Meet Our Members | April 2022
Name: Andrew Morin
Business: ReGenerative Roots Association
Back in 2010, a group of former high school friends from Nashua founded the ReGenerative Roots Association. Their mission was to build a community center focused on regenerative agriculture, alternative energy and habitat preservation.
In the years since, their mission has evolved into building a resilient and equitable food system in the greater Nashua area through the development of local community farms, food hubs and farm-to-school programs.
ReGenerative Roots co-founder and executive director, Andrew Morin, first started gardening as a child with his father and grandmother.
“It was the only way they could get me to eat my vegetables,” Andrew quips. “I grew to love it so much that I opened a small farm stand in front of my father's woodworking shop in Nashua. It was one of the driving forces behind me co-founding ReGenerative Roots.”
Starting with a modest 4,000 square-foot plot in 2017, the organization’s Community Farms program now operates on eight acres at two different sites. It currently manages a farm incubator for young entrepreneurs, provides land and resources for refugee and at-risk community farmers, and hosts a summer student intern program focused on agriculture and local food systems.
“In our Community Farmers program, ReGenerative Roots provides refugee and at-risk families with the land, resources and tools needed to grow healthy food,” Andrew explains. “We help them become food secure and self-sufficient while working in a positive environment.”
“This year, we have families from Burundi, Zambia and Honduras tending more than two acres as part of the program. Our community farmers have produced more than 20,000 pounds of food since 2017, and we hope to double that this year. The only cost for farmers to take part in the program is they must donate 10% of their peak harvest to a local food pantry. The program has donated over 2,000 pounds of food to the Nashua Children’s Home, the Nashua Soup Kitchen and the Boys and Girls Club.”
Over the last four years, ReGenerative Roots’ summer internship program has helped high school and college students learn about sustainable agriculture, local food systems and community involvement. Working at the community farm sites, students learn about the importance of soils, food systems and horticultural occupations. They also help maintain and expand educational gardens at greater Nashua schools.
ReGenerative Roots is funded through grants, charitable giving, fundraisers, corporate sponsors and private philanthropists. Its board of directors is made up of seven volunteers. Andrew and a part-time farm manager run day-to-day operations.
“We currently manage approximately eight acres at two community farm sites in Hudson,” Andrew states with well-deserved pride. “We currently have four acres in active production raising goats and pigs as well as growing vegetables, herbs and some flowers.”
“We also offer a young farmer incubator program at our community farm sites. We provide young farming entrepreneurs with land, resources, educational opportunities and business guidance to start local businesses that practice healthy food production. Three businesses to date have achieved profitability while selling thousands of pounds of healthy food to the local community. We welcome other local farmers who are interested in leasing space.”
ReGenerative Roots also offers an after-school spring gardening series and 10-week sustainable agriculture summer internships at local schools.
“Since starting the program in 2017,“ Andrew continues, “we have built educational school gardens at Nashua High North and Alvirne High School in Hudson. Dozens of students have taken part in our spring gardening series and summer intern program. We have helped incorporate farm-to-school curriculum with interested educators and positively impacted hundreds of students each year.”
Like many non-profit organizations, one of the most difficult challenges for ReGenerative Roots is securing funding for growth while supporting its original mission. Finding economically feasible, agricultural land tenure in southern New Hampshire is extremely difficult given land prices and the lack of large, contiguous plots.
“We’re now looking to purchase up to twenty acres of land within an hour’s drive of Nashua and have been pre-qualified for funding to do so,” Andrew adds. “We want our farm programming to continue well into the future providing our farmers and students with the social ties that are essential to a vibrant and resilient local food system.”
—Interview and Article by Karl Johnson, Board President
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