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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Flat Aggie Discovers New Hampshire Farms



I have to say that Mrs. Piatt and I are having so much fun with this Flat Aggie Project.  The kids really do look forward to her reports on Fridays and they actually say they miss her!  This week is the first of Flat Aggie's East Coast Adventures, she will have another one in May.  My friend Alicia showed her New Hampshire agriculture.  I just love how I am learning right along with the kids.  It is funny how we can know what we produce so well, but know so little about other types of farming. -KFM

Mrs. Piatt and class,

I work for the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture and spend my time going to different farms. Aggie got to follow me around to some of the different stops that I made.


NH’s climate is ever-changing and we experience all four seasons. However, our winters are long and cold and our summers are short and relatively cool. This makes our growing season very short (about 120 days) and limits the types of things that we can grow. New Hampshire is known as the “Granite State” and our soils are very rocky and contain limited amounts of nutrients again making it hard to grow a lot of plants.

There are just over 4,000 farms in the state of New Hampshire. These range in size from someone who may just grow some vegetables for a roadside stand to the largest dairy farm in the state which milks more than 1,000 cows (dairy products make up 1/3 of NH’s total farm income and is the biggest livestock industry in the state). Greenhouse and nursery products make up the biggest amount of total agricultural sales in NH.

The first stop Aggie and I made was to a tree farm. Tree farms are a part of agriculture that is unique to the Northeastern United States. They serve many different purposes. Some tree farms are in place to protect forest land from being harvested. 

However, others are used to grow a specific type of tree for use for timber or even Christmas trees! The tree farm that Aggie and I visited grows Northern Red Pines which are harvested to make wood for building things like houses. 

Some tree farms in NH are made up of sugar maples which are grown to produce the sap that makes maple syrup.

Next Aggie and I went to a Blueberry Farm. Berries and fruit trees are popular crops in NH. 

Because a huge part of our economy is thanks to tourism, many of these farms are PYO (pick your own). At this farm, people can come and pick their own blueberries in the summer months or buy a container of ones that have already been picked. This particular farm is a NH Farm of Distinction; only the highest quality farms in the state receive this recognition.



After we left the blueberry farm, we went to explore some hay fields. This time of year, the snow has just melted from the fields and they are very soft and wet. 

Aggie got to see some of the equipment that we use to cut and bale hay, like a tedder and rake. 


Hay is the primary field crop grown in NH; it is used mostly to feed livestock within the state. 

Finally, it was time to head home for the day and Aggie got to see my farm. I raise pigs and have been doing so since I was eight years old. New Hampshire raises a very small number of pigs each year, only about 3,000; compared to pig production in a state like Iowa which has more than 20 million pigs! Aggie helped me do chores and feed the pigs, like I do every day when I get home from work. 

She even hung out with one of the sows (mommy pigs) while she ate her dinner. 

Aggie peeked in on the baby pigs, piglets, but we decided not to take her picture with them so we didn’t upset the babies or their mommy. 




It was a blast having Aggie around to help me do my work and to teach her about New Hampshire’s agriculture. While we may produce a lot less than other states do, we keep most of our products local and agricultural is still a very important part of our culture and economy.

Thank you so much Alicia!  This is the second time that Alicia has been gracious enough to write a guest post for me.  She also shared Caramel Apple Pork Chops with us back in October for Pork Month.  If you would like to follow and learn more from Alicia here are some of the ways you can find her online: 


Folks can follow me (Alicia MacLean) on Twitter @NHPorkDork (www.twitter.com/NHPorkDork) and on the very new blog that I co-author, Animal Agriculture Advocate (www.animalagadvocate.blogspot.com). 

Would love it if they followed me via NH Pork Producers Council on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NHPorkProducersCouncil) and on Twitter (www.twitter.com/NHPorkProducers). 

-A Kansas Farm Mom

Be sure to check out Flat Aggie's other adventures in American Agriculture: