Agriculture

Allegra Boverman

The Speaker of the New Hampshire House is looking to put down his gavel to lead the state’s agriculture department.  Although it may be an unusual career move, Speaker Shawn Jasper says he’s been eyeing the commissioner's job for a while. 

Jasper grew up in a family of poultry farmers. His grandfather and father bred chickens for nearly 75 years in Hudson - producing more than 160 million eggs. 

Jasper says he’s continued to keep up on agriculture issues over the years through the legislature and as a nearly 30-year advisor to UNH's agriculture fraternity.

Michael Samuels

A small group of New Hampshire veterans will gather in North Haverhill Tuesday to learn about farm equipment and the agricultural industry in the state. 

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Some late season snow and a string of decent weather in New Hampshire are creating a bumper crop of strawberries in backyards and on farms this year. 

iStock Photo

We may be hearing a lot about bees this week. It's national pollinator week - a chance to talk about the important role pollinators play in agriculture and the environment. And in New Hampshire, several organizations are planning events

As the populations of pollinators decline, national organizations like the Pollinator Partnership are working to raise awareness about the bats, bees, and butterflies that pollinate our crops.

Ben Henry

In a plant-filled apartment in Lebanon during the heat wave this week, Helen Brody drank iced tea and recalled the rise and fall of the New Hampshire Farms Network (NHFN). She launched the website in 2008, to nurture local food culture at a time when “local food” was barely a thing.

For the past decade, the NHFN website had been a source of in-depth profiles on New Hampshire farmers and their families. This April, it closed down, although the New Hampshire Historical Society recently made plans to acquire the profiles.

Courtesy

The best weather in all of New England right now is inside LEF Farms new $10 million greenhouse. It’s 75-degrees, August-level humid, with fans pushing out a soft breeze.

Operations manager Bob LaDue points out the beneficiaries of this artificial climate.

“That’s mezuna and cress,” he says, naming two of LEF Farms seven varieties of baby greens. “This is part of our spice mix.”

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Cruise along just about any back road in New Hampshire and you’re likely to come across an old wooden barn. The state is home to more than 15,000 of them, each one an iconic reminder of New Hampshire’s agricultural roots.

But after decades of neglect, there’s no shortage of run-down eyesores out there, seemingly one good wind gust away from collapsing.

Brian Boucheron via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/4E4P5U

The intersection between technology and food makes a lot of people wary. Concerns over industrialized food, GMOs and big agriculture’s profit motive have sparked a foodie movement that demands whole, responsibly grown fare. On today’s show, an agricultural economist says high tech methods are crucial when it comes to confronting obesity, environmental degradation, and global hunger.

We'll also talk with humorist Roy Blount Jr. who grew up in a southern home, where butter was considered a food group, and you had to save room for pie!  Plus a look into a new airline that caters to fashion’s elite.     

Jacqui Jade O'Donnell / Flickr/CC

From petting zoos to pick-your-own, farmers across New Hampshire are diversifying in new ways to stay afloat. But that’s raising tensions in some towns, where neighbors say large-scale events like weddings can be a nuisance. We look at the impact of a recent state Supreme Court ruling on the issue and how lawmakers are exploring solutions.

New Hampshire Milk Production Up Slightly In 2016

Apr 25, 2016
S Cook/Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire milk production ticked up slightly in the first quarter of the year. 

The latest data from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service shows 72 million pounds of milk produced between January and March.

File photos

It's late August, and that means right now, it's the sweet spot for locally grown food. This brief time allows Granite Staters to harvest what's been growing all summer, and we also get to look forward to the fall picking season. Apples, pumpkins, and more.

Joining me now to talk about the state of New Hampshire's agriculture is George Hamilton, with the UNH Cooperative Extension.

New Hampshire maple syrup producers saw higher yields last winter compared to the previous year.

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found New Hampshire produced 154,000 gallons of syrup this year, compared to 112,000 in 2014.

Cold weather shortened the maple syrup season by several days in 2015, but yield per tap rose in New Hampshire over the winter.

Syrup production in the northeast totaled 2.96 million gallons, up 7 percent from 2014.

Concord Farmers Market

May is when many farmers markets get underway or move from indoor markets to outdoor locations.

Jane Lang is president of the New Hampshire Farmers Market Association. She says it’s still early in the growing season, but over time consumers will see more options.

“A lot of them bring a lot of their seeds and things like that to the market," Lang says. "But you’re going to start seeing the vegetables coming probably in the next few weeks.”

The Science of GMOs: Possibilities And Limitations

Apr 23, 2015
James Jerome, Flickr/CC

Genetically modified organisms are a favorite villain of the modern food debate, with claims they threaten human health and the environment. But while many of these concerns have been debunked, media hype around this topic often distracts from the facts. We’re digging into that, and the possibilities and limitations of genetic engineering.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

Governor Maggie Hassan kicked off this year’s apple picking season with the ceremonial first pick Thursday at Gould Hill Farm in Contoocook.

This year’s apple crop is not expected to be quite as fruitful as last year’s.

Governor Hassan plucked a few ripe apples and encouraged families to get out to their local farms and pick some of their own.

“There are in fact great apples here in New Hampshire. We got through the winter. We’ve got a crop and we’re really really eager to have a great apple season.

As more Granite Staters set up coops, some of their neighbors are crowing over the noise –and local governments are having to step in. We’ll talk about caring for the chickens you own and dealing with the chickens you don’t.

GUESTS:

  • Dot Perkins - field specialist and a member of the livestock team for the UNH Cooperative Extension out of the Merrimack County Office in Boscawen.
  • Jason Reimers - land use lawyer for BCM Environmental & Land Law.

LINKS:

Michael Samuels

 

The blueberries are ripe and ready to pick at Apple Hill Farm in Concord.

Allie Coremin via Flickr CC

Strawberry picking is a New Hampshire tradition that dates back to the days when “all natural” was a given, not a gimmick. There are over 20 farms throughout the state that offer the chance to “Pick-Your-Own” pint (or quart—more berries just means more jam). 

Related story: The Sweet Science (And Big Business) Of Strawberry Picking

Conall / Flickr/CC

Behind recent declines in bee populations are threats as diverse as pesticides, disease, and climate change.  And fewer bees could mean a widespread hit to many types of agriculture. We’ll talk with beekeepers and researchers about what they’re seeing,  also what the future might hold, and what could be done.

GUESTS:

The University of New Hampshire is celebrating its use of a unique energy recovery composting system.  UNH is believed to be the only university in the nation with such a compost facility, which captures generated heat for water that can be pumped to reservoirs and used for wash water, provide pre-heated water for a boiler or be used in heating systems.  The system at UNH's Organic Dairy Research Farm, installed last year, preheats water used to clean and sterilize a tank and tubing in the milk room.  The compost facility was named for Joshua Nelson, who advanced the technology.

Cow
S Cook / Flickr Creative Commons

The University of New Hampshire is holding an "open barn'' to give the public a chance to see how a typical New England dairy farm operates.  The New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station on the Durham campus calls Saturday's event "Meet Your Milk.'' Visitors can enjoy free milk and ice cream, wagon rides, tours and visits with the university's milking cows and calves.  According to Granite State Dairy Promotion, New Hampshire has approximately 130 dairy farms with an average of 115 milking animals per farm.    

lehcar1477 / Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire’s farm legacy extends to the very beginning of our state’s history, when farmers from over-crowded areas in southern New England started to move north in search of more open land. While the soil in New Hampshire was not as fertile as they’d hoped, farmers did take root in the state and are still here. And while the country overall has seen a trend toward fewer, bigger farms, new data from show the reverse in New Hampshire and New England: over the past five years, the state’s number of farms has grown 5%, for a total 30% increase over the past decade.

New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station / University of New Hampshire

Bee populations are in decline worldwide. At UNH, researchers are beginning the first major assessment of diversity in New Hampshire’s bee populations.  Part of that effort involves a "bee hotel" at Woodman Farm in Durham. 

UNH Biology professor Sandra Rehan says the hotel, made of bricks and wood, will provides a habitat for bees to nest and forage freely. The idea, she says, "is to create and maintain native bee habitats to improve healthy pollinator communities." 

Michael Samuels

 

A big part of farming and conservation is finding creative solutions on a budget.

Michael Samuels

 

Winter has finally left New Hampshire, and locavores can get their hands on a spring favorite.

Michael Samuels

 

Fiber-bearing animals, and the next generation of shepherds, are the focus of the 38th annual event.

Canterbury Passes Looser Farmstand Regulations

Mar 12, 2014
Farmers Mkt Produce
USDA

Regulations on farmstands in Canterbury will be loosened.  Two-thirds of residents voted in favor of the measure on Tuesday. 

Amanda Loder / NHPR

While national interest in agriculture has declined over the past five years, the US Department of Agriculture reports a five percent increase in New Hampshire farms

And those farmers who open roadside farmstands reap the benefits of the local food movement.  But this traditional venture has become a point of contention—and an item on the Town Meeting ballot—for the town of Canterbury. 

What Makes A Farmstand A Farmstand?

Michael Samuels

 

Raising venison is one of the fastest-growing agricultural industries in the country, but that growth has yet to reach NH.

How Would N.H. Farmers Change In A Changing Climate?

Jan 30, 2014

Among the questions food producers and farmers are looking at these days is how they might be affected by a changing climate – and what they might do about it.

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