Farmer and community feasibility study

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2007: $3,288.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Grant Recipient: Cheshire County Conservation District
Region: Northeast
State: New Hampshire
Project Leader:
Amanda Littleton
Cheshire County Conservation District


Not commodity specific


  • Farm Business Management: business planning, feasibility study
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems

    Proposal abstract:

    The problem addressed by this grant application is the dilemma of local farms having no viable local outlet for their commodities and consequently consumers having little awareness and few options to purchase locally produced goods. The problem is three fold: firstly, there is not a local market or cooperative to make locally grown goods available to the general public at times and places that are convenient to consumers. Secondly, community awareness of the array and quality of area goods has been lacking. Thirdly, the majority of assistance provided to area farmers is on an individual basis that is farm specific to increase productivity and enhance quality while not addressing the real dilemma of marketing and distribution. Sustainable agriculture is a necessity for the health and vitality of the region’s natural resources which relies on an informed community and an active participation in the creating of fair markets tied to the local economy. Agriculture in the Monadnock Region has traditionally been a strong part of the established local economy and an integral part of our community. Many of our area farmers struggle to bring their goods to market due to rising operating and transportation costs as well as an inability to be competitive in the broader domestic markets due to the size and scope of their operations. Without access to a viable local market farmers remain outside the daily life of most community members. In the five years between 1997 and 2002, Cheshire County saw a 19% loss of cropland to housing and development. Without the active recognition and support of local agriculture by the community this trend will likely continue. The population of Cheshire County, New Hampshire is 72,182, a more than ample market to support local producers. Area farmers will not begin producing more food unless there is an awareness of, (and a desire for), their goods and a fair market they can effectively respond to that can support their expenses. Awareness is made through contact and interaction, the key ingredients for a vibrant and inclusive community.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our project is a feasibility study to obtain data on the current availability of local food products in the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire. This is to establish a baseline for developing a concrete business plan for the creation and implementation of a cooperative market venture between local producers and the community. We will also be identifying distinct factions of the local community who are committed to supporting a market that serves the needs of local farmers and the common citizenry. The purpose of this study is to create a greater understanding of how to efficiently and effectively create a venue for local foods and goods. This will forge the way for the over arching goal for a strengthened local agricultural system in the Monadnock community.

    The purpose of this partnership is to enhance the agricultural sustainability of the Monadnock Region to the benefit of the entire community. The need exists for an easily accessible venue for local food products in order to facilitate a smooth transition from a global to a local market place. Citizens of Cheshire County have an opportunity to take strides in sustaining local agriculture and weave together business and community.

    This idea came to fruition thru the combined efforts and interests of the City of Keene Planning Office, the Cheshire County Conservation District (CCCD), the Beginning Farmers Network, local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s), the University of New Hampshire Co-operative Extension and HDM Development Incorporated (Hannah Grimes, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization also the sponsor of the Localvore Project).

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.