Local Consuming

Two Rivers Wrap, by Rocket Boy Knits available at Lond Ridge Farm, Westmoreland

By Laura Keir, Monadnock Localvore Project

Consuming and supporting local food is extremely important for the health of our community, environment, and our bodies- but what about all of the other things we consume besides food? How “local” are those goods?

This month’s newsletter includes great examples of people and businesses within a 150 mile radius of Keene that are creating products from local ingredients. Read about Jenness Farm‘s soaps made from the milk of their own goats, Lorna’s Wool Needle Felting Kits composed of local sheep’s wool, and how to craft a wooden utensil right from the woods.

Beyond those examples, there are many more stories of goods in our region that are created from local materials. The Organic Hound in Swanzey makes organic dog treats using the following ingredients, among others: Pete & Gerry‘s eggs (Monroe, NH), The Royal Butcher beef (Braintree, VT), and Morgan’s Mills oat and rice flour (Union, ME- a bit more than 150 miles away, but still a good effort for flour!). That means that roughly 75% of their dog biscuits are made of local ingredients!

When it comes to wooden products, we have a lot of natural resources in our region. In Westmoreland, Mountain Meadow Woodworks crafts wooden boxes right from the trees on their own farm. Ox Pond Press in Bethlehem, NH prints wooden signs for the home on white pine boards that come from H.G. Wood Industries in Bath, NH; 85% of that white pine is milled from trees grown in New Hampshire, and 13% comes from Vermont.

How about jewelry? Jayelay Jewelers in Westmoreland handcrafts earrings and necklaces composed of 80% gemstones, metals, and other materials (shells, sea glass, etc.) that are found in northern New England. The Village Craftsman in Dublin makes lightweight, laser-cut earrings from local maple and cherry wood.

See the resources section at the end of this newsletter for more goods that are made from local ingredients. And the next time you are shopping, try to figure out where those products really came from- even if you don’t get all the answers to your questions right away, you will be putting this thought in people’s minds:

How can we consume more locally?

Maple Madness: Sugaring with Hank Kenney of Maple Homestead Farm

Hank stoking the fire to boil sap for maple syrup.

By Hannah Grimes Marketplace and Laura Keir

Hank Kenney’s favorite part of maple sugaring is the boiling, when the gallons and gallons of sap are reduced down to a sweet syrup. But so far this year, he hasn’t been able to do much boiling.  Up until this past Saturday, March 12, when the Kenneys started boiling, they  hadn’t made “a spoonful” of maple syrup.  Last year Maple Homestead Farm had finished its syrup production by March 18th. Despite the slow start to the sugaring season at Maple Homestead Farm and elsewhere, the sap is finally running.

Hank has been farming his land in Marlborough since 1972. For nearly 20 years, it was a dairy farm with up to 70 cows. But they couldn’t make money at it. Now the Kenneys’ focus is on the maple syrup, which is available in about 10 stores in the area, and on the hay, which they sell to grain stores and big stables. The roughly 1,000 gallons of maple syrup the farm makes in an average year accounts for about a quarter of the farm’s business, while the 30,000 bales of hay produced each year makes up a considerable chunk of the rest. They also keep five beef cows.

The weather had not cooperated to make the sap run at Maple Homestead until just this past Saturday- freezing nights and warm, sunny days are needed. The Kenneys tap 5,100 trees spread out over 500 acres of land. The sap that ran from those trees earlier in the season did not contain enough sugar to make quality maple syrup. Using a hydrometer to test the sap, Hank found that  the sap was only 1% sugar, while 2% or 3% is usually needed to make syrup. Hank says this is probably because the maple trees did not get enough rain back in August, when they were producing their sugars. Despite the low sugar content, someone did boil this low sugar sap, but according to Hank the syrup turned out so dark that they could not sell it.

One of Hank’s favorite maple stories involves a group of middle school kids from Long Island who came up for a visit on a cold, rainy day during sugaring season. “Most had never been off the pavements,” he says. Hank gave them buckets and took them out to show them how the sugaring was done. When they got back to the house, one young boy looked at Hank and said: “Mr. Kenney, this is a lot of work. Why don’t you just buy your syrup at the supermarket?”

“People have gotten too far removed from the farm,” Hank says. “Fewer and fewer people are directly involved with farming. They think food grows on the store shelves.”

As a farmer, Hank knows best that food depends on the temperament of the weather rather than magically appearing on the grocery store shelf. Hank’s prediction for the 2011 sugaring season is that due to the unusually late start there will be less maple syrup produced in this part of the state compared with areas further north. Time will tell how the season shapes up for that golden maple syrup New Hampshire is famous for.

Maple Homestead Farm
60 Richardson Rd
Marlborough, NH 03455
(603) 876-3838

Maple Syrup from Maple Homestead Farm  is available at the Hannah Grimes Marketplace.

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.