News

Monadnock Children’s Food Access Alliance to Develop Food Access Plan

New Hampshire Children’s Health Foundation awarded the County of Cheshire a $20,000 grant to fiscal sponsor a project with Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition (MFCC) and Healthy Monadnock, who will form the Monadnock Children’s Food Access Alliance. The Alliance will regularly assemble during 2021 to work towards a long term goal to improve the overall health of children in the Monadnock region.

The Alliance’s key objective is to identify opportunities for children and families to access affordable healthy food and increase participation in programs. This will be accomplished by conducting a comprehensive analysis of assets and gaps in present children’s food security programs, coordinating existing services and programs to increase program efficiencies, convening stakeholders (e.g., focus groups, listening sessions) to examine data and information, co-designing a plan with community members to fill identified gaps in programs and services, and enabling community members to access existing programs. Success of this project will mean that children in the Monadnock region have excellent health and easy access to nutritious food, regardless of their economic or family status.

The intent of this project is to help leaders design effective programs. Presently, food security and access programs in the Monadnock region are underused and little data exists as to why that is or if vulnerable people know about resources and assistance available. Numerous anecdotes in the region from school professionals and medical providers reference families cutting back or going into debt to feed their kids. Yet programs like SNAP, Granite State Market Match, and EBT benefits are underutilized. The region’s food access providers and public health officials will be better positioned to help these people if they had more information about the people who need services and their barriers to accessing those services.

MFCC is the ideal organization to lead efforts to closely examine the local food system because it works with about 140 members to cultivate community action, connect people to resources, and foster relationships that benefit local farmers and public health. According to Roe-Ann Tasoulas, MFCC director, “Three of the Coalition’s goals tie directly into this effort: increase food production and consumption in the region, and provide resources and encourage advocacy for an equitable food system. Our members are passionate about healthy food and making it available to all Monadnock residents.”

Healthy Monadnock and Cheshire Medical Center’s Center for Population Health will support the Coalition’s efforts and provide technical assistance, network connections, and use of the Healthy Monadnock brand. It provides education and advocacy, oversight for public health projects, and supports the implementation of the Community Health Improvement Plan. Cheshire County government will provide fiscal sponsorship, and will manage the contractual aspect of the grant award and its subcontracts.

“Being a part of bring this project to fruition is what our work is all about,” says Tricia Zahn, Center for Population Health and MFCC board member. “It is energizing to know so many people in the Monadnock Region are passionate about food access improvements and to have our project ideas validated by an external competitive funder is no small feat.”

Funding for this project was made possible by the New Hampshire Children’s Health Foundation through a competitive application program for reducing food insecurity in children and families by increasing access to affordable healthy food.

The Alliance seeks stakeholder participation at their meetings and other various stages of the planning project. To sign up or for more information, contact Roe-Ann Tasoulas, MFCC Director at coordinator@mfccoalition.org or 802.271.4191

Community Supported Solar Project Moves into Next Phase

CCCD now soliciting farmer interest for this net metering opportunity: Eighteen shares available to farms for purchase

The Cheshire County Conservation District is excited to announce that the Community Supported Solar array at Sun Moon Farm in Rindge has been installed and farmers are now being sought to sign up for shares in this net metering opportunity! This is a partnership with Sun Moon Farm, ReVision Energy, and the Monadnock Sustainability Hub, with funding from the Thomas W. Haas Fund of the NH Charitable Foundation.

This Monadnock Region Community Supported Solar Project is an effort to help local farmers stabilize and lower their costs of electricity. A number of agricultural producers in the Monadnock region have expressed interest in solar, but many do not have the capital to invest in the infrastructure and/or a good location for the PV system. The Community Supported Solar model allows for community investment to offset the costs of the participating farms.

The CCCD is now taking requests from local farms interested in purchasing shares in this net metering project. Shares are limited, so interested farms should contact Amanda Littleton at the CCCD sooner rather than later.

Currently, 18 shares are available for purchase on a first come, first served basis. Each estimated 5000 KWh produced will constitute one share. Farmers may purchase as many shares as they want, but the total output cannot exceed the total power the farm consumes on an annual basis. One share costs $4,523. Participating farms must be located in the Eversource NH utility service territory. To confirm eligibility, farmers can review the PUC utility coverage by town listings at: https://www.puc.nh.gov/Consumer/communitiesserved.pdf

If you believe your farm can benefit from lowered energy costs and you’re interested in this net metering opportunity but want more information – please join the CCCD at an upcoming Virtual Info Session on either Wednesday, January 6th from 3:30pm-5:30pm or on Thursday, January 14th from 10am-12pm. Both meetings will be held virtually on Zoom. Registration is required to receive the Zoom link. Please register online at: https://cssinfosession2021.eventbrite.com.

Interested farmers should contact Amanda Littleton directly at the CCCD to reserve their shares; first come first served until sold out. Either send an email to amanda@cheshireconservation.org or call 607-756-2988 x4 and leave a voicemail.

STORIES FROM THE FIELD: Celebrating our Local Food System in Words

Thursday, December, 3, 2020
6:30pm – 8:30pm – Online Event


Join farmers, eaters, educators, legislators, & others for an evening of celebrating our local food system through words!

Monadnock Farm & Community Coalition invites you to an evening of storytelling with folks who grow, educate about, lovingly prepare, advocate for, and eat (!) locally grown food. One thing is for sure: the benefit of local food to our well-being, town economies, and environment has never been more evident than in this challenging year. So, let’s celebrate another great year of the harvest, of farming, and of community in this inspiring event. We promise some laughs, maybe a couple of tears, but mostly real insight into the lives of folks who work hard to bring local food to our tables and some whose lives it has changed.

Family friendly, online event
Suggested donation: $10

Emcee: Kate McNally, Host, “The Folk Show” on NH Public Radio.

Live music provided by chanteuse extraordinaire, Wendy Keith.


Storytellers:

  • Kate McNally, Emcee and host of NHPR’s “The Folk Show”
  • Tara Sad, NH State Representative, Environment & Agriculture committee, (ret.)
  • Kin Schilling, Founder, The Cornucopia Project
  • Beth Hodge, Echo Farm Puddings
  • Jordan Scott, Chef, Machina Arts ArtBar & Cafe
  • Holly Gowdy, Brookfield Farm
  • Ashley Rickey-Hale, Monadnock Farm Share participant
  • Mary Jensen, MFCC board member
  • & others

Announcing the Taste of Food Connects

Food Connects will host the first Taste of Food Connects from November 1 to 21. This event brings together over 90 local businesses throughout the Windham County and Monadnock Regions to celebrate our vibrant local economy. This unique event is part Local Passport, benefitting local businesses, and part Silent Auction, supporting Food Connects’ annual fund.

The idea for this event came as a response to COVID-19 putting a damper on Food Connects’ initial fundraising plans for the fall. “Typically we’d bring together a number of local chefs to feature locally grown and produced foods,” says Laura Carbonneau, Food Connects’ Marketing Manager. “That just wasn’t a safe option this year. So we thought: how can we hold a fundraiser for our programming and support local businesses during these challenging times.” And the Taste of Food Connects was born.

So how does it work? From November 1 to 21, shop at any of the 21 participating businesses—when you spend $10 or more you can add a sticker to your passport. After three stickers you can be entered to win one of nine great prizes, including $1,000 to spend at local businesses or however your family needs this holiday season. Multiple passport entries are encouraged. 

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“The team at Food Connects hopes that this program will help encourage community members to shop at local businesses,” says Carbonneau. “We understand how COVID-19 impacted and continues to impact our community partners and we need to continue to fortify and strengthen our local economy. We are stronger together and the community needs us all to shop locally this holiday season.”

The culmination of this program ends with a 5 days virtual silent auction from November 16 to 20 to support Food Connects annual fund. Food Connects, a 501c3 non-profit, continues to grow despite these challenging times. Their Farm to School programming continues to develop unique ways to support schools through COVID-19 and leverage opportunities for increased food security. At the same time, the Food Connects Food Hub continues to grow and be a regional leader in fortifying local food infrastructure. 

“Our goal is to raise $5,000 for our programming,” says Carbonneau. “We strive to create healthy, families, thriving farms, and connected communities—we couldn’t do this work without the generous support of our community and donors. This is a great opportunity to get your holiday shopping done while supporting a great cause. The silent auction features amazing bundles of products and services from local businesses, encourages community members to shop locally, and provides us with the much needed operating revenue. Thank you to all of those who will support us through this auction.”

To learn more about the Taste of Food Connects head to www.foodconnects.org/taste-of-food-connects.