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Sullivan County Conservation District

 95 County Farm Rd. Unity, NH 03743

 603-542-9511 x269

Local Agriculture

We support farmers and growers by hosting a variety of workshops and demonstrations focused on best practices that highlight innovative tools and techniques.  Some of these techniques are being researched at the Eco Ag Center in Unity, NH and at Fruhlingsfarm in Claremont.  We also support education programs, organizations, and businesses that sell or use locally grown and produced food.  We offer fruit trees, berry bushes, trees and shrubs, as well as pollinator plants in our annual Spring Plant Sale at low costs for producers and gardeners.  

 
Eco Ag Center

Located at the

Sullivan County Complex

95 County Farm Rd.

Unity, NH 

High Tunnels

cucumbers growing in high tunnels, colby sawyer

Community Gardens

cabbages growing in rows in garden

Pollinator Garden

butterfly nectaring on joe pye weed

Outdoor Classroom

group of people learning in garden, outdoor classroom
 
High Tunnel Research

The Sullivan County high tunnels were installed in 2014 with support from local volunteers and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Its purpose is to promote agricultural experimentation and education.

The tunnels are currently being used to evaluate an innovative high tunnel (or greenhouse) covering called Solawrap and to compare conventional vs. bionutrient soil fertilization techniques. Through an ongoing partnership between faculty and students of Colby-Sawyer College and dedicated local volunteers, crop trials are being conducted in the high tunnels to see if different coverings and soil amendments produce any measurable differences in either crop yields or quality.  The students are also researching irrigation systems for the high tunnels. They present their findings to the public each spring. 

The Xerces Society is testing a seed mixture that promotes beneficial insects.  We planted this mixture in strips on the inside edges of the high tunnels in 2017 and 2018.  These insectary strips also draw pollinators into the high tunnels.  Pictures of the strips are taken throughout the year to document plant growth and record when specific species are in bloom.  Volunteers water the plants 2-3 times a week.

 

If you are interested in gardening with us, please contact the Garden Manager, Norm Sanville, to see if there are any vacant plots available

Sullivan County Community Garden

The Community Garden is an educational, organic garden that provides county residents with an opportunity to grow abundant produce and create beautiful landscapes.  Gardeners grow vegetables, flowers, and herbs to satisfy their hunger and delight their spirits.  Since the garden is located on county lands, gardeners are also stewards of public land.  They work cooperatively to share use of the land and learn from each other.  

The public are welcome to visit the gardens and take a self-guided tour, but please don't pick the flowers or produce as the gardeners work hard to grow them.  Check out the signage during the growing season to learn something new, including how to make your own Hugelkultur bed.  

Hugelkultur, pronounced Hoo-gul-culture, means hill culture or hill mound.  It is a composting method that uses large pieces of rotting wood as the centerpiece for long term decomposition.  This allows a raised bed to be planted on top.  The community garden Hugelkultur bed was created in the summer of 2017 with the help of Andy Jenks of Windblown Tree and Tractors. 

 
Pollinator Garden & Monarch Waystation

The Sullivan County Pollinator Gardens were established in 2015 to illustrate practices to improve and enhance native bee habitat. The gardens use a combination of existing landscape and new plants and are designed to provide the longest flowering period possible. In 2018, this garden also became a Monarch Waystation providing host plants for caterpillars and nectar sources for adults. 

 

IMPORTANCE OF POLLINATORS

Pollinators are vital to maintaining healthy ecosystems. They are essential for plant reproduction, and produce genetic diversity in the plants they pollinate. The more diverse plants are, the better they can weather changes in the environment. Best of all, pollinators such as hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies are beautiful and fascinating.

 

Biologists fear several butterfly and bumblebee species have disappeared from parts of their range. It appears that habitat loss and pesticide poisoning account for much of the population declines. We can do our part to support pollinators by creating pollinator- friendly gardens and protecting wildlife habitat.

COLLECTING NATIVE SEEDS

Volunteers help collect seed from the native plants throughout the summer and fall.  They are overwintered and sold in mixed seed packets in the Spring Plant Sale.  Local students create seed packet art that adorns the covers. Local schools are given some of the seeds to improve pollinator habitat in their school yards.  

WHY NATIVE PLANTS?

Pollinators are specially adapted to native plants, which are best adapted to the local growing season, climate, and soils. Most pollinators feed on specific plant species. Non-native plants may not provide pollinators with enough nectar or pollen, or may be inedible to butterfly or moth caterpillars.

POLLINATOR GARDEN PHENOLOGY PROJECT

We want to know when each plant in our pollinator garden blooms and how long the blooms last.  The goal is to always have something blooming during the growing season for pollinator use.  We also want to know what kind of pollinators are visiting each plant.  This involves observing the plants in the garden, taking pictures of pollinators at specific plants, and recording the number of blooms of each species.

Please contact us if you would like to volunteer in any of the ongoing projects in the Pollinator Garden.

Nearly all of the plants are native to NewHampshire, although many have becomeuncommon or even rare in the state. Theplants are marked for easy identification andare being evaluated for ease of cultivation,survivability, and suitablity to agricultural applications.

 
Outdoor Classroom

The Eco Ag Center is one of our place-based education hubs located on County Lands.  It includes our outdoor classroom space which is were many of our nature, gardening, agricultural and school programs begin.  It's close proximity to diverse habitats such as a pond, stream, forest, garden and field make it an ideal site for nature studies.  Nature trails and a maple sugaring house are also nearby. 

Previous workshops and programs focused on a variety of topics including:

  • Creating Hugelkultur Beds

  • Fern, Tree, and Salamander Identification

  • Putting your Garden to Bed

  • School to Farm Day

  • Pollinators: Busy Bees

  • Wilderness Navigation Series

School to Farm Day: Vegetables

 
Spring Plant Sale

The plant sale is held every spring and features a variety of quality plants at good prices - shade trees, fruit trees, berry bushes, wildlife plants, and flowering plants.​ This is an annual fundraiser that supports local conservation activities throughout the year, including public workshops, school education programs, and projects. All of the plants offered are hardy, healthy, and adapted to our growing conditions.  

The 2019 Catalog is here!

If you are in need of plants for conservation work throughout the year, please contact us.  The best time to order these plants is in late fall.  We will do what we can to help you out. 

Bulbs and Plugs
Sullivan County Cidery

Got Apples?

Sullivan County Natural Resources Department has cider making equipment available for public use.

Staff and trained volunteers will be ready to help you turn your apples into fresh-squeezed cider.  We ask that you have at least 2 people in your group that can help at the cidery, though 3-4 are preferred.  Children are welcome as long as they are supervised by an adult. This adult is not counted in the 2 helping at the cidery.  Appointments must be made at least 1 day in advance. The cider pressing season isn't very long - only from the end of August until end of October, so make your appointment today!  

Bring your apples and turn them into fresh squeezed cider!

 

CIDERY EQUIPMENT

Includes a fruit washing station, an electric fruit grinder, a Lancman water press, and an iced bin to cool cider.

Making Cider

The best cider is made from a variety of apples, including some that are more “sharp” or “bitter” tasting. Everyone’s tastes differ, but in general pressing at least 3 varieties of apples with different flavors will produce the most satisfying cider.

 
Each pressing requires 4.5 bushels (~192 lbs) of apples and produces 11-12 gallons of cider. On average, a 5-gallon bucket of apples weighs 20 lbs.  The press must be full for proper use, so if you don’t have access to many types or to 4.5 bushels of apples, we suggest you connect with others who have apples and come to the Cidery together.

 

Apples for pressing must be picked from the tree or fall onto a tarp or cloth.  Drops are not allowed as they can be contaminated by wildlife and harbor dangerous pathogens. It is best to pick apples when they are dry. Store apples in clean containers and plan on pressing as soon as possible. Keep apples as cool as possible between picking and pressing, ideally at or below 45 F. Don’t store wet apples as this can cause them to rot.


The juice you make will not be pasteurized, so it will have a limited shelf life.  You might consider freezing it or cooking it into apple juice to preserve it for later. Cider is for personal use only and may not be sold commercially.

The Process

Cleaning Apples
We will provide facilities where you can rinse your apples, but the apples you bring should be intact with no breaks in the skin or rot.


Grinding Apples
Children ages 10 and older can participate, younger children need to be supervised at all times. 


Pressing Apples
Our bladder press uses water power to make the cider, about three times as much cider as a hand press can make (and no turning!)


Jugging Cider
The cider is bottled in sterile, food-grade jugs which freeze well. Jugs, caps and labels are supplied. Cider will be set on ice to stay cool.


Cleaning Up
All participants are expected to help with cleaning the equipment after use. 

What do I bring?
All you need to supply are the apples and coolers to bring the cider home. Everything else is supplied by us.


How long will it take?
About 1.5 hours is needed to complete a pressing, which includes washing, grinding, pressing, jugging and helping to clean up the equipment.


When is the Cidery open?
October 7 - 25 on weekdays. You must call ahead to schedule a visit to the Cidery. When you arrive, volunteers will teach you the process of making cider. There is a 2 pressing limit per group.


How much does it cost?
$12.50 per pressing, which pays for the jugs, lids, and stickers.

Where is the Cidery located?

Sullivan County Complex on County Farm Rd. in Unity, NH. 

Directions

From Claremont:

Take Chestnut St (2nd NH Turnpike) toward Unity, about 4.8 miles. At the Sullivan County Complex sign, continue straight onto County Farm Rd.  Just after the cemetery turn right onto a gravel road.  The blue building on the right houses the Cidery.

 
From Lempster and Route 10:

Take 2nd NH Turnpike toward Claremont 10.1 miles. At the Sullivan County Complex sign, take a left onto County Farm Rd. Just after the cemetery turn right onto a gravel road. The blue building on the right houses the Cidery.

 
 
 
Workshops and Demonstrations

Sullivan County hosts educational workshops related to natural resources conservation and agriculture.  Workshops are added throughout the year as funding and staffing allows.  Sign-up for our mailing list and like our Facebook page to be the first to know about upcoming workshops or check out our calendar of events.

To the right is a list of workshops and demonstrations we have hosted recently. If you have an idea for a workshop, please let us know.

Past Workshops

Apple Pruning​

Hugelkultur Demonstration

Planting for Pollinators

​Growing Mushrooms

Cover Crop Workshop 

Cover Crop Workshops

Cover crops keep soil in place and help to replace nutrients and build healthy soil.  We are conducting cover crop trials with owner, Robin Wittemann in partnership with NRCS at Fruhlingsfarm in Claremont. 

 

Workshops are ongoing and new dates and topics will be shared here as they come up. 

Stay tuned for more dates.

More farmers are needed to take part in the cover crop trials, testing new mixes.  If you are interested, contact us before March 15, 2019.

Erosion Control Field Days

Stonewall Farm in Keene, NH

Training for professionals working in soils, erosion control, water quality, public works, engineering, roads, planning, and consulting.

These field days are a unique combined effort between the private and public sectors to share information and promote a better understanding of the latest tools available to all who are entrusted with protecting our precious soil and water resources.

The day will start with classroom sessions and move outdoors to small group sessions for hands-on demonstrations.

The 2017 Field Days are finished.  Check back in late spring 2019 for the next ones.

Apple Pruning Demonstration

Stan McCumber and Jenny Wright, veteran apple tree pruners from Unity will lead the demonstration. This event is FREE and open to the Public. 

 

Please bring water, wear sturdy shoes, dress appropriate for the weather, and bring work gloves if you have them. 

Coming April 2020

Stay Tuned for more information!

Apple Pruning Manuals by Jenny Wright