Locally grown: Farmers' markets open for summer season (802)

LACONIA — Farmers' Markets in the Lakes Region are filled with the latest in-season vegetables and fruits in a growing season which is picking up steam after a slow start due to a long, cold winter.
Keith Descoteaux of Still Seeking Farm of Gilmanton was offering samples of his fresh strawberries to shoppers at the Laconia Main Street Outdoor Marketplace Thursday afternoon., where he was also selling reduced sugar jams which he says enable people to actually taste the fruit, all local and organic, as well as granola.
Descoteaux and his wife, Michelle, have been farming in Gilmanton since 2005 and he says that they tried for years to come up with the right kind of formula for a the soil at their farm and finally hit the jackpot when hey followed the advice of Dan Kittredge of the ''Real Food Campaign'' and started incorporating boron, lime, blood meal and other trace minerals which put them on the path to spectacular yields.
They also fill in the seasonal gap by making maple syrup starting in late winter and making maple syrup, an operation which has grown from 75 to over 800 taps.
Michelle is the director of The Laconia Farmers' Market, now in its 42nd year and which is the longest running farm market in New Hampshire. It is open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon in the parking lot on Beacon Street East in front of City Hall.
The market features a rotating lineup of 12 to 15 vendors, offering farm-fresh, local and organically produced food and artisan crafts, including tomatoes, herbs, greens, garlic, squash, beans, strawberries, meats, eggs, dairy, cheese, breads, pastries, granola, maple syrup, jams, jellies, freshly roasted coffee, hand-spun yarns, body care products, natural candles, and more.
The market offers EBT/SNAP benefits and will match all EBT purchases, with up to $10 free to spend on produce.
Descoteaux is encouraging customers to sign up for FarmFan, a new app that alerts customers to product availability, weather alerts, and rewards and prizes. To become a FarmFan, visit www.laconiafarmersmarket.com and sign up the free app.
"Using FarmFan helps us to better connect with customers and reward them for repeat business. Customers who join the free FarmFan program will get 'What's Fresh' alerts by text message right before the market opens, to let them know what's available at the market, including special offers from vendors. We love our market customers and wanted a better way to keep in touch with them about the wonderful products that our vendors sell. We are excited to reward our frequent shoppers and call them FarmFans," said Descoteaux.
Also taking part in Thursday's Laconia Main Street Outdoor Marketplace, which is open Thursdays from 3-6 p.m., was Aaron Lichtenberg of Winnipesaukee Woods Farm, which raises most of its vegetables on land it leases at the Rogers Farm in Gilford.
He says that Winnipesaukee Woods is primarily a Community Supported Agriculture farm, producing mixed vegetables and pasture raised eggs.
He was offering spinach, swiss chard, scallions and garlic scapes at the Laconia venue and says that he and his wife, Liz, a teacher at Alton Central School, also will take part in the Gilford Farmer's Market, which is new this year. Located at the historic Benjamin Rowe House on Belknap Mountain Road, the market will be open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until noon, from June through September.
It is run by the Thompson-Ames Historical Society which is raising funds to match an LCHIP grant for exterior renovation of the Rowe House and has 15 to 20 vendors according to Carmel Lancia, a member of the historical society's board of directors.
Also new this year is a Farmer's Markets in Belmont, scheduled for Sunday mornings at the Tioga Pavilion and parking lot near the Belmont Mill, which organizer Gretta Olson-Wilder says is being promoted as more of an event to attend versus a three minute dash to get lettuce. The Farmer's Markets will take place once per month on June 28, July 26, August 30, and September 20.
Belmont market hours will be 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ''It is hoped that they will become a gathering place by not only showcasing local vendors but to also offer a children's craft and/or activity and some live entertainment and demonstrations each month," says Wilder.
The Sandwich Farmers Market is open twice a week this year, on from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Corner House and Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Community Church on Church Street.
The market will feature locally grown vegetables, meat, herbs, flowers, maple syrup, jams and more.
The Wolfeboro Area Farmers Market will be open every Thursday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. through October at Clark Park, 233 South Main Street, in Wolfeboro.
Board President Fred Martin says that he expects there will be more than 25 vendors this year.
In Franklin there will be a Farmers' Market every Tuesday through September from 3-6 p.m. at Franklin Regional Hospital.

Finer Diner opens in Laconia Antique Center

LACONIA — "I was the oldest of three helping my mother and food just came naturally to me," said Tommie Ryan, who recently reopened the lunch counter and soda fountain at the Laconia Antique Center as The Finer Diner. "The extra good taste is the love I put into it."

Ryan, who has owned several businesses in the Lakes Region during the past 30 years, said that she recently closed an antique store and came to the Laconia Antique Center seeking to rent space. She said that Charlie St. Clair, who owns the building and manages the business, is an old friend, asked her if she knew anyone who could cook and she immediately answered "pick me".

"I'm keeping things as retro as possible," Ryan said, adding that without a friolator, "I can't do greasy burgers and fries." But, St. Clair said that "her grilled cheese is to die for." She explained that she uses only buttery bread then butters both sides to brown in the grill. Other choice include egg, tuna or chicken salad, hot dogs — with chili or sour kraut — sausage dogs —with pepper and onion — and meatball subs.
The "Wicked Gobbla Wrap," a taste of the holidays with turkey cran-mayo, swiss cheese, red onion, warm stuffing and cranberry sauce tops a selections and wraps.

Four sorts of pasta — spaghetti, fettuccini, shells and ziti — come with either white alfredo or yellow cheese sauce and a selection of meat.

Although Ryan begins serving at 10 a.m., when the center opens, she offers a breakfast menu eggs, baked beans, bacon and sausage as well as French toast and cereal.

"The prices are retro too," Ryan said. Sandwiches range between $3 and $6.50. A dish of pasta with four meatballs costs $4.50 and $1 buys a pair of garlic knots on the side.

Ryan serves Gifford's Ice Cream from Skowhegan, Maine, made by the same family for the past five generations, and coffee from the Woodshed Roasting Company of Laconia. She said she hopes to arrange with local bakers to expand her range of desserts beyond sundaes, shakes, floats and frappes.

All prices at The Finer Diner include the state tax. But, notices on the counter remind patrons to "Show Us Your Tips".


CAPTIONÚ Tommie Ryan, dressed in her retro pink and black ensemble, serves ice cream, breakfast and lunch with the ambience of the 1950s for near '50's prices at the counter of The Finer Diner at the Laconia Antique Center. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Commission majority asking for investigation of alleged Burchell leak of confidential information to county employee

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners voted earlier this month to investigate leaks of information from non-public meetings with an eye to censuring Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton). Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) has accused of providing a county employee with information discussed in a non-public meeting.
Burchell has denied the allegation, which DeVoy made at a June 4 meeting of the commission, and questioned the accuracy of the minutes of that meeting at yesterday's meeting of the commission.
DeVoy repeated his claim yesterday, saying that Burchell left a meeting off the commissioners which was still in progress and went to an employee where he shared information abut what was taking place behind the door he had just closed.
''You left the meeting and went right to the employee, where sensitive information was leaked out,'' DeVoy said, adding that when he went to talk to the employee after the meeting the employee told him that he already knew what he (DeVoy) was going to tell him.
DeVoy also said that Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin had received a phone call about leaked information and that the call would be one of the subjects of an investigation which he and Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) have authorized.
DeVoy said yesterday that Taylor will contact the Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen about an investigation and that if she has reservations about undertaking one that Taylor will contact the state Attorney General's office.
Burchell has said that he has read quotes from newspapers of non-public records which were cited by Taylor, an allegation denied by Taylor, and said that if there is an investigation that it should look at all three commissioners.
DeVoy said that although the June 4 meeting was open to the pubic that news media were not present nor was the meeting videotaped by Lakes Region Public Access television.
There was also discussion yesterday of the Jail Planning Committee, which is headed by Commissioner DeVoy, and whether two commissioners could be at a meeting without it requiring the posting of public notice of a meeting of the commission. Burchell had said that he did not think it would be considered a commission meeting if he attended and felt it important that his views be represented, as he has a different view than the other two commissioners.
Burchell has said that he expects the cost of a proposed community corrections facility will be closer to $10 million than the $7 million which DeVoy has set as a target for the architectural firm working on a schematic design of the proposed facility.
Commissioners also took up Burchell's request for e-mail records of communications between County Administrator Debra Shackett and DeVoy as well as department heads. He said that he didn't think he should have to file a Right-to-Nnow request in order to gain access.
His fellow commissioners said that requests for specific information was fine but that broad requests for hard copies of a large number of e-mails which created a huge workload for the administration department were not.
Burchell said he had dropped his request for hard copies of the e-mails and his fellow commissioners said that blanket requests, which Taylor characterized as ''a witch hunt'', could not be undertaken without the approval of the other commissioners.

Retiring Laconia police officer thanked for 17 weeks of Motorcycle Week 'street smarts'

LACONIA — Laconia Police Lt. Al Lessard was honored at a Laconia Motorcycle Week Association press conference held Wednesday morning at the Naswa Resort..
It was the last day on the job for Lessard, who is retiring after 17 and a half years with the Laconia Police Department.
He was called to the front of the room by Laconia Motorcycle Week executive director Charlie St. Clair, who said that Lessard was a joy to work with during Bike Week over his 17 years with the department because of his ''street smarts".
St. Clair presented Lessard with a 100th anniversary commemorative shirt and said that since he was retiring to South Carolina, site of an annual Bike Week event at Myrtle Beach, that he expected him to be a good will ambassador for Laconia Bike Week, which celebrates its 92nd anniversary this week.
He also said that since the exact dates of Laconia's 100th anniversary event are on the shirt, Lessard has no excuse for not showing up for it.
Lessard joked that in anticipation of his move he had even sold his car and would need a ride home after work.
St. Clair said that 200 riders showed up Wednesday morning for a 200-mile Gypsy Tour ride which took in at least 10 covered bridges in New Hampshire, the largest contingent of riders for any of the week's events so far.
On Thursday there will the annual ''Ride to the Sky'' up the Mt. Washington Auto Road, which is open only to motorcycles and the 22nd annual POW/MIA Freedom Ride from Lowe's parking lot in Gilford to the POW/MIA monument at Hesky Park in Meredith. The ride gets underway at 6 p.m.
St. Clair said that the American Police Motorcycle Museum in Meredith drew its largest crowd ever on Monday, when rain was falling and that it was nice to see people taking in local attractions.
He said that a custom bike show and slow race will be held in downtown Laconia today and that the 11th annual City of Laconia Bike Show will be held Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Opechee Park.