EcoGastronomy Program Alumni Impact New Hampshire Economy

  Durham, NH.   In 2008, the University of New Hampshire started the first of its kind program in EcoGastronomy.  The EcoGastronomy Dual Major is taken with a primary major by UNH students and has helped develop adventurous, entrepreneurial, and community minded individuals.   Alumni are now working in New Hampshire creating jobs and filling gaps to build a stronger local economy and food system. 

 In keeping with the sustainability core values of UNH, the EcoGastronomy Program offers courses that focus on farm to table and nutrition and health.  The required international education experience in Italy or France connects food cultures, sustainably-focused agriculture, and policies impacting the global food system.   

 AcHayley Harmonhieving Zero-Waste

Hayley Harmon ’14, Economics, is Director of Partnerships at PLAN: The Post-Landfill Action Network. PLAN is a nonprofit, cooperative network of student leaders working to achieve zero-waste campuses.  Hayley works on fund raising, lots of partnerships and putting together all the pieces that make the programs work – from expanded recyclers to organic t-shirts. 

 PLAN has also worked to change policy to solve waste problems.   “The State of NH regulations made it nearly impossible for commercial facilities, including all 11 college campuses in New Hampshire, to obtain permits to collect and decompose meat and dairy products in their facilities.”, Hayley explains.  In January, 2015, NH State Senator Martha Fuller-Clark, with support from students at UNH and PLAN, proposed SB 251 – relative to regulations for commercial composters - in the NH State Senate.   The new legislation passed in June and begins the process of bringing jobs, biz, energy, and good soil to NH! 

Sustainable Fish to Local Consumers

AmanAmanda Parksda Park ’14, Nutrition, has started her own business as a whole fish distributer.  New England Fishmongers connects local fish with restaurants and direct to consumers.  “We sell fresh, whole fish direct from our network of small scale hand-gear fishermen on the New Hampshire and Maine seacoast,” noted Parks.  The company emphasizes hand-gear fishing, or green-stick, as a way to increase post-release survival of undersize, pregnant, or other unintentional catch. Amanda does some of the commercial fishing herself, part time with her business partner Tim Rider, on his boat, the F/V Finlander from Eliot, Maine.  New England Fishmongers are currently helping to source fish for 7 restaurants in the area.

Community Food Hub Founder

Garrett Bauer ’Garrett Bauer12, Community and Environmental Planning, wanted to figure out how food could help his community.  He is one of the founding members of the Kearsarge Food Hub in the Lake Sunapee area of New Hampshire.  The Food Hub is creating a physical and virtual food hub designed to support farmers, processors, distributors and consumers in the region.  Part of the group’s mission is to reach out to under-served populations and help provide ease of access to healthy local foods.  The hub also works to educate the community on the importance of local food, healthy eating, and sustainability.  

 Growing Demand for Local Food

Erin Norton ’13, Hospitality Management, is truly bringing farm to table.  As the customer service / wholesale coordinator responsible for managing everything for the Three River Farmers Alliance TRFA, she works to supply fresh local food to restaurants, institutions, and food distributors in the Seacoast of New Hampshire!  Beginning as a New Hampshire farms collaboration among Heron Pond Farm, Meadow's Mirth Farm, and Stout Oak Farm, the TRFA is working to meet the growing demand for local food. “Fridays we post available product online. Chefs place orders by Monday.  Tuesday each farm gets a “pick ticket” for what harvest to deliver to Heron Pond Farm’s big walk-in cooler.  Wednesday and Thursdays I make deliveries and chefs ordering over the weekend know to pick-up at the Portsmouth farmers’ markets.  Either way the food is just one to two days out of the ground.  Chefs tell me, “I can’t get this stuff to go bad.””  There is even a phone app, integral to TRFA’s success, which 90% of the customers use.  With the addition of Kellie Brook Farm, and Tuckaway Farm, there are currently five farms being connected with “lots” of area chefs and partners.

 “We work with a little over 20 farms and around 10 processors and artisans. We've had a handful of High School students volunteer their time with us, and we have confirmed our second Intern from Colby-Sawyer College for next summer. We also have started selling produce to Colby-Sawyer's early childhood program, as well as a local Buddhist retreat. I'm not exactly sure on how many people purchased from us, but I do know that we moved about $65,000 of local foods and products in roughly 3 months.,” says Bauer.

 About UNH’s EcoGastronomy Program

The EcoGastronomy Dual Major Program is a collaboration with the University of New Hampshire’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, and the Sustainability Institute. EcoGastronomy integrates UNH strengths in sustainable agriculture, hospitality management, and nutrition. EcoGastronomy offers a unique academic program emphasizing the interdisciplinary, international, and experiential knowledge that connects all three fields. The EcoGastronomy Dual Major Program has grown enrollment to 63 from 27 different primary majors with graduates numbering 84.   As a dual major, EcoGastronomy provides a complement to any primary major.  

 The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,300 undergraduate and 2,200 graduate students.