Monthly Archives: August 2012

Ten Reasons to Fix School Lunch and Save Our Children’s Future

Thank you to Katherine Gillespie of Windham County Farm to School for sharing this – I think it deserves a re-post here to inspire us!


Five Facts to Motivate Us

  1. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that of the children born in the year 2000, one out of every three Caucasians and one out of every two African Americans and Hispanics will contract Diabetes in their Lifetime – most before they graduate high school.
  2. The achievement gap, which is truly a social justice issue will never be shrunk unless we clearly understand that healthy food is linked to academic performance. Hungry or malnourished students cannot learn to the best of their abilities.
  3. Studies have shown that a diet consisting of foods high in fats, sugars, food additives and artificial colors, and low in vitamins, minerals and other protective factors such as fiber and phytochemicals commonly found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can negatively impact learning.
  4. National Institutes of Health has stated that, of the six leading causes of death in the United States, four are linked to unhealthy diets. The gap in life expectancy between the rich and poor has widened by almost 50% in the last 20 years – much of that can be attributed to diet and exercise.
  5. Exposure to pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals through our food supply is being increasingly linked to such conditions and ADD, ADHD, antibiotic resistance and early onset of puberty, as well as diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Five Facts to Give Us Hope

  1. Because Harry S Truman was right when he said; “No nation is healthier than its children or more prosperous than its farmers.”
  2. A study done by Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the CDC of a school in New York showed that 80% of the children and or parents changed the way they cooked, ate or shopped because of the school’s food program.
  3. A recent study in Berkeley CA done by the UC Berkeley Center for Weight and Health provided findings that children in the school districts program ate three times as many vegetables when eating school lunch as those students who brought their lunch from home.
  4. A study done by Massachusetts General showed that children served a nutritious breakfast were better able to learn and had less behavioral problems.
  5. Removing chocolate milk from schools could remove 4 – 6 pounds of sugar from children’s diet every year.

Green Mountain Creamery Greek Yogurt is #1!

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. – Green Mountain Creamery yogurt, manufactured by Commonwealth Dairy just across the river in Brattleboro VT, has just taken top honors in the Greek Yogurt category of the World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest! Using only local milk and real fruit, without any preservatives or fake ingredients of any kind, local institutions will soon be able to proudly offer these delectable top-class products through Monadnock Menus!

Green Mountain Creamery Vanilla Yogurt First PrizeGreen Mountain Creamery’s Vanilla won first place, and Pineapple second place, in a competition that drew entries from all over the country. One of the largest contests of its type in the world, the World Dairy Expo Dairy Product Championship Contest is the only one in North America that evaluates and ranks all types of dairy products. It’s the fastest growing contest, with over 700 entries last year. Professional dairy judges evaluate samples for flavor, body, texture, appearance, and color. Green Mountain Creamery’s two winning entries were in the Greek Yogurt category, meaning they are strained giving a rich, luxurious texture. Mmmm… if you haven’t tried them already, these judges think you won’t be disappointed!

Green Wagon Farm

Bill wanted to be a farmer since he was twelve because his grandfather grew peaches, apples, and vegetables.  He went to school to study agriculture and has been farming ever since, first in Vermont and has now owned Green Wagon Farm in Keene for almost 20 years. Bill describes the rewarding cycle of soil preparation, planting, and transplanting.  This repeats until, “all of a sudden, boom!  There it is.  It’s just seeing it I guess, seeing it come out.”  Seeing the vegetables spring forth from the ground is worth the hard work.

Green Wagon Farm grows on 20 acres in Keene and Surry, with a farm stand located on Court Street in Keene.  Bill Jarrell grows vegetables using sustainable methods, and is current experimenting with composting municipal leaves in order to naturally improve the soil his vegetables draw their nutrients from, since composted manure is not readily available. His main crops are tomato, corn, onions and vines crops, such as cucumbers, squash, and melons – crops that are very popular with the loyal customers of his farm stand.

Bill has previously tried to sell through farmers markets and wholesale.  However, he does not have enough time to pursue these markets.  When he tried selling wholesale to local restaurants, it might take an hour to deliver a 20-pound box of tomatoes.  Furthermore, when having to meet both the demands of a restaurant and the farm stand customers, sometimes a product may run short.  Then he would have to face the difficulty of disappointing one of these two customers.

Monadnock Menus may be able to provide a solution by delivering products, instead of Green Wagon, and with other famers helping to supply the produce; a shortage of a product from Green Wagon can be compensated for by another farm.  Bill thinks that Monadnock Menus will be good for the community and that “it would be neat to get some local stuff into the schools.”  When Green Wagon has surplus food they give it to the volunteer-run Fall Mountain Food Pantry in Langdon, which serves the elderly, chronically ill and low-income families of Northern Cheshire County.

by Erika StimpsonImage

Alyson’s Orchard

A beautiful, winding drive up the hill gives scenic views of Vermont in the distance.  The apple trees are in sight at the top of the hill and our excitement mounts as we approach.  Alyson’s Orchard is situated on four hundred and thirty acres in Walpole, NH. As we pull into the parking lot, I am delighted to see the red farm stand because it looks so quintessential.  Apples are their main crop, but they also grow peaches, plums, apricots, and vegetables, such as pumpkins and winter squash to add some variety. We meet Homer Dunn, the orchard manager, and he tells us about how Alyson’s got started.

Bob and Susan Jasse founded Alyson’s Orchard in 1981.  “Bob used to be in the big corporate business, got involved in the space program, and built a worldwide business.  And then about the ‘70’s, he got sick of the corporate world, sold it, and came up and started this,” explained Homer.  The orchard now works to support its local community.  The growing technique is Integrated Pest Management, or IPM.  This method reduces the amount of sprays necessary for conventional growing methods.  Homer said of IPM, “it’s something I believe in, but no matter where you are we got to be concerned about the farmer and how we do it, so it can be sustainable forever.  I still feel that farmers are the cornerstone; if the farmer disappears, we’re in trouble.”

Alyson’s have mostly sold fruit wholesale, with shipments going as far as Texas.  However, they have been working to increase the pick-your-own business.  Homer says they joined Monadnock Menus because, “We should be buying local.  It helps support the community and keeps local farmers in business.  It only makes sense.” According to Homer, Alyson’s Orchard’s biggest problem with local wholesale products is delivery.  Local businesses rarely buy enough volume for it to be profitable to spend the time, labor and fuel to deliver.  With Monadnock Menus’ aggregation and delivery system, the burden is taken from the farmer and as Homer says if “I don’t have to bring it anywhere, that would work excellently.”

Increased local to access to Alyson’s apples means a larger selection of apples for those around the Monadnock Region.  Alyson’s Orchard in unique here because they have over 48 different varieties of apples, including heirlooms.  A new block is being created that will contain over 100 different varieties, including scion wood from the apple’s birthplace of Kazakhstan to be grafted onto rootstocks suited to New England. This orchard even contains a one-of-a-kind apple tree that is a mutation of a Macintosh; Homer has named it the Andrea Star, after his wife.  Alyson’s Orchard is a welcoming place and Homer remarks on pick-your-own, “It’s still, I think, more or less a family experience.  I’ve seen families here for 4 or 5 hours, just having a great time walking around, enjoying the place.”  He continues that with increasing pick-you-own, developing a local wholesale business, and adding 100 new varieties, “the thing that still excites me about this place – is beginning to see it’s potential!”

by Erika Stimpson

Pete’s Farm Stand Bio

Pete’s Farm Stand is currently owned and operated by Mike Janiszyn, like his father and grandfather before him.  Mike describes his style as 1930’s farming because he values a more simple way of life and farming that was more prevalent then.  Pete’s Farm Stand has established a dedicated customer base over the 40 years it has been in operation.  The produce is picked from their gardens and brought directly to the farm stand for sale to the customer.  Mike says, “we pick fresh everyday and you can’t beat that.”

Mike admits that farming is a difficult life.  “It’s a tough life to do, the chips are against you” then he adds, “it’s a worthwhile thing to do.  It’s really necessary, I’m sure, to the survival of the community.”  It is his commitment to the community that prompted him to join Monadnock Menus.  He believes that Monadnock Menus will help keep money in the local economy when institutions buy from local farmers.  Furthermore, he hopes that this will create a community network where local farmers and institutions will be able to help each other out.  “When you’re a part of the community, and you do business in the community, money has less of a value and it becomes more of a relationship.”  It is important to work together to gain more flexibility and when farmers have more places to sell to, food will not be wasted.

Pete’s Farm Stand has focused on direct retail sales to the consumer.  Selling wholesale has been a challenge in the past.  Wholesale requires the use of more packaging, processing and uniformity. Mike plans on growing vegetables that can store well so sell through Monadnock Menus, such as carrots and potatoes.

 The ability to use and preserve all food that is grown at Pete’s Farm Stand is part of Mike’s vision of a return to 1930’s wisdom.  If you go back to just your grandparents generation, they had the knowledge for using all of the food a farm grows without waste.  Knowing how to can and process food would make use of such things as oversized zucchini and beets.  Mike hopes that this knowledge can become more mainstream again, not only so people can save some money, but because knowing how to use all the food that our area produces will help us become more self-sufficient.  “This area can feed everyone in the area.  There’s such good farmland, some of the best farmland in the country, in the world, right here.  So…we can feed ourselves.  People just have to know how to do that.”

by: Erika Stimpson