Food Solutions New England's 6th Annual New England Food Summit took place June 8th and 9th in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The New England Food Summits bring together delegates from across the six states of New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) to strengthen collaboration for regional food system sustainability. These working summits are designed to build upon ongoing efforts across the region to build a more sustainable food system, and to consider regional priorities and action items that we can undertake most effectively together. NH Food Alliance helped select the 12 delegates and 3 emerging leaders to attend from the Granite State this year. Ahead of the Summit, they thought you might like getting to know this diverse group of representatives, so they asked them to share their stories. Read more about them below, and lookout for posts with highlights from the Summit. Follow #fsne16 for up-to-the minute updates from the attendees!
William Abbott — Conway, NH
William is the Executive Director of the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust (USVLT). He joined USVLT in 2012 after working for the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, where he worked on wetland restoration efforts, helped to re-establish historic trail access, and led the trust’s stewardship program. He has also worked in the green energy sector, for environmental consultants, and in environmental education, notably with the Chewonki Foundation in Maine. William also sits on the Board of the New Hampshire Land Trust Coalition and the Pequawket Foundation. USVLT helped start the North Conway farmers market, and is looking forward to working with our local restaurants, schools, and hospitals to get more local food eaten by more local folks. William is looking forward to “meeting movers and shakers and learning more about the nuts and bolts of cooperative marketing and distribution” at the Summit.
Heidi Barker — Lancaster, NH
Heidi holds several roles in the local food system: UNH Cooperative Extension Field Specialist, Healthy Living involved with community collaborations that include summer food program connections with NH Food Bank; Regional Lead for Granite State Market Match/NH Nutrition Incentive Network; Colebrook Beacon Farm to School Initiative; and School Wellness Policy Facilitation. She faces challenges because of her location in the North Country: She says, “Smaller markets in the North Country are not at readiness state or have capacity to support EBT systems...I’m not sure how we will sustain the growth without some sort of additional staffing for the GSMM/SNAP at our current markets.” She says it takes both local and all grocery store systems to feed the North Country of NH, and has worked with local grocers including Shaw’s and Walmart. As an Extension Educator, she has to teach about all foods available, not just local foods, which can sometimes put her in a difficult position. She is looking forward to networking and learning from others about cutting-edge and best practices at the Summit.
Garrett Bauer — Bradford, NH
Garrett is a NH native hailing from Bradford, in the hills of the Lake Sunapee Valley. He attended UNH, where he completed a dual degree program in Community and Environmental Planning and EcoGastronomy. After college, he lived in both Alaska and South America before moving back to Bradford to start the Kearsarge Food Hub. The Food Hub allows him to combine his loves for food and community right in his own backyard. He is excited to attend the Summit to be connected to a larger group of people focused on helping the food system. He says his group will be facing some challenges in the coming years, and looks forward to discussing this with others in the same situation. He explains, “While we focus on feeding our small community, it is important to look to our regional systems for help and support!” Garrett will be attending the New England Food Summit as an Emerging Leader.
Gabriela Bradt — NH Seacoast
Gabby is a Fisheries Extension Specialist for NH Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension, where she works to connect fishermen to consumers and to educate consumers about supporting local NH fishermen. She works with local chefs and the local CSF (Community Supported Fishery) to raise awareness about underutilized fish and seafood species and to try to create markets for them. Her biggest challenge is “getting people to think outside the box rather than continuing with the status quo.” She would like to make fresh, local seafood readily available at a decent and fair price point where the fishermen make money but the consumer doesn't feel "taken." She is excited to attend New England Food Summit and hopes to network and connect with other people involved in fisheries throughout New England.
Lynda Brushett — Barrington, NH
Dr. Lynda Brushett, Cooperative Development Institute (CDI), focuses on building cooperative leadership and enterprises in fisheries, agriculture, and other sectors of the food system. CDI's Cooperative Food Systems program helps people develop cooperatives and collaboration at all levels of the food supply chain from farm and sea to table. She says, “We believe that cooperation is essential to a resilient and just food system that provides healthy local food, good jobs and supports strong communities and local economies.” She is looking forward to attending the Summit to “meet people, hear about their work, their hopes and dreams, and talk about how we can all up our game and commit ourselves to the work ahead.”
Alexis Dwyer — Manchester, NH
Alexis is the Cooking Matters NH Coordinator, where her favorite part of the job is witnessing the enthusiasm adult participants develop for healthy cooking during the six-week series. About her food systems work, she says the many pieces that go into making programming possible for those in need can be a challenge. She says, “The number of threads intertwined in working toward food justice is so numerous that it is hard to not look at so many steps simultaneously and become passionate about them all!” She is looking forward to attending the New England Food Summit, because “There is so much going on in NH and NE in food system sustainability and food justice that it is impossible to stay on top of everything.” At the Summit, she hopes to learn the different ways people, organizations, and initiatives are working toward the New England Food Vision and come up with solutions to barriers faced in food justice and food system sustainability. Alexis will be attending the New England Food Summit as an Emerging Leader.
Elaina Enzien — Dover, NH
Elaina works with UNH Cooperative Extension So far to connect with farmers in Strafford County and help with concerns or issues on their farms that they would like to improve. By providing resources from the university and through collaboration with her coworkers, she has been able to successfully resolve and improve their systems, aiding in the development of a stronger food system in the county. She is looking forward to attending the New England Food Summit so she can meet more like-minded people with a passion for food and agriculture. She says, “I can't wait to learn all I can from such knowledgeable peers and be able to bring home what I've learned to apply to my work in agriculture. I am ready for the journey!” Elaina will be attending the New England Food Summit as an Emerging Leader.
Melissa Groves — Portsmouth, NH
Melissa is a recent graduate of UNH, with a BS in Nutrition/Dietetics. She will be completing her dietetic internship at UNH as well, as part of the 2016–2017 program. She is currently the Project Fellow with NH Food Alliance at the UNH Sustainability Institute, where she works with the Backbone Team to develop effective communications to the network. She says, "As someone who is still relatively new to the area, I am still struggling with figuring out who does what within the NH food system. It seems like there are a lot of overlaps and gaps." She is excited to attend the upcoming New England Food Summit and hopes “it will help me put faces with some of the names I’ve come into contact with through my work at NH Food Alliance.” Melissa will be attending the New England Food Summit as part of the NH Food Alliance staff.
Erin Hardie Hale — Durham, NH
Erin is a researcher with NH Food Alliance, where her work focuses on research, data analysis, and writing and communication. Erin completed a PhD in agriculture and science education from UC Davis with a focus on coalition building and collaborative research between farmers and conservation groups in California’s Central Valley. Erin also has a master’s degree from UC Davis in International Agricultural Development with an emphasis in post-harvest handling systems for horticultural crops. She has worked on farms in Oregon and New Hampshire, has extensive experience in agricultural training and education, and has worked with farmers, farmworkers, and rural communities around the globe. Her work has been focused on the NH food system for the past couple of years, so Erin is really looking forward to reconnecting with people across the region at the Summit and learning more about what's happening in other states. She says, “I'm excited to hear more about FSNE work related to equity and justice in the food system and bring back ideas of how to incorporate more of that perspective here in NH.” Erin will be attending the New England Food Summit as part of the NH Food Alliance staff.
Sarah Harpster — Keene, NH
Sarah is a Gleaning Coordinator for NH Gleans as well as the Director of The Community Kitchen. She has worked on projects involving citizen democracy, energy conservation, issue-based awareness raising, community building for family caregivers, and local food rescue (gleaning). She says, “The experience has been tremendously eye-opening and fanned my passion for food into a life-long cause to strengthen our local food systems and help empower all community members around food.” She is excited to attend the Summit and “hear about examples and any tools I might be able to apply to the Monadnock Region of NH that can help... bring people at the periphery of the food system into a place of participation and empowerment...and improve the health and resilience of our communities, starting at our plates.”
Jess Kowalski — Portsmouth, NH
Jess is a recent graduate of UNH, with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Conservation and Sustainability with a specialization in Sustainable Agriculture and minors in Education and Art. She has worked at Wake Robin Farm in Stratham, NH, for the past 4 years. She says “Despite going to school for four years and studying food systems, I'm still not totally sure what types of jobs are available.” She’s also interested in sustainability and reducing waste, so she is excited to learn and hear from other individuals at the summit. She hopes to learn more about how to better educate consumers, better ways to store food, and better grocery store food purchasing plans/expiration labels and ways to get leftovers to shelters.
Ian McSweeney — New Boston, NH
Ian is involved with and has worked with dozens of individuals and organizations on the local, state, regional and national level, including farmers and farmland owners, town zoning, conservation, planning and agricultural Boards and Commissions, County Conservation Districts, Regional Planning Commissions, UNH Extension Coverts Program and USDA/NRCS. Ian also participates in many farmland conservation, farmland access and farm and food system initiatives. He and his wife Liz protected their own property with a conservation easement and actively manage their forest as a Certified Tree Farm, lease their farmland to a sustainable natural CSA farm, and keep bees. He finds it challenging to find “collaborative partners who have the capacity and/or will take a holistic approach to land, conservation easement, farm viability and tenure.” He’s looking forward to New England Food Summit, where he hopes to collaborate and connect with others from around New England.
Lisa Morris — Lakes Region, NH
Lisa has over 35 years of experience in behavioral health, senior services, public health, and non-profit management. Since 2005, Lisa has been the Executive Director of the Partnership for Public Health in the Lakes Region of NH, where the organization provides information and resources and convenes multi-stakeholder groups on a variety of issues, including substance abuse and suicide prevention, access to health care and social services, public health emergency preparedness, veterans’ issues, healthy eating, active living, and more. She faces several challenges in her work, including integrating the farming community into other sector work, making locally grown foods more affordable, and the complexity of managing markets that provide reduced cost to SNAP recipients.
Joel Moyer — Contoocook, NH
Joel is the Program Manager of the Fair Food Fund, a program of the Fair Food Network, a national food systems non-profit working to create “win–win–win” solutions for farmers, local income for residents of our communities, and the environment. The challenges in his work include finding businesses that are financially viable and able to meet consumer demand as well as communicating the importance of local foods to consumers. He is looking forward to attending the New England Food Summit to “network and get to hear the stories of what people are doing to make change” and hopes to incorporate what he learns “to become a stronger advocate for food systems work in New Hampshire.”
Elodie Reed — Concord, NH
Elodie is a reporter and photographer for the Concord Monitor, where she writes “Ag & Eats,” the Concord Monitor's food and farm blog. She is currently documenting and sharing with the public how local pork is raised, cared for, and processed in the ongoing series, "A Pig's Life: From piglet to pork-chop." She considers getting consumers interested in the food system to be “a welcome challenge,” and says, “from the newspaper end, I think more in-depth, serious coverage is needed to engage the public.” She is looking forward to attending the NE Food Summit “to meet and learn who the big players are in the New England food system, and to gain a greater understanding of urban food challenges.” She’s sure to find plenty of inspiration for future stories, as well. Elodie will be attending the New England Food Summit as an Emerging Leader.
Beth Gustafson Wheeler, MS — Concord, NH
Beth is the Director of Community Health with Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) NH, where she works with NH cities and towns and state-wide partners to establish environments, policies, and systems that support healthy eating and active living. While acquiring funding for the initiatives has remained challenging, currently she says, “We have built our community network to a total of 15 communities...impacting 853,701 (65%) of New Hampshire's 1.3 million population.” She is looking forward to attending the New England Food Summit not only for the networking opportunities, but also to learn about opportunities that are “effective, efficient, and economical (for all involved in the system) for getting healthy food in the hands of more disparate populations.”
Other NH Delegates
- Ellen Duffy — Dyn / NH Food Bank, Manchester, NH
- Alexandra King — Regenerative Roots, Merrimack, NH
- Gordon Merrick — NextGen Climate, Seacoast, NH
This post was adapted from the original, which was written by Melissa Groves and appeared on the NH Food Alliance blog June 5, 2016.