Genuinely Local (Philosophy Part II)

A banner reading "Nye Hill Farm Fresh Produce" displayed next to a bale of hay and pumpkins


Around the farm, and even off the farm, we talk a lot about “organic”, what it really means, its very strict standards, and how challenging organic farming can be. We also talk about “local”. What does it mean? Some people consider food local if it was produced within 100 miles of their homes. Other people consider food local if it was produced in their state. Some marketers call food local to New Hampshire if it was produced on the East Coast. There are restaurants and retailers who advertise their food as local if it was procured locally, regardless of where it was actually produced. Do you see where this is going? Unlike “organic”, with its clear definitions and strict rules, “local” is subject to debate. And exploitation. We recently used this forum to thank the community and the chefs and the produce managers who support us. Now we’d like to recognize a few in particular – a book store cafe, a couple of restaurants and a few retailers – to whom “local” is more than a marketing tool.

The Farm Cafe, located at The Toadstools Bookstore on Emerald Street in Keene, brings to their cafe what “organic” brings to farming – integrity. Serving fresh, genuinely local, homemade food, Amy and Skip are honestly committed to supporting local farms. We know, because we are one of them and glad to be part of the healthy fare they offer and, as an aside, we are thrilled to be any small part of a bookstore.

The Country Life Restaurant, located at 15 Roxbury Street in Keene, prepares and serves Vegetarian/Vegan lunches and dinners made from fresh, healthy, high quality produce. They recognize the challenges of organic farming and have been very understanding of our efforts to meet them.

Monadnock Food Co-Op at Railroad Square in Keene is fully committed to “fresh and local”, and that includes their selection of beers as well. In addition to our produce, they regularly carry The Brewers of Nye Hill Farm on their shelves, and we appreciate it.

The Stage Restaurant on Central Square in Keene has been one of our strongest supporters, putting our produce on their menus and our beer at their bar. We can’t thank them enough. And speaking of our beer, a few words about that…

It is said that a farm dies once a year, at least in New England with its long, cold Winters. Some time back, we decided at Nye Hill that need not be the case, that we could be productive all year long. Not that farming in and of itself is not a year-long endeavor, it is, but we were looking for something a bit more hands-on. Hence brewing. Beer, after all, is at its heart a “value added” product of grain. Brewers are bakers of liquid bread. If you were to walk by our barn-based brewery on a brew day, it smells like a bakery. But anyway, we brew beer, locally, and we’d like to recognize places like Fireworks Restaurant, Twenty-One Bar and Grill, Luca’s Mediterranean Cafe, Hannah Grimes Marketplace and Brewtopia, all in Keene, who genuinely support us.

To us, these folks represent everything good about the local food movement. By buying local, they enable consumers to support local farms, which in turn preserves open space. They conserve the energy that would otherwise be needed to store and transport the food over long distances. They have direct access to their farmers and, in our case, the farm. Our chefs and produce managers have an open invitation to visit Nye Hill at any time, no notice or appointment necessary. By buying local, these folks foster a sense of community and they do it because that sense of community is important to them. We are glad to be in their company.