Meet Howard Pearl
Howard Pearl is staying busy. He owns and works a 300-acre, fourth-generation farm in Loudon. Ten thousand maples are tapped and summer crops abound. Then there are the civic duties: treasurer for the New Hampshire Farm Bureau and state representative for Merrimack 26. This year, Pearl takes charge as Loudon town moderator; his gavel will set the beat for the 2021 town meeting. So here’s to Mr. Pearl, farmer statesman, a living echo of our country’s New England origins. Grateful, we tip a dark brew from a pewter mug alongside the ghosts of another era.
- My great grandfather moved up to Loudon Ridge in the late 1800s and purchased the farm from his wife’s sister and her husband. I am the fourth generation to farm here.
- They originally farmed on the land known as Pearl’s Corner, and it’s still listed as that on the map today. There was a small school named the Pearl School back in the early 1900s. My dad was born in the farmhouse.
- Politics has elevated climate change to a national focal point. Farmers have had to evolve with the ever-changing climate since cultivated agriculture has existed. The 2020 growing season saw a severe drought, which resulted in many crops performing at only a 60-70% yield. We just deal with it.
- My grandfather would be blown away to walk into my sugarhouse today. My hourly syrup production easily exceeds what he could produce in a very long day.
- The regulatory burdens are a significant consumer of every farmer’s time now. Food safety regulations, labor laws, pesticide restrictions, highway safety regulations — all have become increasingly onerous.
- I spent many years advocating for agricultural policy at the Statehouse with the Farm Bureau. I recognized that I could have greater efficacy if I was sitting behind the table rather than trying to convince the person who was. I’m now the chair of the environment and agriculture committee.
- I am indeed the town moderator for Loudon. I was elected in March of 2020.
- In my first year, I’ve had to learn quickly and oversee the largest and most challenging presidential election in history. Talk about jumping into the deep end of the pool!
- Town meetings date back to 1633, the very beginnings of our nation. The duties of the moderator have always been to facilitate productive conversation on the business issues that are before the townspeople. I will be presiding over my first business meeting this spring. I’m approaching it with cautious optimism.
- Through thick and thin, my community has always been there for me. We had a major fire in 2003. The volunteers who helped the day of the fire and through the tough times following were a major inspiration to me.
It’s Hammer Time
Howard Pearl says he’s asked around and couldn’t find out the origin story of the official gavel for Loudon town meeting, “But it’s been around a long time,” he says. “In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the same one my uncle, Everett Dow, used when he was Loudon town moderator back in the ’70s.” And while this will be Pearl’s first time wielding the gavel at town meeting, he still wasn’t sure how or when that event would take place as this story was being produced. After scrambling to deal with both town warrants and COVID-19 last year, a number of contingency plans have been put in place for annual meetings in New Hampshire this year, including postponement until later in the spring and the passing of HB 1129, which allows for a virtual town meeting with “drive-thru” voting.