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Lakes Region Profiles – Entrepreneurial spirit at Beans and Greens Farm

I walked into Beans and Greens the other day and saw a Zestar apple displayed at the pinnacle of a mountain of apples in an antique wagon. It was shinning red and gold. I could almost see a halo over it. The taste did not disappoint. Nothing at Beans and Greens disappoints. The quality of this apple represents the care taken by the Howe family to grow, harvest, wash, and prep their produce to offer the best to their customers.

Let me paint a picture for you. The road to Beans and Greens meanders through beautiful open meadows. It is idyllic farmland. This working farm has preserved the pastoral setting that is typical of the lovely Town of Gilford. The store is housed in an authentic New England barn with rough-hewn beams, classic board-and-batten siding and green metal roof. You can feel the earthy goodness.

Beans and Greens of Timber Hill Farms is one of the Lakes Region farms on the cutting edge of the "buy local, buy organic" movement. The NH Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food named it a New Hampshire Farm of Distinction. Andy and Martina Howe took over full operation of the farm in 1998. Martina and Andy's sons, Isaac and Alexander, and daughter, Katrina, are also active in the family business. According to Beans and Greens webpage, it is one of only three remaining active farms in Gilford. The farm store offers fresh produce and other New Hampshire products in abundance. Over the years Beans and Greens has grown in size and activities. Every time you visit, there seems to be something novel and innovative to enjoy.

Apart from providing farm products of exceptional quality, the farm store has a state-of-the-art bakery with a vast array of fresh baked pies, cookies, and specialty items. A section is allocated to egg free, dairy free, sugarless, and wheat free items. Have you dreamed of that unusual pie your grandmother used to bake? The staff in the bakery will do their best to recreate the pie and those memories for you. Adjacent to the bakery is the deli, which features many gourmet items on a clever menu. What hungry person wouldn't be enticed by a sandwich or wrap named 'The Tractor" or 'The Pig Pen?" Just so you're not wondering, 'The Pig Pen" ingredients include all natural ham, cheese, and fresh veggies.

A walk through the store is like a walk through a farm museum. The rafters are filled with farm antiques – wagons, plows, a horse drawn carriage, a sleigh, barrows, baskets, and farm implements. You are walking through a bit of the history of the farm, a history that spans over two hundred years from when the Honorable Ebenezer Smith first bought the land in the late 1770s. The land has been active farmland since that time. The barn store itself is one of the original Smith family barns. Built in 1838, it was beautifully restored by the Howe family. Apart from the history, the displays of produce and products in the store are works of art. The colorful fruits, veggies, and candies are arranged with great care. Everywhere you turn, you encounter a photo moment. One thing is abundantly clear as you move through the building and the surrounding displays of plants and flowers: the Howe family has gone out of their way to provide the quintessential farm store experience for their customers.

Outside the store are numerous greenhouses, which allow Beans and Greens to provide a large variety of annual and perennial plants and great activities. They have been gearing up for the grand opening of this year's corn maze. Other fall events beginning later in September include hayrides around the fields and a veggie sling shot. The farm also offers fun and educational fieldtrips for schools. Some of the activities available include petting and feeding animals, exploring a section of the corn maze with an opportunity for Q&A's, observation of the beehive, feeding the fish in the water garden, exploring the green house hay maze, picnicking, and pumpkin picking. Beans and Greens also hosts creative birthday parties and seasonal PYO flowers, strawberries, and pumpkins. Check the Beans and Greens website for more details on all these activities and more.

Near the store is the Beans and Greens Pavilion. This impressive timber frame structure is available for parties and other get-togethers. It also hosts seasonal farm dinners with intriguing names such as the Thunder Moon Pig Roast & Dance or the Blue Moon BBQ Dinner. Recently, a lot of the young princesses in the Lakes Region immersed themselves in the construction of fairy houses under the Pavilion. Beans and Greens provided all the necessary supplies, tools, and supervision. During the event, country music played in the background and created a perfect atmosphere for the young princesses to twirl around in their fairy costumes.

The Howe family also owns Timber Hill Farm, which has been in the family since the 1940s and is a short distance from Beans and Greens. The farm now consists of numerous plots around the Timber Hill location. The current operations include the Beans and Greens farm store, the greenhouses, timber framing, logging and forestry, haying, and other activities. There are no words to describe the expansive hilltop meadow with the backdrop of lakes and mountains, including Mount Washington on a clear day. Check out the Timber Hill Farm website for more information.

The Howes' farm is also a New Hampshire Community Supported Agricultural Farm. CSAs allow the community to support their local farmers by purchasing subscriptions for products at the start of the season. This provides money in advance to begin the arduous process of planting, caring for the crops, and other expenses. Membership subscriptions are available for Beans and Greens summer and winter programs called their Healthy Harvest Subscriptions. The subscribers share in the bounty of meats and produce grown at the farm throughout the season. Beans and Greens' program allows the subscribers to choose their own products, including those from their selection of all natural meats. This and other CSA programs are a perfect way to support your local farmers and reap the benefits of the best foods the Lakes Region farms have to offer. Other CSAs in the Lake Winnipesaukee area include Picnic Hill Farm in Meredith, Winnipesaukee Woods Farm in Alton Bay, Surowiec Farm in Sanbornton, and Still Seeking Farm in Gilmanton.

Beans and Greens, Timber Hill Farm and the Howe family reflect the old saying that necessity is the mother of all invention. Farming is a challenging proposition in New Hampshire even when the weather and economy are cooperating. It takes perseverance and hard work. It takes a great love for the land you're working. The Howe family has all these qualities and something more. They have a great sense of innovation that has allowed them to survive and adapt to the challenges. Ebenezer Smith, the original owner, would be surprised and pleased to see his beloved farm in such capable hands. Next time, when you walk amidst the beautiful displays in the farm store, listen carefully. You may be able to hear old Ebenezer say "Well done, Howe family."

Lake Winnipesaukee is surrounded by numerous farms and orchards open to the public. If you are in Meredith, check out Moulton Farm. Heritage Farm in Sanbornton offers a pancake breakfast. These and others are treasures waiting to be explored.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 September 2015 09:10

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Jim Hightower - Of course, there's a catch

Peter Georgescu has a message he wants America's corporate and political elites to hear: "I'm scared," he said in a recent New York Times opinion piece.

He adds that Paul Tudor Jones is scared, too, as is Ken Langone. And they are trying to get the Powers That Be to pay attention to their urgent concerns. But wait — these three are Powers That Be. Georgescu is former head of Young & Rubicam, one of the world's largest PR and advertising firms; Jones is a quadruple-billionaire and hedge fund operator; and Langone is a founder of Home Depot.

What is scaring the pants off these powerful peers of the corporate plutocracy? Inequality. Yes, amazingly, these actual occupiers of Wall Street say they share Occupy Wall Street's critical analysis of America's widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us. "We are creating a caste system from which it's almost impossible to escape," Georgescu wrote, not only trapping the poor, but also "those on the higher end of the middle class." He issued a clarion call for his corporate peers to reverse the dangerous and ever-widening gulf of income inequality in our country by increasing the paychecks of America's workaday majority. "We business leaders know what to do. But do we have the will to do it? Are we willing to control the excessive greed so prevalent in our culture today and divert resources to better education and the creation of more opportunity?"

Right on, Peter! However, their concern is not driven by moral outrage at the injustice of it all, but by self-interest: "We are concerned where income inequality will lead," he said. Specifically, he warned that one of two horrors awaits the elites if they stick to the present path: social unrest (conjuring up images of the guillotine) or (horror of horrors) "oppressive taxes" on the superrich.

Motivation aside, Georgescu does comprehend the remedy that our society must have: "Invest in the actual value creators — the employees," he writes. "Start compensating fairly (with) a wage that enables employees to share amply in productivity increases and creative innovations." They have talked with other corporate chieftains and found "almost unanimous agreement" on the need to compensate employees better.
Great! So they'll just do it, right? Uh ... no. But he says he knows just the thing that'll jar the CEOs into action: "Government can provide tax incentives to business to pay more to employees." That's his big idea. Yes, corporate wage-hike subsidies. He actually wants us taxpayers to give money to bloated, uber-rich corporations so they can pay a dab more to their employees!

As Lily Tomlin said, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

First of all, Georgescu proposes this tax giveaway to the corporate elite could "exist for three to five years and then be evaluated for effectiveness." Much like the Bush tax cuts that helped drive the economic divide, once the corporate chieftains get a taste for a government handout, they will send their lawyers and lobbyists to Washington to schmooze congress critters into making the tax subsidy permanent.

Secondly, paying to get "good behavior" would reward bad behavior, completely absolving those very CEOs and wealthy shareholders of their guilt in creating today's gross inequality. After all, they are the ones who have pushed relentlessly for 30 years to disempower labor unions, downsize and privatize the workforce, send jobs offshore, defund education and social programs and otherwise dismantle the framework that once sustained America's healthy middle class. These guys put the "sin" in cynical.

If we want to fix income inequality, Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, has a solution. In response to Gerogescu's offer of charity to corporations Hanley wrote: "Strengthen labor laws, and we can have democracy and equality again."

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

Last Updated on Friday, 04 September 2015 08:34

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Pat Buchanan - Dis-integrating America

The murders of 24-year-old Roanoke TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were a racist atrocity, a hate crime. Were they not white, they would be alive today.

Their killer, Vester L. Flanagan II, said as much in his farewell screed. He ordered his murder weapon, he said, two days after the slaughter of nine congregants at the African-American AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.

"What sent me over the top was the church shooting," said Flanagan.

To be sure, racism does not fully explain why Flanagan, fired from that same WDBJ7 station, committed this act of pure evil.

Black and homosexual, he said he was the target of anti-gay slurs from black males and racial insults from white colleagues. He had gotten himself fired from other jobs in broadcasting. He carried a grab bag of grudges and resentments.

Yet, in the last analysis, The Washington Post headline got it right: "Gunman's letter frames attack as racial revenge."

Other news organizations downplayed the racial aspect. But had those murdered journalists been young and black, and their killer a 40-something "angry white male," the racial motivation would have been front and center in their stories.

Now, Black America is surely as sickened by this horror outside Roanoke as was White America by the Charleston massacre. But it is hard to see how and when we come together as a people. For racial crimes and race conflict have become "the story" that everyone seizes upon — since Ferguson in the summer of 2014.

On the first anniversary of Michael Brown's death, protesters blocked public buildings in St. Louis and St. Louis County, shut down I-70 at rush hour. In Ferguson, hoodlums rioted and looted for days.

What justification was there for such lawlessness?

Explained some in the press, it was to protest the failure to prosecute a white cop who had killed an "unarmed black teenager".

Left out of most stories was that Brown, 18, had knocked over a convenience store, throttled a clerk half his size, and was unarmed only because he failed to wrest a gun away from Officer Darren Wilson, whom a grand jury declared had acted in self-defense when he shot the charging 290-pound Brown.

Since then, we have had the Eric Garner incident on Staten Island, where a 345-pound black man, suffering from diabetes, asthma, obesity and heart disease, died of heart failure after being wrestled to the ground by five cops, none of whom was charged.

Came then the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, while in police custody. There, six officers have been charged. Then came the death of a 12-year-old black kid in Cleveland, who was waving a toy gun.
As the incidents pile up, with white cops shooting black suspects, and black criminals killing white cops, the news goes viral and America divides along the lines of race and color, and between black and blue.

Though, let it be said, the violence in Ferguson and Baltimore was child's play compared to Watts in '65, Detroit and Newark in '67, and D.C. and 100 other cities after Dr. King's assassination in 1968.

"Can we all get along?" pleaded Rodney King, when South Central exploded in rioting, arson and looting after the L.A. cops who had beaten King were exonerated.

Answer: Probably not.

For what seems certain, ensuring that our racial divide widens and deepens, is that more incidents like those involving Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Freddie Gray are inevitable.

Why so?

First, violent crime, declining since the early 1990s, is rising again. And violent crime in black communities is many times higher than in the white communities of America.

Collisions between black suspects and criminals and white cops are going to increase, and some of these collisions are going to involve shootings. And such shootings trigger fixed, deep-seated beliefs about cops, criminals and injustice, they also cause an instantaneous taking of sides.

Moreover, this is the sort of "news" that instantly goes viral through the Internet, Facebook and 24-hour cable TV.

Liberals and Democrats take sides with the black community out of solidarity and to solidify their political base, while Republicans stand with the cops, law-and-order conservatives, and the Silent Majority in Middle America.

The race issue has even begun to split the Democrats.

When former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, a card-carrying liberal, attended a conference of Netroots Nation and responded to a chant of "Black Lives Matter!" with the more inclusive, "Black Lives Matter! White Lives Matter! All Lives Matter!" he was virtually booed off the stage.

O'Malley proceeded to apologize for including the white folks.

To many Americans, even many who did not vote for him, the election of Barack Obama seemed to hold out the promise that our racial divide could be healed by a black president.

Even Obama's supporters must concede it did not happen, though we would, again, argue angrily over why.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 September 2015 06:25

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Andrew Hosmer - We can't let Concord change into Washington D.C.

With special interests like the Koch brothers pouring millions of dollars into our state to try to prolong the budget gridlock, outside forces seem bent on turning New Hampshire into Washington, D.C.

Combine massive outside spending with hyper-partisan attacks on Governor Hassan's fiscally responsible leadership, and it's easy to grow disheartened with the level of discourse in Concord these days.

While it may be in the best political interest of some national organizations to keep us at a stalemate, we cannot let Concord be turned into Washington. We need to serve the people of New Hampshire. They sent us to Concord to solve problems — and that's exactly what we must do.

Last month, Governor Hassan presented a fiscally responsible compromise budget proposal that sought to address the concerns of both parties.

The governor's proposal represents a true compromise. It addresses Republicans' top concern — business tax cuts — while offsetting those tax cuts to preserve our ability to invest in critical economic priorities like combating the heroin crisis, holding down the cost of college tuition, maintaining our roads and bridges, and ensuring access to quality, affordable health coverage. Establishing and maintaining that delicate balance is imperative. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for a meaningful counter-offer, not just "No".

As my Democratic colleagues have made clear throughout the budget process, we believe that any business tax cuts must be paid for in order to protect the state's long-term fiscal outlook and ability to support critical economic priorities. Ironically, the unpaid tax cuts Republicans are demanding are by their own admission more symbolic than substantive.

I appreciate Republicans' offer to fund the state employee's contract and I believe it's an important step toward compromise, but this alone does not resolve our primary concern with the state budget.

We simply cannot support a shortsighted budget that would undermine our ability to invest in critical economic priorities both now and for years to come.

Granite Staters deserve better and future generations deserve better.

To pass a compromise budget plan that truly meets the needs of New Hampshire's people, businesses, and economy, both sides must not imitate the narrow minded political battles played out each day in Washington. True compromise requires both sides to negotiate in good faith and elevate the needs of our state above toxic partisan politics.

The Koch-funded budget stalemate has gone on long enough.

(Democrat Andrew Hosmer of Laconia represents District 7 in the N.H. Senate.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 10:23

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Anne Deli - A 5-point plan to revive Motorcycle Week

There has been an outpouring of concern for the direction and future of Laconia Motorcycle Week since I spoke in opposition to new bike week vendor fees at a recent workshop of Meredith selectmen.

What has struck me is how much this dialogue, long simmering below the surface, has needed to come to the forefront and be discussed. The facts speak for themselves — attendance is down, traffic is down, and interest is down. We must make major changes to reverse the negative trend of Laconia Motorcycle Week. This will require broader state and regional discussion on the rally in order to determine how best to go forward. The approach of the past 25+ years is no longer working. The handwriting is on the wall — If we don't change, the rally will continue to decline and may disappear.

Laconia Mayor Engler provided some eye-opening data that unfortunately was not a surprise to those closest to the rally. The total average daily traffic volume during the nine days was only 117,208 vehicles, a 25 percent decrease from the previous year. It was a verification of what we have all felt in recent years. Let's use this new number as our baseline for going forward and planning.

Laconia Motorcycle Week is extremely important to my business as it is for so many others in the region. That's why we must take action in order to restore this once-fabled rally.

My suggestion is to implement a Five Point Plan to revive Motorcycle Week
1. Create a vision for the rally. Currently there is no coherent brand for Motorcycle Week. We need to determine if it should be broader welcoming all motorcyclists including sport bikes or if we should expand it even further into a regional festival with an adult flare. We need a sense of what the rally should be about.

2. Develop a plan for stabilizing the rally — and rebuilding it to whatever level we believe is realistic and achievable with the resources the state, region and business are prepared to commit. This plan could include but is not limited to the following:

— Agree on permanent date of the rally. The fluctuating dates are confusing and hurt attendance. The Americade Motorcycle Rally in Lake George, NY often conflicts with our dates and decimates attendance because it draws important New York and Connecticut riders who also attend Bike Week. We could consider working with Americade to eliminate the conflicting dates.

— Take a hard look at rally activities. Laconia Motorcycle Week has grown to be a statewide event with numerous activities in every corner of New Hampshire. While we want the entire state to benefit, a thorough evaluation of activities must occur. Let's examine the strengths and weaknesses of each event, determine which should be dropped and brainstorm new events that will support the community and business.

— Engage the experts. We should secure a respected advertising agency and a communications firm from New Hampshire with proven track records for driving tourism to our state that has competencies in today's effective marketing. We need a cohesive marketing and communications plan, budget and executional strategy to drive riders to our state. Keep in mind, Motorcycle week also drives motorcycle tourism for the entire summer season.

— Develop a master calendar of events. Currently there are so many events that our consumers or confused on where to go and when to go there. Rather than compete with each other, let's work collectively so visitors have signature events to participate in between rides.

Once we have a plan:
3. Engage the state and request a strong commitment. Even with shrinking attendance, an event drawing 117,000 tourists is one of the state's largest events by far. We all need to protect and grow this asset — and that includes the state, which should provide financial and in-kind support.

4. Communicate our vision to local town officials. With declining attendance, towns that rely on fees collected from Bike Week need to more accurately assess the needs and expenses they believe are associated to the rally and correctly forecast for annual budgeting purposes.

And finally,
5. Give the Rally News magazine to Charlie St. Clair. Bike Week is woven into the fabric of our community and no one has been a bigger champion than Charlie. He has worked long and hard on that publication, and believes in it. However, state funding for marketing should not be put towards the publication — not when there are so many other new and effective marketing tactics at our disposal. Sales of ad space should support the publication. Sponsors for the magazine should not be given sponsorship to Motorcycle Week. That should be separate and be handled under the auspices of perhaps an advertising agency.

Laconia Motorcycle Week is at a crossroads. Will we sit idly by and watch this iconic event wither away before our eyes? Or will state and local officials hear the plea of local businesses and take action? Before you know it, Laconia Motorcycle Week will be here. There is time to make some changes to 2016 and we should, but 2017 should be our goal for a totally revamped rally. This should start with a new statewide Laconia Motorcycle Week council conveyed and appointed by state officials to address the points above. I'll be the first to join and I hope others will consider as well.

(Anne Deli is co-owner and president of Laconia Harley-Davidson)

Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2015 10:21

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