August in New Hampshire: arguably the most delicious month of the year. Farmers’ markets and farm stands are brimming with ripe tomatoes and sweet corn, while local chefs and home cooks alike are creating feasts with the harvest. It is a bountiful month that the NH Food Alliance feels strongly about celebrating with NH Eats Local Month, an August-long grassroots marketing initiative connecting Granite Staters directly to farmers, restaurants, food producers, markets and farm stands, and other food-related businesses to grow the eat local movement across New Hampshire.
“In 2006, the non-profit Seacoast Eat Local introduced Eat Local Challenges to their region, inspiring the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food to expand the campaign to a statewide celebration in 2009,” said Jen Risley, Marketing Manager at the Monadnock Food Co-op. Partnered with Risley and the Monadnock Food Co-op, the NH Food Alliance, a statewide food system network coordinated by the University of New Hampshire’s Sustainability Institute, began facilitating NH Eats Local Month in 2018. Risley and the NH Food Alliance grew the month’s celebrations and adopted the long-term goal of expanding it to a year-round initiative.
The success of NH Eats Local Month has hinged on the engagement of hundreds of partners and eaters and providing space to celebrate the variety of local food values and experiences across New Hampshire. In the Monadnock region, local businesses and organizations have taken ownership of NH Eats Local Month, hosting events and activities to highlight the land and small businesses that make the region’s food and farm economy so robust.
“The lands that make up the state hold a thousands-of-years-long story of food production that is really fascinating to explore. By buying and eating local, New Hampshire residents can increase our community’s resilience, ensuring that our food producers’ businesses are strong and sustainable, while taking advantage of the opportunity to connect with neighbors and with nature, and to eat some high-quality foods.” said Lauren Judd, Executive Director of The Cornucopia Project in Peterborough.
Over 20 small businesses from the Monadnock region have joined nearly 200 local partners to get involved in 2021 NH Eats Local Month, including The Cornucopia Project, the Monadnock Food Co-op, the Monadnock Farm & Community Coalition, Post & Beam Brewing, Kearsarge Food Hub, Cheshire County Conservation District, Cheshire Garden, Phoenix Farm, Stonewall Farm, Monadnock Sustainability Hub, Green Energy Options, Picadilly Farm, Rindge Chamber of Commerce, Keene Dietetic Internship Program, Greater Keene & Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, Team Jaffrey, Manning Hill Farm, Keene Community Garden Connections, Elior Acres, and Cheshire Medical Center.
Both regional and statewide celebrations will take place around a few central campaigns coordinated by the NH Food Alliance during 2021 NH Eats Local Month, including the NH Eats Local Month Photo Contest and the “How Do You Eat Local?” Shout Series. The month will also kickoff with NH’s Big Bite on Sunday, August 1. Granite Staters are encouraged to take a big bite out of the same local food on the same day, with this year’s featured local food being pancakes with New Hampshire maple syrup. As a part of NH’s Big Bite, NH Eats Local Month partners are planning to host virtual cooking classes, share recipes, offer pancake specials and more. In the Monadnock region, Risley and her team at the Monadnock Co-op have many celebrations already in the works for August.
“The Monadnock Food Co-op is thrilled to amplify NH Eats Local Month in the Monadnock Region. This year’s events include a Farm Tour, Round It Up Donation Drive for Food Connects, tastings with local food producers, and the release of a NH’s Big Bite Virtual Cooking Class video. There’s so much to celebrate!” said Risley.
To get involved and learn more about NH Eats Local Month and our partners, visit nheatslocal.com or follow along on Facebook and Instagram at @nheatslocal.