New Hampshire From the Commissioner
Last week Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Administration Greg Parham visited Fresh Start Farms in Dunbarton to see how 24 refugee farmers are growing food for their own families and for sale. Farmers from Somalia, Congo and Burundi, as well as Bhutanese refugees from Nepal, are using high tunnel greenhouses built with assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to extend the growing season and increase yields. The new immigrant farmers were tidying up their outdoor gardens for winter, while continuing to harvest abundant hardy greens such as kale
Pumpkins are amazing squashes of many types and uses. Add pumpkin-firing and hurling contests to that list of uses. New Hampshire pumpkin growers and throwers are in the forefront of the new extreme sport known as ‘punkin chunkin.’ This fall, big-time chunkin comes to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Tickets are on sale now for the World Famous Punkin Chunkin long-distance shooting event October 24-25.
Author Helen Brody’s latest book is a tribute to New Hampshire Women Farmers: Pioneers of the Local Food Movement. Brody teamed up with distinguished documentary photographer Leslie Tuttle to introduce readers to some of the remarkable women working on farms and in agriculture in our state today.
Forty-two percent of all farmers in our state are women. Nearly one in three principal farm operators are female, making New Hampshire third in the U.S. for percentage of principal operators who are women. Brody says over 12 years traveling the state to interview women at their farms, she saw women revitalizing farming, creating value-added products and developing new and vital markets for locally grown food.
We apologize for the error in last week’s Bulletin on the date of the New Hampshire Apple Day ceremony. The correct date and time is 2:30 pm on Wednesday, September 2nd at Mack’s Apples, 230 Mammoth Rd. in Londonderry. Come see Governor Maggie Hassan pick her official season-opening apple, and join us in celebrating the 2015 apple season.
Last Friday, Granite State Dairy Promotion’s Amy Hall and I accompanied Sen. Jeff Woodburn on his third annual North Country Ice Cream Tour. We celebrated National Ice Cream Month—July—with a pilgrimage sampling ice cream at local scoop shops across the North Country region.
This is the season for graduations and transitions from high school to college, and from college to graduate school or work. The high cost of higher education has drawn a lot of attention to how well students are prepared for gainful employment after graduation. Much of the media attention is on STEM fields—science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But agricultural sciences, technology, engineering and other fields relying on math skills are frequently overlooked in these discussions.
A recent report from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University, found 57,900 job openings in agriculture and related fields each year. But just 35,400 students graduate annually with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture—leaving a shortage of 22,500 ag graduates.