DURHAM -- One of the biggest challenges Granite State farmers have is finding a spot at the table when competing with big agriculture, a local farmer told University of New Hampshire researchers during a networking event Thursday.
“It’s hard for the local farmers to have an audience,” said Jack Clarke of Clarke Farm, located on a conservation easement in Epping owned by Southeast Land Trust.
Clarke raises cattle and sheep using a rotational grazing system to produce organically raised meat. He said educating potential clients about the benefits of locally farmed food and getting producers into schools, restaurants and hospitals are two essential steps if farmers are going to survive in the state.
Recently released research shows that New Hampshire farmers lose $8 million each year raising $234 million in crops and livestock, while residents spend $4 billion purchasing food sourced from outside the state.
Clarke was impressed on Thursday by the free industry day put together by UNHInnovation in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs; the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire; the state Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food; the New England Farmers Union; and the New Hampshire Farm Bureau.
The approximately 100 participants learned about UNH research in sustainable agriculture and food systems, aquaculture, organic dairy farming, veterinary technology, brewing science and other related fields.
Jack Aydelott, a chef who works in catering services at UNH, said he participated in the event because he wanted to learn more about the research being done on campus. UNH Conferences and Catering uses foods grown on campus.
“I got to learn a lot about the strawberries and kiwiberries,” Aydelott said. “It’s nice to get out of the kitchen and see what’s happening.”
Aydelott said he was interested in the poultry and lamb being raised at UNH, the mussels being harvested off the coast and the steelhead trout operation researchers are working on.
Marc Eichenberger, the director of corporate engagement at UNHInnovation, said bringing small business owners and college researchers together ties into the mission of the land-grant university.
Earlier this year, there was an industry day session on advanced manufacturing, Eichenberger said.
During the food and agriculture industry day, people got to visit Woodman Horticultural Research Farm, Macfarlane Research Greenhouses and the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
UNH hosts two industry days each year.