|Winnisquam High School: Farming and Fishing
The students who take classes through the Ag program at Winnisquam High School can choose from plant, animal and food science classes and a natural resources class. The classes count towards a biology credit and science electives for their high school diploma. This Ag program serves students from Winnisquam, Belmont, Merrimack Valley, Gilford, Inter-Lakes and Franklin school districts. The school has a relationship with Greg Stone, owner of Brook Hill Farm, just up the road in Sanbornton. The farm is letting the students cultivate almost 11,000 square feet of land in three different plots and there are plans to expand. Each May, for the last three years, students prepare the land for planting by driving a tractor to till the land, picking rocks, and measuring rows. Plants are started from seed directly in the ground. Crop selection is based on what can be harvested in the late summer and fall when students return to school and what have a long shelf life. They have some perennial crops like blueberries, raspberries and asparagus and will plant garlic, onions, beets, turnips, carrots, parsnips, several varieties of potatoes, dry beans and acorn squash. The harvested crops are donated to the CAP programs (Community Action Program) in Franklin who distribute the food through their programs for low income families and the elderly. Some of the crops like potatoes, lettuce and beans do make it to the high school cafeteria where they become part of school lunch. The farm is 100% organic. Students help maintain the crops over the summer by weeding and hand picking insects off the vegetables.
Students working at the farm.
This spring they are adding a greenhouse where they will start seedlings to be distributed through the CAP programs to encourage residents to start their own gardens. The school also has a hydroponic system inside. The system is used to grow Tilapia, a fish, and lettuce. The Tilapia swim in the tank and their waste is filtered to then provide nutrients for growing lettuce. The lettuce is grown in a non-soil medium and receives plenty of water and nutrition through this system. The Tilapia are purchased as hatchlings in the fall and fed fish pellets through the school year. The fish too will be harvested as adults to provide more food to the CAP programs.
Aiden O'Brien, student
All the NH high school Ag programs will gather this spring from April 12-14 at the Grand Summit Resort at Attitash for their annual state convention. This convention will showcase what projects the students have been working on all year and will include competitions among students ending in an awards ceremony.
Beans and Greens Farm, Gilford, NH
Andy and Martina Howe have been owners of Beans and Greens Farm in Gilford, NH since 1998. The land has been farmed actively since the late 1700’s. This farm is one of only three remaining active farms in Gilford, and has the only remaining barn of the original Smith family farms of the Intervale. Also in 1998, the farm was recognized by the NH Dept of Ag as a farm of distinction meaning they make an extra effort to keep the farmstand and farm attractive and neat which makes for a nicer experience for their customers.
According to the Howe’s,
“We practice our version of sustainable agriculture here at Beans & Greens by creating a healthy soil fertility that will allow us a bountiful harvest while preserving the natural resources that we depend on every year. The 370 acres of land we farm have been preserved forever with conservation easements that allow only farming and forestry as uses. The socially responsible use of this land enhances the environment, biodiversity, the local economy, and the community. To preserve our resources we compost our wastes, heat the greenhouses with wood, use cover crops to reduce soil erosion, use mulches with drip irrigation, and recycle the water we use on our flowers. We protect the environment by using companion planting and crop rotation to dramatically reduce the need for pesticides, reduce nitrate use to protect the aquifers, and practice respectful animal husbandry without the use of any antibiotics or hormones to raise our livestock thereby preventing any of these dangerous substances from getting into the environment.”
The Howe's sell much of what they produce at their farmstand and through both a summer and winter CSA. They are also capable of processing some of their vegetables in the kitchen of the farmstand and currently have a freezer full of chopped tomatoes perfect for soups or sauces. The Gilford schools have been buying from them throughout the year and serve beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, and onions from the farm on their lunch menus. The Howe’s wish the schools would buy more but also understand some of the limitations that school foodservice programs have. Andy and Martina would like to find more institutional buyers for their products including more schools in the Lakes Region.
Farm to School Survey Results
The 2011 survey of NH public school food service directors asked schools what local foods they were buying, how often did they buy and about how much did they spend on local foods from September-December, 2011. Eighty-two food service directors responded. The top purchases were apples followed by tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, lettuce and peppers. Other items purchased include carrots, cider, corn, broccoli, cabbage, maple syrup, eggs and beef. Forty schools said they purchased directly from the farm while 41 acquired local foods through their distributors and 14 used produce from a school garden. Almost 50% of the schools said they made weekly purchases. Twenty-one schools spent $1000 or more on local foods, 12 schools spent between $500-749, 6 schools spent $400-499, and 11 schools each, $200-299 and $100-199.
The farm to school program also did it's first ever farmer survey. Fifty-three farms responded to similar questions asked of the schools. Twenty-seven farmers reported direct sales to schools with the top purchases being apples followed by tomatoes, squash, corn, lettuce, peppers and cucumbers. Seven farmers said the schools spent $1000 or more on local produce, 8 farmers saw sales of $100-249, 3 farms reported schools sales at $500-749.
This years survey results see an increase in the number of farms selling directly to schools over last year and a wider variety of local foods being purchased by schools.
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In this Issue:
Winnisquam High School Ag Program
Beans and Greens Farm
2011 NH School Foodservice
and Farmer Survey Results
6th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
March 15, 2012
Healthy Cooking Challenge/School
Nutrition Association Meeting
Exeter High School
NH Maple Weekend
March 24-25, 2012
Vital Communities Flavors of
Hartford High School,
VT April 15, 2012 11-3:00 pm
Taste of the Nation Manchester,
Beyond the Farm Stand:
Farm Field Trips
school food service. NH Farm
to School is arranging several
farm field trips around the
state this spring as an
opportunity for school
kitchen staff to learn about
farming in NH.
Coos County Farm to
to be held this April for
school food service persons.
Learn about school gardens,
composting, and making
local foods affordable for
your lunch program.
Teachers and farmers are
invited too! April 11, 3:30-5:30
pm, location TBD.
At a Winter Farmers Market.
NH Farm to School
Upper Valley Farm to School
National Farm to School Network
NH Farm to School on Facebook
NH Ag in the Class
Farm to Institution New England
6th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
August 2-5, 2012 Burlington, VT
Digging In! The 6th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference will bring together food service professionals, farmers, educators, policy makers, representatives from government agencies and non-profits, entrepreneurs, students and others. There will be skill building, short courses, field trips, a diverse workshop program and networking opportunities. Online registration begins May 7-register early for the early bird discount!
Know Your Farmer Know Your Food Compass View local and regional USDA supported food projects by
visiting this interactive map.
At the NOFA NH Winter Conference:
UNH Sustainability Academy
107 Nesmith Hall
131 Main Street
Durham, NH 03824