The HVADC Cultivator


HVADC on the Road

Most days of any given week, both HVADC Executive Director Todd Erling and Deputy Director Mary Ann Johnson are putting on the miles – crisscrossing the seven-county region that HVADC serves – and beyond. They are continually attending meetings with farms, agribusinesses, committees, boards, businesses, municipalities, initiatives, and state and county governments to lend expertise and to collaborate with other groups’ initiatives. Their interactions with other key stakeholders and like-minded organizations throughout the region and across the country have facilitated the sharing of information, resources, program development, and fostered creative thinking and problem solving.

HVADC Executive Director Todd Erling has been on the road during the past several months representing HVADC, with travels ranging from Cooperstown to Cape Cod. 

In May, Todd spent a few days at New York State’s Economic Development Council annual meeting in Cooperstown. There, he moderated a breakout session on “Trends in AgriBusiness,” with panelists from Farm Credit East, Rockefeller Institute of Government and NYS Center of Excellence for Food & Agriculture, Cornell AgriTech.  Also representing the interests of the Hudson Valley, Th!nk Dutchess Executive Director Sarah Lee moderated a panel discussion on the impact on New York’s economic development that varied proposed projects have had.  Other workshop and panel discussions included: the state’s economic development strategies and programs, strategic business and state attraction efforts, opportunity zones, maximizing innovation-driven economic development, talent acquisition, tools and resources for innovations in energy efficiencies, building an inclusive workforce, and cyber technology. 

“New York State’s Economic Development Council is working to create the right conditions and resources for New York agriculture to grow,” said Todd. “HVADC has been able to contribute resources and innovative technological solutions in the Mid-Hudson Economic Development and Capital District regions to assist in the growth of agriculture in the Hudson Valley and Mohawk Valley regions. 

Todd also spent several days at the Northeast Association of State Department of Agriculture (NEASDA) annual conference in Brewster on Cape Cod in June. This location for the annual event provided an opportunity to showcase the diversity of Massachusetts agriculture, particularly in the Cape region, while primarily addressing issues pertaining to the entire northeast.  

Wide-ranging discussions highlighted the hemp segment, urban agriculture, animal health initiatives, and trending issues, such as northeast states’ apiary programs, climate change and value-added opportunities in aquaculture. HVADC’s recent initiative with Hudson Valley Fisheries that connected the Poughkeepsie School District to the fishery to give the district’s students the opportunity to sample the unique and healthful fish - thanks to a New York Agriculture and Markets Farm to School grant—was featured in a session at the conference.
Also in June, Todd and Mary Ann both hosted a conference which any farmer, food entrepreneur, business or ag-related enterprise could attend; the Access to Capital: Food, Beverage and Agricultural Enterprises conference at the University of Albany. Todd offered welcoming remarks with Dave Valesky, Deputy Commissioner of New York State Agriculture and Markets and Mary Ellen Malia, Director of Sustainability, at the University of Albany. HVADC Board of Director Treasurer, Ann Finnegan, Vice-President of Commercial Lending/Development of Finance for Kinderhook Bank was a panelist on the “Traditional Sources of Capital” session, along with Gary Pererira, USDA’s Business Program Specialist and Emili Ponte, loan officer for Farm Credit East, which was moderated by Michael Tucker, Columbia Economic Development Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer.  There was a second panel on non-traditional sources of capital as well.  Mary Ann moderated a panel on how to deliver a successful funding pitch which featured HVADC’s Farm and Food Funding Accelerator (FFFA) Peers Rebecca Shim, owner of Phoenicia Honey, Ted Berndt, owner of Battenkill Valley Farms, Nimai Gupta, owner of Gopal Farms and Cristina Garcia, Vice-President of Farmer & Baker, along with HVADC’s business consultant Brian Zweig, FFFA advisor and principal of Business Opportunities Management Counseling. 

“Since our most recent FFFA Peers had successfully created business plans leading up to this event, we were able to offer them coaching and instruction on how to successfully deliver a funding pitch to investors and funders, even staging ‘mock’-pitches so they could get comfortable with the process,” said Mary Ann.  “The Access to Capital event was one of the series of opportunities that we created to provide the FFFA Peers the opportunity to share their pitches and experiences with a wider audience.”

Learn more about the partnerships and long list of other groups that HVADC collaborates with at



Photo Source: HVADC