farming

julierohloff via Flickr Creative Commons

With the weather warming up across New England, people are heading for the coast. Today Word of Mouth hits the high seas. First we'll ponder the unfathomable push and pull of the open ocean. Then, we’ll speak to an artist who created the world’s first submerged sculpture park, his underwater gallery not only attracts art-lovers, but serves as an artificial reef. Plus, farmed fish now exceeds beef production. Have fish farmers learned from the mistakes of the meat industry?

With all of this warm weather, it definitely feels like summer. But it isn’t yet.  And for local farmers, it’s still too early to produce local crops. And that means restaurant owners using locally sourced food are still looking for new solutions to get through the trickiest time of year: the long, cold winters. But now Farm to Table Restaurants are getting farmers to consider new methods for supplying produce in the lean months.

rows of crops
Brady Carlson / NHPR

Years ago, the members of the community at Canterbury Shaker Village grew their own food, and sold some of the surplus to residents in the area. There hasn’t been farming on the site for a number of years. That’s why farm manager Stacey Cooper was pleasantly surprised to find the soil in such good shape.

"I was a bit surprised that the nutrient analysis was as balanced as it was," Cooper said, as she looked over the roughly 3/4ths of an acre that make up her farmland. "It didn't need much at all - a testament to how well they took care of their land."

www.unh.edu

While production of certain types of produce is seasonal, demand doesn’t stop when the growing season ends.

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire may have taken a step toward a solution to that dilemma.

In a study, they successfully grew bulbing onions planted in fall for a spring harvest with the aid of low tunnels.

Becky Sideman is a researcher with the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station.

She joins Morning Edition to talk about her findings.

Jack Rodolico

New immigrants often face an unexpected challenge: how to navigate away from an American diet that takes a toll on your health? That’s becoming easier in New Hampshire due to a network of markets and farms that carry familiar foods for the state’s foreign residents.

New Hampshire is home to a small but growing immigrant population; about one in 20 Granite Staters are foreign born. And there’s an experience that unites many of them: that bewildering first visit to an American grocery store.

Michael Samuels

Basil has been one of the big draws all summer at Dimond Hill Farm in Concord. 

“We give a sprig away for every customer who buys something,” says Yianna Coliandris, who works at the farmstand.

“Everyone was enjoying that, and it was absolutely thriving. It was beautiful, beautiful basil, and it tasted and smelled absolutely wonderful.”

But now customers will have to find basil elsewhere.

“This was the basil,” says Jane Presby, surveying a tenth of an acre of empty soil.

Jeff Couturier via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/z1nyR

Winter feels far away right now, but farmers looking to grow winter crops - and there are a growing number of them -  are starting to think about what they’ll put in their greenhouses.

Murray Farms

After a spring characterized by strange weather, warmer temperatures have brought gardeners outside- and to their local garden stores- around the Granite State.

“We’re slammed right now. After the long winter and the nice weather we have now, people are coming out in droves.”

Charlie Cole is the General Manager at Cole Gardens, a family owned business in Concord. Like many gardeners at this time, Cole is experiencing a rapid uptick in sales.

WalterPro4755 via Flickr Creative Commons

In 1986 there were an estimated 50,000 Civil War re-enactors in the U.S. Since 2000 their ranks have been cut in half. Today on Word of Mouth: the decline of Civil War reenactments, and what drives someone to take on the identity of a 19th century solider. Plus, after millennia of selective breeding, there are now over 3000 known varieties of apple. But, are our beloved Galas and Honeycrisps in peril? Why the extinction of wild apple species in central Asia could spell disaster for their descendants. And, when it comes to rice, why brown may not be the healthier.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments


NHPR / Michael Brindley

During a visit to Bartlett Farm in Concord Friday, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen said the recently-passed Farm Bill will provide support to New Hampshire’s dairy farms.

Co-owner Scott Bartlett, who runs the farm with his father, says his cows produce roughly 70 pounds of milk each day.

“We milk 70, we have about 130 total, including the young ones.”

But he says feeding those cows is the farm’s biggest issue.

“Load of grain comes here about every three and a half weeks, that’s $10,000.”

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.

Jen Goellnitz via flickr Creative Commons

While an increasing number of states and retailers are looking to pass GMO labeling laws, planting genetically modified corn, soybeans, and cotton remains the norm among North American farmers.  Seed makers claim that of modified – or treated – crops resist pests and disease, reducing the need for expensive herbicides and pesticides. In pockets across the nation, however, farmers who once championed GMO seeds are complaining that they no longer deliver on those claims. Some are reverting back to conventional seeds for their commodities crops.  Elizabeth Royte is a contributor for Fern, The Food and Environment Reporting Network.  Her article, “The Post GMO-Economy” is featured in the winter issue of Modern Farmer.

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.  

An expanded “Auto Dealer Bill of Rights” law is set to take effect today.  It offers auto and equipment dealers protections from some requirements set by manufacturers.  But a key part of the law is now on hold.

Farming...In Space!

Sep 16, 2013
Courtesy NASA.gov

If you think there are too many food deserts in cities across the United States, try finding some fresh produce in outer space.  Naturally, NASA makes sure astronauts living on the International Space Station don’t go hungry, but since it costs about $10,000 to send a single pound of food to the I.S.S., you can bet they don’t see a lot of leafy greens.

That cost is just one reason growing fresh food in outer space is a crucial step in the future of manned space exploration.  Jesse Hirsch is a staff writer for Modern Farmer, where you can find his article, “Space Farming: The Final Frontier”. 

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?

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. 

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Oyster farming in the Great Bay Estuary is in the midst of a little bit of a boom. In recent years, the number of oyster farms has leapt from 1 to 8, with more on the way. These gains are boosting the hopes that using these filter feeders as an “outside-the-pipes” way to clean up the waters of the Great Bay could become a reality.

Courtesy of Alex Dowst

At farmer's markets, co-ops, and small local farms, heirloom tomatoes are becoming more common. They're older tomato breeds – some very old – that haven't been hybridized or genetically modified, and with seeds that can actually be planted to grow new tomatoes. A pair of young New Hampshire farmers wants to raise awareness that heirloom doesn't just mean tomatoes, and they've started what they say is the state's only all-heritage farm, River Round Heirloom, to prove it.

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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EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I understand that, despite the popularity of organic foods, clothing and other products, organic agriculture is still only practiced on a tiny percentage of land worldwide. What’s getting in the way?                                                                                         -- Larry McFarlane, Boston, MA

Amanda Loder, NHPR

This week some NHPR staffers got their first weekly share of veggies from a nearby CSA – which stands for community supported agriculture.

The idea is that consumers buy a share of the year’s crops in advance – that gives them a weekly supply of produce, while farmers get a more stable income stream than what they might have selling just through farmers markets or farmstands.

modernfarmer.com

As farming takes off for a new generation of hip young homesteaders, beautifully crafted farm photos have made an impression in digital media – who hasn’t seen an adorably old-fashioned photo of sun-drenched pasture on Facebook… or a picturesque sunrise over a dewy, field of grazing grass-fed livestock on Instagram?

As a goat farmer and freelance photographer based in Vermont, Stephanie Fisher worries her own idyllic farm photos might be sugarcoating a job that’s often tougher than it looks.  She spoke with word of mouth producer Taylor Quimby about her recent article in Modern Farmer, “The Side of Farming You Won’t See on Facebook”.

Congress is in the midst of renewing this giant legislation, after missing its first deadline to do so.  And New Hampshire farmers are keeping an eye on this process, they want assurances a final measure won’t just favor big agribusiness, but also, the smaller farms prevalent in our region.  We’ll find out the bill might include and what’s at stake for the Granite State.

Guests

Traditional Pork Production Finds Home In N.H.

Nov 14, 2012
Todd Bookman / NHPR

On Edward Epsen’s farm in Salisbury, New Hampshire, around 40 pigs are doing what lucky pigs get to do: forage for acorns and graze in pastures high with Timothy grass.

“So we are going to be killing this pig here, and the other one that was walking around on this side of the electric net," says Epsen. “It slipped out of sight for the moment…oh, there he is.”

The two that will die in a few minutes are American Mulefoots, a rare breed known for its lard.

When Epsen approaches, the 250-pound pigs roll onto their backs.

The Muddle Over Milk

Sep 26, 2012

A new book examines what it calls “the failed economics of the traditional small dairy farm”, blaming a complex, highly regulated market where middlemen and mega-farms always win.  We’ll look at this phenomena in New England, and how the author says there are new models that offer some hope. 

Guest

  • Kirk Kardashian – Senior writer at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and author of "Milk Money: Cash, Cows and the Death of the American Dairy Farm.
Rick Ganley

Many kids spent their summer vacation attending camp. Maybe it was the typical cabin-in-the-woods experience, with swimming and archery lessons. Surely you or someone you know was shuttling their young aspiring athlete to and from sports camps of one sort or another. Budding engineers may have headed for science programs. There are kids, however, who spent a week or two learning to milk a goat, as well as the finer points of feeding a 700 pound pig. They did that- among other activities- at the Educational Farm at Joppa Hill in Bedford.

Keith Shields, NHPR

One of the buzzwords we hear around the economy these days is “certainty” – that if we all had a better idea of what the economy was going to throw our way, we’d be better able to prepare for it.

Refugees Start Fresh on the Farm

May 22, 2012
Todd Bookman/NHPR

As a farmer in Bhutan, Laxmi Narayan Mishre provided food and stability for his family.

But when ethnic tensions flared in the small Himalayan country, his land was seized.

With his wife and ten children, Mishre would spend the next two decades living in a cramped refugee camp in neighboring Nepal. Rumors swirled about a possible resettlement to America, and what life would be like here.

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