There's an oil painting on one wall in the cluttered room that serves as central headquarters of Burch Farms, a large vegetable grower in Faison, N.C. The painting shows an African-American couple, the woman in a long, plain dress, the man in a homespun shirt. They're digging sweet potatoes with their bare hands and an old-fashioned hoe.

Mack’s Apples Farm in Londonderry is changing ownership to the next generation of the Mack family.

Owner Andrew C. Mack says he’s passing on the farm to his son, Andrew Mack Jr. and his wife Carol Mack.

This will be the eighth generation of the Mack family to run the farm, going back to 1732.

It’s the oldest family-run farm in New Hampshire.

Sean Hurley

In 2012, the New Hampshire Mushroom Company was producing two hundred pounds of mushrooms a week in their 5000 square foot farm-warehouse in Tamworth - and struggling to sell them.  Three years later, with seven full-time employees, the farm can't keep up with the demand, selling out their weekly stock of 1,200 pounds of edible fungus usually within 24 hours. 

Dennis Chesley, part owner of the New Hampshire Mushroom Company, says there's very little gray area when it comes to mushrooms.  It's either love or hate -

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

The late June morning grows warmer as seven refugee farmers till their new plots at Lewis Farm in Concord. This is the second "incubator" farm established by the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success, or ORIS. After the success of their first location, the organization established another to meet the interest of their clients.

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."

Courtesy Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center

The Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center offers year-round programs for all ages. Its “Wildquest” camps help connect kids with nature and their local landscapes. 

Prescott Farm has always been a landmark for Gretchen O’Neill. “We’re very grateful that our daughter, Gabriella, can come here to attend the camp, or that we can come up and explore it and walk the trails.

Alarmed that farmland in New Hampshire is being lost to development, an unconventional type of conservation easement that encourages farming is literally gaining ground...

Tuesday Richard Johnson became the latest example.

Six generations of Johnson’s family have farmed 311 acres in Monroe since 1803.

At age 63, he’s the last of his family and it was an emotional moment when the burly, shy farmer signed an agreement that would ensure the acreage would remain farmland forever.

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.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A Colebrook woman is trying to make it easier for people to buy locally grown foods while giving farmers an economic boost. Her idea is a variation on the classic roadside farm stand, and it is a model that could be used around the state.

But it’s going to require a change in state law.

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 -

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.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

Strawberry season is in full swing in New Hampshire.

At J&F Farms in Derry, there are buckets filled to the brim with the red, ripe fruit out for customers to buy.

But the farm also gives them the chance to go out into the field and pick their own.

In this audio postcard, NHPR’s Michael Brindley travels to J&F to talk with families and with farm manager Melissa Dolloff about just how many strawberries they sell a day.

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.

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.

The World Runs on Grass

Nov 29, 2013
Francie Von Mertens

Grass doesn't get a lot of appreciation aside from lawns and hayfields, but grasses play an essential role in ecosystem health. When soil is disturbed by hurricane, fire or logging, grasses take quick advantage of. Dormant seeds awaiting the right conditions sprout and up come the grasses.

Yes Or No To GMOs?

Nov 26, 2013
brianjmatis / Flickr Creative Commons

The national debate over whether foods that contain ‘genetically modified’ ingredients should be labeled has come to New Hampshire, with a bill in the legislature to require such language on food products- ranging from corn flakes to canola oil.  We’re looking the arguments, from questions about health and environmental impacts to the economic costs of labeling.


NHPR, Cheryl Senter

The Tuttle Farm in Dover is the oldest family farm in the United States. When Bill Tuttle and his family, the 11th generation to farm this land, decided to conserve it, they turned to the Strafford Rivers Conservancy.


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

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. 


NHPR / Michael Brindley

Farm-to-table has become increasingly popular among people looking to eat local.

But a dinner series in Nashua takes that concept a step further, by connecting people directly to local farmers and the food they produce.

Chef Sergio Metes carefully pulls a large pan out of the oven.

He takes off a sheet of aluminum foil, releasing a wave of steam.

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.