October Community Member Spotlight: Pete's Stand
Each year the Cheshire County Conservation District honors an individual, business or organization with the “Cooperator of the Year” award. This celebrates the efforts the recipient has undertaken to steward the natural resources on their land in cooperation with the Conservation District and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This year we are thrilled to announce Pete’s Stand of Walpole, NH as our 2023 Cooperator of the Year!
Pete’s Stand is a mixed vegetable farm with fifty acres in production on fields and in two high tunnels in New Hampshire and Vermont. It's owned and operated by Teresa and John Janiszyn and they are the third generation of the Janiszyn family to be working this land over the past 50 years. Prior to them it was Pete and Mike Janiszyn, John’s grandfather and father respectively. Beyond themselves Teresa and John are supportive employers of eight full-time employees and other part-time employees in field operations and farmstand management during the growing season.
John started working full-time back on the farm in 2001 after returning from college. Teresa was teaching at a local school and started working at the farm in the summer of 2007 and she was drawn to making the farm a success. Together they have three children ages 5, 10, and 13 who have all been raised on the farm since they were infants and appreciate that a childhood on the farm has been a gift.
Seeing the positive impact that the farm can have on child development Teresa and John have worked with the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union to create farm-to-school programs for the region’s youth. They have partnered with Harley Sterling, School Nutrition Director, on incorporating farm fresh food into menus, as well as have kids out at the farm on field trips, and make classroom visits so youth can develop a relationship with the farm.
When asked what motivates them to do this work Teresa shared it is “feeding our community and helping folks maintain the traditions and personal connections they have with food and the land.” This work goes beyond the schools. John and Teresa value that their farmstand is a welcoming place for everyone in the community and they take strides to keep it affordable.
Pete’s Stand partners with the Conservation District on offering the Granite State Market Match (GSMM) program. GSMM allows low-income shoppers utilizing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to double their dollars. For every dollar they spend they get another dollar to spend on fruits and vegetables. Pete’s Stand does the most GSMM sales of any farm in Cheshire County. In 2022 they had over 1,200 customer transactions totaling approximately $9,000 additional dollars of fresh fruits and veggies getting to the people who can most benefit from it.
John shared “we love when people come in and can afford to buy in bulk to feed their families for the year the way their grandmothers did, like buying a bushel of cucumbers to pickle, and it makes financial sese for them to do it.”
Beyond keeping food accessible at their farmstand they outright donate thousands of pounds of food annually. In 2022 alone well over 40,000lbs of food was donated to organizations that include the Community Kitchen of Keene, Fall Mountain Food Shelf, Willing Hands of the Upper Valley of both NH and VT, and local schools. They pay staff to plant and harvest these vegetables so despite the costs being great to them they are deeply committed to improving the food security of our community. As John shared,
“Feeding people is the heart of being a farmer and the stand allows us to make this possible.”
In 2020 they added a new building to their farmstand and with that came refrigeration, freezers, more storage and the ability to open earlier in the spring and stay open through December. As they have expanded and modernized their farmstand they have made space for other local products. Over 35 other farms and a dozen food producers are vendors supported by the farmstand. For some farms this is their most reliable way to get food to customers. Teresa shared that they “try to give a wide range of producers an opportunity to make sales through the farmstand.” It has served as a launchpad for growing farm and food businesses in the region and their support contributes a great deal to our local food economy.
Though, this has not been without its challenges. Our changing climate has put a strain on the resilience of Pete’s Stand. Large storm events and flooding in 2023 caused the loss of 18 acres of crops. Community member support and more people continuing to shop locally is what is needed to keep them growing. They have grown their business; it is now more complex with more demands on management. They are striving to achieve a balance where these investments pay off for the long-term sustainability of their business and they can realize greater stability and a work life balance for their family.
Stewardship of natural resources is an important focus of the farm. John shared that he learned his philosophy on land stewardship from his dad, Mike Janiszyn, who focused on doing the extra work and being hands on. Together he and Teresa have worked to build a relationship with the land and an understanding of the natural systems and wildlife dependent on the land base they manage. To help them meet their conservation goals they have partnered with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service on practices that include the use of cover crops and crop rotation, reduced tillage, irrigation water management, nutrient management, and the installation of seasonal high tunnels. They have also worked with a local landowner on one of the fields they crop to help install a riparian buffer and natural material revetments along the Cold River. What keeps drawing them to farm season after season is that care for the land, the observations of the natural world, and the hands-on work to connect our community to these resources.
Though the farmers of Pete’s Stand have stewarded this land for many decades it has all been leased land and is desirable for development. Teresa and John purchased a 7.3 acre parcel of farmland and are actively placing a conservation easement on it with the Monadnock Conservancy. They want to see the land remain in agriculture for generations to come. They will continue to support other property owners who are interested in putting their farmland in conservation for the value it offers the community. John and Teresa shared that
“After all, the farm is where people connect to the land and eating food is their connection to the earth. Having access to agriculture is a real touchstone for our community.”
We are thankful to call Pete’s Stand our partners and it is with great honor that the Cheshire County Conservation District presents them with the 2023 Cooperator of the Year Award. We invite you to join in congratulating them and to visit their farmstand on Route 12 in Walpole!
We will be celebrating Pete's Stand at the Cheshire County Conservation District Annual Celebration on November 1st from 6:00-8:00PM at Stonewall Farm in Keene. An ode to community conservation, this event will feature live local
music, a delicious dinner, conservation stories and a silent auction. We would love to see you there! More details: https://celebrateCCCD.eventbrite.com.