July through September is New Hampshire's harvest season. Suddenly every garden and farm is overflowing with delicious food, fresh for the eating. Let's all make a special effort this year to take advantage of all our state has to offer, while we support local farmers and businesses. Here are some great ways to eat local right now!
There is really nothing so wonderful as strolling down a street lined with gorgeous local produce, flowers, baked goods, and crafts. Not only will you find delicious and nutritious foods, but it's also a wonderful chance to be out in your town or city in a different way. Bonus: if you come a few weeks in a row and you'll start getting to know your local farmers and craftspeople and fellow market-goers. It really makes you feel like you're in a tiny European village in the 1800s. Find your local Farmers Market here.
Local Farms and Farm Stands
Many farms in New Hampshire have their own farm stand where you can buy directly from the farms themselves. My favorite part about farm stands is seeing the farm itself. Often the kids will wander off to visit the animals or I can talk gardening with the farmers and get great tips. Also, it's a great opportunity to get out to the more rural areas of the state for beautiful views and to hear the birds singing. Find your nearest farm stand here.
Pick Your Own Farms
Berry picking is one of our family's favorite activities in the summer. I have wonderful memories from my childhood of hot summer days picking raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, followed by cool evenings on the hammock eating our haul. After reading Blueberries for Sal with my son, we also started freezing our berries "for the winter" and learned that, if you are willing to put in the extra work, you can actually still be eating New Hampshire berries throughout the winter. Here are some farms that offer pick your own opportunities.
It's not too late to sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture). A CSA will give you a share of their harvest each week in exchange for an upfront fee. I was a member of Local Harvest CSA for a couple years and I always loved the surprises in my CSA bag and took it as a challenge to figure out what to do with a rutabaga or a bunch of chard. When I started gardening more, I switched to a voucher CSA through Kearsarge Gore Farm for a few years because I had the flexibility to pick and choose what I didn't grow myself. Now I eat from my own garden, but I would definitely recommend CSAs as a truly amazing chance to eat local easily. Find one here.
Certified Local Restaurants
Don't want to cook your own veggies? Let someone else do the cooking at one of New Hampshire's certified local restaurants. These restaurants favor local growers and producers when they shop for their ingredients so you know you are supporting both the local farmers and the restaurant while you dine. Find a restaurant here.
Local Grocery Stores and Coops
Many smaller grocery stores and coops - and even some bigger regional grocery stores - offer a large selection of local produce in season. You can find the same tomatoes and carrots you'll see at the Farmers Markets and farm stands conveniently located next to the rice and beans you need for your recipes. The key to shopping at a store versus a farm stand is reading the signs next to the produce to make sure the veggies you're buying come from New Hampshire and not California.
Your Garden or Your Neighbors' Gardens
Driving down the road this time of year, you can often see "Eggs for Sale" signs or veggies in a basket with a cash box. This is a great time to support neighbors and friends who are living a self-sufficient lifestyle with a little extra cash. It's a win-win. Have your own garden or eggs? You can always swap produce with neighbors. Zucchinis for tomatoes? Eggs for beans? Or host a neighborhood potluck harvest meal to see what everyone has to offer.... and invite me. :)
Happy eating, New Hampshire!
PS - Many of these photos are from Dimond Hill Farm because I stopped by there yesterday for some tomatoes, peaches, and cucumbers for my kids' lunch boxes during summer camps. If you haven't been before, it's a beautiful old barn with lots of fun local foods in addition to their own produce.