Agriculture

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.

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.

Amanda Loder / NHPR

New Hampshire’s Christmas tree farms are mostly very small operations—even by Granite State standards.  

catchesthelight via Flickr Creative Commons

Three years after it was put up for sale, an 11-generation family farm in New Hampshire has been sold. 

Members of the Tuttle family owned the 135-acre farm in Dover since 1632, one of America's oldest continuously operated family farms.  They put the fruit-and-vegetable farm up for sale in the summer of 2010 as they dealt with competition from supermarkets, pick-it-yourself farms and debt. 

The original price was $3.35 million. Foster's Daily Democrat reports it sold last month for a little over $1 million to Matt Kozazcki, who owns a farm in Newbury, Massachusetts.  

The NH Department of Agriculture was founded 100 years ago today.
Michael Samuels

The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

 

She Shimmers via Flickr Creative Commons

Fall in New Hampshire means fairs, foliage – and getting out to one of the state's 300-odd apple orchards to pick your own. Elaine Starkey is out at Butternut Farm in Farmington, with her sons and grandkids, to do just that.

"They usually have donuts, but we got here a little late."

'Pick Your Own Apples' now means not just picking the fruit, but also hay rides, corn mazes, petting animals, And enjoying other seasonal products, like cider, pies, and yes, donuts. 

Michael Samuels

In the fields, at farmer's markets, in food pantries and schools, gleaners are proving there's plenty of local fruits and vegetables to go around.

Harriet Alexander

Increasing demand for local food has led farmers to seek capital: funds with which to start or grow their businesses.   In most industries, an increase in demand from consumers spells profits, so banks and other lenders will pull out their checkbooks.  But farming is a little different.  In New England, farmers aren’t actually likely to make much money.  This isn’t new: farmers have always relied on farm credit co-ops and the federal government for loans to grow their businesses.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

With almost 60 farmers markets across the state, demand for local food is growing.  But local farmers still struggle to make a profit growing local food. In fact, about three quarters of all farms in New Hampshire gross less than $10,000 from sales each year. Seacoast Reporter Emily Corwin takes an in-depth look at New Hampshire's agriculture community in her five-part series, Growing Pains.

Representatives from the US Food and Drug Administration are traveling around the country this summer speaking with farmers about the Food Safety Modernization Act – which is the biggest reform of food safety laws the country has seen in more than 70 years. 

The FDA held a public hearing on their proposed rules at Dartmouth College.  The farmers we met there are very concerned about the consequences the proposed rules could have on New England agriculture. 

Why FSMA?

Photo courtesy By Gerbriel Kamener and Sown Together

Detroit’s declaration of bankruptcy this summer opened up the floodgates for stories of its decline. Documentary films, photo essays, and articles reveal a once-proud American city, home to world’s highest-paid workers and a strong middle class, as a shell of its former self. Some residents are finding hope among the abandoned neighborhoods, crumbling municipal buildings, and rusting car factories that made the motor city hum.

www.fedcoseeds.com

In the mid-1800s the United States was home to more than fifteen thousand varieties of apple - two thousand in New England alone.  That diversity was pretty much wiped out by the growth of industrial agriculture and today, only a few varieties remain…at least in the supermarket.  John Bunker , a man known as the apple whisperer, is on a quest to find, save and preserve long lost types of apples.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

  According to the USDA, Americans are producing and eating more locally-raised food every year.  But the market for local meat has trailed behind the market for local produce.  Until recently, reasoning has been that there’s a shortage of local slaughterhouses. But as three slaughterhouses open their doors in NH this year, industry-wide studies show that more slaughterhouses may not be the answer, after all. 

Logan Shannon

An agricultural art dating from the Neolithic period shares a glass with the robotics of the future. Since the first evidence of grapevine cultivation for wine about 7000 years ago, viticulture has developed a degree of automation…still, wine-makers depend on human hands and eyes to thoroughly -- and tediously -- inspect their crop for quality and yield. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are developing an automated grape-counting system that will help lighten that load and lead to the production of better wine. Sara Reardon is a staff writer and reporter for New Scientist who covered the machines that could change the future of winemaking.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

With almost 60 farmers markets across the state, demand for local food is growing.  But local farmers still struggle to make a profit growing local food. In fact, about three quarters of all farms in New Hampshire gross less than $10,000 from sales each year.

This is the first installment in our summer business series investigating how a changing market place is affecting New Hampshire farmers.

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