Farmers

Despite some recent rain, New Hampshire is currently classified as "abnormally dry" by the National Drought Mitigation Center. The lack of rainfall has forced many New Hampshire farmers to turn to irrigation. 

"We've spent a lot of money. It's a huge pain in the neck," says Chuck Souther, owner of Apple Hill Farm in Concord, who had to irrigate this year's strawberry crop. "We're much happier when rain falls out of the sky." 

If the dry period doesn't let up, Souther and other farmers say their apples, pumpkins, and even next year's berry crops could be affected. 

CBP.gov

U.S. Border Patrol agents detained two individuals in Woodsville, N.H., on Friday.

The Vermont-based advocacy non-profit Migrant Justice is working on behalf of one of the individuals, who was arrested the Woodsville Walmart and is being held in Strafford County jail in Dover, according to Abel Luna, an organizer with the group.  

GouldHillFarm.com

A proposal to make it easier for New Hampshire farms to host things like weddings and larger-scale events will be up for consideration by state lawmakers in January.

The issue has come up repeatedly in recent years, both in the state legislature and in court cases.

Local regulations on what's known as 'agritourism' — events that bring visitors onto farm property — vary significantly from town-to-town.

Henniker Christmas tree farmer Stephen Forster, for example, has been fighting with officials in his town for years to host weddings on his property.

As the farm-to-table movement caught on nation-wide, a cohort of farmers, chefs, and organizers put in the legwork to make local food possible here in New Hampshire. 

This week on Word of Mouth, we trace the history of local food in the state, and we address a listener's question: How can you distinguish real, authentic local food from the dizzying display of marketing gimmicks? 

We also hang out with a local arts collective on the seacoast, and we sit down with National Book Award-winning poet Frank Bidart. 

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

When Lorraine Stuart Merrill was nominated as Agriculture Commissioner in 2007, the first reporter to get her on the phone asked her how it felt to take the job when farming was all but disappearing in the state.

That wasn't the case then - and it isn't now. There's something of a boomlet going on, she says. But for Merrill it showed that she had her work cut out for her in terms of public perception.

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.

The USDA has designated Belknap, Grafton, Merrimack, Strafford, Cheshire, Hillsborough Rockingham and Sullivan counties as primary natural disaster areas due to crop loss from unseasonably warm temperatures followed by freezing early this year.  Now, farmers in those and contiguous counties are eligible to apply for low interest emergency loans from USDA’s lending agency.