In this Issue:

Funding Highlights
  • Food Safety Training for Hudson Valley Farmers
  • Addressing Food Insecurity in the Hudson Valley
  • Food & Schools: Three Innovative Approaches
  • Re>Thinking the Local Economy
Hudson Valley Farm Hub
  • Farm Hub Website Launched:
  • Farm Hub Team Expands
  • Reviving Local Grains in the Hudson Valley
  • Organic No-Till Soybeans Trial

Food Safety Training for Hudson Valley Farmers

With new and complex regulations governing farm products, understanding food safety requirements is more critical than ever for today’s farmers, especially for those who want to reach larger commercial markets. 
This year, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) training has become available, and affordable, to a greater number of Hudson Valley farmers through workshops and individualized consulting provided by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and its Hudson Valley Wholesale Producer Readiness Program. The program, made possible through a grant from Local Economies Project, provides assistance with pre-audit troubleshooting, guidance for getting products wholesale ready, and two-day training workshops designed to help farmers:

  • Understand how GAPs impacts produce safety on farms
  • Prepare for third party audits
  • Begin writing a farm food safety plan 

An inaugural workshop was held in December, 2014 in Middletown, with participants representing fruit and vegetable farms ranging in size from two to two hundred acres. The next training will take place in Millbrook at CCE of Dutchess County on March 9th and 10th. For registration information visit the CCE-DC website, or contact Nancy Halas at (845) 677-8223.

Additional workshops are being scheduled now for Sullivan and other Hudson Valley counties.  For more information contact Erik Schellenberg, CCE of Orange County, GAPs Resource Educator at (845) 344-1234 or  


Addressing Food Insecurity in the Hudson Valley

Communities where access to healthy food is limited are considered “food insecure.” Here in the Hudson Valley, food insecure neighborhoods and rural areas exist against the backdrop of what is arguably one of the most agriculturaly rich regions in the United States.  While farmers markets, farm stands, and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are abundant during the growing season, and while fresh produce is available in larger grocery stores, these options are not readily available in neighborhoods where transportation and financial resources tend to be scarce.

Fortunately, a network of community organizations is working to provide Hudson Valley residents with healthy food on an ongoing basis. Food pantries and area farmers want to collaborate to dispense as much locally grown produce as possible.  How can more fresh local food be made available through these channels, and how can it be distributed effectively to those in need?

These are the challenges that Local Economies Project (LEP) has set out to help address with a multi-year grant to the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley.  Read more...

Photo: Volunteers distribute local produce at People's Place, Kingston, NY.  Photo courtesy of People's Place.


Food & Schools: Three Innovative Approaches

Believing that education is fundamental to building a resilient food system, LEP is providing financial support for school districts engaged in innovative food and agriculture programming.  This year, three distinct grant-funded initiatives in area school districts are serving students both in classrooms and in cafeterias.

Rondout Valley Central School District Agriculture and Food Science Initiative:  This grant is providing funding for the school district to develop curriculum for new course offerings, to build an educational research greenhouse, to renovate and develop a Food Science facility, and to create interpretive outdoor trails for educational use. Visit the RVCSD website for updates as the project develops.  

Poughkeepsie City School District Farm-to-School Project:  Through grants from LEP, the Dyson Foundation, and the USDA, the Poughkeepsie City School District has developed a comprehensive program to procure more local food for school cafeterias and to engage students in learning about food and nutrition through visits to area farms.  Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress acted as the project administrator while collaborating with several other partners.   Read about this successful initiative in the Final Project Report.

Kingston City Schools Dinner Program:  School districts can play an important role in ensuring that children and families receive nutritious meals during and outside of the school day.  Through a grant from LEP to Kingston City Schools, free dinners are being offered to homeless families in the district by the Caring Hands Soup Kitchen on an ongoing basis. 

Photo Courtesy of Rondout Valley Central School District.

Re>Thinking the Local Economy

A new kind of community has been growing in the Hudson Valley; a community of independent business owners connected to one another by Re>Think Local, a unique membership-driven non-profit organization dedicated to building a resilient local economy through independent ownership, community engagement, and place-based sustainable economic development.
An affiliate of the national non-profit BALLE (Business Alliance for Living Local Economies), Re>Think Local is providing connectivity,
education, and promotional support to a wide range of talented individuals and innovative retailers working in the region.  A browse through the membership directory reveals architects, photographers, professional coaches, bookstore owners, restaurateurs, magazine publishers, and educators, from the peaks of the Catskills to the streets of Newburgh and Beacon. With a shared commitment to local ownership and a triple bottom line approach to business (environmental, social and economic), independent business owners like these can be energized by working together across a regional network.

Now entering its third year, Re>Think is gearing up for a productive spring under the leadership of its Executive Director, Lucinda Poindexter, a development professional and community organizer who joined Re>Think in the summer of 2014.  

Visit to learn about:


  • Monthly Networking events around the Mid-Hudson Valley.
  • Social Venture Institute / Hudson Valley:  A weekend-long retreat in May of 2015 at Omega Institute, co-presented by Re>Think Local.
  • 2015 GO LOCAL Hudson Valley:  Re>Think’s newest campaign launches this month with collective media promotion and a dedicated website. 
  • The Hudson Valley Indie Impact Study:  For this regional edition of a nation-wide study, Re>Think engaged local businesses to help measure the "local impact advantage." 

For Re>Think membership information, contact Membership and Community Engagement Coordinator, Matt Jones:

Farm Hub Website has Launched!

One of LEP's signature initiatives, the Hudson Valley Farm Hub now has its own website:

Engage with us as we create this major center for resilient agriculture in the Hudson Valley.

  • Learn about the Farm Hub's beginnings and the history of the land.
  • Discover the vision for future programs and research projects on 1,255 acres of prime Hudson Valley farmland.
  • Meet the Farm Hub management team.
  • Invite friends and farmers to sign up for our joint LEP/Farm Hub e-mail list.

Farm Hub Team Expands

With the start of the new year, a newly expanded staff began training together at the Farm Hub.  Under the direction of Farm Hub Director Anu Rangarajan and Associate Directors Jean-Paul Courtens and John Gill, a core staff training program has been initiated at the Farm Hub, designed for the Hub's office staff, managers, mechanics, and field staff to learn together in all aspects of farm operations. 

Safety and emergency training, shop evaluation, tractor operating and minor repairs, greenhouse work and field skills are all part of the program that will continue throughout the year.  
 With the idea that communication is key to a positive work environment, the approach emphasizes the energetic sharing of language skills, ideas, and expertise amongst co-workers, and these themes will inform all areas of the staff training curriculum as it evolves through the seasons.

Educational opportunities off the farm are also an important part of staff development.  This January, the Farm Hub team attended the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York's (NOFA-NY) winter conference in Saratoga Springs where they participated in workshops and connected with growers from all over New York.

Meet Program Assistant Molly Riordan, the newest addition to the Farm Hub staff.


Reviving Local Grains in the Hudson Valley

The Farm Hub’s Small Grains Field Trials research project is entering its second season, with test plots of multiple varieties wintering over at the Farm Hub’s north field. 
As part of a larger, multi-year project to test different grains for food production in the Hudson Valley, trial plots of winter wheat, barley and rye were planted in late September by a team of Cornell University researchers who will be back in early summer to harvest for data collection.  Meanwhile, results from last summer’s trials of spring varieties are in the lab for analysis, and successful spring grains (wheat and barley) from last season's test plots are being selected for scaled-up plantings this coming spring.  

The Farm Hub’s Small Grains project is designed to provide Hudson Valley farmers with the information they need to meet an emerging market demand for locally grown grains in the food and beverage industry.  The trials are being conducted at the Farm Hub in conjunction with Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County.  Read more about this multi-year project which will include end-user testing with Hudson Valley bakers, millers and brewers.

Photo: Spring varieties: test plots at the Farm Hub


Organic No-till Soybeans Trial

Many farmers who are concerned about long term effects of tillage on soil health are exploring new methods for reducing tillage on their farms. A common challenge in these systems is, however, weed management. One strategy to address weeds is the use of cover crops that are grown and left in place as a soil mulch prior to a no-till planting of grain crops. How would this integrated system of cover crops and reducing tillage affect yields and costs while protecting the soil? A field research program at the Hudson Valley Farm Hub is examining this question. One of the first experiments is focused on organic no-till tofu soybean production.  
The project, led by Matt Ryan of the Cornell University Department of Crop and Soil Science, will provide field data on best management practices and yields for farmers wanting to integrate reduced tillage practices into grain crops. Last summer at the Farm Hub, tofu soybeans were planted in an innovative system on fields of rolled and crimped triticale.  
Click here for a project synopsis that describes the field trial as well as the economic analysis now being conducted by project researchers.


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