As we anticipate the coming of spring, we are enthusiastically preparing for the addition of five new talented farmers to the Farm Hub’s professional farmer training program, the return of our seasonal crew, and the birth of the new growing season. We look forward also to the expansion of our Native American Seed Sanctuary and the introduction of our newest crop, Kernza, a recently developed perennial grain now being grown at the Farm Hub in partnership with The Land Institute. 

At LEP we continue to be inspired by our many partner organizations and their collaborative work in the regional food system. Among them are: Wild Earth and its mission to transform the way young people interact with nature, farmers working with food pantries to donate produce for those in need, and local groups ensuring that the public is informed about the potential impacts of the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines.

We are also pleased to share news from our latest grantee partner, the Doe Fund, on their plans to create a food incubator and training center at a former prison site in Beacon. Finally, we introduce Glynwood's newly released study on sustainable meat production in the Hudson Valley
-Brooke Pickering-Cole, Associate Director of Community Relations, LEP and Farm Hub

The Farm Hub Grows Kernza in Partnership with The Land Institute 

Developed by The Land Institute, Kernza is described by some as a “super wheat” because of its deep, dense root system and its potential to improve soil health.This year, the Farm Hub is testing how Kernza performs in the Hudson Valley.

Kernza has one property that sets it apart: It’s a perennial. “In traditional agriculture, we hit the reset button every year,” explains Land Institute Geneticist Lee DeHaan, “We eradicate all above-ground plant life in a field and start over from scratch. Here, we are trying to do what nature does naturally, [and] to bring those processes back into agriculture.”

Read more about the benefits of Kernza. 

Announcing Our 2017 ProFarmers

We are extremely pleased to name our incoming 2017 ProFarmers: Andrew Casner, Jayne Henson, Jesus Gonzalez, Briana Quinn, and Nailah Marie Ellis.

When they arrive at the Farm Hub in April, these talented young farmers will enter a three-to-five-year training program focused on ecological farming practices, mechanical and technical skill building, and leadership development. All five share a commitment to pursuing careers in agriculture in the Hudson Valley and to creating positive change in the food system. They will join the three ProFarmers that started in spring 2016.

Meet the 2017 ProFarmers here.

LEP and the Farm Hub Co-Sponsor Public Education Forum on Proposed Pilgrim Pipelines 

Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC has proposed building two pipelines (one carrying Bakken crude oil south and another carrying refined products north) that will run from Albany to Linden, New Jersey. Locally, the proposed route passes through Kingston, Ulster, Esopus, Marlbourgh, Plattekill, New Paltz, and Saugerties. Pipelines would intersect several sections of the City of Kingston, including the Farm Hub's northernmost farm field and Native American Seed Sanctuary.

On January 28, LEP and the Farm Hub were among the co-sponsors of a public forum organized by KingstonCitizens.org on the potential impact of the Pilgrim Pipelines in Ulster County. The three-hour event featured a film and panel discussion. LEP’s Associate Director of Community Relations Brooke Pickering-Cole also spoke at the event.

Learn more about the pipelines and read Pickering-Cole’s statement

A New Lease on Life: The Doe Fund Proposes to Repurpose the Beacon Correctional Facility

Could an abandoned prison become a driving force in the Hudson Valley’s food economy? 

If the Doe Fund, a New York City-based nonprofit, is successful, the Hudson Valley could see the launch of the Mid-Hudson Food Enterprise and Training Center. Recognizing the potential benefits to the local community and the regional food economy, in late 2016 LEP provided the Doe Fund with a grant to help support site assessment, business planning, and community outreach for the project.

Read more about the project

Grantee Profile: Wild Earth and the Transformational Power of Wilderness

A typical day at one of Wild Earth’s programs might involve making fires, shelter building, hiking, storytelling, exploring the landscape, making stone tools, camping, and plenty of games and play—all in the outdoors.

Wild Earth’s Executive Director David Brownstein is a firm believer in the transformative power of nature. As he explains, the Wild Earth experience is “helping to regenerate a healthy community culture.”

Read more about Wild Earth, an LEP grantee partner since 2014.

Photo Credit: Maggie Heinzel-Neel

New Study on Sustainable Meat Production in the Hudson Valley 

Glynwood, the agricultural nonprofit based in Cold Spring, New York, has announced the release of a comprehensive study on the region’s potential to produce high-quality pastured meat. The study, entitled "Pastured Protein: Ecological, Humane and Healthy Meat from the Hudson Valley" was made possible by grant funding from LEP.

As consumer demand shifts away from industrial-scale meat production, opportunities are emerging for the production of ecologically and humanely raised meat. The Hudson Valley's fertile land and proximity to some of the nation’s largest markets make the region particularly well-suited to this type of agricultural activity.

Building upon LEP's earlier research and 2013 publication, "Hudson Valley Food Hubs Initiative" in which livestock was identified as a sector with significant potential for growth, Glynwood's study outlines a set of recommendations related to meat production, processing, marketing, and profitability

Read the full study here.

Photo credit: Nicci Cagan

Farmer Donations Help Feed the Hudson Valley 

In the Hudson Valley, charitable and community organizations depend on donations from local farms to ensure that fresh produce is available to those in need across the region. These donations, however, often come with costs to the farmers on account of harvesting, processing, and transportation expenses. Farmers can offset the financial impact with volunteer work by, for example, inviting charitable organizations into the fields to glean excess produce.

But what if farmers could actually be reimbursed for these costs?  A recently proposed “farm-to-food-bank” bill would provide up to a $5,000 state tax credit to farmers who give away excess or unsellable produce to charitable organizations.

Read more about this proposed legislation.

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