The HVADC Cultivator
Hawthorne Valley Farm
Hawthorne Valley Farm is one of the most unique, dynamic and diversified farms in the Hudson Valley. The decision to become New York State Grown & Certified Producer was a no brainer for the farm, with its 50-year history of high-quality organic production, a beloved farm store and its synergistic connection to the Hawthorne Valley School and passionate community.
Hawthorne Valley Farm is actually part of the greater entity of Hawthorne Valley Association which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit made up of diverse initiatives, including the school, committed to the renewal of soil, society and self by integrating agriculture, education, and art. The farm is located in Ghent.
To join the ranks of other Grown & Certified producers and growers, as an example of the best New York’s agriculture has to offer, Hawthorne Valley had to complete one unglamorous but necessary upgrade to their dairy program’s manure removal system. The program has requirements that producers adhere to farm safe protocols and environmentally responsible practices. Working closely with Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation (HVADC), Hawthorne Valley applied for and secured a New York State Grown & Certified Agricultural Producers Food Safety Grant through funding awarded by NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to Hudson Mohawk Resource Conservation and Development Council Inc (HMRC&D). Now with the improvements complete Hawthorne Valley Farm is certified and a great addition to the cadre of farms that represent the best in the state’s agriculture.
“HVADC is so pleased to see Hawthorne Valley Farm get the recognition it deserves as a regional agricultural leader by becoming New York State Grown & Certified,” Said Todd Erling, HVADC Executive Director. “The farm is so well managed that working with them to help win the grant they deserved was a breeze. My hope is that the project they completed with the help of Ag and Market funding will encourage others to seek our assistance to do the same. We have many amazing farms that deserve Grown & Certified designation, and we can help them locate the avenues and minor infrastructure improvements necessary to get there.”
Hawthorne Valley Farm Director of Development Kaitlin Armocida began working with HVADC Program Associate Jennifer Bock on the grant application over two years ago. While the process was slow (there was a global pandemic in the way for much of the process after all!) both said it was smooth sailing. The farm applied for $33,000 in matching funds for the project in the fall of 2019 and was awarded in June of 2020. The scope of the project completely revamped the barn’s manure conveyor and moved the exit further away from the farms wash station. As part of the improvements, they also installed all new flooring.
“Our project was far from glamorous,” Armocida chuckled. “But it was a needed upgrade and great to be able to accomplish, especially as a public farm. Getting certified was meaningful to us. We are all about creating a locally based sustainable food system and this allows us to bring more attention to that mission.”
Like many farm stores throughout the region, Hawthorne Valley’s large farm grocery saw increased interest and business throughout the breadth of the pandemic. They implemented curbside pickup and delivery systems that Armocida said will continue after the pandemic is over. While the trials of the pandemic were arduous, Armocida said they reminded everyone at the farm of the importance of their work and reinforced the value of their decision to work towards attaining the Grown & Certified designation.
“Jennifer was my point of contact at HVADC. She was super responsive and always happy to jump on a call if I had any questions or problems,” Armocida said. “It took a long time but it went really smoothly and that’s really due to HVADC being so attentive and involved.”
To assist farmers achieve New York State Grown & Certified status, HVADC and HMRC&D have partnered to administer the grant program in the Capital District Region.
To learn more about the program visit https://www.hvadc.org/nys-grown-and-certified.