Walpole Valley Farms Awarded 2011 NH Farm of Distinction

By Caitlin Caserta, Walpole Valley Farms

Chris Caserta of Walpole Valley Farms stands in front of his farm which was just recognized by the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture.(Zachary P. Stephens/Brattleboro Reformer)

Walpole Valley Farms was awarded the New Hampshire Farm of Distinction award on February 4th at the annual Farm and Forest Expo in Manchester, NH. The New Hampshire Farm of Distinction program was started in 1997 as a way to recognize New Hampshire farms that go above and beyond when it comes to aesthetics and cleanliness. The three other Farm of Distinction winners for 2011 were Alyson’s Orchard also of Walpole, Stoneridge Farm of Bradford, and Zorvino Vineyards and Winery of Sandown.

Walpole Valley Farms is a thriving diversified, multi-generational, family farm with a focus on sustainability and agritourism. Innkeeper Jacqueline Caserta tends extensive vegetable, herb and edible flower gardens on the inn grounds which provide much of the ingredients for the decadent three-course candlelight breakfast served daily to inn guests. Gardens on the farm are all maintained following organic and no-till gardening practices. At the heart of Walpole Valley Farms mission is sustainability, education and a healthy connection to the land. The farm has really taken off in the past two years and has been selling its own 100% grass-fed and finished beef, pastured chicken and turkey, eggs from pastured hens, pastured pork and vegetables from the inn gardens. The farm sells its products at Burdick’s Restaurant, Walpole Grocery, Blueberry Fields in Keene, and directly at the farm.

If you have not yet had the opportunity to visit the farm make a point to this year. Or visit www.innatvalleyfarms.com or www.walpolevalleyfarms.com for more information anytime.

Walpole Valley Farms
663 Wentworth Road
Walpole, NH 03608
(603) 756-2805

A Look at Flying Cloud Dairy

By Jan Sevene, Monadnock Localvore Project
Revised by Laura Keir

Flying Cloud Dairy
426 Hill Road, Alstead, NH 03602
William “Bill” Jahos
(603) 835-2519
Email: bjahos@comcast.net

The “Hill” in the address gives away its location. A quintessential New England farm, Flying Cloud Dairy is situated atop one of Alstead’s pleasing rolling hills, making a visit most pleasant.

Here, owner Bill Jahos milks thirteen cows – mostly Jerseys and one Ayrshire. They produce his quality organic raw milk. Sold in half-gallon glass bottles, it can be picked up at the farm and at a few other sites- Orchard Hill Breadworks in Alstead, Nature’s Green Grocer in Peterborough, and Hannah Grimes Marketplace in Keene.

“The farm does have cream and other farm products available, upon request,” he says.  Jahos encourages customers to inquire about other products. If you know what you want, he will tell you if he can fill the order.

Farming for twelve years, he has worked toward converting to organic. Today, the farm’s crops and livestock are all certified organic. But there is more. What makes Flying Cloud Dairy really stand out? Jahos eagerly answers, “My cows are 100 percent grass-fed. No grain. That is important to my customers.” The Flying Cloud herd grazes on pasture during the warmer months and eats baleage and dry hay through the winter. While the cows produce less milk than if they were on a grain diet, Jahos says, “It seems to me the cows are put here to eat grass….to add supplements just for production needs doesn’t fit into my philosophy.”

Support another local farmer, who works hard so that his customers can enjoy the benefits of healthy local products. Get to know Bill Jahos. Give him a call, visit the farm, and ask to be included as a regular on his list of well-cared for customers.

Farm of the Month: Abenaki Springs Farm

By Jan Sevene, Monadnock Localvore Project

Abenaki Springs Farm
188 Upper Walpole Rd.
Walpole, NH

If you think early fall wraps up the season for enjoying locally grown vegetables, think again! Extending the season is a real option.

Erin and Bruce Bickford of Abenaki Springs Farm are in their fourth year of offering a Winter CSA. “There was a demand for it, so we opened it up based upon that demand,” says Erin Bickford. “We have a very high return rate. People are definitely happy with it, because they keep coming back.”

What makes their CSA customers happy? It’s about the quantity and variety they receive. “Every week we have something they can use right now, and things they can put away until later. We lay it out so that it makes sense by providing all the information they need for storing it away for later so they don’t have to eat it all at once. People don’t feel overwhelmed by the size of the box, and they can call anytime with any questions,” Bickford says.

From their three 100-foot greenhouses (one this year providing tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and sweet potatoes), they offer all the root vegetables. There are potatoes, beets, carrots, etc. Among their many Brassicas are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and turnips. From the “greens” category come kale, collards, spinaches, lettuces, which include mesclun of varied mixes, for example spicy or a more mild and crispy oriental mix. Add to all this, herbs, winter squashes and pumpkins.

Abenaki Springs’ CSA boxes can be picked up at the farm, or at their Hannah Grimes pick-up point in Keene. So if you’d like to take advantage of an Abenaki Springs Farm’s generous CSA, make that call ASAP, as there are only a few shares left.

Other farm-direct Winter CSAs:
Picadilly Farm, 264 South Parrish Road, Winchester, NH 03470

Stonewall Farm, 242 Chesterfield Rd., Keene, NH 03431

Tracie’s Community Farm, 72 Jaffrey Rd., Fitzwilliam, NH 03447

Farm Partner of the Month: Elm City Restaurant & Brewery

By Jan Sevene, Monadnock Localvore Project

Elm City Restaurant & Brewery
Debra Rivest
Colony Mill Marketplace
222 West Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03431

As purveyors, farmers appreciate support from related businesses-our local restaurants. An increasing number are taking advantage of the wonderful fresh meats and produce available in our community. Elm City Restaurant and Brewery in Keene is proud to be one of them. Owner Debra Rivest claims the benefits work both ways.

“If you do the right thing, it will come back to you,” Rivest says. “It’s worked out for us, as well.” She-who has sought local products for years-believes in buying local for two major reasons: 1) to support other local businesses, and 2) “…a huge reason,” to improve the environment, minimizing the impact of long-distance buying, and supporting those farmers applying sustainable business practices. {Elm City Restaurants is also a member of Monadnock Buy Local -ed.}

Just a few examples of Elm City Restaurant and Brewery’s support: its coffee is purchased at Prime Roast, whose aromatic imported beans are roasted right here in Keene.  “All spreads are made here. Our seasonal berries are from Monadnock Berries in nearby Troy, New Hampshire. “Some are from my own backyard,” Rivest says. She loves hearing from people excited about the food. One usual customer comment is, “I love that maple vinaigrette dressing!” Her standard reply, “You know that was made here with a local product (in this case, syrup from Stuart & John’s Sugar House in Westmoreland).” Peaches and apples are the fall focus. Look for seasonal specials that feature these fruits.

Bo-Riggs/Sullivan, beef burgers; Echo Farm/Hinsdale, pudding; Hijinks Farm/Jaffrey, vegetables; Hodge Podge Farm/Gilsum, eggs; and Tracie’s Community Farm/ Fitzwilliam, herbs and vegetables, are just a few of many farms that supply local restaurants. By supporting these restaurants, you support your farmers and your community. If there is a favorite local food you’d like to see on their menus, let them know.

Other restaurants serving local food:

Fritz Belgian Fries
45 Main Street
Keene, NH 03431

The Fitzwilliam Inn
62 NH Rte. 119 W
Fitzwilliam, NH 03447
(603) 585-9000

21 Main Street
Jaffrey NH 03452

The Inn at East Hill Farm
460 Monadnock St.
Troy, NH 03465