The HVADC Cultivator

HVADC Board Member
David Church


David Church was one of the first Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) board members. Fourteen years ago he was the Commissioner of Planning for Orange County, New York and was integral in helping grow HVADC beyond Columbia County, where it had been born.

“Dave’s expertise in strategic planning has been invaluable to HVADC’s mission over the years,” said Todd Erling, HVADC Executive Director. “It’s hard to imagine where we would be had he not been there with his guidance and deep understanding of Orange County. His tenure on the board has been nothing short of foundational.”


While working for Orange County, Church recalled being approached in 2007 by Jerry Cosgrove, the then Northeast Director of American Farmland Trust, who he knew, and Erling, who he was meeting for the first time. They outlined HVADC’s goals to help small business farmers and not only was Church onboard, but from his perspective he was stunned to find the model was nearly unprecedented. He said that while there were governmental aid offices and the Cornell Cooperative Extension system, there were not nonprofits helping farms with loans and professional services at that time.


“HVADC has always been strong. Our loan program sets us apart,” Church said. “There are going to be a lot of challenges to nonprofits moving forward, post-pandemic but the loan program really sets us at HVADC apart.”


The pandemic has provided challenges as well as opportunities. Ever the planner, Church said to be mindful of mistaking recent progress for a long-term trend. While the current real estate boom in the Hudson Valley portends economic growth, he says it’s too early to tell the scale of the impact as all information about the New York City northern migration is still anecdotal and none of it will be captured in the 2020 census data soon to be released.


“As they say, you have to get through two winters before you will see if people will stay,” said Church. “People moving in love buying local, which is great but land values are going way up and we need to watch that. Can young farmers buy land? That’s already a problem. New money brings wonderful things but can wages keep pace?”


Church is now semi-retired working as a strategic consultant. Over his long career he also served as Executive Director of the Albany-based New York Planning Federation and held positions with the Catskill Center and the Conservation Foundation/World Wildlife Fund. Early in his career he was a partner in the firm Landscape Studies specializing in environmental impact assessment.


Raised in northern Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Church lives with his wife and two children in the Town of Shawangunk New York, Ulster Country, where he serves as a extremely qualified member of the town’s Planning Board. He is also a board member of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and the Land Use Advisory Committee to the NYS Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. Church has written several books on land use and zoning including The Short Course: A Basic Guide for Members of Planning Boards and Zoning Boards of Appeals, and The Shawangunk Ridge Conservation and Design Guidebook. A member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, he is a graduate of Hamilton College (Geology) and has studied at Empire State College.


Church’s experience and plannerly approach has served HVADC well for a decade and half. His pragmatic guidance and institutional knowledge cannot be overstated as a leading factor in HVADC’s history of programmatic success.


“I really appreciate HVADC focusing on small businesses,” he said. “As government cuts back on spending coming out of the pandemic I think nonprofits are going to have to step up more then ever. HVADC has always been there folks. I’m glad to have been involved.”  


For more information on the HVADC Board of Directors visit https://www/