A guide to living local in Southern New Hampshire

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Longtime
Organizer Brings Love for Farming

to Annual Expo

By Tom Long / Fiddlehead Contributing Editor

When the New Hampshire Farm and Forest Expo opens on Groundhog Day Ted Frost will be there.
“He is the spirit and character of the expo,” Ben Blackwell, regional representative of Maschio Gaspardo agriculture equipment, said recently.

The Expo will be held Feb. 2-3 at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Manchester and, if past years are any indication, Frost, a third generation Greenville farmer and agricultural equipment dealer, will be there with a twinkle in his eye.

While presiding over the Frost Farm Services booth at the recent New England Vegetable and Fruit Expo, he reminisced.

“Former state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Taylor had the idea for the first expo, and I volunteered to help move the heavy equipment in and out,” he said. “But let’s just say it was a little unorganized. We held the expo at the old Armory in Manchester and the entrance didn’t even have door, just those plastic curtains. And there was a traffic problem on the street out front. A policeman pulled over and said, ‘what are you guys doing?’ ”

They’ve since professionalized the operation with the help of the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, the NH Division of Forest and Lands and the state Department of Agriculture, markets and food.

We call it “New Hampshire’s Greatest Winter Fair,” said Frost.

You don’t have to be a farmer or a woodsman to enjoy the expo.

“We try to have something for everyone in the family, from backyard farmers with a pony to someone with 1,000 cows. You can learn to split wood, care for chickens or keep bees – the scarcity of bees is a big problem now, and they are required for pollination.”

He said, “There are kids’ activities, like how to make a bird box or even just how to pound a nail. You would be surprised how few children – or adults for that matter – know how to hit a nail these days; they haven’t got a clue.”

There will be workshops and information sessions on saving old barns, utilizing forest lands, food safety, creating a women’s agriculture network and other topics.

“The 4H Club and Future Farmers of America bring animals, sheep, ponies, ducks – you name it, we have it,” he said.

There will be an industry trade show with 100 exhibitors displaying tractors, chain saws and log-clearing equipment, as well as New Hampshire-made products.

Frost is genuine. He lives in a 1786 farm house in Greenville, where he raises black baldy cattle, a cross between Hereford and angus. Frost Farm Services, his agricultural equipment company, is at the same site.

His dad ran the farm before him and raised apples and beef cattle, and his mother was a grade school teacher from Bennington, Vt. His father started selling McCullouch chain saws in 1955 and later branched out to sell haying and foraging equipment.

Frost served in the U.S. Army Airborne and Special Forces during the Vietnam War and left the service to take over the family business when his father died of cancer in 1969. He said the business has had its ups and down over the years, but mostly ups.

“When I took over the business we were doing about $100,000 a year. Now we are doing better than $2 million and have six employees. We represent 50 companies, from lawn and gardening equipment to 200-horsepower tractors.

“What we really specialize in is expertise,” he said. “We have been in this business since 1955 and very rarely does a problem come up that we can’t help with, either with equipment or advice, and that includes Saturday nights and Sundays.”

Frost is a vocal advocate of farming and forest-management programs and speaks often at local schools. When he talks, he says, it comes straight from the heart.

“I tell them everybody doesn’t want to be a nuclear scientist; some simply want to work with their hands,” he says. “Farming is not dirty work. You might have a little manure on your boots, but you are making something.

“All I ever wanted to do is work with my hands, work with my dad and work with animals.”