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 on the road attending meetings with farms, agribusinesses, committees, boards, businesses, municipalities, initiatives, and state and county governments throughout the seven-county region served by HVADC, 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 traveled extensively in the past several months on behalf of HVADC.  In March, Erling was a presenter at the National Good Food Network Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Erling was part of a plenary panel on Regional Food Systems as Economic and Community Development-- how food systems fit into economic development, and vice versa—involving how growth in the regional food sector is attracting interest from new stakeholders in community and economic development, how to work together, translate values, strategic partnerships and work toward equitable communities.  He also hosted a break-out session in which he covered urban-rural connections for economic development.  

Erling also visited Ames, Iowa to meet with the staff of the long prestigious Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University—known in the food world as one of the first programs to look at sustainable agriculture and local food systems-- to talk about HVADC programs and regional collaboration, discuss advancements in regenerative agriculture and the Center’s recent challenges with funding.  Over the years, Erling has worked with staff members, including the center’s director Mark Rasmussen, and Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow, who also serves on the Stone Barns Center For Food & Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York board of directors and is president emeritus.  “It was an important opportunity to meet [Kirschenman] in his own office, on his own turf,” said Erling. “He was one of the first large-scale field crop growers to transition to organic.”  The two went over “The Blueprint: Building a Better Business Assistance Network for Farms and Food Businesses” a plan developed by more than 50 organizations, including HVADC, that focuses on the supporting the development of farm and food systems in the Hudson Valley region.

Erling also packed The Blueprint with him to travel to Newport, Rhode Island for the annual meeting of Northeast Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NEASDA).  Members include the Chiefs, Commissioners, Secretaries, and Directors of Agriculture from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Erling presented The Blueprint with Ela Chapin, Program Director of the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, and Dorothy Suput, Executive Director of the Carrot Project.  “There was a lot of interest in a multi-state approach in our regional strategy to support food and farm businesses,” said Erling. 

Last month HVADC joined Hudson Valley Farmlink Network at Dutchess Land Conservancy for a partner update meeting and farm tour at Meadowland Farm, with Mary Ann Johnson, representing the HVADC.  “We have joined the coalition because we have been providing technical assistance for the farms in this network and we are now more formally part of collaborative effort to get farmers on land using a comprehensive approach to their business development,” Johnson.

Johnson also spent two days at the Eastern Hemp Growers Conference in Albany—the region’s first professional annual expo and conference dedicated exclusively to industrial hemp.  The two-day event is an educational, networking, and supply chain conference with presentations from internationally renowned hemp industry experts, as well as key government officials and agronomic researchers from the Empire State. Johnson said the conference was an educational opportunity for her to learn more about the production and marketing of industrial hemp. “Hemp products run the gamut-- as infusion drinks-- to medicinal purposes with CDB oil, fiber, clothes, building material and more,” said Johnson.  Johnson added HVADC recognizes a potential and a growing interest by farms to diversify their operations, and that includes hemp. 

In June, Johnson attended the Orange County Land Trust 25th Anniversary Benefit Reception & Auction honoring Janet Crawshaw and Jerry Novesky of The Valley Table magazine.  Crawshaw served as a long-time board member of HVADC.  “It was a pleasure to be there and support [Jerry] and [Janet] and their twenty years of work fostering and promoting the local food movement in the Hudson Valley. HVADC was also happy to participate in a wonderful event that showcased the work out our partner, the Orange County Land Trust and we applaud their work in farmland preservation,” stated Johnson 


Photo Source: Jennifer Bock, Program Associate HVADC