North Conway, NH – With fall approaching, all eyes turn to pumpkins, apples and wonderful farm experiences, But, what exactly does Farm-to-Table mean? In Mt Washington Valley, NH Farm to Table can be as simple a concept as snipping fresh herbs from beneath the grow light at Wicked Fresh Craft Burgers, to add to your burger. It can mean picking out pumpkins grown on the farm or enjoying meals made from vegetables grown outside the kitchen door of the restaurant.
Wikipedia defines Farm to Table as a social movement which promotes serving local food at restaurants and school cafeterias, preferably through direct acquisition from the producer (which might be a winery, brewery, ranch, fishery, or other type of food producer which is not strictly a "farm"). Wikipedia also maintains that farm-to-table often incorporates a form of food traceability (celebrated as "knowing where your food comes from") where the origin of the food is identified to consumers.
With the outdoor recreation, healthy living focus among residents in Mt Washington Valley, it comes as no surprise that there are many options for Farm to Table living, dining and entertainment in the Valley. Here’s a sampling of Farm to Table opportunities for visitors to Mt Washington Valley, NH, recently referred to by Forbes.com as one of the 13 most beautiful places to travel this fall.
Table + Tonic, created by owners of The Local Grocer in North Conway, are bringing their garden to glasses and farm to table in their new North Conway restaurant. Here produce is sourced from their own permaculture farm and other local organic farmers whenever available. Their organic breads are made in-house and local organic eggs are used exclusively. The menu changes frequently, in rhythm with the changing harvests. Unique to this restaurant, Table + Tonic brings the herb garden to the bar with their Garden to Glass cocktails created from their own herb, fruit, and nut-infused shrubs, cordials, liqueurs, bitters, and homemade syrups – many with herbs and berries from their Mountain Flower Farm in Intervale, NH. Along with some traditional bar favorites, expect to enjoy fun creations like Kombucha cocktails and a mocktail menu for those who prefer a sophisticated beverage without the alcohol. From plant-based to gluten free, Paleo or conscious omnivore, sustainable diners will find an unexpected range of options to relish here. For info: https://www.tableandtonic.com.
Thompson House Eatery in Jackson, NH is owned by the Fournier Family, whose philosophy is rooted in New England values of simple hospitality, an emphasis on sourcing the finest local ingredients, cooking with a passion for flavor, and serving every guest as a welcome member of their family. With as much of the food on the menu sourced from their own garden, Chef and owner, Chef Jeffrey Fournier has also been instrumental in bringing back the Jackson, NH Farmer’s Market. Working side-by-side local farmers, Chef Jeffrey creates street-food market specials featuring ingredients from participating farms every Tuesday during the farmer’s market season. Amy Traverso, Food Editor for Yankee Magazine sums up the focus on local, healthy and fantastic cuisine in her article about favorite restaurants when she says, “Kate and Jeff Fournier, who previously owned 51 Lincoln and Waban Kitchen, have decamped for the White Mountains, bringing city polish to a local institution supplied with ingredients from their own farm.” Look for things like farmers boards of raw and prepared vegetables with house-made whole grain mustard, locally forged chanterelle mushroom sauté, or property tomato panzanella salad on the menu which changes with what’s fresh that season. For info: http://thethompsonhouseeatery.com/
Oxford House Inn, in Fryeburg Maine overlooks the very fields where much of the produce is grown within sight of the inn. Culinary Institute of America graduate, Chef/Owner Jonathan Spak, crafts seasonally changing menus to spotlight the what’s fresh from local farms. Maple syrup, local honey and much of the produce used at the inn come from the 200-year-old Weston family farms’ fields behind the inn. And within two miles of the inn, Sherman Farms supplies dairy and beautiful lettuces and tomatoes. The grass-fed beef served at the restaurant comes from Peppermint Field Farm in Fryeburg, offering a healthy option for meat eaters. Info: http://www.oxfordhouseinn.com.
Farm to Table Dinners
White Gates Farm offers the chance to get an up-close-and-personal chance to get to know the farm and the fields from whence their dinner comes. Spend a unique evening touring a working farm and enjoying dinner on the farmer’s porch. Upon arrival at the farm you’ll be greeted with a glass of lemonade to take with you on a walking tour of the farm. Learn about the farm’s biodiesel operation, the starter house and greenhouses, meet cows in the field, layer hens, broiler chickens in the field and chicks in the brood house from White Gates Farm’s knowledgeable and entertaining farmers. After your farm tour, return to the farmhouse and stay for dinner prepared by a local chef and served on the farmer’s porch. It’s a dining experience unlike any other you’ll find, and a unique way to spend an evening in New Hampshire. The popular tour and dinner price is $75.00 per person and held monthly, June through September. throughout the summer. All reservations are made online at the White Gates Farm website and are honored in order of being received. Dinners often sell out. Reserve here: http://www.whitegates-farm.com/farm-tours-dinners/.
Farmers will meet artists in a celebration of local flavors and beauty at Max’s Art Over Harvest dinners, November 2-3, 2018 at Max’s Restaurant & Pub at Snowvillage Inn in Eaton, NH. Over the summer, seven local artists painted or photographed scenes from farms surrounding the Snowvillage Inn in Maine and New Hampshire. Each of the artists will hand three artworks at the Snowvillage Inn throughout the month of November. To kick off the event, those farms featured in the artworks will be featured in special Farm to Table dinners on November 2 and 3. On Friday, November 2, everyone is invited to join participating artists at an opening reception with light refreshments from 4:00-6:00pm at Max’s Restaurant and Pub followed by a Friends and Family dinner where participating farmers, artists and friends will celebrate art, farm and food at a dinner exclusively featuring a creative menu utilizing produce, meats, fruits and herbs from the seven farmers’ gardens. Then on Saturday, November 3, another opening reception with the artists will take place from 5:00-6:00pm followed by a similar dinner including the artists, farmers and a similar creative menu featuring the fruits of their labors. The cost of this dinner will be $75 per person. Ten percent of the proceeds of the art sales will go to End 68 Hours of Hunger, a local backpack program where each weekend school children in need get a backpack full of food to "get them through" the weekend before they can eat at school again.
Fields on the Saco, now in its 11th year, was one of the original farm to table dinners in Mt Washington Valley. It’s a special dinner where everything that meets the lips of diners was grown within a 100-mile radius of the farm location where the dinner is held. The 11th Annual Fields on the Saco Dinner will be held this year on October 21, 2018 at The Hardy Farm in Fryeburg, Maine. Presented by the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, this wonderful farm-to-table dinner features a menu created from locally sourced produce and meats. Even the flowers adorning tables are local. Tickets will go on sale soon. Info: http://www.usvlt.org/fields-on-the-saco/.
Farm Stands and Cider Presses
Located on a picturesque farm in a 110 year old Barn, Weston’s Farm Market is more than just a farm stand. Featuring more than 200 varieties of their own vegetables – from lettuces to pumpkins along with their farm-boiled maple syrup, and more than 3000 stems of flowers grown and cut annually, this is an emporium of farm freshness. Meats offered here grazed within 10 miles of the store and more than 100 Maine and New England vendors are featured in the store offering everything from specialty foods, jams, artworks and more. Enjoy their fall farm festivals and winter maple syrup tastings. Pick a pumpkin from a wide variety grown here in the fall and trees, wreaths and other holiday items in December. Info: https://www.westonsfarm.com/fryeburg–market.html.
From their Future Farmers camp to Farm Futures and humanely raised cattle and pigs, Sherman Farms in Fryeburg is all about sustainability. In the farm store, you’ll find a wide variety of vegetables and flowers grown on the farm, plus baked goods and foods-to-go made either in-house or at nearby facilities. The pork and beef sold here come from livestock raised humanely on the farm with no antibiotics. Their signature milk is processed in small batches and delivered in recyclable glass bottles. Create your own bouquet or centerpiece from the cutting garden on the farm. In the fall, it’s a cornucopia of color with various kinds and sizes of pumpkins, and next door, they’re turned their cornfields into a fabulous corn maize. Through the Veggie Volunteers program, food is picked from the fields and delivered to food pantries throughout the region. The farm’s Future Farmers Program is a camp to teach children all about various aspects of the farm and the Farm Futures program is a customized CSA-like program where shoppers get to pick their products from the store. For more information, go to http://www.shermanfarmnh.com.
White Mountain Cider Co. uses apples grown in nearby Pie Tree Orchard to create cider before your eyes. Visit their signature red barn on weekends between mid-September and early December to watch cider being pressed on premises. Sample the sweet cider right off the press and/or take some home. During the fall season, try one of their apple cider slushies, made from their own cider (so refreshing!) or some of the in-house made apple pastries. Next door, the 1880s farmhouse restaurant features locally sourced foods on their creative menu throughout the year. Info: https://www.ciderconh.com.
For more information on farm-to-table experiences and vacations in Mt Washington Valley, please visit www.MtWashingtonValley.org or call 1-800-367-3364 (800-DO-SEE-NH). To learn more about visiting New Hampshire, go to www.VisitNH.gov
1. Farm to Table dining at White Gates Farm by Wiseguy Creative/Dan Houde
2. Westons Farm Stand by Marti Mayne/Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce