In 2017 farmers shared their labor best practices and benchmarks.
Here are the survey results. Thanks to Northeast SARE for funding this work.
How does BFGK Self-Directed Group Baking work?
Learn how easy (and fun!) it is to bring our very popular free BFGK Self-Directed Program to YOUR students. We’ll show you how it works, how to access helpful information, and practice some roll shaping skills! Take home BFGK Program materials and enjoy some homemade pizza!
Instructor: Paula Gray, is the Manager of the Bake for Good Kids Program. She has been an educator/presenter for over 30 years, and is an employee owner of the King Arthur Flour Company in Norwich, VT
When: Monday October 30, 2017, 5:30-7:00PM
Where: Culinary Learning Center, COOP Food Store, 12 Centerra Parkway, Lebanon, NH 03766
Register: Contact Beth Roy at Beth@VitalCommunities.org or (802)291-9100 x105 or register on-line
Join Upper Valley Farm to School and Vermont FEED for a Level I Professional Learning Course: Cultivating Farm to School. This learning opportunity is designed for school educators, staff, administrators, and community members to explore and expand their personal and professional knowledge and experience related to Farm to School education while building and strengthening school community connections. Participants will be encouraged to build and develop shared learning experiences for their students while building and developing the vital relationships necessary to make Farm to School education a real and lasting part of their community, classroom and cafeteria.
Interactive class sessions will include a balance of hands-on cooking, individual work time, networking, guest presentations, dialogue, small group activities and practical experiences that will serve to deepen participant understanding of the various elements and promising practices of farm-to-school programs.
The class will take place at Mascoma Regional High School 4:00-7:00pm
We are very fortunate to be able to provide free tuition to all New Hampshire participants. New Hampshire participants will also be eligible to apply for a mini-grant to support a farm to school project in their school. Funding for this opportunity is from the Wellborn Ecology Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
To learn more about the course and to register please visit http://bit.ly/2kQvAyY or contact Beth Roy, Farm to School Coordinator at 802.291.9100 or Beth@VitalCommunities.org
Mini-grants are designed to help your school, afterschool program, or school-related wellness program launch projects related to farms, our agricultural heritage, farm products, food production, or local food consumption at the school itself.
A broad range of projects has received funding in recent years including field trips to local farms, food from a local farm, materials for gardens and garden activities, and stipends for farmers, teachers, or FTS coordinators. Funds could also be used in the cafeteria, to pay for training, supplies, or equipment.
The Upper Valley Farm to School mini-grant program is made possible thanks to the Couch Family Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Wellborn Ecology Fund.
Newbury Elementary School: “The Newbury Elementary School has been enjoying the fruits of many labors with the success of our first “Grow-a-Row” program. Throughout the summer, green-thumbed and generous community members tended an extra row or two in their gardens and then sent along the harvest to Chef Paul, our energetic food service director. Instead of piling up produce in the kitchen and walking away, these same folks and others met on certain days to help Paul process and freeze the offerings so that they could be used throughout the school year in our lunch program. It’s such a win-win and the program continues to gain interest and develop. We enjoy wonderful community support here.
We’ve added two new components to our program that helps support the Grow-a-Row program and our commitment to eating more locally: we purchased a large, walk-in freezer and a small greenhouse. The freezer has already been pressed into action holding the processed vegetables we acquired over the summer. The beautiful new greenhouse will be utilized by the students and teachers as we continue to learn together about gardening and botany.
We held our first of the year staff meeting about our Farm to School program. Staff members learned about our plan for the next five years, the resources available to them, and in the process, made a really delicious “massaged kale salad” to enjoy during the meeting. The Farm to School team did a great job informing the rest of the staff about easy ways to build in farm to school lessons and values into the curriculum through project based learning. Students helped “put the gardens to bed”… all except one: our 5/6 team planted a bed of garlic to be used in the kitchen next year. It is now sleeping under this first snow of the year!
We wish all of our Farm to School friends happy holidays and a great start to the new year. The attached photos show our 5/6 grade “Falcons” and “Otters” working in the permaculture garden and harvesting squash in one of the raised beds this fall. The top photo shows Chef Paul addressing our Grow-a-Row community group.” Kim Goody, Farm to School Coordinator
Sharon Elementary School: “Our gardens are put to bed, but the cooking and learning continue here at Sharon. The first and second grade classrooms made two school wide snack taste test. The school enjoyed applesauce and roasted butternut squash. The apples came from a local orchard and the butternut squash came from our garden! As a school, the staff met to discuss the future of our farm to school program. We’ve decided to focus our annual learning fair this year on farm to school! Classes will be busy developing what they want to share with the community!” Keenan Haley, Third Grade Teacher
As an eater and a former restaurant worker, I know there’s often some tension around balancing the price and ease of mass-produced meat with the benefits of local meat to farmers, the environment, and society’s health. Put more bluntly, locally raised meat often comes in cuts we don’t know how to cook and is usually more expensive than meat from the supermarket.
Here are some suggestions—and a recipe—to make it work when you buy the local stuff:
Flat iron steak or similar (like skirt steak)
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper
Herbs of your choice
Cutting is one of the most important things to get right when cooking tougher cuts like flat iron. Cut across the grain to optimize tenderness.
Let me explain. If you look at a flat iron steak, you can see the thin strips of muscle all going more or less in one direction. In the photo to the right, the grain is going up and down. If you cut the steaks into strips FOLLOWING that grain, you’ll end up with those long (and tough) muscle fibers intact because your knife is just separating them from each other. But if you cut ACROSS that grain, you’re slicing each muscle fiber into short pieces, leaving your teeth with less to do. See the finished slices in the opening photo. Note that if you choose a skirt steak instead of a flat iron, the grain goes from side to side, so you should cut the steak the long way.
Some cuts have really obvious grain patterns. Others—like short ribs—can be more subtle and may even change direction in a single piece of meat. What to do? Slice a small corner and take a look – does your slice have stripes (bad) or little circles (good)? If you need to start again from another side, do that. If you’re cutting away and the grain changes direction part way through, just rotate the meat until you’re cutting in the right direction again. Be the boss of your steak.
– Bethany Fleishman
Photo credit: Julia A. Reed
If you follow Valley Food and Farm on Instagram, then you may know that this summer we have been taking time to travel around the NH side of the Upper Valley photographing and profiling farms east of the Connecticut. These road trips are made possible through the New Hampshire Specialty Crop Block Grant Program which we were awarded this spring to create more support and awareness of NH specialty crop farms through promotional events and materials. Specialty Crops include varieties of fruits, vegetables, flowers, nursery trees and shrubs, honey, herbs, and of course, maple. The SCBG Grant itself is designed to provide NH organizations with the funds to conduct projects which benefit NH specialty crop farms under the areas of food safety, pest and disease prevention, research and development, industry promotion and marketing, and technology and innovation. Many of the farms we are traveling too are located in our online Valley Food and Farm Guide
Our goal is to increase support of Upper Valley farms to build healthy communities, markets, and environments for all who live here. This will be done through providing more marketing opportunities, materials, and other such opportunities for NH farms. Taking pictures of these farms is part of that overarching goal. So be sure to keep your eyes out for more pics of NH farms in our website, blog, newsletters, printed materials, Facebook, and Instagram! If you are a NH farm and would like us to come take pictures of your fields or stand please let us know at 802-291-9100 or email email@example.com!
One of the first farms I was able to visit was the Taylor Brothers Farm in Meriden, NH. The Taylor Brothers Farm is a four generation family farm started in 1970 by Steve and Gretchen Taylor with sons Jim, Bill, and Rob who now operate the farm. They began by raising cows, sheep, and vegetables. Then in the early 1980’s the farm switched over completely too dairy which today produces 3,000 pounds of milk each day from a herd of 120 Milking Shorthorn and Holstein cows. Up until 2009, all of the milk produced was sent to Cabot and while they still do send some off to be made into Cabot butter, the Taylor Brothers have begun making their own cheese in a creamery located right on the farm. I had the wonderful pleasure to talk with Gary who runs the creamery and makes each of the three varieties Taylor Brothers Farm Offers: Evelyn’s Jack, Cloverfield Colby, and Mill Hollow. These cheeses are aged anywhere between 2 weeks to 3 months and are available at the farm store in Meriden, at the online store, and at various food stores throughout the region.
In addition to cheese, The Taylor Brothers produce maple syrup. This year alone, the Taylor Brothers maintained 6,000 taps and produced 2,400 gallons of syrup! Jim, Bill, and Rob have been sugaring commercially since 1992 though they have been boiling for fun since childhood. Now-a-days, the brothers rely on reverse osmosis to remove most of the water first before boiling it in an evaporator. In addition to syrup, the Taylor Brothers offer maple cream, sugar, and candies for sale.
The newest addition to the farm has been the incorporation of Garfield’s Smokehouse which is managed by Bill Taylor and his wife Liz (Garfield). Garfield’s Smokehouse is located right across from the creamery and sugar house and offers a variety of NH hardwood and cob smoked meats and cheeses made in their USDA inspected facility right on the premises.
One of the biggest highlights of this visit was talking with an Upper Valley farmer who is proud to call NH home and to work so closely alongside his brothers throughout all of the decision making as the farm and family have evolved and grown over the past 35 years. Through creating solutions to overcome economic shifts, building facilities to incorporate value-added products, and merging family businesses, it will be fun to see what the Taylor Brothers have to offer the Upper Valley as their family and farm continue to grow and develop over the years. Be sure to check out their farm stand located about 10 mins south of West Lebanon right below KUA in the beautiful hills of Meriden, NH.
A few Wednesdays ago I had the opportunity to get out of the office and onto the road as part of our work with the New Hampshire Specialty Crop Block Grant Program which allows us to bring more support and attention to our Upper Valley NH farms. Over the past several weeks, I have been out of the office 4 times to take pictures of various farms in NH and today my path of travel was north on Rte 10 from Lyme to Piermont. Though I stopped at many farms, it is always hard to find the farmers around the house when it is a beautiful sunny day. Many weren’t home or working out back in pastures and fields where visitors could not find them. At my last stop, I was able to run into farmer Mark Robie at Robie Farm in Piermont, NH coming out of the farm store just as I was walking in. He was happy to talk for a few minutes about his family’s farm.
Robie Farm is a small family dairy farm spanning back 6 generations since 1870 on 150 acres of forests and fields along the Conecticut River raising a herd of over 50 mixed Holstien, Jersey, and Normande cattle. These cows graze throughout the pastures during the summer months and then on the hay the family work all summer long to put up. The commitment the Robie’s have to this piece of land is clear. By maintaining fertile pastures through grazing, selling products locally, and passing down knowledge and skill from generation to generation, Robie Farm is well aware of their responsibility to their Connecticut River Valley ecosystem, close-knit family, and UV community.
One of the ways Robie Farm expresses this is by selling raw milk in their farm store and in food stores around the region. Due to the cleanliness of their animals, facilities, and modernization of equipment and technology for extracting and storing the milk, the Robies do not feel the need to alter the natural state of their milk through pasteurization. They are happy to provide a raw, health-giving, and trustworthy product. In addition to milk, the Robies make 5 different kinds of cheeses which are all aged for a minimum of 60 days due to federal regulations around products containing raw milk. In addition to this value-added product, the Robies have experimented with ice cream, yogurt, and whey-fed pigs in order to make the most of this rich resource their cows and land provide.
As mentioned earlier, Robie Farm supplies some of their raw milk to food stores around the Upper Valley and have partnered with many regional farmers to supply beef and pork to many restaurants and food stores throughout the region including the Upper Valley Food Coop, Stella’s, Simon Pierce, Crossroad Farm, and the Colatina Exit to name a few. It was interesting to hear Mark’s perspective of farm to restaurant transactions. It is an intricate web of relationships between farmer, chef, and customer fueled by reputation, consistency, and quality control. Many meat and veggie producers who sell to restaurants face similar challenges balancing and managing all these relationships and factors. Luckily, Robie Farm has a strong community following and strong family participation to help them manage it all but it is also up to us as consumers to continue our support of family farms, restaurants, and food stores who all work to make the Upper Valley a better place to live, work, and play by supplying and sourcing locally grown food.
Fool – a deceptively delicious English dessert – is one of my favorites. It’s easy, so tasty, and can be made with Upper Valley ingredients. When served in clear serving dishes, it’s stunning enough for a party.
Here is the recipe-less version: swirl together equal parts whipped cream and slightly sweetened berry puree. You can cook the berries before pureeing or puree them raw. You can strain out the seeds or leave them in. You can sweeten the cream, add yogurt or mascarpone, or leave it plain. Try different berries or fruit.
If you want a recipe, here’s one for blueberry fool. All of the major ingredients can be found at farmers markets or farm stands here in the Upper Valley – right now!
Adapted from English chef Nigel Slater
2 cups (= 1 pint/1 pound) blueberries , retain a handful for a garnish
3 tablespoons sugar or maple syrup or to taste
¾ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup whole milk yogurt (Greek or regular)
A squeeze of lemon, a pinch of salt, and a drop of vanilla extract (OPTIONAL)
1. In a small pan over low heat, simmer the berries and sugar or maple with a scant spoonful of water for about 10 minutes until they burst, and the juice begins to evaporate.
2. Either crush berries with a fork, pass them through a sieve, or puree them.
3. Let it cool so the puree doesn’t melt the whipped cream.
4. Once cool, adjust the sweetness and add a few drops of lemon juice, vanilla, and pinch of salt if it needs a boost of flavor.
5. Whip the cream into thick soft peaks.
6. Stir the yogurt until smooth.
7. Fold the yogurt into the whipped cream.
8. Then swirl the blueberry sauce into the cream mixture so it’s nice and marbled. Spoon into a clear serving bowl or into individual cups.
9. Ideally let it chill for an hour before serving.
10. Garnish with whole berries. I like mine topped with something crunchy too, like crushed amaretti cookies.
RASPBERRY: Red or black raspberry fool is amazing. Whether the berries are cooked or left raw, for optimal eating experience, push the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds.
Try a combination of blueberries and raspberries. Keep them separate for purple and red swirls, or combine them as one puree.
For both raspberry and blueberry fool, it’s nice to leave a handful of the berries whole, either for garnish or to mix in with the puree.
RHUBARB: Cook chopped rhubarb with sugar into a sauce, and either use as is, or puree. Try a combination of strawberry and rhubarb – yum! Use our strawberry-rhubarb sauce recipe.
GOOSEBERRY: There are the traditional berry used in England for making fools. Give it a try if you can find them. Here’s the BBC’s recipe and a useful translation from British English: caster sugar = granulated sugar, icing sugar = confectioners’ sugar, and double cream = whipping cream.
RED or BLACK CURRANT: These are best cooked rather than used raw, and they require more sugar than do blueberries or raspberries, because they’re sour and strong tasting. I like their weird piney taste, but some people hate it – to play it safe in a crowd, mix currants with other berries.
A note about currants and gooseberries: Do you wonder why you’re suddenly seeing gooseberries and black or red currants and why you never heard much about them before? They’re coming into vogue in the U.S. after a long ban was lifted on their cultivation due to a pest these berry cousins carry that allegedly threatens pine trees. Both have been long enjoyed in other parts of the world. Gooseberries are native to Europe, parts of Asia, and northern Africa. And currants are common in jellies and desserts in Northern Europe. My Danish great-grandmother – apparently a recurring character in my food blogs – passed down her recipe for rødgrød med fløde, which means “red berry porridge with cream” and is usually made with red currants.
– Bethany Fleishman
Photo credit: Julia A. Reed