The Hippo


Oct 18, 2019








First radishes picked and sold at the Co-op.” Photo by Jaimie Jusczyk.

Partners in food

Concord Food Co-op
24 S. Main St., Concord
See to register for upcoming classes and workshops
Canterbury Shaker Village
288 Shaker Road, Canterbury
See for upcoming programs and events

Partners in produce
Strategic partnership revitalizes organic gardens

By Allie Ginwala

 With the warm spring weather underway, Canterbury Shaker Village and the Concord Food Co-op have begun new initiatives brought about by the strategic partnership announced in February. Reviving the Village’s organic gardens, installing an observation beehive, expanding wellness programs and cooking workshops and selling fresh produce and honey to New Hampshire residents are all results of this new partnership.

Finding the right fit
According to Greg Lessard, director of development for the Concord Food Co-op, it was during a discussion about expanding the catering business at the co-op that the idea came about to have a space to host and cater events.
“That brought about [the question of], ‘What is an ideal environment for a catering event?’” Lessard said in a phone interview. 
The perfect fit would be a large building in a picturesque setting that could also help fill holes in the produce department, he said.
“We thought the idea of having our own organic garden would allow our customers to have continuous and fresh produce,” he said. 
The co-op also needed a place to house wellness classes, which range from 50 to 200 participants, as well as events and outreach programs. 
“We needed a central location to host all of these different venues and to have our own entity so people were relating a specific location to the co-op,” Lessard said.
So they put out a press release and began looking at potential farms. 
Funi Burdick, executive director for Canterbury Shaker Village, read about the co-op’s search in the newspaper and saw the answer to a gap she’d been trying to fill for a handful of years. 
“I had this idea that Canterbury Shaker Village needed to develop the aspects of the Shaker legacy that were really important and … develop programs about that so we would really have a broader appeal to a larger audience,” she said in a phone interview. 
In recent years, Canterbury Shaker Village began a partnership with Brookford Farm because the Shakers excelled at dairy farming. 
“If you came to the village four or five years ago, there were no cows here,” she said. 
Now Brookford Farm’s cows graze at the Village and are part of an exhibit about the Shakers and dairy.
She wanted to continue to develop partnerships with likeminded organizations to help Canterbury Shaker Village become more dynamic and bring in more visitors. 
“Funi Burdick reached out and said it would be a great partnership,” Lessard said. 
With Shaker Village’s organic gardens out of operation for a number of years and the rich land available to introduce new activities, it seemed natural to combine the two organizations whose missions and goals are closely aligned. 
“When I saw this in the newspaper I said, this has the potential for being another great strategic partner because the co-op needs land to grow vegetables and ...we have lots of organic farmlands that if we were using it, it would be good for the land and our public,” she said. “Why compete with each other? Why not do this together?”
Reaping the benefits
Many of the initiatives made possible by the new strategic partnership are now coming together. The co-op’s new organic garden manager works with the produce at Shaker Village, taking time to chat with visitors and share her knowledge. One of the village’s hoophouses has been resurrected and is already in use, with the second one hopefully ready to go in a couple of months. 
Certain certified organic vegetables, like radishes, are already available at the co-op. As the season progresses, others will be sold at the co-op and Canterbury Shaker Village’s farm stand and will also be used in the co-op’s kitchen.
In mid-May, an observation beehive was installed in the village’s bee house for guests to see and learn about the process and also to yield a modest amount of honey. The honey will be sold at the village’s store as well as under their brand at the co-op.
“It’s a very Shaker idea,” Burdick said. “Both organizations have a skill that could enhance the other’s business.”
The co-op has also been able to expand hands-on cooking classes and wellness workshops, many of which are now held at Canterbury Shaker Village. Coming up in the next months are classes like baking with strawberries, fish to perfection and intro to fermented veggies.
“It’s activating the village with sort of practical workshops that people can then take home and really learn how to do something and at the same time be exposed to who the Shakers are and their importance in American history,” Burdick said. 
For Lessard, “We were looking for a facility that was just beautiful,” he said. “It far exceeded our wish list to have those buildings available to us...already organic certified [and] well known. [It] far exceeds what we hoped and we were ecstatic she [Burdick] extend the invitation to us.”
“My real goal is to create a living laboratory,” Burdick said. “We’re both a museum and a place to come and learn and be engaged in a modern lifestyle.” 
As seen in the May 21, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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