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Chichester lecture series to focus on sustainable agriculture, gardening

Anyone who eats could learn something at the inaugural event of the Chichester Garden Club and Chichester Agricultural Commission lecture series.

Though it’s titled Backyard Farming, tonight’s talk by UNH professor John Carroll is a call to arms in the fight against food insecurity.

New Hampshire is only about 7 or 8 percent food secure, a position that will grow more tenuous as fuel oil costs and availability fluctuate, Carroll said.

“All of us are dependent on the security of our food supply and the energy supply behind the food,” he said. “We must have oil before we can have food, and that’s not always going to be easy.”

He plans to talk tonight about what steps the state and individuals would need to take to increase food security – supporting local farmers, promoting personal gardens and supporting legislation that would make support for local food production the official policy of the state.

The bill has no effect on the state budget, but “it opens doors and reduces and removes obstacles like local planning and zoning obstacles,” he said.

“We’re not talking about 100 percent (in-state food production) by any means, because there are foods we’d never be able to produce – citrus, coffee. But we’re having a revolution right now in thinking, in attitude among our young people, and we need to continue to encourage them,” Carroll said.

Encouraging new farmers and gardeners was the goal of the Chichester Agriculture Commission in starting the lecture series, which should run one event each month through June, said commission member Ann Davis.

She’s also a member of the town garden club, and found a lot of overlap in the two groups.

“Both organizations want to educate people on the importance of growing sustainably and growing organic,” she said.

“We’re trying to spread the word that so many diseases and illnesses nowadays are related to processed foods. When you start talking about how the standards for food you buy from far away are all different, you realize the best way to do it is to raise your own, or know the farmer that did. We thought we would spring forward with educating people through the talks.”

The next event in the lecture series, to be held April 23, will feature information about “A Garden for Wildlife: Natural Landscaping for a Backyard.”

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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