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.”