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Spotlight on the NH Food Alliance Viability Initiative: Three River Farmer Alliance

This post was originally published  on the New Hampshire Food Alliance website

The New Hampshire Food Alliance is excited to announce the The Farm, Fish, and Food Enterprise Viability Initiative.  This initiative entails several areas of opportunity where the network can create conditions that will lead to more profitable and sustainable farm, fish, and food enterprises including Education, Land Resources and Access, Market Development, and Food Accessibility. In order to illustrate the great work that is already being done in these areas, we have compiled a series of blog posts to share success stories. This Spotlight on the Viability Initiative focuses on the opportunity area of Market Development. 

John Benford Photography

Three River Farmers Alliance (Three River), a food distribution company in the Seacoast, is working to meet the growing demand for local food by providing a “one-stop shop” for ordering everything from vegetables to meats. Three River is a collaborative effort among several farms in the area that is creating new market opportunities by connecting farmers to farmers, and farmers to markets. Three River offers year-round, weekly deliveries to restaurants, institutions, and food distributors throughout the Seacoast of New Hampshire and the North Shore of Massachusetts. By aggregating food products, small farms can meet whole-sale demand without having to scale-up individual farming operations. This model simplifies the purchase of local products for food service directors, with one order form and one invoice.

Three River is helping to build important relationships within the food system, and benefits farmers and consumers through new market connections. According to Andre Cantelmo, one of the founding farmers of Three River, this new venture is, “the first stepping stone toward a reliable local food distribution network. Three River is the connection between farmers and consumers that has been missing. This new marketplace lowers the cost of distribution for producers to make it economical to offer even a small amount of food to the community.”  

While farmers are benefitting directly from new market opportunities, food retail also benefits. Gary Kim of Anju in Kittery, Maine appreciates the efficiency of procuring food through Three Rivers, “having a weekly delivery system between multiple farms is very efficient and makes so much sense. I wish all farms were involved." For restaurateurs who seek fresh and flavorful foods, buying locally offers another great benefit. For Tucker Plimpton of Three Brother’s Marketplace in Exeter, “the quality of food Three Rivers provides is so much higher than what you can get shipped in. You can tell that famers put so much care into their food. The quality is second to none."


Jennifer Wilhelm is a Research and Planning Associate with the New Hampshire Food Alliance. Her work focuses on the research, data analysis, and communication aspects of the NH Food Alliance network. Currently she is working on a research report of the socio-economic state of New Hampshire’s food system, which evaluates different food systems metrics (production and distribution, farm and fishery viability, supply and demand, food access and security, public health, and organized efforts and network collaborations). Jennifer is also a doctoral candidate in agroecology at the University of New Hampshire. She is using spatial analyses, as well as agricultural land-use scenario modelling to determine where agricultural production can be increased in New England and at what ecological costs. 

Featured image courtesy of John Benford Photography