A+ A A-

Big Banana brings fresh, local produce to Messer Street storefront

LACONIA — Without the grinning gorilla, the Big Banana, the popular fruit and vegetable stand that was a landmark at McIntyre Circle for years, has been reincarnated by Joanne McNulty, who recently opened an urban farmstand on Messer Street.

McNulty,, who farms some two-and-a-half acres on Gunstock Hill Road in Gilford remaining from the Rowe Farm — among the oldest in town — said that her daughter Patrice, now 29, started the business as a child. "She wanted a pony," McNulty recalled, "and we told her she would have to work for it. She began growing zucchini, tomatoes and cucumbers," she continued. "Then she hitched the dog to her wagon and sold the vegetables to the neighbors." Patrice, who is pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of Maryland, not only got her pony, but paid a share of her college expenses.

Meanwhile, McNulty embarked on "community supported agriculture" (CSA), by which subscribers purchase shares of the anticipated harvest then collect their portions as the crops ripen. At the same time, she sold jams and jellies at area farmstands. She said that the CSA model proved very successful, but she was prohibited from operating a farmstand by the town zoning ordinance and the volume of traffic became something of a nuisance. "We just got too busy," she said. "We outgrew it."

The trade name Big Banana expired in 2003 and McNulty registered it with the New Hampshire Secretary of State in 2009, since when her CSA operation has gone that name. She said that the name will soon appear on sign marking the store.

On the eve of this year's harvest, McNulty rented space at 229 Messer St. where she intends to offer locally grown fruits and vegetables, along with fresh baked bread and pastries, jams and jellies as well as maple products, honey and coffee. She said that when she decided to open the store she posted a message on the New Hampshire Farm Bureau website that she was looking "for all kinds of stuff, including as much organic produce as I can get."

McNulty said that she was encouraged by the immediate response, which together with the produce from her farm, enabled her to offer a wide range of fruit and vegetables as well as breads, pies, maple syrup, soft drinks, coffee beans and honey, most grown and produced within a 35-mile radius of the shop. She said that she is seeking to make arrangements with a local butcher to provide a range of fresh, locally raised meats.

McNulty plans to remain open throughout the year with easy-to-store produce like potatoes, onions and squash along with carrots, parsnips, beets and turnips, which can be grown under hay and dug in the winter. She said she may also have vegetables raised in greenhouses.

"It's her business," said McNulty's husband Don, who is retired after a career as a financial executive with Catholic Medical Center in Manchester. "I just keep the books and manage the website," he said. "She's the boss."

CAPTION: Joanne McNulty hefts an ear of sweet corn and ripe tomato, just two of an array of fresh vegetables and fruits available at the Big Banana, the city's first urban farmstand. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/MIchael Kitch).

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 02:55

Hits: 447

Belmont tells some lakeside homeowners that their roads are private & plowing & maintenance will end

BELMONT — About 25 residents of a portion of Jefferson Road and Lakeside Drive have been notified that the town must stop all public maintenance of their roadways, including snow plowing, because they are private.

The roadways access a portion of the southern shore of lower Lake Winnisquam and are accessed off Union Road.

The letter states that New Hampshire state law RSA 231:59 prohibits the expenditure of public funds on private roads because of liability exposure and consistency of land use regulations.

"It's a misconception that these roads are public," said Selectman's Chair Ron Cormier to Michael Allan who came to the July 29 selectman's meeting for an explanation of the letter.

Allan told the board he is not a resident but was there on behalf of his disabled sister who is.

"We strenuously object to this," Allan said. He noted that the residents of "Jefferson Loop," or the portion of the road that lies to the northwest of the railroad tracks, collectively pay $250,000 annually to the town but get no services.

He asked the town to extend what he called the "emergency clause" to that section of the road.

The "emergency clause" to which Allan referred is one that confers a certain status on a road in order for a town to access certain public facilities that are accessible only through a particular road, explained Planning Technician Rick Ball yesterday.
Because of two town-owned pump stations, Wakeman Road and Bayview Drive will now be considered for emergency status and a public hearing will be held on the matter at 5 p.m. on August 19.

Allan also said that descendents of people who have lived in those houses for generations still live there and he thinks at least two families were there before 1948.

Ball said the New Hampshire Law says a road must have been prescriptively used or used without the permission of the landowner for 20 years prior to 1968 to be consider public. Prescriptive uses rarely if ever appear on deeds and is often difficult to determine.

It is one of four ways to create a public road, with the other three being that the town builds it on its own, builds it as part of a municipal plan, or if a deed holder dedicates the road to the town and the designation is accepted.

In the last case, a road that is built privately and dedicated to a town has to be up to standard code and the town must accept it formally as a public road.

Ball's research shows the easterly part of Jefferson Road as a public roadway, stemming from a vote at the 1936 annual Town Meeting. In 1937, the Hansons of Worcester County in Massachusetts granted the town of Belmont a quitclaim deed for $1 that gave it a 20-foot easement through their farm for a path that was already used to access the railroad tracks.

He said the western portion of Jefferson Road is "not as clear-cut" and he has never found any written record as to when and if this section became a public road.

"One can surmise that the reason for the Town Meeting vote to construct a town road from Union Road to the railroad crossing at Town Meeting in 1936 was because of the subdivision plan that created the Howland Campsite lots and the appurtenant roadway in 1935," he wrote.

Ball said that while recording a plan and conveying lots in accordance with the plan constitutes an intent to dedicate the street to public use, to be a public road, there must be an acceptance by the municipality and the acceptance had to be effective within 20 years of the offer.

He said his research of many of the deeds for public sewer and water in the western portion of Jefferson Road from 1978 to 1981 had the designation "private" in them. Minutes from 1935 to 1957 show selectmen knew the road was built and used but no formal acceptance was made, said Ball.

Selectmen approved the name "Jefferson Road" in 1961 and in 1973 selectmen told Road Agent Harold Reed to "plow Jefferson Road... if these people live there year round," wrote Ball in his report.

In a 2009 letter to residents about large rocks in front of their driveways, Public Works Director Jim Fortin asked them not to put the rocks there because it impedes plowing. He also told them about the ongoing road assessment — the results of which may reveal their road is private, telling them if that is the case, the town will not be able to continue plowing it.

The town asks that anyone with information to the contrary should contact the Land Use Planning office.

CAPTION ( Jefferson loop private) A map obtained from the town of Belmont shows the portion of Jefferson Road and Lakeside Drive that the town believes is private and will not likely be plowed or maintained in the future. There is a public hearing about Bayview Drive and Wakeman Road on August 19 at 5 p.m. for people to discuss declaring them emergency roads so officials can access the town's two sewer pumps.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 August 2013 03:21

Hits: 614

Locke out by vandals, Bear Island churchgoers hold service outdoors

MEREDITH — On Sunday, churchgoers arrived to attend Sunday services at the St. John's on the Lake Chapel on Bear Island to discover three or four men trying to jimmy the lock. But they weren't vandals, they were board members of the St. John's Association trying to get the doors open for the Sunday service. Apparently someone had tried to break into the chapel and broken off a piece of metal inside the lock.

The board members did not succeed in getting into their own church, but a beautiful service based on the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes was sung by the girls from Camp Nokomis on the steps. The beauty of the woods and sky and the nearly ninety year old church provided a serene and beautiful backdrop.

The St. John's Board says it has become increasingly vigilant against vandalism in recent years, installing a series of more and more serious locks.

"The good news is that the lock worked. They didn't get in," said Cyndy Mernick, vice president of the board.

Under discussion by the board now is a game camera. If anyone wishes to visit the church during the week, they should contact a board member to arrange to get a key or send an inquiry through the website at www.stjohnsonthelake.com, said Sharon Doyle, president of the association.


Last Updated on Saturday, 10 August 2013 02:44

Hits: 347

Suspicious device brings N.H. Bomb Squad to Central Street in Bristol

BRISTOL — The New Hampshire State Bomb squad used a water cannon on Thursday evening to determine what was called a "suspicious device" left on Central Street was benign.

At 6 p.m., the Police Department and Fire Department responded to the scene to check out the device and determined it "clearly contained material that was suspicious in nature".

The bomb squad and the DEA Response Team were called and the next four hours were spent evaluating the device.

The device was taken into the custody of police for evidence processing.

Anyone having information regarding who may be responsible for this device or has any information that may help the investigation please contact the Bristol Police Department at 603-744-2212.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 August 2013 02:30

Hits: 320

The Laconia Daily Sun - All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy
Powered by BENN a division of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Login or Register