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

The Hooper Institute: Two Brothers – One Dedication

Raised beds at the North Walpole School.

Case Study 4

Asked what her favorite part of the program is, Eloise Clark—Director of the Hooper Institute, joyfully responded, “I am the director and I create all of this. I love to implement and organize programs. Seeing happy kids’ faces of course is always wonderful!”

The Hooper Institute graces the top of a beautiful hill with diverse terrain—a golf course across the street, a pond just down the hill, and behind the building a community garden on what was once a sheep pasture.  The building itself has a woodworking shop set up downstairs and the main room on the second floor is decorated with farm tools and historical accounts of farming and gardening in the region.

The community garden was full of bright green vegetation this growing season and it was evident that the beds are well maintained and in good hands.  The water collection system that pumps water from the pond down the hill certainly captures ones attention.  At the primary school, sunflowers were towering overhead, the cherry tomatoes were slowly ripening and the Japanese beetles had taken a liking to the bolting asparagus plants.  The smell of old wood wafted through the air, cultivating historical images of farming as the Institute comes alive. It truly is a unique site.

Project Beginnings

The Hooper brothers of Walpole, George and Frederick, were responsible for sowing the seeds of the Hooper Institute

Butterfly garden at the Walpole Primary School.

in the late 1920s. Their mission was to provide the town of Walpole, exclusively, with programs that focused on agriculture, forestry, botany, soils, and environmental conservation, providing historical background to the Connecticut River Valley, as well as the natural resources that sustain it. Essentially, they wanted to make connections between local agricultural history, the tools used, and the people who worked the land.

The building that houses the Institute was built in 1930, serving as Walpole’s Agricultural School. The agriculture vocation program was later moved to the high school in the 1960s.

David Blair, the Institute’s director in the 1970s and sole employee, started the community gardens behind the Institute, as well as in North Walpole. Both gardens were a big hit during the 1970s gas embargo, which nurtured a time of self-sufficiency. Eventually, by the 1990s the primary school also had a garden.

Presently, Eloise Clark is the Executive Director of the Institute (she started in 1977). Eloise splits her duties with Rebecca Whippie and both oversee the vitality of the community gardens and programs.

Up and Running

As Eloise elaborates, “The Hooper Institute is unique in and of itself. We go into the classroom to do lessons for a whole year, which is about 40 lessons per school year.”

This is the primary way the Institute serves the youth of Walpole at no charge. Funds donated by the Hooper brothers, as well as from ongoing donations, fully fund the programs.

Students learn a great deal about agriculture, wildlife, soils, and other aspects of environmental science through hands-on activities such as planting seeds, weeding, watering, mulching, and harvesting. The children begin to develop a reverence for plants and their life cycles, as well as the many birds, insects, and mammals that interact with the garden throughout the year.

The Institute also runs a summer work program and a variety of summer camp programs. High school students work on the farm of their choice in Walpole. In return, the students get paid through the Institute and acquire hands-on skills, while local farmers gain free labor.

The summer camp programs offer enriching experiences for youth of all ages. In 2008, more than ninety young people explored the grounds of the Hooper Institute, hiked and biked to spectacular natural areas, visited local farms, and tried their hands at woodworking in the Institute’s woodshop.

Hurdles to Overcome

The Institute is very fortunate to have the vision and financial backing of the Hooper brothers. However, they are currently drawing the maximum amount of funds from the trust. Fortunately, Eloise and Rebecca are creative  and are seeking grant opportunities elsewhere.  They always accept free-will donations to offset program costs.

Farm of the Month: Brookfield Farm

By Jan Sevene, January 2009

Brookfield Farm
Holly and Christian Gowdy
460 Old Drewsville Road
Walpole, NH 03608
(603) 445-5104

Looking for quality organic meat, but prefer buying small quantities? Husband and wife team, Holly and Christian Gowdy of Brookfield Farm in Walpole, N.H., are making it easy to fill your order.

Although large quantities are available, to accommodate today’s smaller families, Brookfield Farm’s butcher creates smaller retail cuts. All vacuum-packed and frozen, their hamburg is sold in smaller portions of approximate one-pound packages. Most small steaks and roasts weigh-in no more than a convenient three pounds.

Certified organic, their grass-fed beef receive no grains, hormones, or antibiotics.
“It’s really good meat. Customers appreciate it is grass-fed, very lean and flavorful,” Holly says. “Mostly, I think, our customer base is focused on supporting a local farm. They appreciate the fact that the animals are right here in Walpole.”
In transitioning to include other meats, this past summer Brookfield Farm nurtured humanely raised veal and lamb, both grass-fed. Currently expanding to dairy production, the 200 certified organic acres they either own or manage are home to 6 Black Angus and 15 Normandy cattle, a sturdy French dual-purpose breed used for beef and milk production.

Farm tours are available by appointment. Call, email, or find Brookfield Farm on the Eatwildwebsite: Either way, get to know the local Gowdy family, and the healthy, quality products they offer. They are waiting to convince you, “you can taste the difference.”

Other meat sources:

Country Critter Farm
Michael and Julie Thibodeau
240 Forest Lake Rd.
Winchester, NH 03470
(603) 239-8657

Winrose Farm
Bob and Ruth Jennings
103 Francestown Road
Greenfield, NH 03047
(603) 547-3390
Pastured pork

Green Ledge Farm
Larry and Diane Savage
472 Poor Farm Road
Francestown, NH 03043
(603) 547-3454
Certified organic beef is your source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles. This website provides:

* Comprehensive, accurate information about the benefits of raising animals on pasture.
* A direct link to local farms that sell all-natural, delicious, grass-fed products.
* A marketplace for farmers who raise their livestock on pasture from birth to market and who actively promote the welfare of their animals and the health of the land.

Monadnock Buy Local Grows Regional Effort to Support Local and Independent Businesses

Monadnock citizens and local business owners are invited to help grow a grassroots movement in our region: Monadnock Buy Local (MBL).

A MBL Steering Committee is forming and current members are reaching out to towns beyond Keene to make this truly a regional effort.  For more information, contact

Monadnock Buy Local’s roots lie with the Keene Buy Local Initiative – a project of the Keene Downtown Group.   The Keene Buy Local Initiative launched a 10% Shift Challenge the week of July 1-7, 2009, to coincide with other nationwide celebrations of “Independents Week”.  For more information visit

The Keene Downtown Group is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to insure the vibrancy and vitality of Downtown Keene: