Meet Our Members | March 2022
Name: Stephanie Kelliher
Business: Uphill Farm
Stephanie Kelliher was studying environmental science when she became interested in food policy and increasingly aware of how food was grown in this country. A lot of what she learned horrified her. After helping out at a small organic farm as part of one of her classes, Steph fell in love with the work.
“It was work that felt right and made sense to me,” she declares. “I felt farming was a way I could make a difference in the environment."
Steph grew up in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. She worked for a small farm in southeastern MA before moving to Jackson, New Hampshire to work for the Appalachian Mountain Club. She loved the area but missed farming, so she took a part-time job at Meadowstone Farm in Bethlehem and worked in a restaurant to save up for her own farm.
Steph and her partner, Beau, eventually bought property in Whitefield, where she began creating garden spaces. When the pandemic hit, the restaurant where she worked shut down.
“It seemed like a good time to officially start my farm,” Steph recalls. “We have about 11 acres total, but I grow my vegetables on about ¼ acre. It’s hilly land with some flat spots, so I’m slowly expanding.”
“I grow all sorts of veggies. Garlic and tomatoes might be my favorites to grow and to eat, but I also grow onions, shallots, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, beets, peas, beans, zucchini, winter squash, radishes, kale, Asian greens, melons, peppers, eggplant, chard, cabbage, broccoli and potatoes. Plus I grow strawberries and blueberries and have a small flock of chickens and ducks.”
Steph is a vendor at the Gorham and Mount Washington Valley farmers’ markets, and she has a small CSA.
“I really love working outside and getting my hands dirty,” Steph continues. “Starting seeds in the spring might be my favorite farming activity. I really enjoy trying to grow new plants and varieties. I feel like I can always improve the way I grow things and will never stop learning.”
“I believe that creating a diverse, biologically-active environment both in and above the soil leads to much healthier plants and more nutritious vegetables. It’s important to grow food in a way that contributes to the surrounding environment. Using chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides leads to a dependence on these products while it degrades and poisons the environment.”
Steph hopes the future is good for small to mid-sized organic farms.
“The greatest challenge for small and mid-sized farms is the lobbying pressure that large organic farms use to weaken national organic standards,” she states. “They will continue to degrade regulations and increase their profits without any of the environmental benefits that should be coming out of organic farming.”
“Small local farms can greatly reduce the transportation costs associated with getting fresh fruits and vegetables to people. They can help store carbon in the soil through no-till and cover-cropping and by not using petroleum-derived fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.”
“I’m new to NOFA-NH, but I’m hoping it will help me keep up to date on what’s happening with organic farms in NH, as well as make connections with other organic farmers.”
Steph smiles when she admits that, “until college most of my experiences with vegetables came from a can. I really hated vegetables until someone introduced me to real fresh vegetables.”
—Interview and Article by Karl Johnson, Board President
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