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Spring 2014

NH Farm to School/Preschool Conference: Raising the Stakes

May 20, 2014  9:00-4:00 pm

Canterbury Shaker Village is the host of this year's conference that will feature a keynote address by Helen Brody, cookbook author and director of the NH Farms Network, 12 workshops throughout the day including school and preschool gardens, procurement of local foods, grant writing, building community support, NH Ag in the Class, composting and more. A local foods lunch is being prepared by the Lakes Region Community College Culinary Arts Program located at the Shaker Table. The day will also feature an opportunity to tour the village or learn about cows from Brookford Farm or visit the interactive displays like Gardening Rocks! Mobile Farm. The conference is filling up fast so don't wait to register!  The registration form can be found here.

Thanks to our event sponsors: Farm Credit East, NH Department of Education: Bureau of Nutrition Programs and Services, NH Department of Ag, Markets and Food, HEAL NH, HNH Foundation, Cafe Services, NOFA NH, Fitz Vogt
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  The 7th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference took place in Austin, Texas from April 16-18. Almost 1100 people from around the country and Canada participated. The NH contingent consisted of John Lash of the Concord School District, Deb Riso and Kate Mitchell from the Portsmouth School District and Stacey Purslow of NH Farm to School. The Northeast was well represented with close to 100 participants. The conference provided multiple learning opportunities including traditional workshops as well as a share fair and lightning talks. The conference also hosted all USDA farm to school grant recipients as well as the annual Food Corps meeting. Click here for a photo library of the conference. Click here for conference resource materials.
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UNH Beef to Institution

On March 27, UNH hosted a Beef to Institution workshop for about 30 folks. This workshop was organized by Carole Soule of Miles Smith Farm in Loudon and the Merrimack and Strafford County Conservation Districts. Jon Wraith, the Dean of COLSA (College of Life Sciences and Agriculture), made opening remarks saying that collaboration across state lines would make for a stronger regional presence. John Hamilton of The Community Loan Fund, said more strategic work needs to be done in order to source more than 6% locally.  Making investments to food producers and manufacturers and helping with business models and collaboration will ultimately make the business successful. John Carroll, a COLSA professor, spoke about his efforts to build bridges between producers and consumers. John is largely responsible for the Granite State Farm to Plate bill. John Lash, the food service director for the Concord School district, presented on his farm to school efforts including the use of local ground beef. John feels he has the responsibility to feed the students the highest quality of food they can afford. Besides needing to budget and plan meals that incorporate local foods, marketing the lunch program goes a long way to educate and inform the community. Doris Demers, the food service director in the Oyster River School District, gave some tips on how to control costs by doing some satellite cooking to reduce labor, cook your hamburgers in a tilt skillet not the oven, (keeps them moist) don’t overproduce food  and use your commodities. The school district has successfully incorporated extra money into the school budget just to purchase local foods. Russ Atherton, owner of The Local Butcher, says its important for the beef producer and beef buyer to communicate also with the slaughter facility about product needs. Carole Soule said beef producers need to work together and that she would like to see a beef cooperative form. The other panelist were Kimberly Adkins of the Seabrook School District, Pete Roy of PT Farms,  and Brian Farmer of Yankee Farmers Market. 

NH Gleans 2014

Thanks to generous funding from an anonymous donor, NH Gleans will begin another year of providing fresh food from NH farms to those in need. Last year, the network of coordinators gleaned 30,000 lbs of produce that was distributed to food pantries, soup kitchens and schools. This year the goal is 45,000 lbs. Gleaning coordinators are located from the Lakes Region south and work during the harvest season. Partners on this project include Seacoast Eat Local, The Community Kitchen in Keene, Hillsborough and Belknap County Conservation Districts and NOFA NH. NH Gleans is a project of NH Farm to School. For more information about NH Gleans and to read last year's report click here.

NH Fish to School Workshop

A June 5th workshop is being planned for Seacoast area school food service directors to learn about our NH fishing industry and the varieties of fish that are caught by our fleet and available to schools. Recent federal regulations have imposed catch limits on ground fish which has caused the marketing and distribution of locally caught fish to shift  to a more direct to consumer model. Because of this, there is also a need to develop new markets for lesser known (but equally delicious!) and lesser priced fish species like Dogfish, Atlantic Perch or Redfish, and Hake. In order for our NH fishing community to thrive again, a bigger customer base must be developed. By introducing these fish to students now, we will help create the next generation of fish consumers. This workshop will provide an opportunity for school food service to taste several varieties of fish, take home school focused recipes developed by area chefs and learn about the seasonality of fish. A mini-grant through the NH Department of Ag, Markets and Food is helping to make this workshop possible.


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