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Shining a Light on Local Food, Farms and our Food System

September 01, 2017 3:19 PM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

For the fifth year, Monadnock Buy Local shines a light on local food, farms and our entire Monadnock Region food system during New Hampshire Eat Local Month, a month-long celebration of our state’s harvest.

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.

Honoring our fifth year

In honor of reaching the five-year mark, we’re traveling back to 2012 to acknowledge how much our food system has grown and where some of the gaps remain.

Five years ago:

  • The Monadnock Food Co-op was five months old.
  • Neighbor Made provided a shared-use commercial kitchen in Keene to help develop and market locally made products.
  • Transition Keene shared articles about the power of permaculture in our neighborhoods.
  • The Community Kitchen’s gleaning program was a glimmer of an idea.
  • Monadnock Menus transitioned from a program to bring more local food to the region’s restaurants to an ordering, aggregation and delivery service for schools and institutional buyers.
  • Community organizers began efforts to bring the film “A Place at the Table” to our region to inspire action around making local, healthy food more accessible to all.
  • Land for Good’s “Land Here!” program coached beginner farmers in finding farmland.

Fast forward to today:

  • The Monadnock Food Co-op’s annual sales of local and regionally grown and made food surpassed $3.8 million this year.
  • Neighbor Made closed but conversations emerged around opening a shared food processing and storage facility through Monadnock Farm & Community Coalition.
  • Permaculture farms like Village Roots Farm in Alstead and the Sustainability Project’s Monadnock Region Meetup group actively support this ecological approach to designing healthy, productive landscapes and communities.
  • The Community Kitchen’s gleaning program gathered 41,042 pounds of produce thanks to their staff and volunteers, plus the generous donations from farmers and gardeners.
  • Monadnock Menus merged with Food Connects to become a stronger regional food hub.
  • The Granite State Market Match program at farmers’ markets and Healthy Food for All program at the Monadnock Food Co-op continue to increase access to local food.
  • Land for Good expanded their Land Access Project and launched a Succession Planning School to support farmers transitioning their land to the next generation of farmers.

Now let’s dig in around what’s new in our Monadnock Region food system this year.

Kids Connect!

The Cornucopia Project partnered with the Monadnock Conservancy to create a brand new program called “Kids Connect! Farm, Field & Forest” at Four Winds Farm in Peterborough and Tracie’s Community Farm in Fitzwilliam.  This five-week summer program connects kids to the land with farming, gardening and cooking.  Stay tuned for next year’s program.

Farm Fund

For the first time this spring, the Monadnock Food Co-op’s Farm Fund awarded grants to three farms: Manning Hill Farm of Winchester, Flying Cloud Dairy of Alstead and Archway Farm, of Keene. 

Manning Hill Farm will install an energy efficient cooler to increase the storage capacity to store their grass-fed milk. Flying Cloud Dairy will install a freeze-free water system that more efficiently gets water to their cows.  Archway Farm will build a walk-in freezer to store their pasture-raised pork products.  Learn more about the Farm Fund.

Food Connects

Monadnock Menus, a local food delivery service previously managed by the Cheshire County Conservation District, recently merged with the Food Hub managed by Food Connects in Brattleboro, VT. This merger brings two aggregation and distribution food hubs together under one roof to establish a cross-state network of food producers and wholesale buyers -- creating a simpler way to buy local food.

Food Connects, an entrepreneurial nonprofit that also provides educational and consulting services aimed at strengthening the regional food system, will manage the two branches of the food hub while continuing to grow the local reach of each.

Currently, the Food Connects hub aggregates products from over 30 area vendors and delivers orders to 75 buyers, four days a week in its refrigerated truck. These buyers include institutions like the Cheshire Medical Center; local business such as the Monadnock Food Co-op, WS Badger and Summerhill Assisted Living; and school partners like Keene, Conval and the Monadnock School Districts.  Discover more.

Granite State Market Match

Cheshire County’s Double Up Veggie Bucks Program expanded and is now part of the Granite State Market Match program.  This program, managed by the Cheshire County Conservation District in our region, doubles SNAP/EBT benefits for fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets, CSAs and farm stands, helping low-income households purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables while supporting local farmers.

Participating locations now include: The Farmer’s Market of Keene, TEAM Jaffrey’s Farmers’ Market, The Winchester Farmer’s Market on Main, Picadilly Farm CSA in Winchester, Hillside Springs CSA in Westmoreland and the Keene Housing Buying Club. Stay up to date.

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

The Local Crowd Monadnock - Keene, NH

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