Far from the world of leveraged finance and esoteric debt instruments, in the rugged hills of Tamworth, New Hampshire, is Hank Letarte’s White Gates Farm. It is a marvel of efficiency that serves to remind us city-folk of how a healthy, vibrant economy is supposed to work. Nothing is wasted at White Gates. The fuel that powers Letarte’s tractors and enriches his soil is homemade with ingredients scavenged from local providers. He uses cooking oil from restaurants to make diesel fuel. To warm greenhouses so that tomatoes fatten more quickly, Letarte extracts BTUs from a 15-foot-high pile of mulch. Coffee grounds from Dunkin’ Donuts produce compost with a nice twist: the bears don’t care for it. A small plow has been fashioned from scrap metal salvaged from a heap of Army surplus.
While visiting friends in Chocorua, New Hampshire, your editor got a four-star tour of White Gates Farm from Letarte, whose pork sausage is legendary at the local farmer’s market. The photos below show how very resourceful he must be in order to prosper. “It’s a lousy way to make a living” Letarte confides, “but a great way to live.”
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