Meet Our Members | August 2018
Name and Occupation: Irene LeMessurier, Founder
Business Name: Temple Mountain Permaculture
How long have you been a member of NOFA-NH? I joined just before the winter conference in March.
Why did you become a member of NOFA-NH? I've been aware of NOFA for 35-40 years. I'm starting this place we're calling Temple Mountain Permaculture. At this point it's for myself, my two sons and their wives. In the future it could be more of a community. But at this point, that's what it's for. We're planning on farming to begin with for ourselves. We're trying to be sustainable and resilient, and we do have hopes that we will have some products to sell in the future. One of my sons is growing mushrooms now, not for market yet - shiitake and oyster mushrooms - and we have plans to put up a big greenhouse and grow micro greens and other things. Hopefully, a four-season growing space.
I knew that NOFA is full of all kinds of wonderful information and education, so I wanted to become a member and go to the conference. I'd say I've been aware of organic farming and gardening ever since I was about 7 or 8 when my mother got a hold of a bunch of organic magazines from Rodale in 1963. She tilled up the backyard of our suburban home outside of Boston. She was an organic gardener for my whole life. And then I married a man who was also into organic gardening. Both my mother and former husband were great fans of Helen and Scott Nearing.
How has NOFA-NH impacted your business? I don't think I can say it has impacted my business yet. Our business isn't happening yet. We're building a home for my son on the property. He and his wife just had a baby. We haven't started the farming aspect yet besides the mushrooms. I did meet other members at the conference from my area (but I already knew them). I got information from the conference that has already been somewhat helpful. One of the workshops was about growing berry bushes and I took a lot of notes. It helped me narrow down what kind of bushes would be good for us to grow.
We're calling it Temple Mountain Permaculture because it goes back to when I first moved to NH in 1983. I lived next door to what was then called Gap Mountain Permaculture in Jaffrey. I didn't learn too much about it then, but I was very aware of what it was about. Then, about 6 years ago, one of my sons started studying permaculture and took a permaculture design course, and really took off with his interest in that. Then last summer my other son and I took a permaculture design course. The focus we'd like on our farm is to grow perennials like fruit trees and nut trees and orchards, and to have it be sustainable and resilient the way permaculture teaches. So since the land we purchased is right next to Temple Mountain, it looks right at it, it was kind of a way to honor Gap Mountain Permaculture, to name it after a mountain.
It was really inspiring to go to the conference and see how many young people were there. It inspired me see, yes, this is happening, this thing of going back to the land that started in the 60 and 70s. It's exciting to me to see so many young people getting into farming. I hope that my sons and grandchildren will be inspired by that as well.
What's your number one priority for NOFA-NH this year? I was particularly drawn toward the focus of the conference this winter discussing the certified organics and other labels that could be used and developed. That was super interesting to me because I was already looking into if I should have my farm certified organic before we start, whether it's better or easier to do it before hand. Maybe so. What I came away with was that it is still difficult to know what our goal should be as far as being able to say if our stuff is organic or not, what's the best route to go with for labeling it, or having certification. I feel the more work NOFA-NH does on that the better, to let the farmers know what's that best way to approach that.
What advice do you have for anyone thinking about becoming a NOFA-NH member? I would say don't wait! Don't put it off! It was very exciting for me to go to the conference, just a feeling, a great energy and interesting. It was very motivating.
Does your business have any upcoming activities or events you would like to share with the NOFA-NH community? We don't have anything planned right now. At this point the main activity that's happening is my son harvests timber and sells seasoned cord wood. So, he's got a lot of cord wood for sale!
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