The HVADC Cultivator
HVADC Partner Spotlight - Hudson Mohawk Resource Conservation
& Development Council
Founded in 1996, The Hudson Mohawk Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc. (HMRC&D), is an all-volunteer, 501(c) 3, non-profit organization that works in partnership with local communities to create healthy, profitable landscapes, and serves Albany, Columbia, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, and Schenectady counties. It is based on collaboration between individuals and organizations that have an interest in helping improve economic development and conservation throughout the six county area. The premise is that a larger group will have increased impact and be able to effect greater change, than organizations working individually. The supervisors of each county, as well as a representative from each county’s New York State Soil & Water Conservation Committee are also members of HMRC&D. HVADC Executive Director Todd Erling serves as Vice Chairperson of The Council, and also represents Columbia County.
The goal of HMRC&D is to create and support sustainable projects, and then hand them over to the local communities. Project areas are determined in a grassroots manner. An issue is usually brought forward by a board member or by someone in the community who would like something done related to resource conversation and development. There is a formal review process, through which a project proposal form is presented and reviewed by the board, and approved or denied based on board expertise and availability.
HMRC&D is currently working on a Pollinator Project with the Hudson Valley Foundation for Youth Health to educate youth about the importance of pollinators to the ecosystem. They are working within area schools and have reached out to 4-H and various youth groups. The program is open to any youth organization that would like to establish a pollinator garden. HMRC&D provides the seeds and the instructions for planting. The idea is to use grant dollars to plant wildflowers and native flowers which will in turn attract pollinators. Soil and Water districts – as well as the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Programs have been helpful collaborators in the project.
Funding for HMRC&D is provided by the six New York State Soil & Water Conservation Committees, and some fundraising, but has been more of a challenge since the financial crisis in 2008. It is the passion of the all-volunteer board that allows them to dedicate their time and energy to the important issues facing their communities. It is a challenge, as everyone has a full time job and other commitments, but ultimately the board finds the issues worthwhile.
One of HMRC&D’s most successful projects came out of recognizing the need for more livestock processing facilities in the region. The Northeast Livestock Processing Service Company was born out of HMRC&D working with the farming community to brainstorm solutions to the many problems facing the livestock industry in New York. In 2005 the Council helped form the Northeast Livestock Processing Service Company, LLC (NELPSC). An all-farmer board oversaw the operations of the company. NELPSC assisted family farmers with the quality processing and marketing of their animals while enhancing the capacity of existing processors. In addition to processing education and facilitation, NELPSC provided marketing assistance to producers by finding outlets for farmer's meat products. In the first three years of operation, NELPSC put $330,000 directly into the pockets of farmers and helped facilitate well over a million dollars of additional sales. NELPSC worked with 102 farms and eight processors in Vermont, Massachusetts, California and 22 New York counties. Most of the funding for this project was provided by the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI). The project helped farmers be able to increase markets and to get their livestock processed in a timely manner. The key to success was that they farmers formed their own board, a totally separate entity. It was not an actual processing facility, but a coordination project to help farmers with scheduling and oversee scheduling, while providing assistance with marketing, finding new sales outlets for the farmers and a truck to take animals to different processers and transport products. NELPSC ran for 12 years, but based on having achieved their goals, recently closed.
Over its history, HMRC&D has reached over 1,300 individuals through its programs.
Going forward, HMRC&D plans to assist with new and emerging market opportunities for farmers, economic development and resource conservation and to continue to work in collaboration with New York State Soil & Water Conservation Committees to help farmers conserve soil resources.