It must have been a big year for big pumpkins.
Last fall, Jim Beauchemin, from Goffstown, N.H., had the largest pumpkin at the Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts. The entry, delivered by cargo net and forklift, weighed 1,314.8 pounds. The Topsfield Fair is the oldest and most prestigious weigh-in in the country, and having the biggest pumpkin there is a feather in the winners cap.
But less than two weeks later, Larry Checkon of North Cambria, Pa., set a new world record with a 1,469-pound orange monster at the Pennsylvania Giant Pumpkin Growers Weigh-Off in October.
My pumpkin was officially the eighth largest in the world last year, Beauchemin said.
Thats according to the Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth, a group composed of 23 official weigh-off sites across the United States.
Twenty years ago, when the Topsfield weigh-in started, 400-pound pumpkins were gigantic. The growth since is testimony to the power of
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Asparagus producers who were hoping for relief got nothing yet in the new free trade agreement signed by the United States and Peru Dec. 7.
We were disappointed but not surprised to learn that zero tariffs on asparagus would be imposed under the new agreement, said John Bakker, executive director of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board.
U.S. trade negotiators unofficially acknowledged that the U.S. asparagus industry has been unintentionally harmed by the Andean Trade Preferences Act and signaled a willingness to help our industry explore other means of relief, Bakker said. We will be following up on this in January in Washington, D.C.
Bakker didnt say what he expected to come out of the January discussions. He said that during the negotiation process, the U.S. government clearly heard from the U.S. asparagus industry, which was able to elevate the status of asparagus in the
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Regarding your question this month, I believe direct marketing has the widest application for farmers to increase value of their crop. Here in New Hampshire, farmers markets are booming (29 in 2001, 54 in 2005), which has encouraged the growth of small farms. Larger farms are disappearing, being replaced by these new farms, which are smaller and more diverse but lack distribution networks.
The difficulties of getting smaller crops to mainstream distributors, as well as lower prices paid by these distributors, preclude this option for many growers. A CSA is an option for growers near cities, but many of our farms are located in remote areas.
I am vice president of the New Hampshire Farmers Market Association (http://www.nhfma.org) and president of the New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant Connection (http://www.nhfarmtorestaurant.com), both of which are standing committees within New Hampshire Made (http://www.nhmade.com), the branding organization of New Hampshire products.
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For years, Zellwood was the sweet corn capital of Florida, but now theres only one grower left.
Long & Scott Farms has been the sole grower of Zellwood sweet corn since 1998, when the state government shut down about 18,000 acres of muck farms around Lake Apopka. The shutdown did not affect Long & Scott, a sand farm.
They figured we werent polluting, said Hank Scott, the farms general manager.
According to the farms Web site, the farm seized the opportunity to trademark Scotts Zellwood Sweet Corn, and is now the sole supplier of sweet corn to the Zellwood Sweet Corn Festival, which the city runs, Hank said.
Weve been selling corn here for many years, he said. People tell us the corn we grow is the best.
The farm concentrates its sales in retail outlets in the central Florida region, where there is no lack of customers. Zellwood is
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