworks

Enjoy the heart of summer with Seacoast Eat Local! Join us at Garrison City Beerworks for Pizza + Beer Night with Embers Bakery

Two of our favorite local food businesses are teaming up to host a night of food and fun in support of the work of Seacoast Eat Local. Join us for a great evening of specially crafted and paired pizza and beer in celebration of the summer harvest season!

August 20th
5:30PM at Garrison City Beerworks
455 Central Ave., Dover
3 course dinner with locally sourced pizza and beer pairing
$35 per person
See the Menu

Posted in events, fundraising events | Leave a comment

In the news: Seacoast Eat Local and Granite State Market Match

NHPR aired a piece about Granite State Market Match, the NH program Seacoast Eat Local is part of that enables us to offer free fruit and vegetable coupons to SNAP customers. They interviewed Tony, a SNAP customer who has been using the program for years, Jill, our Director of Programs, and John Hutton of Coppal House Farm at the Seacoast Growers Association’s Dover Farmers Market.

Foodstuffs: Giving Food Stamp Recipients a Place at Farmers Markets

 

Tony Kenney holds tokens and coupons from an incentive program to help food stamp recipients shop at farmer’s markets. BEN HENRY FOR NHPR


If you like what you hear, please consider making a donation in support of this program. With your support, Seacoast Eat Local offers SNAP/EBT access at 7 weekly markets, making sure more people like Tony get fresh, healthy, delicious local food while supporting our community’s farmers.

 

 

 

Posted in author: Sara Zoe, InTheNews, SNAP/EBT | Leave a comment

Emily’s Post: Meadow’s Mirth Farm

Josh Jennings is the founder of Meadow’s Mirth, a certified organic flower and vegetable farm located in Stratham, NH. Josh started Meadow’s Mirth on his own in 2006, and currently cultivates between seven and ten acres of land each year with two full-time employees. This farm sells its produce both retail at farmer’s markets as well as wholesale to restaurants, grocery stores, and other institutions. Meadow’s Mirth is best known for their carrots, which also happen to be Josh’s favorite food to grow. As he says, “I love the color, I love the taste. I love how something so beautiful can be just below the ground”.

Before 2005, Josh had never planted a seed. He studied history and philosophy in college, but decided not to continue with a career in education. After volunteering for a year at New Roots Farm in Newmarket, NH, he started his own farm. What Josh found most valuable was not in fact learning how to grow vegetables, but how to be a successful business owner. When speaking about this career, Josh said “farming is the whole thing. We are the design, manufacturer, and sales… the whole beginning to end.” In his experience, there is much more time spent developing business plans and other business-related tasks, as opposed to working in the field.

Josh is a huge proponent of cooperation between local farmers. As he said in his interview, “I think farming is so hard, we really need each other. And farming is one of those fields that historically inspires cooperation.” According to him, Three River Farmer’s Alliance was created through that attitude. Started in 2014, this is an alliance between three farms (Heron Pond, Meadow’s Mirth and Stout Oak) as well as many others in the area to pool their produce in order to sell it wholesale to restaurants and other institutions in large quantities. Essentially, these farmers have created a local food distribution system which allows them to work together with chefs, lowering individual costs significantly.

This relationship between farmers is not just professional… Josh acknowledged that some of his closest friends are also farmers. “We care a lot about each other, we help each other, sometimes as a shoulder to cry on,” he said. “Only farmers can really understand what farmers really do, the difficulty and exhaustion and stress. I value very much the market relationships that I have with the other farmers, the trading equipment, as well as being able to just share the stress and talk about things.”

Although admitting that this job was much more difficult than he expected it to be, Josh also identified many reasons why he loves what he does. Among these include his love for food, the community-oriented aspect of the job, and the true joy he gets from riding on his tractor (“I’m immediately five years old again!”). “I love the impact that I have been able to make on my community, changing food systems on the seacoast and hopefully making people healthier,” he said.

You can find Josh at the Portsmouth, Exeter, and Newburyport farmer’s markets every week. Thank you Josh!

Posted in author: Emily B | Leave a comment

Get Your 2017-18 Seacoast Harvest!!

Start looking for the new print copies (8,000 were published this year!) at farmers’ markets near you, as well as at your favorite local foods businesses, municipal offices, health centers and community organizations around the Seacoast!

In our hallmark annual publication, Seacoast Harvest, our mission is to provide the information and resources necessary for consumers to access sources of local foods all year long in a variety of ways. Readers of this publication can find a listing of CSA programs, farm stands, farmers market programs and food businesses that source locally produced food items.

To see the online pdf version, or to search updated listings of farms and farmers’ markets online, please visit our website, www.seacoastharvest.org.

A most sincere thank you to the many personal and business sponsors of this publication. Without your support this project truly would not have been possible. We ask our readers to please consider thanking and frequenting our sponsoring businesses across the Seacoast. For a full list of our sponsors, check your print copies or visit our online sponsor page. 

Posted in author: Jill | Leave a comment

Emily’s Post: Meet Lis from White Cedar Farm

Lis Schneider is the co-owner of White Cedar Farm in Kingston, NH, currently in its fourth full season of production. Originally owned by the Bake family (for nearly 200 years), this land was a working dairy farm until about thirty years ago. Now it houses 6-10 acres of no-spray vegetables, 650 laying hens, and close to sixty goats and sheep. Lis and her business partner Dave Smith run the entire operation, with one year-round staff person to help run their farmstand.

Dave and Lis got their start by leasing land on Burnt Swamp Farm, a 12-acre property in South Hampton. At that point they only had fifty laying hens, a couple beds of carrots and some pigs. Purchasing what is now White Cedar Farm (a 202 acre lot, with 50 acres actively used) was a huge expansion for them. They sell their produce and meat through a year-round farmstand, the Portsmouth market during the summer, Seacoast Eat Local’s winter markets, and around 200 CSA shares. They are most well known for their fresh eggs, which are collected and hand-washed every morning.

Lis grew up in a very rural town in the suburbs of Boston, with her mom’s bountiful vegetable garden next to her house, and a community organic farm nearby. She loves being in dirt and watching things grow, passions that have led her to become a vegetable farmer. Although she graduated from UNH in 2006 with a degree in music performance and a minor in literature, she was always drawn back to local farms. “I kept trying to get a real job, and had one for a time, with benefits and vacation time, but even when I was working full time at that job, I was working part time at Blueberry Bay Farm [in Stratham],” Lis said. “I just can’t get enough of it… I don’t want this to just be a part of my life.”

Starting White Cedar Farm has not been an easy process (is it ever?), especially with the drought of the past few years. However, Lis was vocal about her gratefulness for the immense support from friends and family, as well as the local community. “We have an amazing,supportive community who likes what we’re doing and wants us to keep doing it. As long as that’s the case, we can continue to dream and do what we can and see what happens,” she said.

Lis’s one “guilty, girly pleasure” is to grow flowers and make bouquets. She hopes to become a flower farmer, and eventually begin selling to local florists. However, her dreams for the future don’t end there; she has much more in store. As she says, “The ‘someday faraway look in my eye’ plan is to have this incredible farmstand, with a yoga studio downstairs overlooking the fields, a farm store upstairs, walk-in refrigerator unit dug into the hills, and a classroom with spinning classes for the wool and sheep”. She is a huge advocate for community building, education, and nutrition, and hopes to create a space for all of that on the farm.

Being involved with Seacoast Eat Local has really helped White Cedar to grow and sustain itself, especially throughout each winter. “I have had to learn how to be a farmer, an accountant, a businesswoman, an advertising and marketing guru and website designer,” she said. “I don’t thrive on that, I’m not great at it, but what’s been really wonderful about Seacoast Eat Local is that they are so on top of advertising and getting the word out [about us]”.

Lis has a beautiful positive energy and exuberance that she shares with every customer. This stems from her great grandmother Meemaw, who constantly reminded her to appreciate her surroundings. “This is a beautiful world, and we have a responsibility and an obligation to take care of it because it is the only one that we have,” she said. “Even on the worst day, I remember her doing that. Spread the Meemaw love.”

Posted in author: Emily B, Uncategorized | 1 Response

Pizza + Beer = A Night Out for Local Foods

Pizza + Beer = A Night Out for Local Foods!

Join us for a night of local food with pizza from Embers Bakery and a great selection of beer from Garrison City Beerworks!

August 20th
5:30PM at Garrison City Beerworks
455 Central Ave., Dover
3 course dinner with locally sourced pizza and beer pairing
$35 per person

What’s for Dinner?

White Vegetarian Pizza paired with the Synapse Pale Ale.

This pizza is light, colorful, and crispy, highlighting in-season veggies from Brandmoore Farm and featuring a drizzle of balsamic reduction. The Pale Ale with this course (double dry hopped with Mosaic hops) showcases blueberry and citrus notes balanced with a light crisp body.
The Short Creek Special with the Equilateral IPA

Our second course pizza is spicy, savory, and scrumptious. It features cured meats from Short Creek Farm, with a sprinkle of leeks and layer of heirloom tomatoes to give a pop of brightness. The paired IPA is medium bodied with bright and juicy with pineapple notes and orange zest.
**Vegetarian option available**
A special Dessert Pizza paired with the Horachata Box and Whisker White Stout

Our dessert pizza is sweet, fresh, and bright. This pizza will feature a butter-baked pizza dough topped with local mixed berry puree, local blossom honey, and a homemade whipped cream. Our final beer pairing for this course is the Horachata Box and Whisker White Stout. This beer is very pale in color, has a nutty flavor with bakers chocolate and fresh brewed coffee aromatics.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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