A New Generation

It’s a 100th year anniversary for Barker’s Farm and what better way to celebrate this milestone than to have youngest generation and daughter to Edie Barker join the operation for the long haul! Forrest Barker plans to run the farm with her mom after graduating with her bachelors in agricultural sciences from Cornell University last Sunday. Since 1917, additions of greenhouses, equipment, technology and new techniques have sprung on the farm and now Forrest plans to bring her knowledge, creativity and enthusiasm to the family business.

Forrest and stand manager Sue with the market truck & Kestral extraordinaire, Forrest and Sue in 2016

Every farm has its traditions and one of theirs is Barkalonia, named after the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Each year, friends and employees of the farm gather together for the farm Olympics and compete in events like tug-of-war through mud pits and the epic tomato fight, followed by local food and relaxation. When asking Edie her favorite part about her job, she said, “Knowing all the amazing people that have worked here and gone on to do amazing things with their lives”. She hopes that in another 100 years, Barker’s Farm will still be growing healthy produce for the community.

This spring Edie designed a garden for the SPCA full of veggies for the animals and now she’s ready for a busy growing season of strawberries, tomatoes, corn, lots of cut flowers and ruby red popping corn. With all this woman can do she makes time for hiking, skiing, sailing and loves to cycle! When asked, “What do you like to eat on your birthday”? she said, “Aw I love anything Mediterranean! Lamb, artichokes, olives, feta and sundried tomatoes”. Sounds like a great meal soon to be had with market ingredients!

If you're reading this newsletter chances are you've been to a few of the markets and whether it was just for a pleasant stroll and search for a snack or to check off a serious grocery shopping list, we'd love for you to share your experience. If you have a minute, please share a review on TripAdvisor and tell the world why the Portsmouth Farmers' Market was worth attending.
Thank you

Don't forget to tell your friends about the markets nearest to them and what great foods are available. Shopping with your ebt card has become easier now that Durham, Dover, Exeter and Portsmouth market accept ebt tokens. For a detailed list about your benefits and other accepting markets hosted by Seacoast Eat Local, click the link. It also serves as a great benefit if you run out of cash. Although most of the vendors accept credit cards, if you find someone that doesn't, stop into the booth with the blue tarp and get tokens good for any purchase. They never expire and are used just like cash. 

Start Your Classic English Tea Garden 

Produce your own tea from start to finish, or buy it from Bonnie at Blueberry Hill: Alternatives for Life at this week's Exeter and Portsmouth market. Generally, traditional English herb gardens have thrived in dry, slightly sandy soil requiring little maintenance. If you're looking to expand your perennial collection and utilize a nice hot patch against the house, give the tea garden a try. General rules include taller plants in the back, leaving enough space for growth, labeling for future reference and mend the soil with seaweed or fish emulsion for beneficial soil organisms. 

Here are a few classic herbs to get you started:

  • Anise hyssop- Flowers in summer & fall, fragrant and humming birds love them. Leaves and flowers are used to add a sweet flavor
  • Calendula- Flower petals can be used in soups, breads, scones and rice
  • Catnip or catmint- Minty flavor for iced teas, energizing for cats
  • Chamomile- Apple scented flowers, blooms in June and makes a nice herbal jelly
  • Lavender- Flowers mid-summer, trim back new growth in the spring
  • Lemon balm- Spreading habit, does well in part shade and sun tea
  • Monarda- Brew flowers or leaves for 15 minutes & add honey
  • Sage- Cut back old woody growth every 3 to 4 years in the spring. 

Choose a dry early morning to harvest after the dew has dried. 3 ways to dry are in a food dehydrator, separately in an oven at 100 - 125 degrees for several hours or bunched with rubber bands in paper bags that hang upside down in a dry area- Check them once a week for 2 weeks or so. Store in air tight jars in a dark place but check the containers after 24 hours to make sure there is no condensation. For a glamorous seacoast setting, add flower petals and leaves to ice cubes and use at your 2017 events.

Place 6 tea bags in a gallon jug or more if you like it stronger and add 2 handfuls of lemon herbs and mints. Steep in the sun all day and at dinnertime remove the herbs and tea bags, add 1/3 cup of honey and the juice of 1 lemon and pour over ice.

Long Live Family Farming

The Seacoast Grower's markets feature products only made, grown or raised within a region of 3 counties. Keep in mind that these goods travel fewer miles to reach your home and are harvested at ripeness for honest nutrition, maximum health benefit and flavor. Our markets stand for more than the support of local businesses but the impact on quality wages, fair labor treatment and water and land conservation across the board. Respecting the environment in return and replenishing the soil as it feeds us, each of our decisions are made consciously. It is an honor to indulge in the changes of our seasons and in full circle what makes it so special is that we all enjoy it together. 

The Kellie Brook Farm kids have been coming to market since they were babies. To this day, they still help their father Tim, each Saturday by setting up, taking orders and grilling up breakfast sandwiches for the early morning seacoast tribe.

The baby girl in the photo has been coming to market since the diaper years and she continues to conserve 300 years of heritage farming with her pop Bob too. A true honorable milestone for this 14th generation of family farmers. The seacoast community wouldn't be the same without them. 

Stout Oak Farm dug the first Tokyo turnips of the season. Find them at Thursday's incredibly gorgeous market and click here for a list of turnip growers. Sear these sweet little nuggets in butter, slice for a hummus plate or visit the link for 18 mouth watering turnip recipes, guaranteed to please.  

It a good day to be a buffalo at Hackmatack Farm! Did you know Bison meat is high in protein, lean in fat and co-owner Shelby Guptil is a register, licensed dietitian? The vendors at the market are an amazing resource for culinary ideas and meal planning. View all the different cuts and try to incorporate bison in you or your dog's diet this week. 

The Exeter Farmers' Market Opens May 4th and Portsmouth Opens May 6th!

 Your outdoor stroll in the park has arrived just as leaves burst out of buds and emerald blades sweep the lawn. If you’ve stood above a smoky grill lately you may have discovered new backyard birds and the evolving seasonal change around you. Farmers are hard at work separating seedlings, re-potting hardy vegetable starts eager to meet the earth and plowing fields that harbor a network of nutrients for their companions. We welcome you to our 40thseason of Seacoast Growers farmers’ markets like farmland welcomes strong roots!

 Browse the basil and plant the herbs because Aspen Hill is back in town. Karen Reed’s earliest memory of farming is when her dad planted this huge vegetable garden and thought the kids would like weeding it – ha!
 She’s currently reading Body into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care by Maria Noel Groves. It’s a beautiful book about everything herbal and if Karen wasn’t busy growing she would be a health coach and an herbalist. Her advice for anyone looking to grow a garden is patience and if you like patchouli she recommends picking off a few leaves and simmering it on the stove in water, it gives off a subtle and clean scent. It seems people love it or hate it but she loves it! Start your garden this week with the market's help and forward this email onto a friend who you think will enjoy it as well.

The Possibility of a dawning day

Recognize this cutie? Lis at White Cedar Farm is a master of the trade from farming, customer service, home-steading and keeping a social life. How does she do it all? I imagine her energetic character helps keep a schedule in order but when you’re passionately responsible for raising piglets, lambs, chickens and kittens, a sense of demand must gleam on the Kingston setting.

In a recent surprise visit to the farm, I was eagerly invited to check out the family of goats that hop around the barn this time of year. There're only 2 mums left to birth and feeding has required almost zero bottle feeding giving the animals complete connection. Lis has a name and a story behind each animal which is instantly recognizable by Nibbles going for a gentle nibble on my willing hand.
Soon you shall vision her walking behind a weird little bicycle with a clear hopper for seeds and changeable wheels and adjustable gears for seed size and spacing. "Physically watching each row being planted feels good to connect with every inch of ground we grow on!" she said. I picture her like a little bunny grazing in the fields as she tells me her excitement for the first hakurei turnips of the season- her favorite snack. 

For those of you who shop with Lis on an early Portmsouth morning, you may know how much she loves sunrise because of all the possibility in a dawning day. Her favorite time of year- planting season! All because being out on freshly turned soil and putting little seeds in the ground gives her that same sunrise feeling of renewal.

Planning a non-gmo crop and without ever using spray pesticides, Owners Lis Schnider and Dave Smith will grow peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, rainbow carrots, a HUGE supply of cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelons, fresh herbs, an expanded fresh cut flower garden, doubling the winter squash harvest of last year, pumpkins, potatoes and brussel sprouts. She also offers a unique salad mix with 11 different cut greens.

Learn about events like cookouts, classes and invites to stroll over 200+ acres of conservation land by following their newsletter . Lis says, “We are so happy to know all of you and couldn't do what we do without you! I love to give back to the people in my life who give so much to me. It makes me so happy to share the food I grow with them, a place to explore, the simple beauty of a wide-open space, and it is such a gift when they are here enjoying this life along with me. Thank you for your continued support and we hope to see you soon!”


NH Community Seafood will be at the Exeter And Dover Farmers' Market this year starting June 1st!

Whether you're new to the New England Seacoast or you've lived here your whole life you know this gem of the country harbors some spectacular winter views and a satisfied craving for locally produced food. Although some days you may be advised to stay off the roads you wouldn't change it for anything... and that's usually because a pot roast with root vegetables and a bathtub of therapeutic herbs & petals are being considered instead. 

While we bear the winter, farmers conquer a different type of challenge. Freezing water troughs and delays on a harvest schedule create a setback only seen in the cold. Spinach may be growing in the ground but if it's too cold to collect, farmers must wait until it warms up. Hopefully only a few days before a market, says Kate Donald of Stout Oak Farm. "On the upside cooking tons of root vegetables, reading, regrouping and installing solar panels on the barn is what you can picture this time of year". Flipping through seed catalogs and planning beds are other duties well underway. Seeds are arriving and plant starts are even starting to grow!
Is there anything you’re hoping to try this year? We'd love to know! 

Stout Oak Farm's spinach in a high tunnel creating an environment one hardiness zone warmer than the field. 

Stout Oak Farm's spinach in a high tunnel creating an environment one hardiness zone warmer than the field. 

You may remember when Lemieux Family Concessions (aka Toni’s Donuts) sold homemade donuts by the half dozen, back when the Portsmouth market was on Parrott Ave; Back when Stonewall Kitchen was there selling jam from a card table! Barbara, husband and 2 daughters Denise and Darcy would have the back of their station wagon packed with as many doughnuts as it could hold. Sadly, about 12 years ago, when Mr. Lemieux became ill, they closed the doughnut business and scaled back to a more manageable roster of items. You may have tried one of their mouthwatering lobster rolls while strolling the market or brought home a container of Boston baked beans to share with the family; Good for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or better yet breakfast for dinner! As you anticipate the opening of our markets in May, rest assured that Lemieux’s in-season fruit bars and classic pies will continue for her 30 years at market. If you get a chance to check out a Seacoast Eat Local winter market in Rollinsford, check out booth # 46 and ask them about their annual road trip to PA for memorable Amish pies!

Blueberry Hill Alternatives For Life now has a men’s department!  
Fresh with pre-shave oil, beard oil, bay rum aftershave and hearty soaps in manly scents like pine and spice, Bonnie's adding inventory. She says Pine pollen tincture is making a comeback and pollen is plant testosterone, helpful for raising levels and for allergies since it comes from local trees.
Permaculture is helping the land come back to its wild state, with woodland herbs and berries, sources of her main ingredients. In the forecast she has three cherry trees grown to about 6 or 7 feet and should bloom either this year or next (great for the wild cherry mix). "Edible species are afoot although not quite ready and I'm still waiting on the stumps inoculated with mushrooms. Maybe this summer, although a giant reishi is coming off one pine.  Things are looking up", Bonnie said.