Farm Foods to Make Any Feast Festive!

As Denise Meadows of CC&D’s Kitchen Market puts it, ‘tis the season to “Eat, Drink and be Thankful!” 2020 has been a year of dramatic upheaval, altering so many traditions, including how we host our holidays. Many of us are having smaller gatherings, outdoor get-togethers, or even feasting by Zoom.

While doing things so differently can feel like a loss, two things about the Monadnock Region have remained the same (or perhaps gotten even richer): food & community. This beautiful region offers something to be truly grateful for, a plethora of ways to fill your bellies and hearts with handmade, hand-grown, hand-raised food infused with love.

Loaves of fresh bread

Many places in the region sell fresh locally-made bread

That’s certainly the case with CC&D’s, a hopping take-out spot at 79 North Street in Keene, offering award-winning southern barbecue, full-service catering, and specialty local foods for four years and counting. Since its inception, the business has also participated in Stonewall Farm’s annual Thanksgiving Farm Fare, a festive farmer’s market held just in time for Thanksgiving. Editor’s note: It was announced on November 18th that Farm Fare has been canceled due to rising COVID numbers in the community.

Meadows describes the Farm Fare, which started more than 20 years ago, as “a great opportunity for local farms and small producers to sell their foods and creations directly.” Not only can you taste and purchase some of the finest foods from the region, but you can also say hello (and a BIG thanks!) to the farmers who made them and meet artisans who are selling their products.

Outside Stonewall Farm, 2019 photo of Thanksgiving Farm Fare

Thanksgiving Farm Fare (2019 photo)

“When you know where your food comes from—how it’s grown, raised, cared for—it gives you a greater connection to your food,” Meadows says. For instance, she smiles every time she drives by Archway Farm in Keene and sees the piggies roaming around. She knows how owner Mark tends his farm and the quality of the meat he produces.

“We are so fortunate in this region with the number of accessible farms. No farms, no food, right?” Meadows says. Farm Fare at Stonewall Farm, happening Saturday, November 21 through Sunday, November 22, is a great chance to support local producers. “It has been a challenging year for everyone. A little local love can go a long way,” Meadow says.

The Farm Fare is one of the biggest events of the year for CC&D, and it’s where they have the pleasure of meeting many of their customers. With so many other festivals cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19, Meadows is looking forward to the Farm Fare bringing a little bit of normalcy, and she feels confident in the safety protocols both the farm and the vendors will have in place.

Holland Homestead at Stonewall Farm, 2019 Farm Fare

Holland Homestead at Stonewall Farm (2019 Farm Fare)

She hopes people will come out, enjoy, and find both food and gifts to make their holidays special. While locals seem to be planning smaller gatherings, they’re still celebrating the season. At CC&D’s Market, Meadows has seen plenty of pre-orders come in for their Smoked Turkeys, Cheese & Charcuterie Plates, and other house-made specialty items.

CC&D Kitchen's Charcuterie Plate with cheese, fresh fruit, dips, vegetables, and more

A savory Charcuterie Plate from CC&D Kitchen

Between their kitchen and the diverse menus of makers in the Monadnock Region, she knows everyone will be able to fill their tables with deliciousness. During this celebratory season, some farms have their stands or stores open on-site, including:

  • Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole
  • Archway Farm in Keene
  • Barret Hill Farm in Mason
  • Cheshire Garden in Winchester
  • Connolly Bros. Dairy Farm in Temple
  • Crescendo Acres Farm in Surry
  • Lull Farm in Milford
  • Orchard Hill Breadworks in Alstead
  • Tracie’s Community Farm in Fitzwilliam
  • Walpole Valley Farms in Walpole

Others are offering online ordering through the pandemic, such as Mayfair Farm in Harrisville, which has an amazing Thanksgiving menu listed on their website. They also provide weekly grocery items for pickup, as well. And others, such as Saxy Chef in Antrim, bakes cookies, bars, cupcakes, whoopie pies, and dozens of types of pies which are sold at markets and farms in the Monadnock Region.

In addition, Meadows points out that it’s increasingly easy to find locally produced goods in area grocery stores and convenience stores, and she lists the following go-to stops for buying locally produced food and other items:

  • Monadnock Food Co-op
  • Nature’s Green Grocer
  • East Hill Farm

East Hill Farm is a year-round, family vacation resort in Troy that specializes in farm stays. Guests enjoy all sorts of recreational activities, including horseback riding, hiking, and goat milking, egg collecting, animal feeding, and more.

Farm fresh eggs in sawdust from Inn at East Hill Farm

Fresh eggs from East Hill Farm

Locals have also become accustomed to popping by to pick up goods from the farm. “We have a small gift shop featuring many NH made products and a freezer with our meats for sale,” says owner Sheri St. Laurent.

Cow at East Hill Farm with barn and Mt. Monadnock in the background

A cow in the field  and pigs in the mud at East Hill Farm

Since the start of the pandemic, East Hill Farm has been offering to-go meals once a week, and they will be cooking up Thanksgiving dinner for pickup that afternoon. Menus are available on their website, and meals can be ordered by calling the farm in advance.

East Hill is also known for their decadent baked goods, including fritters, cookies, and other desserts. Their bread is a staple in many households and can be ordered for Thanksgiving or every other Tuesday. Country Apple Pie, Pulla bread, and dinner rolls will also be available for Thanksgiving but must be ordered in advance.

Whether it’s to pick up your weekly bread or take in the view as you pull up to this working farm, a visit to East Hill’s store is always a pleasure. As the holidays approach, it’s also a chance to start checking items off your holiday shopping list.

With yarn, chimes, ceramics, soaps, stuffed animals, gift cards, and more, it’s the perfect place to pick up something special for your loved ones. And if you’re looking to give something local, could there be anything better than honey or maple syrup???Glass jars of New Hampshire honey Jugs of New Hampshire maple syrup

Available at just about any of your local farm stores, these sweet treats are also fun to grab after a hearty plate at Parker’s Maple Barn in Mason. A breakfast-lover’s paradise, the restaurant and gift shop are currently open with pandemic precautions in place. If you’re not dining out at the moment, you can order fantastic foodie gifts, NH souvenirs, and other unique items from their online store.

No matter the logistics of your gift-giving and feast-eating this year, remember there are still ways to make it extra special. One is to support the places you adore in the Monadnock Region while savoring a taste of why we all love it here so much.

Editor’s note: If you are looking to order meals, turkeys, or baked goods for the holidays, it’s advisable to call in advance to find out about ordering deadlines.

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