Organic knowledge

NOFA-NH’s annual winter conference returns — in person!

For the first time in three years, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire will hold its annual winter conference in person. The one-day event is set to return on Saturday, Feb. 11, with a keynote speaking address, a panel discussion, an exhibitor fair and more than two dozen interactive workshops covering a variety of topics related to organic agricultural practices.

The theme of this year’s conference is “The Art of Food & Farming: Skill Sharing for a Brighter Future.” Anyone from farmers, gardeners and home growers to foodies or those interested in learning about organic practices is welcome to attend, conference coordinator Kyle Jacoby said.

One notable change to this year’s conference is its new venue: Southern New Hampshire University’s Manchester campus. The opening panel discussion and the exhibitor fair will take place at the university’s dining hall, while the workshops will be held inside the classrooms of the adjacent Robert Frost Hall. Workshops will run the gamut from growing edible native plants and distilling flowers to fermentation essentials, honey production in New Hampshire and more.

“We definitely try to reach a wide audience,” Jacoby said of the workshops. “I think that’s probably one of the more unique things about NOFA in general, is that deep down, one of the larger goals … is to just really build a food system that sustainable as a whole, and there’s a lot of pieces involved with that, from farmers and home growers [to] just interested community members that are advocates for sustainable agriculture and improved food systems.”

The pandemic hit just after the last in-person conference was held in February 2020. Since then, the event has transitioned into a series of virtual workshops, which took place in both 2021 and 2022. While all of this year’s workshops are in person, a select few of them, Jacoby said, will also be live streamed in real time for a virtual audience.

The day will begin with an hour-long panel discussion devoted to New England farms and climate change. From there, each workshop is broken up into three hour-long session blocks — from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Notable speakers will include Sarah Cox of Tuckaway Farm in Lee and Dina Wilford of the Dover-based Vida Tortilla, who will lead a joint workshop and discussion on nixtamalization, a traditional Mexican cooking method used to create masa for tortillas, chips and tamales.

“[Cox and Wilford] developed a connection because Tuckaway Farm produces corn that Vida Tortilla utilizes to make their local goods,” Jacoby said, “so it’s going to be a great collaborative workshop on how to make masa and utilizing a local indigenous variety.”

Scenes from NOFA-NH’s annual winter conference. Courtesy photos.

Troy Hall of Hall Apiaries in Plainfield is also on the schedule to talk about honey production, while naturalist, forager and author Russ Cohen will explore the dozens of native edible plant species. The New Hampshire Food Hub Network, a program of the New Hampshire Food Alliance, will hold an interactive forum of its own on the importance of food hubs.

Additional conference activities will include an ongoing Green Market Fair, featuring informational booths and products for sale from dozens of local vendors and exhibitors. The day will conclude with a 90-minute keynote address from 4 to 5:30 p.m. featuring Kristin and Mark Kimball of Essex Farm in upstate New York.

“They’ve been involved in NOFA-related things before and have definitely been to our conference in the past,” Jacoby said. “One of the things that we really gravitated toward with them was how much they train and have trained and supported new farmers.”

21st annual NOFA-NH Winter Conference
When: Saturday, Feb. 11; event will begin with a kickoff panel discussion from 9 to 10 a.m.; followed by three workshop sessions from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., and a keynote speaking event from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Where: Southern New Hampshire University, 2500 N. River Road, Manchester (a few of the workshops throughout the day will also take place virtually — see website for details)
Cost: $90 for NOFA-NH members and $110 for non-members (includes access to all workshops throughout the day, in addition to the Green Market Fair). Online workshops are $60 for members and $75 for non-members. Access to the keynote event only is $30 for members and $40 non-members. Optional add-on lunches for children are $25. Donations are also welcome.

Schedule of events

Kickoff panel: 9 to 10 a.m.
• Adapting New England farms to climate change

Workshop Session I: 10:15 to 11:15 a.m.
• Getting involved in New Hampshire politics (also available virtually)
• How to engage children in gardening (also available virtually)
• Biochar and how it can improve soil health
• Religious diversity on the farm
• Keeping a family dairy cow
• Weed management: white thread weeds
• Timber framing intensive session I: mortise and tenons
• Building skills to manage stress and mental health on the farm

Workshop Session II: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
• The real organic movement (also available virtually)
• Making no-till work in organic systems (also available virtually)
• Your farm story and how and why to tell it
• Making masa and building a local grain shed
• Small space gardening: thinking outside the box
• New Hampshire Food Hub forum
• Edible native plants you can grow or forage
• Timber framing intensive session II: mortise and tenons

Workshop Session III: 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
• Farmer to farmer gathering with vital communities
• Increasing winter production: How to grow microgreens in a modified cold storage room (also available virtually)
• Resilience farming: Farming with permaculture ethics and ecological patterns in mind
• The essentials of fermentation
• Propagating, grafting and layering hardwood trees and shrubs
• Honey production in New Hampshire
• The art and alchemy of distilling flowers and herbs
• Livestock want browse: Doable methods for use of wild woody perennials

Keynote address: 4 to 5:30 p.m.
• Community focused practices that helped us grow (featuring Mark and Kristin Kimball of Essex Farm in New York; also available virtually)

Featured photo: Scenes from NOFA-NH’s annual winter conference. Courtesy photos.

The Weekly Dish 23/02/09

News from the local food scene

Food is love: Still haven’t made plans yet for Valentine’s Day? There may still be time, depending on where you go. Check out our listings that ran in the Feb. 2 issue; they begin on page 22. You’ll find dozens of special menus and dinners at local eateries, as well as sweet gift-giving ideas at chocolate and candy shops and bakeries with their own special offerings. Since Feb. 14 falls on a Tuesday this year, several local eateries are electing to celebrate Valentine’s Day the Saturday or Sunday before. Others are choosing to offer special menus on other days throughout the preceding week and weekend, or are opening their doors on weekdays they’re usually closed. Go to and click on the Feb. 2 issue to read the e-edition for free — and be sure to contact each establishment directly for the most up-to-date availability on reservations and takeout items.

A chocolate lover’s paradise: Join Great American Downtown for its sixth annual chocolate stroll, happening across participating area businesses in downtown Nashua on Saturday, Feb. 11. Restaurants, breweries, boutique shops and other storefronts on Main Street and some neighboring side streets will be offering a variety of complimentary chocolate-y treats to visitors between noon and 5 p.m. that day (exact business hours vary depending on the business). According to the event page on Great American Downtown’s website, the stroll is made possible by community sponsorships. Visit to view the full list of participating businesses, which has been regularly updated in the days leading up to the stroll.

Flavors of the islands: Grab a lei and your favorite Hawaiian shirt and head down to the North Side Grille (323 Derry Road, Hudson) for its 9th annual Luau Week, happening Tuesday, Feb. 14, through Saturday, Feb. 18. All week long the restaurant will serve tropical and Hawaiian-inspired food specials, including breakfast options, appetizers, entrees and desserts, along with all kinds of unique cocktails. For several years the event has been held over a couple of days in mid-to-late February, and it has now been extended to a full week. Visitors are encouraged to dress in island-themed garb like Hawaiian shirts, leis and hula skirts, and the restaurant is usually decked out with artificial palm trees, fake hanging birds, table skirts and other tropical aesthetics. Visit

May the best chilis win: The Wilton Winter Festival, a free family-friendly event sponsored by the Wilton Main Street Association on Saturday, Feb. 11, will feature a variety of activities throughout the day — including, from 5 to 7 p.m., a chili cook-off. Happening inside the Wilton Collaborative Space (21 Gregg St.), the chili cook-off and pot luck will feature a variety of local entrants, with first-, second- and third-place prizes to be awarded in both meat and vegetarian chili categories. Bread, beverages and desserts will also be provided. See or find more details on the Main Street Association’s Facebook page @wiltonmainstreetnh about the festival, which will also include outdoor ice carving demonstrations, an arts market inside the Wilton Town Hall, drop-in crafts at the Wilton Public & Gregg Free Library and more.

On The Job – Deb SanSoucie

Halotherapy provider and wellness entrepreneur

Deb SanSoucie is the owner of The Copper Cave, a halotherapy salt cave and wellness sanctuary in Plaistow.

Explain your job and what it entails.

I’m the owner of The Copper Cave, which is a wellness sanctuary featuring an authentic, traditional style Himalayan salt cave, which is used for halotherapy, also known as dry salt therapy. Halotherapy is the process of grinding up pharmaceutical-grade salt with a machine called a halogenerator. The micronized particles of salt are then blown out into the cave in a fine dust. When breathed in, these particles of salt can be therapeutic to your respiratory system, sinuses and skin. The business also has a small shop that includes feel-good wellness products like teas, heat packs, herbal tinctures, handmade bath products and candles, along with some other handcrafted products from local crafters. I also own Rustic Lane Soap and Candle, so many of the bath and candle products in the shop are handmade by me as well.

How long have you had this job?

We opened on Nov. 19, 2022.

What led you to this career field and your current job?

I left the legal field to open this business. I’ve always had a penchant for encouraging people to focus on their self-care and well-being. I attended craft fairs and vendor fairs with my soap business for years and loved the interaction with customers and enjoyed helping people find things that made them feel good. After years in the corporate world, I was ready to live a life filled with more purpose and enjoyed helping people feel better about themselves, whether that be related to their mind or body. I loved that the experience in the salt cave could give people both a boost in their health and also a break from the outside world where their mind could rest.

What kind of education or training did you need?

I joined the Salt Therapy Association and attended seminars to gain knowledge about the benefits of halotherapy.

What is your typical at-work uniform or attire?

My typical attire is comfortable and warm. I tell people who are visiting the cave to dress that way as well since the cave is kept at a cool temperature.

What is the most challenging thing about your work, and how do you deal with it?

The biggest challenge in owning a new business is getting the word out that we’re here. Social media has been a giant boost so far.

What do you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?

Something I’m learning is that you need patience in growing a new business. One slow day or even a slow week isn’t a failure. Business has ups and downs, and it all evens out in the end. We’re seeing steady progress in growth, but sometimes I have to step back from it to realize it.

What do you wish other people knew about your job?

I want people to know that I genuinely care about their well-being. I hope they leave their experience feeling relaxed or rejuvenated — whatever they need at the moment. I want people to feel as if they’ve stepped into a sanctuary, where they feel safe to take care of their own needs.

What was the first job you ever had?

My first job was at a Hallmark store.

What’s the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever received?

If you’re successful doing something you don’t love, imagine what you could accomplish doing something you’re passionate about.

Five favorites

Favorite book:
Anything by Joe Dispenza
Favorite movie: The Notebook
Favorite music: Alternative rock or meditation music, depending on what I’m doing.
Favorite food: A good burger and fries
Favorite thing about NH: Camping

Featured photo: Deb SanSoucie. Courtesy photo.

Saving heirloom seeds

Read the packets, don’t buy hybrid

As a boy in the 1950s I knew there were two kinds of tomatoes: deep red, plump and tasty ones my grandfather grew, and the kind that came four in a package wrapped in cellophane. The Cello-Wraps, as I think of them, had no flavor whatsoever. They were decorative. Sliced and added to our iceberg lettuce salads in winter, they added color.

My grandfather saved seeds from his tomatoes and started plants indoors in the early spring. He was not growing hybrid tomatoes like those sold in the supermarket. Hybrid tomatoes are carefully bred by crossing specific varieties of tomatoes so that they will have special characteristics such as surviving long trips in trucks, having a shelf life almost as long as a tennis ball, or resisting certain diseases.

My grandfather grew what we now call heirloom tomatoes: time-tested varieties that breed true from seed, generation after generation. Tomatoes that had been grown for many decades, seed shared with family and friends. Tomatoes so tasty that they were often eaten right in the garden, warm from the sun.

Examples of well-known heirloom tomatoes include Brandywine (often touted as the best-flavored tomato in existence), Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter, Amish Paste and Black Krim. But there are hundreds of varieties of heirloom tomatoes, each unique and loved by someone.

All heirloom vegetables are what are called “open pollinated,” meaning that they will produce the same variety every year. Of course, in a packet of seeds some will produce better fruits than others. There is variety, but all Brandywines will take about the same length of time to reach maturity and taste about the same.

If you would like to start saving seeds, read the seed packet or catalog and make sure what you buy is labeled open-pollinated or heirloom, not hybrid. At the end of the season, save some seeds and store them in a cool, dry, dark place, perhaps in a sealed jar in a refrigerator.

I called Sylvia Davatz, the now-retired founder of Solstice Seeds in Hartland, Vermont, to talk about saving seeds. Solstice Seeds only grows and sells seeds from heirloom varieties, including some varieties from Europe.

She gave me lots of good advice, starting with the names of two good books on seed saving: The Seed Garden by Lee Buttala and Shanyn Seigel, and The Manual of Seed Saving by Andrea Heistinger. She recommends getting both books if you are going to be serious about saving seeds, as even among experts there are differences of opinion.

One of the reasons for having good books about seed saving is that they will advise you about such things as isolation distances to prevent mixing genetic material by pollinators or wind.

I asked Sylvia what vegetable species are the easiest to save. She said tomatoes, lettuce, beans and peas are all easy. They are self-pollinated and annuals. No insects are needed, and seeds are ready by the end of their season.

Vine crops like squash, pumpkins and cucumbers are insect pollinated and more difficult. If you’ve ever let a “pumpkin” grow in your compost pile from last year’s crop, you know that sometimes you get weird things due to cross-pollination — a pumpkin crossed with a summer squash by a bee, for example, may not be something you want to eat.

Most difficult in our climate are the biennials, things like carrots, beets, parsnips and parsley. These plants have to be kept alive all winter so they can flower and set seeds in their second year. You can dig up carrots and store them in soil in a bucket in a cold basement and replant them in the spring. But carrots, Sylvia explained to me, bloom about the same time as Queen Anne’s lace, a biennial wild flower/weed that can be pollinated by them — which would not produce the carrots you want.

Sylvia pointed out that in the not too distant past seed saving was the norm. Farmers and gardeners saved seeds from their best plants, knew how to do so, and knew how to store them. She explained that the seeds you save will usually be of better quality than seeds from a packet. They will have more vigor and a longer life span.

A good source for heirloom seeds is The Seed Savers Exchange. It has, since 1975, collected and stored seeds from gardeners and farmers. You can join their nonprofit or just buy some seeds or books from them. According to their website, they now store some 20,000 varieties in their collection, although at any given time only a fraction of them are actually for sale.

So think about saving seeds this year, even if only a few from your favorite heirloom tomatoes. And go to to see a wonderful eight-minute video of Sylvia Davatz explaining all the importance and benefits of seed saving.

Featured photo: Heirloom tomatoes are often irregular in size and shape, but they are tasty and you can save seeds for next year. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

Treasure Hunt 23/02/09

Hi, Donna.

I recently purchased this cute dresser/desk from a furniture re-seller. The second ‘draw’ down opens to a desk. I’m interested in whether you’ve seen this sort of piece before and if you might be able to tell me anything about it.

Thank you.

Renee in New Boston

Dear Renee,

What a nice clean and useful find. Even though it is a later version (later mid-century to 1960s) it’s a gentleman’s dresser. They have been around for a long time; some are fancier than others. I have had a couple Victorian ones before.

Yours appears to have been taken care of and refinished nicely. How useful to have your dresser and drop-down desk in one piece. Today it could be used in other rooms in a home as well.

Renee, the value would be in the range of $200 in today’s market. I hope you found a treasure and something useful.

Thanks for sharing.


Kiddie Pool 23/02/09

Family fun for the weekend

Kids in history

• The Millyard Museum (200 Bedford St. in Manchester;, 622-7531) will present “Help Wanted: Children of the Mills,” a program geared toward school-age kids according to the website, on Saturday, Feb. 11, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12 and children must be accompanied by ticketed adults, the website said. The event looks at the mill jobs for kids as young as 9 in the Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. mills during the second half of the 19th century, what jobs they did and what it was like for them, the website said. The event will include a pail lunch and hands-on activities, the website said.

Kids in the show

• The performers of West Running Brook Middle School in Derry will present Moana Jr.on Friday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 11, at 4 p.m. at Stockbridge Theatre (Pinkerton Academy, 5 Pinkerton St. in Derry; Tickets cost $10 each.

• For teen audiences who want to see teen performers: The Palace Teen Company will present Cabaret, featuring student actors ages 12 through 18, at the Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St. in Manchester;, 668-5588) on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for ages 6 to 12, $15 for adults.

• And save the date for the High Mowing School middle schoolers (Pine Hill Campus, 77 Pine Hill Drive in Wilton;, 654-6003) who will show off their circus skills with their show Circus with a Chance of Meatballs on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 4 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 17, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m. Admission is a suggested donation of $10 for adults, $5 for children; bring a donation for the Wilton’s Open Cupboard Food pantry for free popcorn, according to a press release.

Hearts & dinosaurs

• Bookery (844 Elm St. in Manchester; will feature the book How to Catch a Loveosaurus during the storytime on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 11:30 a.m. After the story, kids will make a tissue paper heart collage craft, according to the website, where you can reserve a spot for this free event.

• As of the morning of Feb. 7, spots are still available at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St. in Dover; 742-2002, for the Dinosaur Valentine’s Day Party on Sunday, Feb. 12, from 1 to 3 p.m. Make dinosaur- and Valentine’s-themed crafts, hear dinosaur stories, meet a costumed dinosaur and take home a treat, according to the website, where you can purchase tickets for $16 per person (kids under the age of 1 get in free).

Give a toothy grin

• All February long, the Children’s Museum is celebrating Dental Health Month. The museum will have tooth-brushing and dental health-related activities and free toothbrushes from Northeast Delta Dental (while supplies last), according to the website. On Wednesdays, Feb 15 and Feb. 22, and Thursday, Feb. 23, the Tooth Fairy and Holly the comfort dog from Haas Dental Associates (in Dover and Derry) will be at the museum to meet guests from 10 to 11:30 a.m., the website said. Reserve a spot to attend the museum in advance via the website. Tickets cost $12.50 for everyone over 12 months old; $10.50 for ages 65+ (children under 12 months get in free), the website said. The museum is open Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to noon; Wednesdays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to noon.

A week of adventure

Camps for the February vacation week

Winter break (Feb. 27 through March 3 for many area schools) is coming on fast. Here are some of the camps planned to keep kids busy. Know of any vacation camps for February or April not mentioned here? Let us know at

Action Kids at Brentwood Commons (112 Crawley Falls Road in Brentwood;, 642-7200) is holding a February vacation camp for kids ages 4 and older from Feb. 27 through March 3 with different themes for each day. Camp runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with an option for early or late care as well. Pricing is $85 per day, $400 for all five days, with early and late care costing $12 per day $50 per week and $15 per day $65 per week respectively.

• Young actors and actresses can participate in Bedford Youth Performing Co.’s (55 Route 101 in Bedford;, 472-3894) winter musical camp, or the preschool February vacation camp. The musical camp will have kids acting in the classic tale of dogs to the rescue, 101 Dalmatians. At the end of the week the production will be filmed for the kids to bring home. The preschool camp will introduce toddlers and preschoolers to dance, music, performance and science through books and outdoor playtime.

• The Community Players of Concord’s Children’s Theatre Project will hold a musical theater camp to run Sunday, Feb. 26, through Friday, March 3, for kids ages 8 through 14. On Feb. 26 there will be a two-hour orientation session at the Players Studio (435 Josiah Bartlett Road in Concord), according to a press release. Monday through Friday, campers will rehearse for a performance of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka Jr. which will be presented Friday evening at the Concord City Auditorium (where Friday’s day rehearsals will also take place). Tuition costs $225. Register at or contact director Karen Braz at with questions, the press release said.

• Get cooking with the Culinary Playground (16 Manning St. in Derry;, 339-1664). The cooking school is offering two types of cooking camps, a traditional cooking camp for kids ages 6 to 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and a teen baking camp for ages 12 and older from 2 to 5 p.m. One day costs $60, four days cost $240. There is limited availability for the morning sessions.

• The Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St. in Manchester;, 669-6144) is holding an in-person art camp from Feb. 27 through March 3 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for kids in kindergarten through grade 9. The camp, called Dreamscapes, will encourage kids to use art to express their daydreams, nighttime dreams and any dreams in between. The week of camp costs $315 for members, $350 for nonmembers. Register at

Girls, Inc. (administrative office at 1711 S. Willow St., Suite 5, in Manchester; 606-1705, is hosting a February vacation campfor girls of all ages at both its Manchester (340 Varney St.; 623-1117) and Nashua (27 Burke St., 882-6256) locations, according to the website. Girls will have a chance to do activities like science experiments, arts and crafts, team-building workshops and more. Hours of the camp are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. Call to register and for pricing.

McIntyre Ski Area (50 Chalet Way in Manchester;, 622-6159) is hosting a ski campfor kids ages 4 to 6 and 6 to 12 from Feb. 27 through March 3. Kids will learn all the fundamentals of skiing in lessons with other kids their ages. Camp time for the younger session is from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., for the older group is from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Camp prices for five days are $345 for the younger session, $370 for the older kids.

• Kids ages 6 through 12 can enjoy nature at the New Hampshire Audubon’s McLane Center (84 Silk Farm Road in Concord;, 224-9909) for nature camp. Kids will learn more about local nature with hands-on activities, crafts, storytimes and more. The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Feb 27 through March 3. Registration is $65 per day.

• Get that extra energy out at a three-day ninja camp at Ninja Challenge Hudson (14 Friars Dr. in Hudson; from Tuesday, Feb. 28, to Thursday, March 2. Kids will climb, balance, jump and swing while learning different apparatuses. Camp runs from 9 a.m. to noon and costs $225.

New Morning School (23 Back River Road in Bedford;, 669-3591) has vacation camp for kids ages 6 to 12 (kindergarteners and up) from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The camps feature themed clubs (such as basketball, Lego, art, comic books), according to the website. The cost is $75 per day or $325 per week.

Seacoast United is hosting a February vacation soccer campat the Seacoast United Indoor Facility (10 Ferry St., Suite 105, in Concord) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a half-day option at noon as well. Kids ages 8 to 14 will learn more about their favorite sports, and run drills and practices to get even better. Camp with a half-day release costs $230, with a full-day release costs $320. Visit to register.

The Art Roundup 23/02/09

The latest from NH’s theater, arts and literary communities

The big 2-0: Manchester Community Theatre Players will be “Celebrating 20” this Saturday, Feb. 11, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 12, at 2 p.m. at the North End Montessori School (698 Beech St. in Manchester). Tickets for this musical retrospective of the last 20 years cost $20 and are available at the door or at

Romeo + Juliet: Powerhouse Theatre Collaborative ( presents Romeo and Juliet at the Colonial Theatre (609 Main St. in Laconia) on Friday, Feb. 10, and Saturday, Feb. 11, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 12, at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $16 to $20. The same cast will also perform a staged reading of Montague + Capulet, an original sequel to the Shakespeare classic, at the Belknap Mill (25 Beacon St. in Laconia) on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m. Tickets to that show cost $10.

March film fest: Tickets are on sale now for the 15th annual New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival, which will run Thursday, March 16, through Sunday, March 26, at locations in Manchester, Bedford, Keene, Concord, Portsmouth and Hooksett. The festival will include 11 feature-length films and a five-film shorts program, according to, where you can purchase tickets for individual shows ($12) or for an all-access package ($200). Of the features, six will be screened in theaters and five can be streamed at home, the website said. From Monday, March 17, through Sunday, April 16, four of the films shown in theaters will be available to be viewed at home. See trailers for the feature films and the shorts on the festival website.

More in movies: Speaking of film, catch a silent film from the end of the silent film era about wealth near the end of the Roaring ’20s — The Smart Set(1928) starring William Haines and Alice Day will screen Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center (39 Main St. in Plymouth; The screening will be accompanied by live music performed by Jeff Rapsis. Tickets cost $10.

The 39 Steps
The Community Players of Concord will present The 39 Steps, a comedy based on the Alfred Hitchock thriller from 1935, on Friday, Feb. 17, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 18, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m. at the Concord City Auditorium (2 Prince St. in Concord). Tickets cost $20, $18 for students and seniors, and are available at

Audition call for grades 2 to 12: The Palace Youth Theatre is presenting a small cast production of Into the Woods (it will run at the Rex Theatre in Manchester April 3 and April 4) and will hold auditions on Monday, Feb. 13, with times at 5, 6 and 7 p.m. at Forever Emma Studios (516 Pine St. in Manchester), according to a press release. Auditioners will be expected to stay for their entire one-hour slot; come prepared to sing a musical theater song and then learn a dance to perform, the release said. The audition is open to kids in grades 2 through 12. To schedule an audition, email with the performer’s name, age and preferred audition time, the release said.

Auditions for adults: The Community Players of Concord are holding open auditions for their May show Not A Word, a new comedy written and directed by longtime Players member Wallace J. Pineault, according to a press release. The show will feature a cast of nine and a story about movies in the 1920s before sound entered the picture, the release said. The auditions are scheduled for Monday, Feb. 20, and Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 6:30 p.m. at the Players Studio (435 Josiah Bartlett Road in Concord), the release said. Rehearsals will begin in March; see the script, character list, audition information and more at

Remember CDs? The Friends of the Dover Public Library (which is at 73 Locust St. in Dover) are holding a CD sale through Saturday, Feb. 11, to sell off the library’s music collection, which it is discontinuing, according to a press release. The sale (which started Feb. 5) features CDs for $2 (with boxed sets specially marked) in genres including rock, country, classical, world, pop, jazz, folk and bluegrass, soundtracks and children’s music. The library is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Exhibit in color: The Franklin Gallery at RiverStones Custom Framing (33 N. Main St. in Rochester; 812-1488) will host an exhibit in February featuring the work of Madison resident John Girourard, according to a press release. “Girouard’s current body of work consists of vividly depicted abstract paintings that use strong, bold colors in a mixed medium that delight in swirling movement. Thickness and transparency of the media, allow the works to retain qualities of depth and liquidity even after drying. Each canvas possesses layers of pure, rich color and thick undulating texture that capture light by visually traveling through the painting. Swirling strokes and flow of color give the pieces a living moving appearance that assumes a decorative splendor,” the release said. See the exhibit Wednesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Author to author: Rebecca Makkai will discuss her new murder mystery I Have Some Questions for You with Lara Prescott, author of The Secrets We Keep, at the Music Hall Lounge (131 Congress St. in Portsmouth; on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. The discussion will include a Q&A, according to a press release. Tickets cost $45 and include a copy of Makkai’s book.

Give flowers

Bouquets for Valentine’s Day and blooming plants to brighten every day

Roses are red …

Valentine’s Day bouquets and custom floral arrangements

By Matt Ingersoll

Bouquets are simply defined as arranged bunches of flowers, making the varieties in what you can include seemingly limitless.

“It’s a term that covers a lot of different design styles,” said Brad Harrington, floral artist and owner of Harrington Flowers in Londonderry. “An arrangement in a vase can be considered a bouquet, or you could also have a hand-wrapped bouquet.”

Business will kick into high gear for Harrington Flowers and many other local florists and flower shops on Feb. 14 — throughout the day, most will offer bouquets of roses or other flowers you can choose from, either in the form of a pre-set arrangement online or flowers you can hand-pick if you visit in person.

Jacques Flower Shop in Manchester, for instance, will be open extended hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. that day to accommodate its expected influx of Valentine’s Day orders.

“I would say that the actual day on Valentine’s Day is neck and neck with Mother’s Day in terms of business in the store, from people coming in and the phones ringing to the internet,” said Adam Godbout, who runs Jacques’ day-to-day operations with his sister, Aimee. “We take orders right up until 4 or 5 [p.m.] on Valentine’s Day, and get those delivered locally.”

While it can be easy to click through an order form online, Godbout said it oftentimes doesn’t compare to what you can discover when you visit a flower shop in person.

“I think there are a lot of folks that come in on Valentine’s Day just thinking they’re going to buy a dozen roses, but then they come in and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, what is this, I’ve never seen this or heard of this,’” he said. “You can come in and hand-pick whatever you want. We have lots of folks that will just go right into our cooler and just pick one of these, two of these and three of those and they’ll bring them up to us and say, ‘Can you put these together.’ … Some people just sort of leave it up to us, which is always a great choice too.”

At Apotheca Flowers in Goffstown, owner Alyssa Van Guilder will open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13, a weekday she is normally closed, to accept Valentine’s Day orders.

“It’s definitely one of the more exciting holidays for us,” Van Guilder said. “I just think it’s something exciting to look forward to, and it’s kind of almost like a light toward the end of the tunnel of winter. … I also think flowers just give us a unique opportunity to cultivate connection. Obviously, it’s definitely a holiday for lovers, but love goes well beyond that.”

Flower power

Red roses are far and away the most popular selling flower for Valentine’s Day, Godbout said.

“Whether it’s six, 12 or 24, that’s sort of the go-to for both guys and gals. I don’t know if that’s just ingrained in our culture, but that’s what they gravitate toward,” he said. “But if someone comes in and says, ‘I like the roses, but I want something more unique,’ then I may offer them some fresh-cut flowers that we have from some local New Hampshire growers. … If it’s for ladies I may recommend some pinks or purples. We have lilies and Gerber daisies that are really popular. We’ve also got some local snapdragons and calla lilies that we always run out of.”

This time of year, he added, is also prime season for bulb flowers like tulips and hyacinth.

“They remind you of spring, so it’s something different and unique as well,” he said. “I would say our roses should last between five and seven days, but obviously we offer other flowers that are going to outlast those a little bit, depending on conditions of course, so that would be your daisies, your regular lilies [and] your cala lilies.”

Each year, Harrington Flowers will arrange several preset flower designs to choose from for Valentine’s Day that go beyond a standard bouquet of red roses — one is called “There’s ‘Gnome-body’ Like You.”

“We look at trendy things,” Harrington said. “Right now everyone loves gnomes. My wife is crazy about them, so we found these little Valentine’s Day gnomes and we just incorporated them into a Valentine’s Day-themed arrangement with stock flowers … and some pink Gerbers and peachy orange roses.”

Others include an arrangement Harrington called “Heartbreaker,” featuring a collection of fuschia roses, Gerber daisies, eucalyptus and hydrangeas; and “Bananas for You,” adorned with tulips, white hydrangea, roses and a stuffed monkey.

Apotheca, Van Guilder said, will also always sell its fair share of red roses, in addition to some early spring blooms, like anemone and ranunculus.

“We have a cooler that our customers can walk inside of, and we definitely try to curate it so that you can’t fail,” she said. “We’ve got a couple of different curated pallets that you’re able to pick your own blooms [from] if you want, and kind of create a design that speaks to you based on what we’re offering. … One element that I feel like just keeps getting more and more popular … are the dried flowers, like bunny tails and preserved ruscus.”

An ongoing impact

Like for just about every other industry, the pandemic has created all kinds of challenges for florists, from flower shortages to increased prices on goods.

“Some product is just untouchable at times,” Harrington said. “Peonies right now, their cost is about $30 for a five-stem bunch, and that’s just wholesale. I mean, it’s priced itself out, which is a shame because it’s one of the flowers that I like to have [for] Valentine’s Day, and this year I just totally cut it out.”

While he was able to keep the costs of red roses the same as last year, Harrington said they’re still up about 20 cents a stem compared to where they were pre-pandemic.

“That doesn’t seem like a lot, but we may buy probably 1,400 roses, so when you add that in and the fact that we’re getting fuel surcharges now, it’s a big increase,” he said.

In fact, ongoing inconsistencies in the supply chain have compelled Harrington Flowers to regularly offer a Designer’s Choice arrangement option, which features a bouquet of whichever types of quality flowers Harrington can obtain at a given time that he can sell at a fair price point. His Valentine’s Day offerings this year also include a themed Designer’s Choice arrangement.

“It’s an honest selection of what I can represent,” he said. “Basically, they’re flowers that I didn’t advertise, [but] if I see them in person and they look good, then I’ll buy them. … It’s definitely taken a little bit for our customer base to get used to it, but now a lot of them are ordering the Designer’s Choice, because they know that I’m going out every morning and I’m hand-selecting fresh flowers to put together that are good quality flowers.”

Van Guilder said she has especially felt the pandemic’s impacts on the wedding side of her business at Apotheca.

“We have contracts that are sometimes two years old with old pricing,” she said. “Our flowers are suddenly much more expensive, and so I think that was definitely one of the bigger challenges for us, was … how do we keep our promises to clients and provide the level of products that they’re used to, while making sure that we’re still generating a profit.”

One of their solutions, she said, was creating mockup centerpieces for clients.

“Ninety percent of the time, they can expect exactly what they’re seeing at the mockup on their wedding day,” she said. “Rather than selling specific flower varieties, we’ve had to just sell … a look and a feel, because we don’t know for sure that we’ll be able to get that specific flower like we have in the past.”

New Hampshire florists and flower shops

Here’s a list of southern New Hampshire shops and florists offering their own arrangements of roses and other flowers for Valentine’s Day.

A&A Floral 58 Range Road, Windham, 952-0085,
Amelia Rose Florals 704 Milford Road, Merrimack, 402-1020,
Anne’s Florals & Gifts 142 Lowell Road, No. 6, Hudson, 889-9903,
Apotheca Flowers 24C Main St., Goffstown, 497-4940,
Celeste’s Flower Barn 580 Mast Road, Manchester, 623-5835,
Chalifour’s Flowers 46 Elm St., Manchester, 623-8844,
Countryside Florist 4 Orchard View Drive, Londonderry, 432-4110,
Cranberry Barn Flower Shop 232 Park Ave., Hopkinton, 746-3963,
Crystal Orchid Florist 45 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, 627-1925,
Flora Bella 20 River Road, Suncook, 485-7874,
Flower Outlet 165 Amherst St., Nashua, 883-7676,
Flowers on the Hill 290 Derry Road, Suite 11, Hudson, 883-7080,
Ford Flower Co. 83 S. Broadway, Salem, 893-9955,
Fortin Gage Flower & Gift Shop 86 W. Pearl St., Nashua, 882-3371,
Harrington Flowers 539 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, 437-4030,
Jacques Flower Shop 712 Mast Road, Manchester, 625-6153,
Lily Flower Floral Designs 161 Main St., Pembroke, 419-0677,
Manchester Flower Studio 388 Wilson St., Manchester, 669-6060,
Marshall’s Florist & Gifts 151 King St., Boscawen, 796-2272,
Merrimack Flower Shop & Greenhouse 4 Railroad Ave., Merrimack, 424-3145,
Nicole’s Greenhouse & Florist 91 Sheep Davis Road, Pembroke, 228-8294,
PJ’s Flowers & Weddings 176 Route 101, Unit B3, Bedford, 471-3411,
Rimmon Heights Florist 150 Kelley St., Manchester, 935-9485,
Shirley’s Flowers & Sweets 138 Concord St., Nashua, 595-2208,
Ultimate Bouquet 64 Freetown Road, Raymond, 244-2749,
Willows on Elm 377 Elm St., Manchester, 606-1688,
Woodman’s Florist 469 Nashua St., Milford, 673-3545,
Works of Heart Flowers 109 Main St., Wilton, 654-1065,

Blooms for a year

Give longer-lasting flowers with a potted houseplant

By Katelyn Sahagian

While a dozen roses is one of the most standard Valentine’s Day gifts, fresh-cut flowers last only a week or two. Buying potted plants hasn’t always been the Valentine’s tradition, but some gardening centers and nurseries are seeing an uptick in their popularity on the holiday.

Osborne’s Farm and Garden Center in Concord. Photo by Lisa Cartier.

“[We] have seen in recent years that potted plant sales on Valentine’s Day have gone up [more] than previous years,” said Shane Robinson, owner of Sunny Valley Greenhouse and Garden Center in Amherst. “I see both sides of it, but potted plants are the gift that keeps on giving, versus fresh-cut flowers that, in two weeks, you’re either drying or throwing them away.”

When asked about plants that are good for beginners and still nice Valentine’s gifts, Robinson said he usually sees people go for orchids. He said that, despite the belief that they can be temperamental, the most common variety of the exotic bloom is fairly low-maintenance, requiring a humid and warm temperature and watering once a week.

In addition to a sweet smell, plants bring a certain feeling to the atmosphere around them, said Alexis Clark, who owns The Terracotta Room in Manchester with Nicole Rocha. She said when customers enter the shop they’ll comment on how relaxing the atmosphere is, or how fresh and clean the air feels.

“Almost all plants purify in some way,” Clark said. “Greenery is just good to have in your home. It’s life and they carry that energy.”

Clark and Rocha said that they both favor philodendrons and plants from that family due to how forgiving they can be. Clark joked that her philodendron won’t croak on her if she forgets to water it after a week.

The Terracotta Room in Manchester. Courtesy photo.

Rocha agreed, adding that even people like her, with busy schedules between work and family life, can keep them alive. She said plants add a natural comfort, especially in cities.

“You just need two plants and it’ll transform the room,” Rocha said, “and [plants] make you happy.”

Other plants recommended for beginners included the Zanzibar gem — also called the ZZ plant — and snake plants. Flowering potted plants with low maintenance requirements that Lisa Cartier, the greenhouse manager at Osborne’s Farm & Garden Center of Hooksett, recommended were African violets, flowering anthuriums and cyclamen.

“Owning plants should be a relaxing and fun hobby,” Cartier said. “A potted plant will give you years of enjoyment and memories.”

New Hampshire nurseries and greenhouses

Amherst Garden Center
303 Route 101, Amherst,
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Bedford Fields
331 Route 101, Bedford,
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Black Forest Nursery
209 King St., Boscawen,
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Brochu Nurseries and Landscaping
121 Commercial St., Concord,
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Cole Gardens
430 Loudon Road, Concord,
Hours: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Demers Garden Center
656 S. Mammoth Road, Manchester,
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Faulkner’s Landscaping and Nursery
1130 Hooksett Road, Hooksett,
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Freshwater Farms
1 Kip Cam Road, Atkinson,
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The House by the Side of the Road
370 Gibbons Hwy., Wilton,
Hours: Daily, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Knotted Finds
707 Milford Road, Merrimack,
Hours: Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

Lake Street Garden Center
37 Lake St., Salem,
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Osborne’s Farm and Garden Center
258 Sheep Davis Road, Concord,
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Shady Hill Greenhouse and Nursery
1 Adams Road, Londonderry,
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Springlook Farm
112 Island Pond Road, Derry,
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunny Valley Greenhouse and Garden Center
42 Route 101A, Amherst,
Hours: Daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Tanglewood Gardens
424 Route 101, Bedford,
Hours: Daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Terracotta Room
1361 Elm St., Suite 102, Manchester,
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Featured photo: Apotheca Flowers in Goffstown. Courtesy photo.

This Week 23/02/09

Big Events February 9, 2023 and beyond

Friday, Feb. 10

If you’re in the mood for flowers, check out the New Hampshire Orchid Society’s show and sale, which starts today (1 to 5 p.m.) and runs tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 11, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Courtyard Marriott (2200 Southwood Drive in Nashua). The show will feature speakers, exhibits, vendors, tours and displays, according to, where you can find the lineup of programming and purchase tickets. A one-day ticket costs $10 for adults and $8 for age 65+ (admission is free for students with a current college ID and children under 12), according to the website. A three-day pass costs $20. Tickets will also be for sale at the door.

Friday, Feb. 10

LaBelle Winery (14 Route 111, Derry; is hosting a Valentine’s Day Disco today with Booty Vortex Band. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $35 per person.

Friday, Feb. 10

Almost, Maineopens at the Epping Playhouse (38c Ladd’s Lane in Epping; today at 7 p.m. The show follows the town’s residents as they fall in and out of love in the strangest of ways, according to the website. Tickets start at $15.

Saturday, Feb. 11

The Rex Theatre (23 Amherst St. in Manchester; is welcoming April Cushman to its stage tonight at 7:30 p.m. Charlie Chronopoulos will guest star. Tickets cost $29.

Saturday, Feb. 11

The Southern New Hampshire University Penmen men’s and women’s basketball teams will have games today against The College of Saint Rose at Stan Spirou Field House (2500 N. River Road in Manchester). The women’s game, their annual Pink Day game to raise breast cancer awareness, starts at 1:30 p.m. and the men’s game starts at 3:30 p.m. Admission is free. A fair in the lobby starts at 12:30 p.m. and includes silent raffles, face painting, a balloon aritst and more. See

Saturday, Feb. 11

McIntyre Ski Area (50 Chalet Way in Manchester;, 622-6159) is participating in the Vertical Challenge race today. The race is a series of casual competitions for skiers and snowboarders at different resorts across New England, according to the website. The race is free to participate in, with competitors only needing to buy lift time, according to the website, where you can sign up for the competition.

Saturday, Feb. 11

The New Hampshire Audubon is inviting Granite Staters to join in the annual Backyard Winter Bird Survey starting today at 8 a.m. and ending Sunday, Feb. 12, at 5 p.m. Count up how many birds and species visit your yard, and visit to report the findings. See

Wednesday, Feb 15

Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St. in Concord;, 224-0562) is hosting the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and Amanda Russell, who will be doing a poetry reading today at 4:30 p.m. Russell will read from her debut chapbook, Barren Years.

Save the Date! Saturday May 13
Monster Jam will come to the SNHU Arena (555 Elm St. in Manchester) Saturday, May 13, at 1 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 14, at 1 p.m. See the “mechanical beasts” competing against each other to determine which monster truck is the best, according to, where tickets are listed at ranging from $18 to $73.

Featured photo. orchids.

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