Local farm organizers honored

PETERBOROUGH – On Sunday, Nov. 23, the Monadnock Center of History and Culture, 19 Grove St., and Peterborough Grange #35 honored Traugher Groh, Lincoln Geiger and Anthony Graham of the Temple-Wilton Community Farm at a public recognition ceremony. The selectmen of both Wilton and Temple proclaimed Nov. 23 as Temple-Wilton Community Farm Day.

The community farm, begun in 1968, is one of the oldest Community Supported Agriculture projects in the country. It is one of over 8,500 such farms. Geiger and Graham continue to operate Four Corners Farm in Wilton, but Groh’s health has kept him from recent participation.

The Temple proclamation notes the “increasing interest in farmers’ markets, organic foods, locally produced foods, and small scale farming in New Hampshire.”

Groh brought the idea of a CSA from Europe. Geiger and Graham were interested in the idea of agriculture supported by shareholders.

For many years, they farmed on rented land in Temple and Wilton, which posed problems when the land was sold. Around 2000, the farm acquired a 40-acre orchard with the help of the Conservation Commission.

“It had 26 clear acres,” Geiger said in an interview in 2010. By then, it was almost all clear and producing hay. The orchard was deemed beyond saving for production.

Four Corners Farm, with about 70 acres, was acquired through several grants and easements from federal, state, and town sources. More recently, the farm acquired another 115 acres of what Geiger called “decent farmland.”

Four Corners Farm, one of the oldest farms in Wilton, is the only dairy farm left in town. In 2010, their dairy herd numbered 30 animals. They also have a flock of producing chickens.

The farm opened a cafe two years ago which uses local products as much as possible. The farm is also licensed to sell raw milk. There are more than 100 shareholders.

With the dairy, egg production, cold storage and production of winter vegetables, the farm operates year round.

The Grange proclamation notes: “We want to recognize these three farmers for their vision and implementation of the community supported agriculture concept which helped to set the stage for humanity to reconnect to agriculture, a beacon for young people to become energized to farm in a healthy, connected-to-the-community fashion.”

Other organizations joining in the ceremony included the New Hampshire State Grange, New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, National Biodynamic Association and Steven McFadden, author of several books on CSAs.

Students in the third and fourth grades from Pine Hill Waldorf School sang songs in tribute to the farmers.