Exciting work happening with partners across the Granite State
A food system is composed of many different moving parts. These include access to land, processing plants, distribution, markets, funding opportunities, policy work, food access, and more. New Hampshire has a strong conglomeration of organizations, business, and government agencies that have formed various network groups focused on the development, enhancement, and prolonged support of a sustainable, local food system. A few of these network groups are highlighted here for the work they are doing in spearheading valuable tools that support the development of a vibrant local food system.
NH Food Alliance
The NH Food Alliance is currently developing a New Hampshire Food System Strategic Plan. The NH Food Alliance (NHFA) is a network group that formed out of a need to create a more resilient and localized food system in the Granite State. Recently, Land For Good participated in the NHFA 2023 Strategy Retreat held at Sanborn Mills Farm. This retreat brought together 42 network members to begin the process of developing the strategic plan. This first step involved brainstorming issues, solutions, and experts to include in the plan. It was also an opportunity for networking and nurturing the relationships between various stakeholders in the NH Food System.
The plan will consist of four major components:
- Goals: What do we want New Hampshire’s food system to look like?
- Objectives: How can we measure progress toward our goals?
- Priority Strategies: What specific programs, investments, and policies will move the needle toward the food system we want to build?
- Issue, Product, Market Briefs: What are the issues, products, and markets crucial to the New Hampshire food system? What are the recommendations from experts to strengthen, improve, or protect the identified issues, products, and markets?
The goal is for this plan to be released and shared widely by January 2025.
New Hampshire Agriculture Financiers
Another exciting development in the New Hampshire food system is the Loan Readiness Toolkit. It is a succinct, step-by-step guide that looks at how to prepare for applying for a loan, and the characteristics of a farm business from a lender’s point of view. It also demonstrates the partnership that exists between a farm business owner or producer and a lender.
This toolkit was created in collaboration by various members of the New Hampshire Agriculture Financiers, and Land For Good provided feedback and input throughout the development process.
The toolkit consists of the following sections:
- Your Business Model and Situation
- Assess Whether Debt is the Answer
- Getting Ready to Talk to a Lender
- Supporting Documents to get in Order
“We hope this toolkit equips farmers and producers with valuable guidance on how to access capital and that it provides a clearer understanding of the complexity of the loan process and ultimate partnership of the business owner and lender.”Charlene Andersen, Farm and Food Lender at the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund
Download the Loan Readiness Toolkit, and check out the many partner organizations including NH Community Loan Fund, UNH Extension, Farm Credit East, Vital Communities, Land For Good, Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, Walden Mutual Bank, NH Ag Mediation, NH Small Business Administration, and the NH Department of Agriculture.
Agriculture Land Preservation Program
The US faces a current agricultural land loss crisis. In New Hampshire, a collaborative team is drafting changes to the statutory language that governs the Agriculture Land Preservation Program, with the goal of increasing funds for agricultural land preservation. These organizations include the Agriculture Land Preservation Support Team; NH Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food; Land For Good; and others.
The state funds allocated to the Agriculture Land Preservation Program are now eligible for matching funds through other funding sources, like the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Matching funds have the potential to double the amount of agricultural land that is conserved. The initial language adjustments were passed by the New Hampshire legislature in the spring of 2023. The program will be fully operational after the revisions are complete.
This is just a snippet of all the work happening behind the scenes! Stay tuned for more exciting developments in the pursuit of a resilient and sustainable local food system here in the Granite State.