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Home » From the Commissioner

For Fresh Local Food and Fresh Air, Head to a Farm

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food (August 19, 2011)

That’s the advice that Concord Monitor columnist Ruth Smith offered readers this month.  Smith advised that visiting farms is a great way to obtain locally produced products—and experience the outdoors. Find Smith’s August 7 column at www.concordmonitor.com by searching “Ruth Smith.” New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food

In her column, Smith, who is also the New Hampshire Ag in the Classroom coordinator, recommends the “scenic views from many of the local orchards (Apple Hill, Carter Hill, Gould Hill and Hackleboro) because they are located on hilltops.” She notes that maps for exploring the trails at Carter Hill Orchard and Dimond Hill Farm can be downloaded from the City of Concord website (www.concordnh.gov/trails).

Smith’s column also notes features and points of interest at Hopkinton’s Gould Hill Orchard, Owen Farm, Work Song Farm and Beech Hill Farm; Warner’s Yankee Farmer’s Market; Musterfield Farm in North Sutton; and Miles Smith Farm in Loudon. The farms mentioned in the article are just a sampling of farms in the area, she says, directing readers to the Merrimack County Conservation District’s Local Food Guide.  Smith suggests that readers ask farmers they know about special places on their farms—and reminds her audience that “Whatever farms you choose to visit, please respect the fact that you are a guest on private property. “

The timing of Ruth Smith’s column coincided with my reading of the “Land Use and Conservation” chapter of the recently published Crosscurrents of Change: Concord, NH in the 20th Century. This fascinating book was published by the Concord Historical Society. At 64 square miles, Concord is the largest municipality in land area in the southern half of the state. It’s a rare state capital city—comprised of urban, suburban, rural and nearly wild areas to this day. At the midpoint of the 20th century, Concord numbered 200 farms. In 1978, only eight square miles of the city were developed.

The new history of Concord, ably edited by John Milne, is readable and entertaining, including accounts of the battles to stave off major developments over the last three decades of the 1900s. Rivers became dramatically cleaner over this same time period, and important areas of open land were protected—including marshes, forests, and a remaining 28-acre scrap of pine barrens protected for the endangered Blue Karner butterfly.  But perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the Five Rivers Conservation Trust (founded in 1988 as the Concord Conservation Trust), assert the authors, “was the protection of three iconic Concord farms—Dimond Hill Farm, Rossview Farm, and Carter Hill Orchard.”

Multi-agency and public collaborative efforts to protect these properties have resulted in evolving family farm businesses that emphasize direct market sales, and enrich the quality of life for the whole region. The natural resources, habitats, and scenic views afforded by these landmark properties have been conserved. As Smith noted in her column inviting people to get out and visit local farms, trails on parts of two of these farms are part of the city’s seven-mile system of 19 trails. There’s more on agriculture in Crosscurrents of Change, but that will be another column.

At the 2011 Holstein Association USA Annual Meeting in Richmond, VA Kirsten Beaudry took first place in the senior division of the public speaking competition at the Junior Convention. Beaudry, from a dairy farming family in Walpole, is a junior at Dartmouth College, where she skis on the women’s cross-country team.

The NH Plant Growers summer meeting recently toured Millican Nurseries in Loudon and Cole Gardens in Concord. One feature at Cole Gardens was the large Bonnie Plants trial testing earliness and yields of over 100 new and heirloom vegetable varieties, mainly tomatoes and peppers. Bonnie Plants national grower specialist Deke Jackson has donated hundreds of pounds of produce to local food pantries. On Saturday, August 27 from 1:00-3:00 pm Cole Gardens will host ‘Salsa in the Garden.’  The public can view the vegetable trials, speak to a master gardener—and sample fresh salsas prepared by at least six area restaurants.

Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner
(reprinted from the Weekly Market Bulletin published by the Department of Agriculture, Markets, & Food,  Aug. 17, 2011)


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