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.
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.
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.
School to Farm Day: Vegetables
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
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.
We are taking orders until March 3, 2021!
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.
Contact us if you would like a catalog and order form mailed to you. Otherwise, you can view and print them from the links below.
Pick-up catalogs and order forms at these places in your community: Claremont Community Center, Beaver Pond Farm Stand, 100 Mile Market, Dunbar Free Library, Acworth Village Store, Plainfield Country Store, Claremont Spice & Dry Goods, and Goshen Country Store.
Orders can be mailed, emailed or phoned in. Checks must be sent by mail. Orders need to be in by the deadline, payment can follow in the mail.
Planting & Care Information
The Conservation District is supporting the Cornish Fair's Campaign to raise money for the construction of a new Dairy Barn.
The Cornish Fair is the area’s best-attended, weekend-long, family-oriented event. Over 30,000 visitors and participants enjoy our fair. The fair celebrates Grafton and Sullivan County’s past, present and future in agriculture, remaining one of the few traditional country fairs left of its kind in New England. Local 4-H, dairy, youth organizations, and others, showcase their skills, animals, and products during the fair for all to see and admire.
Proceeds from the fair help fund annual scholarships to deserving youth in the region. The 4H Dairy Cattle component of the Cornish Fair has been an important part of the annual event for over half a century. It has become the largest event of its kind in the state and one of the largest in the Northeast. The dairy barn has seriously deteriorated, and despite many repairs and dedicated upkeep, will need to be torn down and replaced with a modern facility. The budget deficit for building a new dairy barn is $57,000.
This project connects to our mission of supporting local agriculture and promoting place-based education. We hope you will join us.
HOW TO DONATE: You can donate by adding a donation to your plant sale order payment. There is a place on the order form that you can earmark donations for specific projects the District is helping to support this year including the Cornish Fair Barn. Hopefully the Dairy Barn will be completed for the 2021 Fair!
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.
Cover Crop Workshop
Caring for Berry Bushes
Learn how to plant and care for blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry plants. This workshop will be on the same day as plant order pick-up and just down the road at the Eco Ag Center at the Sullivan County Complex.
Saturday, May 1, 2021
Eco Ag Center, Unity, NH
Timing and schedule will be announced in April. It will be between 10am -12pm.
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.
Fruhlings Farm in Claremont is one of our Demonstration Sites.
Stay tuned for more dates.
Apple Pruning Demonstration
Stan McCumber and Jenny Wright, veteran apple tree pruners from Unity will lead the demonstration.
Please bring water, wear sturdy shoes, dress appropriate for the weather, and bring work gloves, handsaws, and/or rakes if you have them.
Join us for just 1 or both of these activities! Everything is FREE including lunch. Donations will be accepted for continued care and restoration of the orchard. This is a family friendly event, so bring everyone you know!
Apple Pruning Demo
North Charlestown Community School
509 River Rd. Charlestown, NH 03603
Apple Pruning Manuals by Jenny Wright