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  • July 26, 2022 8:23 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    For the tenth year, let’s shine a light on local food, farms, and our Monadnock Region food system during New Hampshire Eats Local Month, a month-long celebration of our state’s harvest in August. 

    What do we mean by a food system?

    Our food system includes all the pieces needed to bring local food from the farm to our plates: the soil, farm workers, transportation networks, markets, and more -- everything needed to grow, harvest, and distribute these goods to us.  These pieces come together to form our local food system.

    Please dig in and enjoy part one of this year’s bounty of updates!

    Northeast Permaculture in Action

    Marty Castriotta of Village Roots Permaculture in Alstead recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to help him write a book called Emerging Patterns of Resilience.  The book will explore some of the best examples of permaculture design in the Northeast, including farms and backyard gardens.

    Permaculture uses ecological principles -- inspiration from nature -- to design and regenerate healthy, productive landscapes and communities. Marty aims to inspire the next generation, the climate generation, to co-create a future of abundance. 

    Support Village Roots Today!

    Growing Together

    Exciting news for local food producers in our region!  Monadnock Food Co-op purchased a food production facility on the other side of their parking lot.  Ten years ago, the building housed a shared-use space called Neighbor Made to support local producers. 

    While Neighbor Made closed, a plant-based meal producer, MamaSezz, currently utilizes the space. MamaSezz plans to outgrow the space within the next three years.

    What’s next for the space? The Co-op hopes to establish a place that supports its own growth while providing production space for local food producers. Have ideas or questions? Please contact General Manager Michael Faber at

    Round It Up for Food Connects

    This August, round up your purchases at Monadnock Food Co-op and donate your change to Food Connects, a food hub based in Brattleboro, VT.  Food Connects proudly serves New England farmers and food producers and recognizes that local shopping strengthens our local economy.

    In 2021, Food Connects broke all previous records and returned over $1,240,000 in sales to its farmers and food producers, demonstrating its commitment to New England food systems. New Hampshire food producers generated about 38% of these sales.  Food Connects also joined the New Hampshire Food Hub Network, made up of six food hubs working collaboratively to strengthen our state’s local food economy.

    “We’re thrilled to formally partner with the NH Food Hub Network to strengthen our hub’s connection to others across the state,” said Alex McCullough, Food Hub Co-Director, “Regional partnerships like this provide Food Connects with the ability to connect New Hampshire producers to new markets to the west and south.”

    Fresh Local Food Offerings

    Cornucopia Project works to plant the seeds for a lifetime of healthy eating. This year’s fresh new offering includes a traveling hydroponic tower for growing food in our region’s schools, libraries, and institutions. They piloted the hydroponic tower in an eighth-grade science classroom and it quickly engaged the students.

    Students helped establish the “baby” plants grown on Cornucopia Project’s educational farm in Peterborough and learned how to keep the plants nourished throughout the spring. Lettuce, spinach, pea, tomato, sage, basil, and Swiss chard (a favorite!) provided snacks every week, along with water chemistry and biology lessons.

    “We are seeing the impact of firsthand experience on our participants’ learning, joy, curiosity, and engagement with the local food system,” shared Jess Gerrior, Cornucopia Project Program Specialist.  “We celebrate our local farmers, restaurants, gardeners, seed savers, and others who are making those lifelong connections.”

    Protecting Land for Local Farmers

    One thing for sure, food can only be grown locally if there is local land on which to grow it. That’s why the Monadnock Conservancy is working to protect some of the most beloved farms in our region. Using a tool called a conservation easement – a permanent agreement that prohibits development but permits forestry and farming – the Conservancy ensures local farms stay farms in perpetuity while remaining more affordable for future farmers. What’s more, when established, many farm conservation easements provide cash to farmers to expand their business, pay down debt, or plan to transfer the farm to the next generation.

    This summer, the Conservancy partnered with Kroka Expeditions to protect 15.5 acres of farmland in Alstead, where the wilderness school grows much of the food consumed by their students and livestock. The soil on the property is considered “prime” by the US Department of Agriculture, meaning it is among the country’s most fertile and productive farmland.

    Monadnock Conservancy will work this summer to conserve seven acres of prime land owned and farmed by Pete’s Stand, a third generation farmstand, along the Connecticut River in Walpole.  Looking ahead, Picadilly Farm in Winchester will conserve the last 25 unprotected acres of their 71-acre property, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm that feeds 1,000 households in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

    “We are honored to partner with local farmers to ensure that their land remains available to farm forever and that their businesses thrive,” said Monadnock Conservancy Executive Director Ryan Owens. “The Monadnock Region’s farms are the cornerstones of our communities.”

    Visit a Monadnock Farm

    Now, get out there and enjoy our farms!  Attend the fourth annual Monadnock Farm Tour on Saturday, August 20, from 12 – 5 pm. Twelve vibrant Monadnock farms will open their barns, fields, hen houses, kitchens, and a pudding plant. The event highlights the impact farms have on our local economy, their role in preserving open space, and how they contribute to our quality of life. The tour costs $10 per car or $5 per person. This Monadnock Farm Tour is produced by the Monadnock Farm & Community Coalition and Monadnock Food Co-op.

    Discover more!

    Stay tuned for part two of this article in August, including local food and farm updates from Cheshire County Conservation District, The Community Kitchen’s Mobile Food Pantry, and more!

    Thank you to all the individuals, programs, policies, and initiatives that continue to build a more robust local and regional food system in our corner of the state and throughout New England.  Together, we’re cultivating healthier citizens, communities, and economies.


    Celebrating Local Food, Farms, and our Food System

    We’re wrapping up NH Eats Local Month -- a month-long celebration of local food, farmers, producers, and our local food system.  A strong local food system keeps communities vibrant, economies growing, and landscapes healthy. When you eat local food, the benefits ripple out through our community, helping small businesses thrive.

    Here’s part two of our article highlighting updates in our local food system. 

    Boosting Healthy Food Access

    The Local Crowd Monadnock and The Local Crowd Upper Valley launched a crowdfunding campaign to support Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire and Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont Farm Share Programs. These two programs support organic farmers while making high-quality local food more accessible to community members in need.

    Funds raised from this crowdfunding campaign will allow more children, families, seniors, and other low-income individuals to receive a season’s worth of farm-fresh, organic produce at a reduced cost.  Learn more and support this campaign today.  

    Support This Campaign

    The State of Local Producers

    The Monadnock Food Co-op conducted its inaugural Producer Survey this year in partnership with the Cheshire Country Conservation District. The survey collected baseline data from 110 locally owned businesses growing or making products in our region.

    These businesses’ most significant challenges include hiring labor, generating a profit, and developing marketing options. In terms of opportunities, survey respondents shared that they’d like to see local food system builders support Eat Local/Shop Local education, boost grant programs, and invest in labor resources.  Learn more about the survey at

    Cultivating Vibrant Farm Businesses

    In 2022, Cheshire Country Conservation District partnered with the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship and National Center for Appropriate Technology to host a free business planning course for local food producers. Participating farmers learned how to enhance the competitiveness of their business, created a business plan, and received a $2,000 stipend.  Stay tuned for another course this fall at

    Mobile Food Pantry

    The Community Kitchen hosted its first Monadnock Mobile Food Pantry pop-up event at the Senior Living Center in Winchester this summer.  In addition to pantry staples, the pantry offered locally grown produce from Picadilly Farm in Winchester. Southwestern Community Services provided information about food and heating assistance, and the Monadnock Humane Society offered pet food and information on animal care.
    Help bring more local food to the Mobile Food Pantry by contributing to the Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition Locals’ Local Fund at This fund will support local farmers who sell fresh, local food at a negotiated price to the mobile pantry.  Interested in future mobile pop-up events or volunteering? Please call Kate at 603-352-3200. 

    Monadnock Grown

    Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition will launch a new marketing campaign to help you more easily identify products made or grown in the Monadnock Region. The “Monadnock Grown” designation will inspire us to choose local and boost our local economy by purchasing Monadnock made and grown products at grocery outlets and farm stands. Stay tuned at

    Gardening Together

    Some thirty gardeners are growing produce on more than sixty plots at Monadnock View Community Garden (MVCG) in West Keene this season.  MVCG also includes a pollinator garden and a communal raspberry patch. Subsidized plots are available for community members who may need assistance, courtesy of Antioch University’s Community Garden Connections.

    Gardeners donated seedlings and purchased plants to six dedicated 'Giving Garden' plots to grow vegetables for The Community Kitchen and Hundred Nights Shelter.  Volunteer garden angels share in the watering, weeding, and harvesting.

    "Impacts from food insecurity, supply chain issues, and climate change mean providing healthy local food to those who need it is more important than ever," shared Rowland Russell, who co-coordinates the Giving Garden with Toni Spring-Baker.

    If you are interested in securing a plot at the garden next year, contact Kristy Morrison with the City of Keene at Contact Rowland to learn more about becoming a garden angel at

    Thank you to all the individuals, programs, policies, and initiatives that continue to build more robust local and regional food systems in our corner of the state and throughout New England.  Together, we’re cultivating healthier citizens, communities, and economies.

  • July 08, 2022 7:19 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    Keene Mayor George Hansel proclaimed July as Independents Month at the July 7, 2022, City Council Meeting.

    "Keene's local independent businesses help preserve the uniqueness of the community and give us a sense of place," said Mayor Hansel. "As we celebrate Independents Month 2022, we acknowledge that the ability to choose the direction of Keene lies within each of us."

    Independents Month, led locally by The Local Crowd Monadnock and nationally by American Independent Business Alliance, is a time to recognize locally owned businesses and how they make their community healthier and wealthier.

    Learn More

  • June 28, 2022 9:03 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    This July, celebrate Independents Month with The Local Crowd (TLC) Monadnock.  Independents Month is a time to think and act locally to shape our region’s future.  One perfect way to celebrate is to take our Indie Challenge.  Pledge to make all your purchases at locally owned businesses -- for one day, one week, or the entire month.  You choose! 

    Sign on to the Indie Challenge today! 

    “I want to help create a robust local economy,” said Indie Challenge-taker Laura Carbonneau from Food Connects. “Business owners can't do it on their own -- they need community buy-in and investment!”

    Independents Month Staycation Giveaway

    Here’s an extra incentive to take the Indie Challenge: One lucky participant will win our Independents Month Staycation Giveaway.  Our Staycation Giveaway includes a two-night Stay at the Inn at Valley Farms in Walpole, a gift card to The Hungry Diner in Walpole, a gift certificate to the Farm Store at Walpole Valley Farms in Walpole, a gift certificate for two 5 x 7 photo prints from Peterborough Camera, Copies & More in Peterborough, two tubes of sunscreen from Badger in Gilsum, one yoga class from Aloha Keene, and two keychains from GeoGraphic Gems.  WOW! Now, that’s some staycation inspiration.

    Also, all Indie Challenge participants can enter to win the Upper Valley of NH/VT Staycation Giveaway.  We’ll announce the winners in early August.

    See all the details here

    “I believe in buying local -- I did even before it was so popular!” shared Indie Challenge participant Sue Ells from Monadnock Food Co-op.  “And I need a staycation!”

    Independents Month is an ideal time to recognize our locally owned and independent businesses for the community values they embody and their spirit of entrepreneurship. Also, how they give back to our community with their time, talents, goods, and services, making us healthier and wealthier.  Thank an independent business owner and their staff today!

    “I love having local businesses nearby because it’s convenient. I can see what I’m buying and how the businesses contribute to our economic community,” said Paula F. of Stoddard. “And I can get the advice and guidance needed for my purchases. We all win!”

    Healthier and Wealthier

    How do locally owned businesses keep us healthier and wealthier?  It’s thanks to the local multiplier effect.  When you spend your dollars at independent businesses, those businesses also spend more of their dollars locally, creating a ripple effect in our community that boosts job growth, charitable giving, and overall prosperity.  The Monadnock Indie Impact Study found that our region’s local retailers return 62.4% of their revenue to our local economy, while chain stores return just 13.6%. 

    Learn more  

    “Our community is the foundation for everything that is good in our world,” shared Michelle D. of Spofford.

    Support Local Wherever You Are

    Traveling during Independents Week?  Enjoy what locally owned businesses have to offer wherever you are.  Ask locals where their favorite independents are and look for networks at

    Think independently and act locally this Independents Month and beyond.  Together, we’ll boost the positive ripple effects our community receives when we spend more of our dollars at locally owned, independent businesses.
  • May 24, 2022 9:14 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    Summer means vacation for many of us.  However, taking a vacation doesn’t have to include traveling far to get away.  Take a staycation this year!  Stay close to home and experience all the Monadnock Region has to offer.  You’ll save money at the gas pumps.  Plus, any money you do spend will recirculate in our local economy, building more community health and wealth.

    Here are just a few events to add to your staycation plans this June. Also, keep reading to the end of this article to find out how to enter our Staycation Giveaway!

    Gilsum Rock Swap & Mineral Show

    Gilsum will ROCK the weekend of June 25 – 26 during the Gilsum Rock Swap & Mineral Show at the Gilsum Elementary School and Community Center.  Browse tables, tables, and tables of gems, jewelry, and minerals for sale or swap.  Grab a meal and pan for minerals.  At 1 p.m. on Saturday, Paul Brandes, the “Indiana Jones of Geology,” will share a history of mining starting 60,000 years ago.

    View the full schedule

    Enter Our Staycation Promotion

    Finally, check out our Independents Month Staycation Promotion coming this summer. Enter our giveaway by signing on to our Indie Month Challenge.  

    Take our pre-survey now and then a post-survey (coming in late July).  Complete both surveys for your chance to win our Staycation package. 

    The winner of our Staycation Package will receive a two-Night Stay at the Inn at Valley Farms in Walpole, a gift card to The Hungry Diner in Walpole, a gift certificate to the Farm Store at Walpole Valley Farms in Walpole, a gift certificate for two 5 x 7 photo prints from Peterborough Camera, Copies & More in Peterborough, two tubes of sunscreen from Badger in Gilsum, one yoga class from Aloha Keene, and two keychains from GeoGraphic Gems.  Best of all, you can enter to win an Upper Valley of NH/VT staycation package, too.  We’ll announce winners in early August.

    Take the Indie Challenge!

    We hope summer means staycation for you this year.  Happy local travels!


    Taste of Keene Food Festival

    Also on June 4, downtown Keene comes alive with food, too! The Keene Young Professionals Network will host the second annual Taste of Keene Food Festival at the top of Main Street from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.  Central Square, the upper section of Main Street, and part of Roxbury Street will be closed to traffic, allowing for a fantastic pedestrian-only event.

    Enjoy small bites from twenty-five local restaurants and food producers.   Purchase your food tokens today and save.  Watch cooking demos from local and regional chefs throughout the day.   

    As an added treat, The Colonial Theatre will host two live performances during the festival, the Real McCoy Show International Stunt Comedy in a Hard Hat

    Brent McCoy is the Real McCoy.  “His acclaimed show features breathtaking stunts, natural charisma, and a lightning-fast wit. It’s a rocking circus and comedy experience, appropriate for all ages. This ain’t no imitation… it’s the Real McCoy,” shared The Colonial Theatre.  “The show features audience participation, original comedy, diabolo, juggling (fire is optional), breakdancing, and his signature finale, ‘a boy on a board on a ball on a bench.’ Brent will meet members of the audience in The Colonial tent between performances. And it's customary to tip street performers!”

    Don’t forget to visit the Taste of Keene’s local craft biergarten to sip on a selection of our region's best brews and spirits (21 and over).  Please bring your ID.  Beverage tokens available for sale at the event.  Enjoy live music while you sip from three bands: The Evocatives, Modern Fools, and Mojohand.  

    BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!  This just in from KeeneYPN: We're looking for ten brave souls who are looking to terrify their taste buds in a scorching hot wing eating contest at the Taste of Keene Food Festival.  Contestants will be expected to eat four rounds of increasingly hot chicken wings, with short breaks between each round to let the heat...well...burn.  If more than one person survives the wings, we will offer a devilish dessert as a tie-breaker. The winner will be the last one sweati--uh, standing. 

    Each contestant will get a limited edition Taste of Keene Hot Wing t-shirt, flame sweatband, pint of Frisky Cow Gelato and  pint of milk.  The top three winners receive grand prizes. Please note that contestants will be required to sign a waiver prior to participating.

    Enter by purchasing your ticket here ($30 entry fee). The The Few, the Brave, the SPICY!! contest will run from 3:30 to about 4:15.

    Stay tuned for the Taste of Keene’s full schedule

    Keene ArtWalk

    Downtown storefronts will transform into art galleries during Keene ArtWalk on June 3 – 12.  Stroll up and down Main Street to view the works of over sixty New Hampshire artists.

    Learn More: Keene ArtWalk

    On Saturday, June 4, the ArtWalk expands to Railroad Square with a day of performances and demonstrations, including ballroom dance, glass blowing, and more.

    Bike Tour: Backroads and Rail Trail

    For a more nature-based staycation plan, join Monadnock Conservancy for a 20-mile mountain bike tour in Fitzwilliam on Saturday, June 18, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.  Learn about plans to improve this section of the Cheshire Rail Trail, plus efforts to protect the Chamberlain Conservation Area and Sip Pond.  Registration is required.

    Register today!

  • May 23, 2022 8:13 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    NH Gives, an initiative of the NH Center for Nonprofits, is the Granite State's largest day-of-giving - bringing together hundreds of nonprofits and tens of thousands of donors to raise as much money and awareness as possible for the causes they care about.

    TLC Monadnock Participating Nonprofits

    Is your favorite nonprofit participating?

    NH Gives has raised more than $8 million dollars for more than 900 nonprofits since 2016.

  • May 20, 2022 5:50 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    By Luca Paris

    We've tried some new things since I joined as CEO of the Greater Keene & Peterborough Chamber of Commerce (GKPC):

    • Four sessions of our Regional Issues Series, where we've focused on stabilizing our workforce.
    • Networking opportunities, from our Chamber Night Out series to our Business After Hours events.
    • Our Peterborough office grand opening, with an overflow crowd that brimmed with energy and enthusiasm.
    • Our “Promote the Region” initiative, which is soon to launch a new website, marketing plan, and regional brand.

    Thank you for all you’ve helped us achieve.

    Now please support our latest effort!

    The GKPC continues to collaborate with the community, and our latest endeavor is sponsoring The Thing in the Spring, a four-day music festival happening this week right in downtown Keene at Brewbakers/Nova Arts!
    To multiply our impact and support events that benefit our businesses, residents, and increase tourism, we’re giving you an opportunity to help us meet our vision. Even a $5 donation supports our mission to ensure our businesses continue to grow and our region thrives for generations to come.

    Support Our Campaign Today!

    The Thing in the Spring has already been shared with more than 100,000 social media followers via the artists performing. It’s generating the exact buzz we hoped it would. Equally important, this festival is for all ages, so our high school students can come together to celebrate at a time when they’ve never needed it more.

    I am grateful for all you’ve helped us achieve and the difference you’ve made in our local economy. Let’s keep the celebrations going and please donate today!

  • May 12, 2022 6:22 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    The Monadnock Farm Share program makes farm shares more accessible to limited-income community members who otherwise would not be able to participate in a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

    CSA programs are an opportunity for community members to enjoy farm-fresh produce while supporting local agriculture.

    Community members pay 50% of the total farm share cost through the program. View program eligibility here.

    This year's applications are due by May 30, 2022, and Cheshire County Conservation District will review applications on a rolling basis (first come, first served).

    Community members choose from a listing of participating farms throughout the region.

    Access this year's program information & eligibility, application, and participating farm list below:

    2022 Application

    2022 Participating Farm List

    Program Information and Eligibility

    What is a CSA?

    Farmers face many costs in the operation of their farms. Community Supported Agriculture programs alleviate the financial burdens of farmers before the season begins. CSA customers provide an upfront payment to reserve a share of the season's harvest.

    The cost of the CSA serves as a deposit for the season! This upfront cost allows farmers to purchase needed seeds, materials, or equipment for the upcoming season. At the same time, customers can reap this investment by taking home delicious produce once the farm season begins!

    Many farms offer half share or full share CSA options. These options vary from farm to farm, but half shares are smaller to feed smaller households, while full shares can feed a larger household or households that eat a lot of vegetables.

    Some farms offer on-farm pick-up days, while others provide delivery! Some farms pre-package their CSA shares for a quick pick up, while others allow customers to pick-your-own (PYO!). Pick-up days offer a unique experience to see where your food is grown and interact with other community members! While delivery offers a convenient way to bring fresh produce to your household!

    By purchasing a CSA, you support local agriculture while also eating delicious, nutritious, and locally grown produce!

    For additional information, questions, or assistance in completing your application, contact Benée Hershon at or 603-756-2988 x 3011.

  • April 27, 2022 6:31 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    What better way to kick off this year’s Bike Month than by participating in the second annual National Ride a Bike Day on Sunday, May 1. It’s THE day to celebrate the joys of bicycling!  Wondering how to celebrate?  Go for a ride.  

    “We firmly believe that life is better for everyone when more people ride bikes,” shared the League of American Bicyclists. “On National Ride A Bike Day, let’s all ride bikes together, wherever we are and at our own pace, to take part in a collective action and kick start making life better for everyone.”

    Why bike?  Bicycling offers a fun and healthy way to get around.  Studies show cycling elevates mood, memory, and metabolism. Cycling also reduces our carbon emissions and overall environmental impacts. All great reasons to get rolling!

    “When all of us who ride bikes ride together on National Ride A Bike Day,” continued the League of American Bicyclists.  “We can show our neighbors and our leaders why making it easier, safer, and more accessible to ride a bike is so important to so many people.”

    Please join us on Sunday, May 1, for National Ride A Bike Day and then keep celebrating Bike Month all month long.

    More Ways to Celebrate Bike Month

    Following Bike Day, schools across the country will celebrate Bike & Roll to School Day on May 4.  Over 800 schools will participate to call attention to making routes to schools safer and kids more active. 

    Learn more about Bike & Roll to School Day

    The Kiwanis Kool Wheels Event will happen on May 7, from 10 am to 12 pm, at the Keene Recreation Center.  Kool Wheels is a free family event where kids ages 4-12 may select a new bicycle helmet and learn about bike safety.  Kids can bring their bicycles to the event for a tune-up.

    Learn more

    Put these dates on your calendar: Bike to Work Week is May 16-22, with Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 20.

    Discover more about Bike Month

    Track all your bicycling miles on Love to Ride's website.  Once you're registered, you can also sign up for their National Bike Challenge.  Create your own goals, connect with other bicyclists, and perhaps even win a prize. 

    Register today 

    What’s New Locally in Bicycling?

    Keene’s Transportation Heritage Trail project will connect the rail trail from Eastern Avenue to the Swanzey town line.  While we can’t enjoy this project until 2027, we can help fundraise for the trail by participating in Pathways for Keene’s 4 on the 4th Road Race.

    Learn more

    This summer, the City of Keene begins work on the Ammi Brown Trail and sections of the rail trail between the intersection of Hurricane and Aldrich roads to Summit Ridge Drive.  Once completed by July 31, we’ll have a new bicycle and pedestrian loop that runs along West Street, Park Avenue, Summit Road, and Summit Ridge Drive, linking to the Cheshire Rail Trail.

    Another important development in bicycling this year, UNH Cooperative Extension recently wrapped up a report called “Strengthening Connections: Downtowns & Trails,” highlighting how we can better connect Keene’s rail trails to downtown businesses.  Assessors walked the trails and interviewed trail users to discover ways people do (and could) connect with our downtown assets.

    “For a small city, Keene seems to offer a wide variety of businesses with numerous restaurants and a variety of retail as well as office space,” cited the report.  “Assessors, by and large, found the business amenities available in Keene to be great assets. From a variety of restaurants, sporting opportunities, to general shopping, there were a number of places a trail user and any visitor or resident for that matter, might frequent.”

    The report recommends adding more wayfinding signs to direct people towards these attractions.

    “One main feature that will help with this connection is the inclusion of information about businesses and services on signage about trails,” stated the report. “Simple statements such as ‘downtown businesses are x miles from this point and include food, retail, and services.’ There is a great display in Railroad Square that could be further enhanced with information about general downtown amenities.”

    The report also calls for amplifying the amazing community art near the trails, plus adding more art along the trails.

    “Community art can be a powerful value-add to a user’s or resident’s overall experience in a community. Keene is fortunate to have a strong commitment to community art,” shared the report.  “The Walldog Murals are the most vivid display of this effort and are visible from the trails. In addition to this clear asset, assessors noted a potential opportunity to enhance the community art space behind the Monadnock Food Co-op and right on the Cheshire rail trail. Others also noted that there were places along the trails that could be enhanced by the addition of some community art-such as sculptures.”

    Read the full report

    Happy bicycling!

  • April 17, 2022 11:05 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    by Ethan DeWitt,

    New Hampshire Bulletin

    The New Hampshire Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee approved a $100 million, federally funded housing investment plan Friday, a critical step for a proposal touted by Gov. Chris Sununu as a means to increase rental capacity and workforce housing.

    Voting 8-2, the committee signed off on a program to devote $60 million to matching grants for housing developments in the state and $40 million to grants to incentivize towns to speed up permitting processes and overhaul zoning laws. The initiative still requires approval from the state’s Executive Council, which meets April 20.

    The new program would allow developers or housing organizations to apply for up to $3 million in matched funding for projects, provided those projects would be used for rental housing and include at least five units.

    If the program is approved next week, the application period will begin in June, said Department of Business and Economic Affairs Commissioner Taylor Caswell, whose department designed the program and would be tasked with distributing the money. Developers will have until June 2023 to apply.

    Meanwhile, towns will be eligible for $10,000 per unit of new housing they approve within six months, and will have access to funding to help demolish dilapidated properties or to hire consultants to help overhaul their zoning ordinances.

    Addressing the committee Friday, Caswell said he expected many of the early grants to go toward developments driven by housing nonprofits.

    “I’m anticipating that the first several rounds of this program would be held exclusively for our nonprofit developers who are developing exclusively those types of affordable units,” he said. “And for smaller developments.”

    But some Democrats have continued to express concern that the initiative does not include income requirements, and urged Caswell to prioritize affordable housing projects when approving applications.

    During Friday’s Fiscal Committee meeting, Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, a Nashua Democrat, asked Caswell why the department had opted to categorize the funds as “revenue replacement,” a designation that exempts the state from certain income limits. Approving the funds under the standard process would have required that the state target them to families making 300 percent of the federal poverty level or below.

    “There’s no requirement for affordability standards,” Rosenwald said. “So I’m wondering why we chose not to build affordable housing with these public funds?”

    Caswell said the state had used the revenue replacement approach in order to maximize flexibility for the projects and avoid limitations. But he said he expected many of the housing developments that apply for the funding to already have income targets because they are receiving external grants that require that.

    Still, he said, the department anticipated a mix.

    “They will be projects that have a zoning requirement that might be forced by locality, like an inclusionary zoning requirement,” he said. “They might be projects that have mixed income within them, so there’s a component that has an affordability piece to it, but then there’s a market rate component to that. And they might be in a rural town where you have an old Victorian house that somebody’s converting into five, six, seven units.”

    Caswell said the department would publish lists of which projects get approved and how much each receives. And he said guidance for how developments could apply would be published ahead of June.

    Rep. Susan Almy, a Lebanon Democrat, noted issues Lebanon has had with building affordable housing; housing developments that have been approved recently have tended to benefit residents making above the median income, she said, and not those who need it most. Still, Almy said she would support the funding due to the extreme need in the Upper Valley.

    Senate President Chuck Morse, a Salem Republican and a candidate for U.S. Senate, said he supported the intention to make the program as flexible as possible.

    First announced during Sununu’s State of the State address in February, the $100 million plan has received varying reactions from advocacy groups. ABLE NH, a disability rights group, has opposed the structure of the program, contending that it should be targeted to low-income residents and include guarantees for independent living projects, noting that people with disabilities have been burdened by the pandemic.

    But one leading affordable housing organization, Housing Action New Hampshire, is supportive of the move.

    “There are certainly a lot of projects from the nonprofit developer community that are focused on delivering affordable units to New Hampshire’s workforce, that are in the pipeline and honestly have competed for very limited resources,” said Elissa Margolin, the organization’s director. “And so now we have an opportunity to move a lot of those ahead and then partner with municipalities at the same time.”

    The next step, Margolin continued, is to organize applications so that the affordable housing projects are given priority.

    New Hampshire Bulletin is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. New Hampshire Bulletin maintains editorial independence.

    Contact Editor Dana Wormald for questions: Follow New Hampshire Bulletin on Facebook and Twitter.

  • February 26, 2022 5:31 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    St. Patrick's DayThis St. Patrick's Day, keep the green in your community and choose local first.

    If you plan to celebrate St. Patrick's Day at home this year, order take-out at an independent restaurant or purchase meals ingredients at locally owned market. This year, despite the pandemic, Americans plan to spend $5.87 billion to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Let's shift some of that spending to locally owned businesses!

    Locally owned businesses help us keep the green in our communities. They strengthen our local economy, culture, and well-being. Independent businesses re-circulate more money in our community than chain stores. Moreover, studies show that small businesses create most new jobs.

    Want to do more? Move Your Money

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