Monday, December 17, 2012

North of Concord Farm

by Shane Smith, Outreach Coordinator
Many of the farmers who supply the Co-op operate on a small scale. Most have no additional employees beyond family members and most needing at least one member of the household earning a full-time wage outside the farm.  Both Lorna and Raymond work full-time off the farm, so getting to all of the tasks that need to be done on a daily basis is difficult.  Typically, during the growing season they get home from work, change their clothes and head outside to start weeding, watering, harvesting, etc. Weekends are not days off.  They are typically 10-12 hour days.

Lorna Carlisle and Raymond Dreary have been bringing the Co-op produce for three years.  Both Lorna and Raymond grew up on family farms growing vegetables and raising animals.   It was a necessary way of life to supplement food for their large families.   North of Concord farm is not certified organic but follows organic practices and principles. 

Some of Lorna’s inspiration for farming came from her upbringing and also from books by Jim Crockett (Crockett’s Victory Garden) and Eliot Coleman.  The latter inspired Lorna and Raymond to try their hands at winter farming and they erected a hoop house last winter. 

Lorna and Raymond are always challenged by the need for small-scale farm equipment.  A lot of farm machinery is designed for larger scale farm operations and does not work well on their property. Luckily both Lorna and Raymond inherited their fathers’ tractors; a Farmall Cub and a Ford. 

Each year, North of Concord Farm adds new products to their offerings and tries to increases their volume on items that sell well.  Recently, they have included cage-free eggs they sell from their farm stand.  Some of their higher volume produce include leeks, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, scallions, and herbs. 

Although they work long and hard at what they do, their only regret is that they did not pursue their passion for farming earlier.


Friday, December 7, 2012

North Family Farm

by Shane Smith, Outreach Coordinator

North Family Farm is named after the North Family of the Canterbury Shakers who settled the land in 1792. In fact, the boundary of North Family farm borders the land currently occupied by Canterbury Shaker Village. Since 1950 the farm has been a family-owned business.  Owners Jill McCullough and Tim Meeh generate renewable energy from wind, sun, biodiesel and sustainably harvested firewood to create their New Hampshire Certified Organic Maple Syrup.  Currently they tap about 50 acres of maple trees each season. That ultimately adds up to about 900 gallons of maple syrup produced annually.

Tim, Jill and Gemini outside the sugarhouse

Maple sugaring time in New Hampshire runs from mid-February to mid-April. Each year, the New Hampshire maple industry produces close to 90,000 gallons of maple syrup.

As the frozen sap in the maple tree thaws, it begins to move and build up pressure within the tree. When the internal pressure reaches a certain point, sap will flow from any fresh wound in the tree. Freezing nights and warm sunny days create the pressure needed for a good sap Harvest.

Beautiful barn
The farm has 20+ miles of plastic tubing
for sap collection

When we walked into the sugarhouse at North Family Farm, we were surprised to see a machine that looked like it belonged at a NASA lab rather than a family farm. The machine is a reverse osmosis filtration system. Reverse osmosis is a filtration process where most of the sugar and minerals are separated from the water in the sap.  Maple sap as it comes from the tree is 98% water and 2% sugar and minerals.  Maple syrup is 76% sugar and minerals.  42 gallons of water must be removed from the sap to make one gallon of syrup.  The water is usually removed by boiling the sap until only the syrup remains. The concentrated sap is then boiled into syrup on their high efficiency firewood gasification evaporator.  Energy consumption is dramatically reduced by this method.

The Co-op carries North Family Farm maple syrup in both grade A and B and can be found in our bulk section and our baking aisle. 

Other crops derived from North Family's land include hay, firewood, and timber.