Agricultural Adventurer Award to Don Wilson
The Fellowship of Agricultural Adventurers has honored an outstanding leader in New England agriculture each year since 1953. A committee appointed by the trustees of Eastern States Exposition selects its annual fellow on the basis of innovation, pioneering and lifetime dedication to the betterment of agriculture. At the Annual Meeting of Eastern States Exposition last week in West Springfield, Mass., the New England Fellowship of Agricultural Adventurers presented Donald Wilson of Lexington, Mass. with the 2012 Agricultural Adventurers Award.
Wilson is treasurer of Wilson Farm and a member of the third generation to operate the 128-year-old farm, which has farm stands and production in both Lexington, Mass., and Litchfield, New Hampshire. Both locations offer a myriad of vegetables, fruits and flowers, as well as a bakery, butcher shop, seafood counter, cheese shop and grocery department. While the home farm is in Massachusetts, most of the land that the family farms—over 500 acres— is in prime soils at the Litchfield location. In 1956, Wilson Farm purchased the 150-acre Parker Farm in Litchfield, and later acquired other parcels that now total 600 acres, 400 of which are cropland. Wilson Farm in Litchfield is New Hampshire’s largest vegetable farm, producing over 125 different crops year-round.
The farm has really capitalized on the demand for ‘locally grown,’ serving wholesale as well as its thriving retail markets. Don Wilson and his late cousin Alan grew Wilson Farm to the successful, diversified agricultural entity it is today, employing 200 full and part-time employees at their two locations. After Alan’s death two years ago, his son Scott assumed the role of president overseeing purchasing and sales. Don continues as treasurer and travels to New Hampshire daily to oversee the farm stand and crop production, while his son, Jim, leads the production end of the business. The Wilsons and Litchfield farm manager Keith Marshall have hosted UNH Cooperative Extension twilight meetings and other educational events at the farm on Route 3A.
Healthy Eating Active Living NH (HEAL), one of New Hampshire’s leading organizations supporting healthy community initiatives, has announced it will provide funding, training and other resources to four New Hampshire cities and towns–Ashland, Berlin, Laconia, and Nashua. The communities will receive approximately $10,000 in grant monies and over $60,000 in training and technical assistance over a two-year period.
The grants were awarded to help communities identify and implement municipal strategies–such as adding bike paths, sidewalks, and farmers markets–to provide more choices for residents to eat healthy and be physically active. Special consideration was given to rural towns and urban neighborhoods with health, social, and economic disparities—factors associated with higher incidences of obesity and chronic diseases.
More healthcare providers and municipalities are realizing the potential for farmers markets and fresh, locally produced foods to engage people in healthier eating habits. The New York City Health Department sponsors a Stellar Farmers Market program that holds outdoor group nutrition and cooking classes complete with taste tests at neighborhood farmers markets. The program works with community groups to schedule classes at farmers markets that introduce regionally grown fruits and vegetables, allow participants to interact with the farmers who grow their food, and provide the resources and skills needed to purchase, store and prepare simple, affordable recipes from the bounty found at farmers markets. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/health/farmersmarkets
Bloomberg Businessweek recently ran a story on how more farmers are vying for the $1 billion dollars consumers spent last year at 7,175 farmers markets across the country. The article pointed to increasing numbers of larger farm operators who traditionally relied solely on wholesale marketing channels—and are now vending produce at multiple farmers markets in their regions.
(reprinted from the Weekly Market Bulletin, May Oct.May 23, 2012)
The NH Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food Division of Agricultural Development compiles market information and publishes the Weekly Market Bulletin for the agriculture community. The Bulletin is the department’s ‘publication of record’ and includes appropriate industry notices, announcements, seasonal information and market survey data. Subscribers may advertise in the popular agricultural classified advertising at no charge. One-year subscriptions are $28 for delivery by U.S. Postal Service, or $22 for delivery by secure internet. Sign up for the Weekly Market Bulletin by calling the office at 271-2505 and providing a credit card for payment; or visit the office at 25 Capitol St., Concord; or mail in your request with a check. Be sure to provide your address, phone number, and if you are requesting an online subscription, an email address.