Monadnock Region Food System Updates

We want to hear from all parts of our state. What food system updates happened in your region this year? Please let us know!

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Each year, we shine a light on local food, farms and our entire Monadnock Region food system during New Hampshire Eat Local Month, a month-long celebration of our state’s harvest happening each August.

This year, the Monadnock Food Co-op teamed up with New Hampshire Food Alliance to coordinate this statewide promotion — and we’re thrilled to share we recruited over 100 partners to help us spread the word this year. Discover more at nheatlocal.org.

What do we mean by a food system?

Our food system includes all the pieces needed to bring local food from the farm to our plates: the soil, farmworkers, transportation networks, markets and more — everything needed to grow, harvest and distribute these goods to us.  These pieces come together to form our local food system.

Please dig in and enjoy part one of our bounty of updates!

Regenerating Soil

“Ultimately, the only wealth that can sustain any community, economy or nation is derived from the photosynthetic process — green plants growing on regenerating soil.”

Allan Savory, Co-Founder of the Savory Institute

Stonewall Farm in Keene embraced a new role in 2018 — they are now a Savory Institute Hub. One of 41 hubs globally and 15 in the U.S., Stonewall Farm uses regenerative farming practices to enrich their soil and improve the health of their dairy herd and vegetable crops. They also strive to spread these practices throughout New England by serving as a demonstration site, offering educational programs and supporting the adoption of bills like the New Hampshire Healthy Soil Legislation.

“We are contributing to the growing body of knowledge and new movement in agriculture that promises more than sustainability,” shared Julie Davenson, Executive Director of Stonewall Farm. “It promises to regenerate our degraded land, produce healthier food, build healthy ecosystems, improve our economy and combat the impacts of climate change.”

More than Books

Thanks to a new program called Monadnock Grows Together, you can now check out gardening tools at the Keene Public Library. Available tools include shovels, garden rakes, garden forks, hoes, a broad fork, small hand tools, hand trimmers, a push seeder and more. Borrow a tool for a week at a time.

You can also get FREE seeds from the library’s new seed library made up of nearly 50 vegetables and herbs varieties. Sign up for a membership and choose the seeds you want to grow. To support the continuation of the seed library, collect the seeds from the plants you grow and donate them back to “seed” the seed library for the next growing season! Not sure how to save seeds? Sign up for a free seed saving workshop at the library on September 28. Check out their full schedule of workshops.

Monadnock Grows Together is a partnership of the Cheshire County Conservation District (CCCD), Antioch University’s Community Garden Connections, the Keene Public Library and the National Center for Appropriate Technology. If you have questions, please reach out to the Urban Ag and Gardens Coordinator, Rachel Brice at rachel@cheshireconservation.org. She will also answer questions at the library every Friday from 4:00-5:30 p.m.

“This is an awesome resource for the community. It directly addresses food security and engages more people in food production,” shared Amanda Littleton, CCCD District Manager. “It comes with weekly ‘office’ hours for one-on-one gardening assistance and a coordinator who is willing to do garden visits and offer advice.”

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Gleaning Program

The Community Kitchen builds the local food system through their six-year-old gleaning project that gathers leftover produce from farms after a harvest — fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. This year, the Community Kitchen will offer a four-part Food Preservation Workshop series to encourage more of us to make the most of our seasonal bounty.

These free workshops take place at their commercial kitchen at 37 Mechanic Street on alternating Sundays from 2-4 p.m. Explore “Zoodles, Purees, and Freezing” on July 28; “The Basics of Canning” on August 11; “Using the Whole Plant” on August 25; and “Drying and Fermentation” on September 8. These workshops are co-sponsored by Jack’s Crackers, a local value-added food business. Space is limited, so reserve your seat with Andrea at 603-352-3200 or tckgleaner@gmail.com.

“From the perspective of a food charity agency, The Community Kitchen recognizes the importance of local food in providing community food security,” shared Gleaning Coordinator Sarah Harpster. “We understand that without a food system that features strong and interdependent ‘nested ecologies’ of food sources, our community will be burdened with more neighbors facing food insecurity.”

Keeping Farmers Farming

Farmers spend their lives providing food and fiber to us. Their ability to do this depends largely on farmers gaining secure access to farmland. However, accessing land that is affordable is a top challenge for beginning farmers in New Hampshire and nationwide. Land For Good, a regional and national leader in farmland access, based right here in Keene, helps address this challenge.

“A strong regional food system and healthy rural communities require that we keep land in farming and continue to grow viable farm businesses,” said Jim Hafner, Executive Director of Land For Good. “If where your food comes from matters to you and your community, then you need to be concerned about keeping the farmers who produce that food on the land in a way that they can plan for the future of their businesses — and for how they will secure their farm’s legacy as a working farm for the next generation.”

Land For Good’s Land Access Project will provide education, training and technical assistance to over 2,500 beginning and established farmers across New England. Land For Good is working locally with the Monadnock Conservancy and other partners across New England.

Feast On This Film Festival Banner

Feast on This Expands

This year, two great events become one — the Feast On This Film Festival and the Monadnock Farm Tour. Monadnock Farm & Community Coalition (MFCC) and Monadnock Food Co-op invite you to the Monadnock Farm Tour & Film Festival, a 3-day celebration of local food and films on August 23 – 25. Visit 15 local farms and view a variety of films throughout our region including “The Need to Grow” that highlights innovative soil restoration efforts, shown at the Colonial Theatre in Keene on August 23 at 7 p.m.

Stay tuned for more Monadnock region food system updates! Great things are happening at the Cornucopia Project, Farmers Helping Farmers, Food Connects, Imagine That Honey, Monadnock Food Co-op, Monadnock Sustainability Project, The Sustainability Project, Village at Stone Barn, Walpole Mountain View Winery — and perhaps your organization? Please let us know if we missed someone by contacting me at marketing@monadnockfood.coop or 603-283-5401.

Thank you to all the individuals, programs, policies and initiatives that continue to build stronger local and regional food systems in our corner of the state and throughout New England. Together, we’re cultivating healthier citizens, communities and economies.


Jen Risley loves cultivating our local economy through her work with the Monadnock Food Co-op, The Local Crowd Monadnock, and Monadnock Alliance for Sustainable Transportation.

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