CCCD 2019 Year in Review
Happy New Year!
2019 was an exciting (& busy!) year at the Cheshire County Conservation District. As in years past, our District staff of two and our wonderful board of supervisors worked diligently to support the conservation of Cheshire County’s soil, water, wildlife, & farm viability. We took on some new projects, continued some old, and are well on our way into the new year to expand on progress made, but not without first reflecting on some of our 2019 successes.
If you’ve ever wondered “What does the Conservation District even DO?” here’s a sneak peak at some of the great work we accomplished this year:
We were awarded a one-year grant through the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Urban Agriculture and Conservation Initiative to provide resources to the community for urban agriculture. We named our program “Monadnock Grows Together” and worked with a number of local partners to run an urban agriculture/gardening workshop series, establish a Seed Library and a Tool Lending Library now permanently housed at the Keene Public Library (KPL), and revamp the outdoor classroom at the Westmoreland Garden Project. Find more information about Monadnock Grows Together here.
We completed a stream restoration project on Thompson Brook in Surry, NH to support the conservation of native brook trout. In NH, brook trout are a species of special conservation concern and brook trout in Surry, NH will now have access to more high-quality stream habitat as a result of this project. Read more about this project here.
We continued to offer our suite of farm rental equipment to local farmers at a discounted rental fee and even added new equipment to the mix! This year we purchased a BCS walk-behind tractor – perfect for at-home gardeners and small-scale farmers – as well as a 12 ft. Esch no-till drill, and no-till vegetable planter. Check out all the equipment we offer to rent here.
We served a supportive role in the establishment of the Walpole & Alstead Land Stewardship (WALS) Collaborative. The WALS Collaborative is an informal group of private & public landowners in Walpole & Alstead, NH who share information and ideas while helping neighbors work together across property boundaries. In 2020 the WALS Collaborative seeks to offer community gatherings & conduct an ecological assessment of the focus area.
Our Annual Source to Sea River Clean-Up, in partnership with the Connecticut River Conservancy, drew out 73 community volunteers who removed 3,251 lbs. of trash from the Ashuelot River in Keene & Swanzey and Beaver Brook in Keene. This annual clean-up is typically held on the last weekend of September of each year.
We continued to support easy access to healthy, affordable food in the region through the Granite State Market Match program. Currently there are 11 locations in the County (Farmers’ Markets, CSAs, and Farm Stores/Stands) where SNAP recipients can double their dollars to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. Find more information here.
We continued our Veterans Appreciation Month program at the Hinsdale Farmers’ Market and expanded to also host the program at the Keene Farmers’ Market through the month of September. This program provides a free $20 coupon every week in September for Cheshire County veterans to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. This year we provided $6,560 in coupons to 112 veterans.
We made significant strides to launch our Community Supported Solar installation in cooperation with farms in the region. Sun Moon Farm of Rindge, NH was selected as the site partner and ReVision Energy was selected as the contractor and investment partner. Moving into 2020, we plan to finalize contracts with participating farms and the construction on the solar array.
We launched the first year of the Farm Share Program – a program that provides limited-income Monadnock Region residents with the opportunity to support their local CSA farmers and receive reliable high-quality produce on a regular basis all season long. CSA prices are discounted through a cost-share model where 25% of the cost is covered by the farmer, another 25% is provided by the Cheshire Medical Center for Population Health - this allows the participating families and individuals to receive their CSA vegetable share at a 50% discount! We look forward to continuing this popular program in 2020. Find more info here.
We continue to offer a wide range of grant programs to support landowners and farmers in the County. We continue to offer the Monadnock Food Co-op Farm Fund grant to support local farmers increase sustainable food production and wholesale sales, as well as the Jeffrey P. Smith Farm Scholarship to assist Cheshire County youth with the cost of attending summer farm camps. In 2020 we are also launching two new grant programs – the NH Farm Future Fund and the Conservation Opportunity Fund. More information on these programs if you click the links.
We could go on and on about our work (because this is a far from extensive list!), but hopefully this article has given you a good look into some of the great work we do at the District and in the County. The CCCD functions as a non-profit entity and as such, we are always greatly appreciative of monetary support from the community we serve. If you would like to make a donation to the CCCD please follow this link to make a donation online, or send your donation directly to us at 11 Industrial Park Dr. Walpole, NH 03608
We look forward to continuing to serve this great rural community in 2020 and we wish all of our friends & conservation supporters a happy and healthy new year!
Written by: Lola Bobrowski
CCCD Outreach Coordinator