Health experts have linked the American diet of nutrient-poor, processed food with diverse health problems including obesity, cardiovascular disease and increased instances of childhood diabetes; yet small farmers are becoming increasingly unable to compete with corporate-sponsored agribusiness as arable land is converted to housing subdivisions and big-box stores. It is a complicated issue that deserves attention.
As a means of generating meaningful discussion about what the average person can do to support local food networks, the Plymouth State University Environmental Committee and the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative are jointly sponsoring a roundtable discussion, Supporting Local Agriculture, on Thursday, April 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the HUB Multi-Purpose Room at PSU. The roundtable has been designed as a casual forum for the community to speak with local farmers, and other supporters of local agriculture, about the importance of maintaining viable local food networks.
Discussion will be led by a panel of individuals representing various facets of the local food issue: Rick Denmark, Lorri Downs, Nathan Duclos and Carol Perkins.
Denmark is the program coordinator at North Country Resource Conservation and Development. He has worked in rural development for nearly 30 years, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and with the Peace Corps in soil and water conservation, agricultural and forestry resource development, and community improvement projects. Denmark received his bachelor’s degree in resource conservation from the University of New Hampshire.
Lorri Downs, and her husband H.O. Lenentine, own Longhaul Farm, a certified organic farm in Holderness. Since 2001, Longhaul Farm has provided organic produce to various local restaurants, sold certified organic seedlings and garden supplies, and showcased New England-made products and gifts at the farm’s country store.
Nathan Duclos is the program assistant for the New Hampshire Farm to School Program, a project aimed at connecting New Hampshire farms and schools by integrating agricultural production with school food purchases and classroom curriculum.
Carol Perkins lives in Plymouth where she and her husband, John, own and operate Longview Farm, a 220-acre dairy and vegetable farm on Quincy Road. Perkins also helps coordinate the Plymouth Farmers’ Market, which makes locally-grown food available to area residents.
Also featured at the roundtable will be an announcement and discussion about the Local Foods Plymouth project, a joint effort between the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative and D Acres, a nonprofit organic farm and educational homestead hosting workshops, internships and tours to promote sustainable living alternatives. The main objective of Local Foods Plymouth is to link local farmers with local food buyers in Plymouth and surrounding areas via an online ordering and purchasing system, and weekly pickup at the Plymouth Farmers’ Market.
For more information about the Supporting Local Agriculture roundtable, contact Melissa Greenawalt-Yelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.