Farming

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.

GUESTS:

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
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?

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.

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.

iStockPhoto

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

Melanie Plenda

It used to be all farmers needed was some land, some seed, a little luck and a lot of hard work to be successful. Today's farmer needs all of that plus social media skills, marketing savvy and a business plan.

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.

CIMMYT via Flickr Creative Commons

Produced with Zach Nugent

The community-based organization Farm Hack brings together innovative farmers, technology designers, and hackers to approach agricultural challenges without the top-down energy-intensive tools used in mainstream mega-farming. Farm Hack uses both online and face-to-face meetings to encourage and share  creative methods among small farms all over the country. Ben Shute joins us, he is a New York state farmer and co-founder of Farm Hack.

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.

Sean Hurley, NHPR

Fresh vegetables aren’t the only thing local farmers put on display…at least not in Thornton, New Hampshire, where each summer, Russ Gilman hosts an antique tractor show at his family farm. While old farm machines might not be a big draw for the masses, Word of Mouth correspondent Sean Hurley goes to the show each year. Because an old tractor, as Sean explains it, can be a sort of time machine…

(Photo by WIsconsin Department of Natural Resources via Flickr)

Produced with Emma Ruddock

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.

You may think that the great historic debate between communism and private property is over.

Well, it's not. Not at your local community garden.

Take, for example, the experience of Campos Community Garden in Manhattan's East Village.

Eight years ago, the garden was decrepit and abandoned. Beverly McClain walked by it all the time, on the way to her daughter's school. And one day, she and a motley group of fellow gardeners decided to revive it.

iStockPhoto

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: American farmers are an aging population. Is anyone doing anything to make sure younger people are taking up this profession in large enough numbers to keep at least some of our food production domestic?-- Beverly Smith, Milwaukee, WI

Part of a series

Thanks to high commodity prices and surging productivity, U.S. farmers earned a net income of nearly $98 billion last year — a record, according to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.

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