Farms & Businesses
Learn here how local entrepreneurs fulfill their goals of sustainability, community-mindedness and a commitment to the environment.
David Valicenti didn’t quite catch lightning in a bottle when he began selling his family’s pasta sauce at farmers’ markets, but it certainly lit the way to a new career for the former bicycle courier, punk rock drummer and chef de cuisine.
The University of New Hampshire is schooling us on sustainability by the book and by example.
“Many universities are talking about being sustainable. We are actually doing the work,” Miriam Nelson, director of UNH’s Sustainability Institute said recently.
Its list of awards and accolades takes up pages on the school’s website. Earlier this year the school was awarded the top rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. It is the third university to achieve the honor.
Al Fulchino of Fulchino Vineyards in Hollis shared a story that perfectly illustrates that which makes local wines unique: “An American family finds themselves at an Italian country taverna after a busy day of touring. They call for glasses of the house wine, and are flabbergasted at how fresh, how delicious it is. Curious, they notice that the bottle has no name, no label, no vintage. ‘Where is this amazing wine from?’ they ask. The padrone shrugs, then gestures up the road. ‘My grandfather makes it, up the hill.’”
Good news, New Hampshire oenophiles, you don’t have to travel all the way to the Old Country to have that experience. Grandpa and his progeny are living right down the road and their wines are amazing.
Alnoba was built on a hill in Kensington with a nod to the past and an eye toward the future.
The gathering place was constructed with vintage and modern materials around a frame of hand-hewn timbers from a barn built in 1760. It has a great hall worthy of a medieval castle with a vaulted ceiling framed by barn timbers and wooden flooring reclaimed from a Maine mill.
The fireplace, which dominates the hall, is made of granite blocks from local quarries. Floor-to-ceiling windows in various meeting rooms look out on birch trees waving in the wind. A statue of Buddha stands in a room devoted to meditation and yoga. A flat water element in front creates a reflective surface and drops off to re-create the music of a mountain brook.
Lakes Region locavores have it made at Moulton Farm in Meredith.
Wooden shelves and baskets overflow with fresh produce, baked goods, jams and jellies, all grown, baked and preserved on the premises.
On a recent afternoon, a constant stream of cars arrived and departed at the 126-year-old farm off the Whittier Highway (Route 25). Shoppers studied tomatoes, corn and other produce in the sunlight, weighed summer squash in their hands, sniffed clutches of basil, pinched bread and perused shelves filled with jars of mint jelly, salsa and pickles made in the farm kitchen. There were racks of shelves filled with pies, breads, rolls, cookies, muffins and granola made there, too.
A dozen cows graze in a pasture in Canterbury. The animals lumber from tussock to tussock, chew thoughtfully and occasionally moo. They radiate serenity and contentment. And why not? They’re living the bovine dream.
Luke and Catarina Mahoney’s Brookford Farm is a celebration of agrarian biodiversity and good old-fashioned farming where the cows have names, not numbers.
Everybody has their favorite ice cream stand and, let’s face it, there’s more to it than just sugar and milk - there’s also the ambience, familiarity and, truth-be-told, ice cream loyalty.
The frozen treats always taste better at that place you went with your dad on summer, Sunday afternoons, or that drive-in with the big neon ice cream cone you visited when your family went to the lake. And who can forget that first date at the ice cream stand near the high school?
Ice cream is not just about your favorite soft serve cone or the amount of chocolate jimmies on the hot fudge sundae. It’s also about nostalgia and the intoxicating mixture of hot summer nights, cold, creamy joy – and yes – a little romance...
It’s purple. It’s fragrant. It’s the hip herb to have in your house and in your pantry.
Lovely, lovely lavender is popping up on menus, in DIY crafts and health products – well, like lavender in a mid-summer field.
...And lavender is the object of obsession of entrepreneur Patricia Carew, after she first saw a field of the purple plants growing on a New York farm more than a decade ago.
You’re a conscientious consumer. You grow your own veggies, buy grass-fed beef from the farm down the road and purchase milk from an organic dairy in the next county.
You patronize an orchard that doesn’t spray, and when you go out, you prefer a restaurant that promotes farm-to-table practices.
So, what’s missing?
Face it. You have absolutely no idea where your seafood is coming from, how old it is, how it has been handled (or mishandled) or even if it has been labeled properly.
Old MacDonald may have had a farm with pigs oink-oinking here and cows moo-mooing there, but could your toddlers have taken a cute selfie with Porky or gotten close enough to Elsie to whisper sweet nothings in her ear? They can at a scattering of roadside menageries – little interactive farms sprinkled throughout the Merrimack Valley.
“We’ve been here for 30 years,” Brenda Schacht said of Carriage Shack Farm in Londonderry, situated on a bumpy, dirt road not far from the town’s strip malls and fast-food eateries “It’s truly a family operation.”
“Eat Your View.” It’s a locavore’s call to action, and it has the ring of truth. If we don’t support our local farmers their pastures will eventually blossom with McMansions. One way to help avoid the subdivision of our agricultural heritage is to participate in a Community Supported Agricultures program, or CSA, and spring signup time is coming.
Karen Goddard of Nashua is a leader in the shop/buy local movement and has belonged to the Brookford Farm CSA for four years. The 600-acre diversified farm is in Canterbury, but has CSA drop-off points in 15 locations, including the Cross Fit Center in Nashua where Goddard picks up her shares.
Since the American Revolution women in this country have gathered in circles, to craft warm clothes, heirloom garments and share the company and camaraderie of one another.
There are regular knitting/crocheting meet-ups, stitching circles and drop-in yarn craft gatherings in libraries and community centers throughout the Merrimack Valley, including Hudson, Hollis, Penacook, Brookline, Hooksett and Concord. And often yarn stores serve that same purpose: to knit, crochet, sew and bond.