Growing in NH: Farmers’ Markets

transcript of NH Outlook, NH Public Television, September 5, 2002

Alison McNair, NH Outlook: This is harvest season in New Hampshire. Farm stands and farmers markets are brimming with produce and products all locally grown and produced. This program takes a look at some of the new traditions now growing in New Hampshire. We begin with Ben French.

Ben French, NH Outlook: Fresh food, sunshine, neighbors, and a great time. This is the Sanbornton Farmers’ Market.

Jack Potter, Sanbornton Farmers’ Market: There’s many things that draw people to a farmers’ market one is the fresh produce- people are getting produce that was picked this morning.

Ben French: What do you look for in tomatoes?

Shopper: I don’t know. I like ’em a little ‘hahd’!

Jack Potter: The other thing is what we try to do was to give a nice little setting here We’re out in this nice little field its it a nice wonderful day people are able to get out and enjoy themselves show the ladies sitting under the tent.

Sylvia Hobby, Sanbornton: It’s a social occasion. We get wonderful food and we have a great town and we love it!

Ben French: Some markets aren’t so lucky when it comes to weather though. [Footage of wind/ rain/ tents blowing over.] This was the scene at the grand opening of the Bedford Farmers’ Market. Most of the vendors were able to weather out the storm and draw some customers after a soggy but festive ribbon cutting.

Steve Taylor, Commissioner of Agriculture: Farmers’ markets are a lot like all of agriculture- it’s very weather dependant.

Ben French: Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Taylor says weather won’t discourage a Granite State farmer. The Bedford Farmers’ market is number 34 for New Hampshire- it’s part of a growing trend in state agriculture. Our conventional agriculture that we think of cows, silos large orchards- those operations are shrinking in number the smaller operations are getting bigger…and that area of agriculture; in NH is growing and accounts for us having more farms now than we had ten years ago but it’s a different type of agriculture. And, according to Taylor- it’s the type of agriculture that thrives at a farmers’ market. One reason says Goffstown farmer Sara Shirley- people like the convenience of having everything in one place.

Sara Shirley: A lot of farms are in remote locations and getting traffic to come out to the farm itself is difficult.

Jack Potter: And the real boon is for farmers.

Gail McWilliams-Jellie, NH Department of Agriculture: Well small farm numbers are increasing in NH vs. historically the larger farms and the product line on those small farms is a little more non-traditional.

Ben French: In addition to those fruits vegetables and fresh cut flowers – items like goat milk soap and handcrafted soda have started making their way to the tables.

Vendor: You’re gonna like this stuff. [Footage of people drinking]

Shopper:. It is good.

Gail McWilliams-Jellie: The value-added end of the industry – taking the raw product and turning it into something else on the farm and selling that product has certainly gained interest.

Ben French: And it’s added to the value of New Hampshire’s agriculture industry by an estimated $125 million. These value-added products like ice cream, jellies, salsa and baked goods have become some of the state’s top food and agriculture seller. The farmers’ market also has an added value for seniors and recipients of the woman, infants and children – or WIC program. McWilliams-Jellie says the farmers’ market nutrition program has benefited both consumers and farmers.

Gail McWilliams-Jellie: In a nutshell, the program offers coupons to WIC recipients who can then take them to farmers’ markets around the state and spend them for fruits and vegetables. So it benefits the WIC recipients, obviously, and it benefits the farmers because the farmers collect the coupons and they are reimbursed for the dollar value of the coupon.
Jack Potter. Somebody can come in here and they can take some of those WIC coupons and they can buy some fresh vegetables and they can perhaps buy some fresh chicken and now they’re getting a really wholesome meal instead of going and spending some of that money at a fast food restaurant.

Ben French: So while the days of silos and 1000 acre farms are fading. Taylor says the popularity of community-supported agriculture, ‘pick your own’ and farmers’ markets will carry the tradition of the Granite State farm.

Steve Taylor: Family farms in NH will; be around in ten years they’ll be around in 30 years i’m confident of that and its because of these kinds of marketing opportunities that i have that confidence– that the consumer is more and more aware of the need to support local agriculture; the producers are there taking advantage of the demand-the consumer demand and so i think there will always be a place.

Ben French: In Sanbornton, I’m Ben French for New Hampshire Outlook.

This story ran on New Hampsire Outlook, 9/19/2002
© Copyright 2002 NH Public Television.