How to Establish an Agricultural Commission in New Hampshire

From policy to town planning and zoning, our May 2021 Network Cafe covers it all

On Friday, May 7, 2021 we convened nearly fifty participants for a discussion about agricultural commissions in New Hampshire, featuring presentations from three commission leaders: Theresa Walker, Durham Agricultural Commission, Erick Sawtelle, Lee Agricultural Commission and John Keegan, Boscawen Agricultural Commission. "Growing Agricultural Commissions" is part of our 2021 Network Cafe Series and defined what an agricultural commission is, how they are formed, structured, and developed, as well as the various collaborations and projects a commission can take on within its town or region. All three presenters emphasized the importance of agricultural commissions in the communications about and inclusion of agriculture and land conservation in town planning, zoning, and general town governance. 

"We set about pretty systemically to develop credibility with other local boards and commissions. [In Boscawen] we have a very active conservation commission and the boards for planning and zoning were very much in place, so we were the new kids on the block. We looked for opportunities to work with those folks, even sometimes pushing ourselves into conversations so the agriculture perspective was always on the table and actively discussed. That's proven to be a really valuable tactic because now when the planning board and zoning board get something that twinges of agriculture, before they event meet to decide and discuss, we, as members of the agricultural commission, will get phone calls so we don't get brought in to the discussion too late or after it has become polarized. And in that way you can keep credibility among a broad audience," said John Keegan, Boscawen Agricultural Commission.

Watch the full recording of the Network Cafe below! And access resources for establishing and growing an agricultural commission in your town, as well as contact information for our presenters, on the agenda summary here.


New Hampshire Towns with Agricultural Commissions
Agricultural Resources Chapter of the Durham Master Plan

Preserving Rural Character Through Agriculture, NH Coalition for Sustaining Agriculture

Local Regulation of Agriculture Toolkit, NH Coalition for Sustaining Agriculture

 "Creating an Agricultural Commission In Your Hometown"Lorraine Stuart Merrill, NH Coalition For Sustaining Agriculture

NH Office of Strategic Initiatives Resource Library: Agriculture, Farmland and Open Space Preservation

Legal Guide for New Hampshire Agricultural Producers, UNH Extension 

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture Markets and Food-Laws and Rules Index

NH Office of Strategic Initiatives "Innovative Land Use Planning  Techniques Handbook " Section on Agricultural Incentive Zoning"

Farm Friendly Checklist

Local Regulation of Agriculture Toolkit (2017)

Our June topic for the 2021 Network Cafe Series is Land Access & Conservation featuring a presentation from the NH Agrarian Commons on Friday, June 4, 2021 from 12-1pm. Please stay tuned for more details and register here. If you would like to learn more about past Network Cafes or are interested in submitting a topic for an upcoming cafe, please click here.