Category Archives: For Local Food Lovers

Cooks and farmers, a necessary connection

Cooks and farmers, a necessary connection
Remembering when: Jaffrey chef on his lifelong relationship with food
By Aylmer H Given III
Printed in the Monadnock Ledger Transcript, July 15, 2014
Available online here

Chef Aylmer from Summerhill Assisted Living in Peterborough, who is a huge local food and Monadnock Menus supporter, shared this essay with the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. We need to strengthen the connections between cooks and farmers as Aylmer says in order to grow a vibrant local food economy in the Monadnock Region. Thank you Chef Aylmer for your eloquent words and your support of our area farmers and producers! We need more champions like you!

summerhill aylmer and keith

Chef Aylmer (l) and Chef Keith (r) at Summerhill

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteers Needed to Help Grow Monadnock Menus

Passionate about local food and getting more of it on the menu of your favorite restaurants?  We invite you to join us and volunteer for the Monadnock Menus Program!

We need writers, photographers and volunteers to conduct interviews with farmers and restaurant owners.  Contact emerald@cheshireconservation.org for more information.

Monadnock Menus Goals:

  • Identify needs and build relationships between buyers and growers
  • Navigate ordering & delivery issues
  • Raise public awareness to build loyalty to restaurants that serve local dishes

Waterhouse Restaurant and Bar opens in Peterborough

According to the Monadnock Ledger Transcript this morning, the Waterhouse Restaurant and Bar have now opened their doors and are serving a menu that focus on local food, bistro style.

Read more here… Menus at Waterhouse offers bistro food

Have you eaten there?? Let us know how it is!  Send us some pictures and some local highlights.

When eating out, do you know where your food comes from? Real Time Farms does.

Eat Out With Confidence: Nationwide Launch of Tools That Tell The Story of Every Ingredient

Posted on May 9, 2011 by cararosaen

“There’s Michelin and there’s Zagat. Neither of them tell you where your food is coming from. Real Time Farms does.

Now any eatery (from the hipster food truck to the dorm food menus of your alma mater) can tell the story of the farms and food artisans that supply their menu. Curious how the beef in your favorite dive bar hamburger was raised. Click on “hamburger” and see pictures of the cow in the pasture and read about how the cow was raised. Feeling good about what you are eating just got a whole lot simpler.”

Read more… Real Time Farms blog

Interested in joining the movement to increase transparency about where your food is coming from?  Contact Real Time Farms and become a member!

Here’s how:   Become a Member

10 members and growing!!

Since the beginning of our spring membership drive at the beginning April, 10 restaurants have signed onto the Monadnock Menus project, showing their dedication and support for locally produced food.  Please visit our new ‘Members’ page to see who is ‘Getting Local on the Menu’ and look for the Monadnock Menus decal while you’re out in the region looking for a bite to eat that’s a little bit fresher and from closer to home.

Is your favorite restaurant not on our list of members?  Ask them if they know about our program!  Give them a local request card to let them know you’d like to see more local food on the menu and thank them for making a commitment to supporting more local farms, value-added producers and businesses.

Hope you all are enjoying the first greens of the season!

Hillside Pizza- The Pie’s the Limit!

Story from the ‘Local Chef’ column in the publication Our Local Table Monadnock.

“Think of Swanzey and what comes to mind? The town’s oxen mascots, Monadnock Regional High School, and maybe a covered bridge or two.
How about organic pizza topped with locally grown fresh vegetables (served
in recyclable containers with compostable utensils), handmade by kind and
cheerful people dedicated to their community?

That’s exactly what the new Hillside Pizza, located on Route 32 in front of Arnone’s Family Fun Center, is bringing to the Monadnock Region.”

Read more…Our Local Table Monadnock

Monadnock Menus is Springing into Action!

By Sarah Barkhouse

If you thought we were bringing you local before… just watch out! The Monadnock Menus Program is shifting into high gear this spring with its official kick-off starting April 2011! As a part of Phase II, the local-food loving volunteers of the Monadnock Farm and Community Connection (MFCC) Infrastructure committee are taking to the streets to seek out even more food establishments that are committed to using locally grown ingredients in the meals that they serve to you.

Keep a close watch here on our website, www.monadnockmenus.org, for updates on which restaurants in the region have recently signed the Monadnock Menus pledge (see below), as well as stories and photos featuring each of the new restaurant members. And as you climb out of hibernation from the winter and go out this spring looking for a tasty meal, keep your eyes peeled for our brand new Monadnock Menus membership decals that bears our logo with the word ‘MEMBER’ printed below it on the doors or windows of participating restaurants. When you see that decal, you know that you’re not eating at just any restaurant, but one that is a part of the ever increasing strength of the Monadnock region’s local food system as well as devoted to serving their patrons the finest, freshest, local ingredients that the Monadnock region has to offer.

And remember, you can spring into action yourself in many ways by:

  • Supporting Monadnock Menus member establishments.
  • Filling out and leaving Local Request Cards at restaurants that are not yet members. You can find Local Request Cards for pick up at the following locations:
    Keene Farmers’ Market, Stonewall Farm Farmstand, Keene Public Library , and the Keene and Peterborough Chamber of Commerce offices…   OR download the Monadnock Menus Request cards and print at home. (See our Resources page)
  • Leaving your suggestions for potential Monadnock Menus members on our website.
  • Supporting local farmers yourself by visiting a farmers market, a farm stand or joining a CSA .

Let’s work together to get more Local on the Menu!!

We Feel Inspired

By Jen Risley

We feel inspired – inspired by you: the eaters of the Monadnock Region.  Three-quarters of you answered our 2010 survey and said supporting local businesses and agriculture is very important to you.  This inspired us to move forward with a program that will empower you to put your money where your mouth is: The Monadnock Menus Program.

The Monadnock Menus Program has a full plate of goals – to create a community where local food is easy to find, increase the number of restaurants and cafeterias serving local food, and encourage more of us to choose local food wherever we happen to eat.  As we develop this program we glean ideas and resources from other programs such as the Vermont Fresh Network, New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant Connection, and Monadnock Matchmaker Event.

Vermont Fresh Network
Founded in 1995, the Vermont Fresh Network (VFN) brings farmers, food producers and chefs together and encourages them to build partnerships.  Participants throughout the state join by making a “handshake agreement” to buy from or sell to a number of VFN members on a regular basis. VFN then fosters these relationships by creating materials to help eaters identify members (a dining guide and window decal), hosting dinners at member restaurants to showcase farmer-chef connections, and offering a Matchmaker Event to introduce more wholesale buyers and sellers to one another.

New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant Connection
In our state, we have the New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant Connection which hosts Growers Dinners highlighting the products grown and processed locally at restaurants throughout the state.  In 2010, there were five dinners including a benefit for the New Hampshire Food Bank.  Wouldn’t it be great if a restaurant in our Monadnock Region hosted a Growers Dinner in 2011?

Monadnock Matchmaker Event
For two years, the Monadnock Matchmaker Event connects local farmers, chefs, retailers and distributors in our region – think of it as speed dating for farmers.  Last year 60 local food wholesale buyers and sellers, volunteers, and interested community members came to the event to develop new and stronger relationships and bring more local food to you.

Now it’s time for Monadnock Menus to move forward using the momentum gained from the work above plus the work of many other individuals, organizations and businesses who make our local food system stronger.  Stay tuned for phase two of Monadnock Menus – and keep your eye out for the Monadnock Menus sticker in some of your favorite restaurants in our region.

Monadnock Menus is a volunteer based program working with the community and local restaurant owners to enhance and establish relationships between consumers, farmers and restaurants to promote the use of locally produced products.

Striving for Local Lunches at the Keene School District

Keene’s Food Service Program Making Connections and Serving Local

By Kate Kerman

A note at the top of my granddaughter’s school lunch menu caught my eye.  “We buy local!” it declared.  I went to visit Maureen Wells, director of the Keene Food Services Program, to see what that note meant.  The program is part of the New Hampshire Farm to School.

Here is something to boggle your mind.  The enrollment in the school district and the outlying towns served by this program is over 4,000 children from preschool through seniors in high school.  Try to picture the complications of serving that many children by extrapolating what it is like to serve two or three young ones at home.

Maureen told me that they try to buy local apples, for instance.  Here are some of the issues they faced this year.  The really local apples, like Alyson’s Orchard, suffered from a late frost, which meant that they didn’t have a lot of apples of their own to sell. The school district was able to purchase apples from New England, however. Second issue.  Federal rules require them to buy small apples – thinking about what a kindergartener can eat.  Another issue: schools are out during the time of year when local produce is most plentiful and inexpensive.  And how about the issue of introducing children to new food?  Kids say they would like to have meatloaf, but that means meatloaf the way my parents make it which means the program is almost certain to fail the taste test for most children.  Last year they tried to introduce a pork and gravy meal only to find that very few people eat it that way these days and the children rejected it.

The annual budget of the program is $696,000.  They receive federal funds for the free and reduced lunch program, but are self-sustaining in terms of local funds, which means that local tax dollars are not needed for the program.  One of the things that helps balance the budget is the “a la carte” menu at Keene High School.  Last year, the program stopped selling any kind of candy for the “a la carte” menu, although they were worried about the impact of this decision on their budget.  The school board took this a step further and made a new rule that there could be no candy sales during the day in any school in the district.  This means clubs cannot sell candy for fundraisers unless it is outside of school hours.  The program serves dessert only once a week, and they tend to pair it up with one of their less popular menus to encourage children to give it a try.

They buy milk from Oakhurst Dairy of Maine, which pledges not to use growth hormones. Eggs come from federal government surplus.  Local meat is too expensive to buy in sufficient quantities. A popular item at both the high school and middle school is the salad bar.  Food in the salad bar varies according to what is available seasonally.  They work with two produce distributors, and having let them know that they want to buy as locally as possible, they are glad when they can get products from New England.  Realizing that local farmers wouldn’t be able to supply them with all of any given produce item that they would need, they have expressed a willingness for local farmers to supply them with a portion of what they need.

I came away with a better idea of the vast complications of feeding a district’s worth of children in any fashion, and the amount of juggling and thoughtfulness that has to go into trying to move this large entity in the direction of serving local food.  Hats off to Maureen Wells and her staff of 56 employees for making the effort.

Our Goal at Keene Food Services is to serve healthy and fun meals to our students, while exceeding the State and Federal nutritional guidelines to enable every student to reach their full potential. Hungry kids don’t learn!

For more information about the Keene Food Services program, go to http://www.keenefoodservices.com/facts.htm

(Photo from: http://www.sveassoc.com/PROJECTS/KeeneHS.html)

All Local Food at Your Neighborhood Tavern

By Emily Mason

Local food enthusiasts: meet your neighborhood tavern. The Cheshire Tavern at the Fitzwilliam Inn is serving a powerhouse mix of local, seasonal foods, warm atmosphere and a pricing scheme that is very user-friendly. Last Saturday marked the Nickerson and Crocker Family’s one year anniversary of owning and operating the area’s historic, 200 year old inn. How fitting that what makes this inn cutting edge today is the family’s commitment and return to the very (local and seasonal) culinary roots that would have been so traditional and commonplace in its first 100+ years of operation.

The Cheshire Tavern (formerly the Thistle and the Crown) is currently sourcing all of their meat, dairy, grain and vegetables from area farms such as Tracie’s Community Farm (veggies) in Fitzwilliam, NH, Manning Hill Farm (dairy) in Winchester, NH, Four Star Farms (flour and grains) in Northfield, MA, Smith’s Country Cheese in Winchendon, MA, Adam’s Farm (pastured meats) in Orange, MA, Diemand Farm (turkey) in Wendell, MA, Hijinks Farm (flowers, herbs and veggies) in Jaffrey, NH, Monadnock Berries in Troy, NH, and their family’s own EIEIO Farm. It is truly a family owned and operated business from farm to table. Impressively, year-round tomatoes, red onions and oil have understandably been the only exceptions to the otherwise all local cuisine.

I met with Leesa, Rachelle and Roxanne (owner, chef and bartender, respectively) of the Crocker family who were all equally passionate about keeping it local. Rachelle and Roxanne, who grew up on the family farm, developed their commitment to local food from experience. According to them, their dedication to local foods was a process. As kids on a farm, local was just the way it was done; it was always a part of their lives and how they thought about food. Over time, they learned more and more about the nutritional value that real food and pastured meats provide and of course they could taste the difference.

The great thing about tasting the difference between local and industrial foods is that it has made practical business sense as well. All three of the Crockers agreed that by using good-tasting, high quality area foods, they don’t need to get elaborate with the recipes to doctor foods of lesser quality into something better. This saves money! By keeping their menus simple, flexible and in-season, the Crockers have been able to keep their purchasing costs down and consequently, their menus are surprisingly affordable.

Another benefit to sourcing locally has been the relationships that the Crockers have built with their farmers. The Monadnock area and Tristate region farmers have a rich network established and are mutually invested in the success of the local economy. If one farmer is short on potatoes, for instance, that farmer will know who is flush with them and can offer suggestions. Money spent on local foods, after all, is money spent on local farmers rather than the packaging, advertising and transportation costs of industrial foods from afar.

On the horizon for the Cheshire Tavern are even more local food ideas. Rachelle is planning an expanded pub menu that will include homesteaded foods (such as cured meats, pickles, homemade sausages and sauerkrauts,  and wild foods and herbs) as well as locally sourced but classically identifiable pub fare in the form of hot wings, pizza and area beers.

For more information about the Fitzwilliam and the Cheshire Tavern or to see their current menu online, please visit: http://www.fitzwilliaminn.com/

Hours: Thursdays-Saturdays, 5-11 PM

If you have had the opportunity to experience the Tavern’s local foods this year, please do comment.