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North Country Farmers Cooperative celebrates its incorporation

Photo by Edith Tucker Julie Moran of Colebrook, who instigated and organized the newly incorporated North Country Farmers Cooperative, and Mountain View Grand executive chef Adam Parker co-hosted a celebration on Sunday afternoon at the Grand Hotel in Whitefield to formally mark this step in the ongoing revival of the local farm and baking community. (click for larger version)
March 27, 2013
WHITEFIELD — After five years of working together farmers and bakers celebrated their incorporation as a cooperative business, bringing together their unique talents and experiences at a gala occasion held on Sunday afternoon at the Mountain View Grand.

The organization's first CEO and president, Julie Moran of Colebrook, started the project five years ago when she moved to that town and could not find local farms, explained state Commissioner of Agriculture, Markets & Food Lorraine Merrill to the over 100 local food enthusiasts gathered in the Grand Hotel's Presidential Hall for the incorporation ceremony. But when she found the farmers they said they could not find the customers the needed to sustain themselves. With the help of Rick Demark of North Country RC&D and funding from USDA and the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, Moran developed a small distribution system for a band of farmers around Colebrook.

Working from a carefully crafted script, board members were asked what they would bring to the co-op and to discuss their intentions moving forward.

"I bring a whole organization of farmers and bakers, along with their customers and supporters, and a low-cost, efficient system of ordering and delivering locally grown food," Moran replied. "I intend to continue to lead, direct, and manage the co-op as we develop it, adding new farms, food producers, and infrastructure that will build our economy literally from the ground up."

Vice president Daniel Duhaime of Wolf Howling Farm in Stratford, secretary Scott LeFoll of The Farmer Around the Corner in Maidstone, and treasurer Dean Stockwell of Stockwell Farms in Colebrook, and at-large members Patricia Craig of Apple Haven Farm in Stewartstown, and Timothy Wennrich of Meadowstone Farm in Bethlehem each replied that they would bring their needed skills to the co-op.

Nearly all North Country charter members — representing 20 farms and two bakers — came forward to sign the membership agreements: Robert and Pam Petrofsky of Bear Rock Gardens in Stewartstown; Diane Richey of D's Delights in Bethlehem; Jimmy Crosley of Grand View Farm in Colebrook; Elaine Haynes of the Haynes Homestead in Colebrook; Kevin and Bonnie Hurley of Hurley's Honey in Colebrook; Nicole MacKay of Ivan's Hilltop Farm in Littleton; Todd and Gale Brown and Preston Colby of Lancaster Floral Design and Garden Center; Jack and Joyce Dunlap of McMann Farms in Stratford; Sandy Brocaar and Ed Bickford of MiVida Gardens of Madison; Glen Mitchell of Mountain Garden Veggies of Jackson, Pierre Miron and Micheline Freyssonnet of New Earth Organic Farm in Colebrook; Alan Brasseur Northern Woods Garden Center in Northumberland; Jeff and Linda Plaisted of Old Crow Farm in Stewartstown; Bert and Kris Von Dohrmann of Otokahe Farm in Jefferson; Magdalena Randall of the Polish Princess Bakery in Lancaster; and Kitty Kerner and Clay MacDonald of Winter Greens Farm and Aquaponics in North Stratford. No one was able to be on hand from the Faith Valley Farm in Jefferson, but they sent in their proxy.

Gov. Maggie Hassan had asked state Sen. Jeff Woodburn to read her statement: "Agriculture has been central to the economy of the Granite State since its founding. Local farmers are a bridge stretching from our state's past into its future. The North Country Farmers Co-op will help facilitate simple and affordable systems for purchasing locally produced products, help support and educate members and partners, and assist members in bringing awareness and visibility to New Hampshire's high-quality local products."

Chuck Henderson read a letter to Moran from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: "Your vision for an agricultural revival is important for our health, our conservation of precious rural landscapes, and the local economies."

Brian Bresnahan brought congratulations and the good wishes of Congresswoman Annie Kuster.

Moran praised the day's co-host Mountain View Grand executive chef Adam Parker as well as the restaurants and institutions that are on the regular list of customers.

The co-op serves, in essence, as the Farmers Marketing Cooperative, allowing farmers and bakers to concentrate on what they know best.

Patron Partners include Park at the MVG; chef Matt Houghton at the AMC Highland Lodge; Leslie Fletcher at Thompson House Eatery; Liz Jackson at Libby's Bistro and SAALT Pub and Charlie Burke, Farm to Restaurant Connection.

Those who provided technical services were also thanked, including Cathy Conway, Mike Welch and Katelyn Robinson of the Northern Community Investment Services.

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Varney Smith
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