2011 NH Farmers Market Week was a great success with special activities at many markets around the state.

Gov. John Lynch and Dr. Susan Lynch helped to celebrate National and New Hampshire Farmers Market Week with a visit to the Downtown Manchester Farmers Market Thursday, Aug. 11. This popular market brings a festive air to Concord and Pine streets in the heart of Manchester every Thursday from June to October.

Also in Manchester, the International Farmers Market is held from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays at 315 Pine St., and on Wednesdays at Lafayette Park, directly behind Catholic Medical Center. These markets are operated by the International Institute of New England's Rooting New Americans program, helping refugee and new immigrant families to grow food for their own families and to establish farming enterprises.

With assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the International Institute is using high tunnels to extend their farmers' growing season. The institute has also received funding from the Wholesome Wave Foundation to obtain Electronic Benefits Transfer card technology and provide enhanced benefits for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) clients. These programs promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption among lower-income families, and help the new farmers at the same time.

Also last week, we visited the Laconia Farmers Market, another market with the capability to handle EBT card and credit or debit card sales. The vegetables and summer fruits were beautiful and fresh, and a singer-guitarist provided a soothing atmosphere for a hectic summer weekend.

Jennifer Mayo of Arbutus Hill Farm in Meredith had fresh garlic pesto for sale, as well as a selection of farm-raised beef and pork. In addition to selling at farmers markets, through a local specialty store and from the farm, she has had success marketing through LocalFoodsPlymouth.org, an online ordering and purchasing site designed to connect local food producers and buyers in the Plymouth region.

Each of the 86 farmers markets held across the state is unique -- reflecting each community and the farmers and other vendors at each locale.

Don't Forget To Vote!

As of this past weekend, just over 100 votes had been cast for favorite farmers markets in New Hampshire, in the American Farmland Trust's "America's Favorite Markets" contest. Voting ends Aug. 31 at www.farmland.org. The Salem market is ahead with 49 votes, followed by the Berlin Local Works Farmers Market with 29. Market managers can still register their markets to be eligible for voting, at www.farmland.org/marketmanager.

Global Agriculture: New Zealand Visits New Hampshire

Moving from the local to the global agriculture scene, New Zealand's Ambassador to the United States Mike Moore visited the state last week, as part of a tour to build support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. Moore is both a former prime minister of New Zealand and former secretary general to the World Trade Organization.

At a meeting hosted by New Zealand's Honorary Consul to New England Simon Leeming at his Concord law office, the ambassador discussed the opportunities that would be created through this major free-trade agreement. In the friendly and informative discussion, he also noted the thorny issues with each nation involved. For the U.S., he noted, the stumbling block is milk.

Moore acknowledged American concerns about low-cost New Zealand dairy imports. According to USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, dairy products accounted for more than 25 percent of New Zealand's total exports in 2010. But Moore stressed the rapidly growing demand for dairy products in Asian countries, especially China.

"We can't begin to produce what these markets need," he said, suggesting there is opportunity for export expansion for America and other dairy countries.

He also said his country is taking steps to increase competition for Fonterra, the New Zealand cooperative that controls 89 percent of the country's dairy exports.

Lorraine Merrill is New Hampshire's Commissioner of Agriculture, Markets & Food.
Photo from NH Dept of Agriculture

Source: Lancaster Farming

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