Farm Profiles September 2019

Brookdale Fruit Farm, Hollis, NH

Brookdale Fruit Farm, Hollis, NH

Since the profile of the Brookdale Fruit Farm appeared in the book New Hampshire: From Farm to Kitchen, and which spawned newhampshirefarms.net, much on the farm has changed, yet much remains the same with the Hardy and Whittemore families remaining in control. The Brookdale farm seems to spawn businesses. Their wholesale business continues to flourish with the demand for locally-grown produce, becoming one of the state’s largest retail, pick-your-own, and wholesale growers of fruits and vegetables.

Address: 41 Broad St,
Hollis, NH 03049
Phone: +1 (603) 465-2240

Benedikt Dairy, Goffstown, NH

Benedikt Dairy, Goffstown, NH

One has to admire the courage of Melissa and Max Blindow, they have invested in a long-term venture. “You seed Benedikt Dairy their vegetables in the spring, harvest and sell in the summer, and are hopefully able to relax for a couple months in the winter. But with a dairy there is an expensive infrastructure of buildings, animals, equipment, and supplies that must be purchased and then, of course, a market must be developed and built on” says Max. Good fortune came their way as they found a welcoming neighborhood wanting to buy their raw milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese and meats by CSA subscription or at the farm stand.

Address: 97 Shirley Hill Rd,
Goffstown, NH 03045
Phone: +1 (603) 801-7056

Yankee Farmer’s Market, Warner, NH

Yankee Farmer’s Market, Warner, NH

To help pay for college, Brian Farmer made extra money flipping buffalo burgers for his cousin at fair concession stands. Needing extra help, he hired a very attractive college pal who happened to be a co-ed name Keira and a year later they were married.  Today, the couple runs the Yankee Farmer’s Market – a NH Buffalo farm that sells a variety of local products including USDA inspected pasture-raised bison meat, elk, venison, naturally raised chicken, free-range turkey, pastured pork and grass-fed beef along with other offerings available on the farm.

Address: 360 New Hampshire Rte 103,
Warner, NH 03278
Phone: +1 (603) 456-2833

Barrett Hill Farm, Mason, NH

Barrett Hill Farm, Mason, NH

Offering a wide selection of ready-to-eat organic vegetables and fruit along with pasture-raised meats. Barret Hill Farm is located high on a hill in Mason, NH. The farmstand represents the best of old Yankee technologies. Each board was hand hewn from trees felled on the farm and constructed in the post and beam fashion. The granite posts were found on the farm and chipped with stone nippers where necessary to form the pillars and posts of the stand. In season, the farm stand shelves are alive with color and products largely grown or produced on the farm. Those that are not, are purchased only from local community businesses. The stand is a feast for the eyes both architecturally and with product. And their old traveling stand still makes the rounds to local farmers’ markets.

Address: 450 Fitchburg Rd,
Mason, NH 03048
Phone: +1 (603) 878-4022

McLeod Orchards, Milford, NH

McLeod Orchards, Milford, NH

A family-owned and operated farm for over 70 years, McLeod Orchards was founded by Donald K. McLeod, graduate of the University of New Hampshire in Animal Husbandry back in 1927. On impulse, or perhaps desperation, Donald left that desk in 1946, bought a farm in Milford, and planted two orchards, one for apples and a smaller one for peaches. Donald W. died in 1991, leaving the orchards to his wife and two daughters, Kris Mossey and Becky McLeod. As the wholesale apple business was beginning to decline from global competition, the three McLeod ladies decided that the primary business would continue to be apples, but by diversifying the farm to include summer vegetables and berries, they would be able to extend their production season and diversify their crops to take full advantage of the local farmers’ markets. The ladies also decided to increase the variety of apples, replant the peach orchard, and add fall vegetables and a fall CSA to their late season offerings.

Address: 735 N River Rd,
Milford, NH 03055
Phone: +1 (603) 673-3544


Crazy H Farm, Claremont, NH

Crazy H Farm, Claremont, NH

Expect a warm welcome when you drive into the Haynes family Crazy H farmstead in Claremont, NH. Jenni Haynes’ bright eyes and rosy cheeks radiate a joy for farm living and pride in her upbringing. “My parents wanted to raise their family on a farm, and they encouraged each of their children to focus on one hobby that interested us”. The Crazy H is a bio-dynamic farm in which life interconnects: the horses are used for haying and logging, their manure plus pine shavings make the compost used for mulching blueberries. Everything is done “the old-fashioned way” without pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones. At the Crazy H, it’s a cage-free world. While Jenni has traveled to Europe and Africa, it is clear that her preferred universe remains planet Crazy H.

Address: 50 Canter Pl,
Claremont, NH 03743
Phone: +1 (603) 542-3706

Farm Profiles August 2019

Stonewall Farm, Keene, NH

Stonewall Farm, Keene, NH

While Stonewall Farm, as a nonprofit 120 acre educational center has existed for 20 years, its agricultural roots as a working farm reach back over 250 years to 1759. Successive families managed the fields, pastures, and woodlots through the Chase family, who owned and ran Stonewall Farm during most of the 20th century. They steadily grew a dairy presence which delivered fresh milk throughout Keene and nearby towns. In 1994 the Chase family transferred ownership to Michael Kidder who in turn partnered with other Keene community members to formally charter and secure all of the Stonewall Farm property under the current nonprofit organization.

Address: 242 Chesterfield Rd,
Keene, NH 03431
Phone: +1 (603) 357-7278

Cheshire Garden, Winchester NH

Cheshire Garden, Winchester NH

Winchester’s Cheshire Garden began in 1986 when Patti Powers and her husband, Ralph Legrande, a former chef, purchased a barren piece of land on Burt Hill Road with the goal of transforming it into fertile organic beds and an orchard for the business. Today, Cheshire Garden’s preserves, mustards and vinegars are made from organically grown heirloom berries, fruits and herbs.

Address: 277 Burt Hill Rd,
Winchester, NH 03470
Phone: +1 (603) 239-4173

Autumn Harvest Farm, Grafton, NH

Autumn Harvest Farm, Grafton, NH

“To be successful as a farmer, you must earn a living year around,” says Suzanne LeBlanc, describing a Herculean 15 year effort to restore rocky farmland to productivity. “I know it is difficult to do in New Hampshire, but I know it can happen.” Today, Autumn Harvest Farm offers it’s visitors a b&b farm retreat style space in Grafton, New Hampshire, along with delicious local food and beautiful quilts for sale.

Address: 7 Johnson Ln,
Grafton, NH 03240
Phone: +1 (603) 632-9144

Bly Farm, Wolfeboro, NH

Bly Farm, Wolfeboro, NH

“It’s a kind of one of those hidden gems on the side of a country road. Pick up some corn or fresh veggies from the farm stand and grab an ice cream. ” The “hidden gem” feeling is what Vince and Cynthia Blandini hope to convey in Wolfeboro NH, growing a large selection of annuals, hardy perennials, herbs, hanging baskets, starter plants, fruits, and seasonal vegetables. There are locally made jams, jellies, preserves, maple syrup, and honey. Also offered at the farm stand are Cynthia’s home baked pies, homemade chocolate chip cookies, and, most recently from Cynthia’s kitchen, blueberry muffins made with their own fresh picked blueberries.

Address: 620 Center St,
Wolfeboro, NH 03894
Phone: +1 (603) 569-1411

White Gates Farm, Tamworth, NH

White Gates Farm, Tamworth, NH

Thirty years ago the name White Gates Farm represented simply a stand of pine woods. To quote Heather Letarte, “when we say ‘we started from scratch in 1982,’ we mean scratch.”  Since then, single-handedly Heather and Hank Letarte, while working full-time off the farm, have built a house for their family and managed several small agricultural endeavors, such as pumpkin patches, Christmas trees, and a few animals. All the while they yearned to take the farm to ‘the next level.’ At White Gates Farm you can find natural beef, pork, chicken, fresh produce, wood fired pizza and more.

Address: 2153 Cleveland Hill Rd,
Tamworth, NH 03886
Phone: +1 (603) 662-7538


Work Song Farm, Hopkinton, NH

Work Song Farm, Hopkinton, NH

Work Song Farm is a certified organic farm that has a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program and also operates a summer farmstand that sells freshly picked vegetables each Saturday at the Contoocook summer farmer’s market and Wednesdays at the Hopkinton Farmers Market. For Abby and Dan, the best part of farming is the connection they have with their customers who come each week to pick up their CSA shares at the farmstand or visit the farmers market.

Address: 284 Beech Hill Rd,
Hopkinton, NH 03229
Phone: +1 (603) 219-0297

Learn About Organic Agriculture

Learn the basics of organic agriculture from soil preparation, fertilization and plant maintenance. We overview the methods most common in organic farming.

Organic agriculture is the practice of growing crops using only organic ingredients, from the fertilizer that provides nutrients to plants to the foliar spray used to prevent pests. USDA organic regulations restrict the use of conventional farming practices such as using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

Organically-grown food is considered premium and is often sold at  higher prices than non-organic food. The popularity of organically-grown vegetables, fruits and buds may continue to grow in the consumer market.

From afar, it’s easy to look at organic gardening with skepticism, as not all methods shared in books, databases and online line-up with each other, making organic agriculture seem disorganized.

However, within the scope of organic growing a few key practices are usually followed:

  • Soil testing, to analyze the nutrient profile of the soil used to grow plants in.
  • Soil preparation, by mixing soil mediums, tillage of the ground, or mulching and permaculture techniques.
  • The addition of organic matter into the soil, such as compost.
  • The application of animal manure, for providing plants with nitrogen and other nutrients.
  • Usage of mineral and bone powders as a source of nutrients.
  • Mulching with leaf litter, grass clippings or hay.
  • Crop inspection, removal of infected plants by hand or with natural alternatives to chemical pesticides/fungicides.

Soil Testing

Soil Testing

The soil in your garden or farm can be sent to a co-op for a small fee to analyze the nutrient content. This will help you better understand the right amendments to use when crop planning. There are various co-op extensions throughout the country that provide soil tests, where you can send in a sample of your own, like the UNH Cooperative Extension.

Soil Preparation

Tractor Tilling

Compacted soil makes it hard for developing roots to push through and expand, which in-turn leads to less available resources for the plant to use. Optimizing the consistency of the soil plays a major role in promoting fast and healthy roots. Soil is aerated by farmers usually by tilling, with some farmers and gardeners doing more niche techniques such as permaculture and layering of soil with compost.

The microbiology of soil can only survive in a small range deeper or shallower from it’s natural habitat in the soil. This means that disturbance of soil ends up destroying some natural microbial life contained. In best practice, tilling and excessive disturbance of the soil layers are to be avoided if possible, although the trade-off of compacted soil may be worse which leaves the farmer with an ultimatum.

Introducing Organic Matter into the Soil

compost

Compost is simply rotted organic matter. Adding compost to soil is good for soil structure, as the air contained helps to aerate the root zone around crops. Compost is also beneficial to the microbiology that lives within soils. As the compost decomposes, natural bacteria and fungi work to process the excess nutrients, while providing additional perks to plants such as mycorrhizal fungi, a natural fungus that helps plants absorb the mineral phosphorus and other nutrients in a sort of symbiotic relationship with the plant.

Organic matter such as compost, grass clipping and leaf litter can be incorporated into the soil. However consider withholding non-decomposed “woody” material such as wood chips, as a significant amount of nitrogen is needed which may be stolen from the plant.

The Application of Manure

chicken manure 3-2-2

Manure is used for crops as a natural form of nitrogen and other major, minor and micro-nutrients. Chicken manure is the most commonly used animal manure in agriculture that farmers buy or produce. Rated around a 3-2-2 NPK, chicken manure is a suitable growth fertilizer for a wide range of crops. Other animal manures used include pig manure, goat manure, cow manure and more.

Vermiculture or the use of worm castings in soil has shown to be very popular among organic gardeners and farmers. The nutrient profile of worm castings is made by what ingredients were used to feed the worms.

Usage of Mineral and Bone Powders

dolomite-lime

Mineral, rock and bone powders are used to alter the chemical composition of the soil, organically. Here are a few examples:

  • Dolomite lime is a common soil amendment used to naturally raise the pH of soil. A soil test will determine whether lime application is necessary for your area.
  • Bone meal is a high source of calcium, magnesium nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other vital nutrients for plant growth.
  • Greensand, mined from glauconitic sandstone deposits in shallow sedimentary basins on the ocean floor, is a rich source of glauconite, high in iron, potassium and magnesium. (Thanks Erick)

Mulching

mulch

Mulch is used to cover the bare topsoil around a plant’s root-zone. A mulch helps to preserve water, as the sun’s rays make the plant perspire and lose moisture. Typically only a mulch of 1-5 inches is recommended, as thicker mulches may harbor pests and take away from the available nitrogen surrounding the plant. A thin-material mulch is preferred, such as high-nitrogen grass clippings.

Crop Inspection

crop inspection

Organically-grown crops are usually more prone to pest attack and disease than crops grown using chemical pesticides. This means manual inspection of plants should be done more frequently, to try and minimize the spread of such injuries.

Natural pesticide and fungicide options include a strong and spicy oils, chili pepper, peppermint, soap, and also “alive” microbial agents.