Meet Our Members | July 2023
Name: Bruce Bickford & Kirsten Anderson
Business: Abenaki Springs Farm
Bruce Bickford grew up in Barrington, New Hampshire and started farming in his early twenties. He saw an ad in the weekly market bulletin for a job at Hutchins Farm in Concord, Massachusetts. It seemed like an interesting opportunity, so he took the job. He ended up managing that farm for 12 years before moving to Walpole, New Hampshire and starting his own farm. He named it for a nearby spring once used by the indigenous Abenaki people.
“My parents had a very large garden where most of our produce came from,” Bruce recalls. “My mother spent many days canning, pickling, freezing and preserving food from our garden. Each year my parents would let me pick out something to grow from the Burpee catalog.”
Kirsten Anderson grew up in Nashua. She dabbled in gardening in college and then spent a few years as a volunteer and intern on farms on the west coast. It didn’t take long for her to realize how much she loved working with her hands in the soil and growing food.
“My parents didn’t farm or garden,” Kirsten admits, “but I grew up next-door to my grandmother who fondly reminisced about growing up on a farm. She had a large vegetable and flower garden, and there were many summer days where we would pick food from her garden.”
Bruce and Kirsten met at the Keene Farmers Market where they were both vendors. Kirsten was running her own CSA at the time. They now manage the production, harvest and sales of Abenaki Springs Farm together.
The farm consists of 30 acres, of which 10 are in mixed production. Since starting the farm, they have added 100 high-bush blueberry plants, 4 high tunnels, an underground irrigation system and a wash/pack shed.
Bruce and Kirsten grow a wide variety of vegetables and small berries, pastured chicken, eggs and Thanksgiving turkeys. About 10% of their sales are through their CSA, 70% through farmers markets and 20% through wholesale to stores and restaurants.
“We love attending farmers markets,” Kirsten declares. “Our growth goals, however, are focused on dialing-in our systems here to improve our efficiency and our growing techniques. Our biggest current challenge is getting our underground irrigation system working again.”
“Stewarding our land and contributing to the greater good is most important to us,” Bruce adds. “We farm for a variety of reasons including environmental stewardship, political activism, nourishing our bodies, nurturing our minds, and putting our heart and soul into sustaining land, nature and life itself. There are days where everything feels worth it. Those days are what keep us coming back for more.”
“Planting and harvesting garlic is one of our favorite tasks. We once had to race to harvest the garlic before a thunder storm, and in the process were almost struck by lighting,” he quips.
Organic farming is very important to Bruce and Kirsten. They work hard to regenerate their soil, add organic matter and sequester carbon.
“We’re mindful of biodiversity and that insects, plants and animals co-exist with us,” Bruce explains. “We believe that organic farming has the ability to be a positive impact on the land and the ecosystem when done thoughtfully.”
“Soil health is the key to nutrient density, and we utilize growing practices that are designed to increase organic matter and biological activity. It is our goal to regenerate the land for future generations while providing optimal nutrient rich food.”
“Farmers can contribute to positive environmental change by thoughtfully incorporating techniques that benefit the ecosystem, sequester carbon, increase organic matter and protect our watersheds. Reducing tillage and adding animals and bees to a system are positive steps.”
“In the future,” Kirsten states, “we hope to see more small organic farms successfully grow food for their community while making a living wage for their owners and workers. The greatest challenges they face are unpredictable weather patterns and increasing production costs.”
“We’re pleased to participate in the NOFA-NH Farm Share program, which provides CSA shares to local families at a discounted rate.”
Bruce and Kirsten sell at two farmers markets: Keene NH Farmers Market on Saturday 9:00 to 1:00 from the end of April through the end of October and the West River Farmers Market in Londonderry VT on Saturday 9:00 to 1:00 from June through October. They also have an online store.
They offer two CSA plans: a weekly farm-pickup/free-choice share on Wednesdays from 3:00 to 6:00 and a weekly Peterborough-pickup/farmers-choice share on Wednesdays from 3:00 to 6:00. Both come in single and family sizes with spring, summer and fall versions.
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