This area is a gold mine for farmers markets

Fresh produce and baked goods can be purchased every week at the Penacook farmers Market. August 8, 2016 (JENNIFER MELI / Monitor Staff)
Fresh produce and baked goods can be purchased every week at the Penacook farmers Market. August 8, 2016 (JENNIFER MELI / Monitor Staff)

Who’s your farmer? This message is printed across one of my favorite T-shirts. Can you answer that question?

Amidst our modern-day conveniences, many of us struggle with it. This is a common, and treatable, symptom of the disconnection we share with our food. A few years back, I had trouble answering that question. My farmer was that ubiquitous plaid-clad individual, standing in front of rolling fields dotted with cows. That was on the cover of a milk container.

Yes, this exists, but a large amount of food we find in stores cannot make a claim to that kind of bucolic imagery. A leading environmentalist writer, Bill McKibben, succinctly expresses, “Every meal comes with a story.” What kind of story are we telling at our table?

Here in New Hampshire, we are so fortunate to have an incredibly rich agricultural community. In Merrimack County alone, we have nearly 10 summer farmers markets to choose from, where you can find fresh produce, cheese, eggs, meat, jams, breads, maple syrup, baked goods, honey, coffee, chocolate, craft goods, and the list goes on!

It’s hard to argue there is a movement rooting us back to our local food system. Whether we’ve been swept away in this current or have just been testing the waters, we have been provided with an opportunity to connect with our community and nourish ourselves with wholesome, nutritious foods. Over the years, the number of markets that can accept SNAP/EBT (also known as food stamps) have increased. This has not only helped countless families, but it helps support our local producers. Farmers markets have become a place for everyone in the community to access local, nutritious food.

Many New Hampshire farmers’ markets also participate in Granite State Market Match. This is a nutrition incentive program, led by the N.H. Food Bank, that provides shoppers using SNAP/EBT with up to an additional $10 to shop with at farmers markets.

Here in Merrimack County, the Merrimack County Conservation District (MCCD) is the regional lead for Granite State Market Match. MCCD currently provides five summer farmers markets with the ability to accept SNAP/EBT and Granite State Market Match, in Concord, Contoocook, Franklin, Penacook and Wilmot.

All it takes is one visit to a farmers market to realize it is more than a mere venue to shop. Markets are also a hub for community, conversation and entertainment. It is once again incredibly easy to get to know your farmers, and your neighbors!

For more information about farmers’ markets in Merrimack County, you can visit merrimackccd.org. See you at the market!

Alyssa Lemmermann is a contributing member of the Capital Area Wellness Coalition (CAWC), which coordinates community resources and builds partnerships to create a culture of healthy living for everyone. The CAWC meets monthly on the second Wednesday at 8 a.m. at the Center for Health Promotion, 49 S. Main St. in Concord. Visit capwellness.org to learn more.

Author: Alyssa Lemmermann

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