By Chas Ryan
The Legal Food Hub is now available in all six New England states! CLF first launched the Hub in Massachusetts in 2014. Last year, we rounded out our presence in the region by offering our services in New Hampshire. Now, farmers, food entrepreneurs, and food-oriented nonprofits throughout New England have access to free legal services.
In its first full year in New Hampshire, the Hub worked with 14 law firms assisting 18 participants. Cases ranged from farm succession plans, lease reviews, and contract negotiations to assisting nonprofits dedicated to supporting the local food system.
Coalition building was key to the Hub’s successful launch in the Granite State. We partnered with a broad range of organizations committed to improving the state’s local food system. NOFA-NH, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, UNH Cooperative Extension, and many more organizations provided vital help in spreading word of our launch to farmers and food entrepreneurs. That outreach paid off: In 2022, most of the Hub’s applicants were referred by our partner organizations. We are grateful to them for making it possible for us to provide critical legal assistance and have a meaningful impact on a local level.
CLF’s strong partnership with UNH Cooperative Extension has also helped the Hub connect farmers with legal help even when they do not qualify for pro bono assistance. UNH administers a federal Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) grant, which provides funds to help farmers access stress-related services. If a farmer contacted the Hub but did not qualify for free legal assistance, they could apply for funds through FRSAN. Once the farmer had funds, the Hub could place the farmer with an attorney who would be reimbursed through the grant program. This allowed the Hub to serve more farmers in New Hampshire while offering more paid referrals to the attorneys in our network. This partnership with UNH has proven to be a win for everyone.
We are looking forward to deepening our connections with New Hampshire’s local food network and continuing to assist farmers and food entrepreneurs regionwide.