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Keeping Holidays Local
Published Sunday, November 18, 2012

Families may travel long distances to share Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, but increasingly the food, decorations and gifts are locally sourced. There are about 80 farmers’ markets during the summer season and 25 that run year round, says Gail McWilliams Jellie, director of agriculture development for the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food in Concord.

“Anything you had for Thanksgiving as a child you can get in New Hampshire: potatoes, squash, cranberries, turkeys, pumpkins, onions, turnips, greens. In terms of Thanksgiving this is the golden pot for you,” says Helen Brody, a Lebanon-based author who writes about NH farms, and who maintains a website—New Hampshire Farms Network—profiling local farms (www.newhampshirefarms.net). Brody says more farm stands stay open to Christmas, with some even open year round.

Yankee Farmer’s Market in Warner is among the farms with a year-round store, and co-owner Brian Farmer says business has continued to grow in recent years. “People are a lot more cautious of what they are spending money on, but every time there is a meat scare or even vegetables, they get a little more worried and want to know where their food comes from,” he says. Farmer sells hundreds of turkeys each year. His turkeys are free range, meaning they are allowed to roam freely instead of being caged, and they are not given antibiotics, two traits that delineate most locally raised meat from conventionally raised options. These turkeys tend to cost about $4 a pound, with some as much as $8, Farmer says. Other popular holiday items include locally raised meat jerky and sausage as gifts and stocking stuffers.

Walpole Valley Farms in Walpole sells fresh meat and eggs from its farm store year round. It opened in 2011 after years of selling meat and eggs from its basement by appointment only. The farm sells about 150 turkeys a year around Thanksgiving and beef at Christmas. It does not advertise, as it keeps ramping up production and still sells everything they produce. “There is a tremendous amount of demand and I think this is only the top of the iceberg,” says co-owner Chris Caserta.

To learn more, visit www.newhampshirefarms.net and NH Farmers' Market Association (www.nhfma.org).

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