A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Signs of Sustainability: Dan Guenther

The Signs of Sustainability Project is a citizen-lead initiative created to show gratitude to our friends and neighbors in the Rondout Valley who demonstrate sustainable practices.  Sustainability is defined by this project as stewardship and care of the present and future vitality of our wild, agricultural, and human resources.  Since it began in October 2012, the Signs of Sustainability Project has recognized 24 local individuals and organizations by documenting what they have done. Each year the past recipients of the award are invited to join in the selection process. 

Dan Guenther
Photo by Ilene Cutler.

Over 18 years ago Dan Guenther, known to many as Farmer Dan, was one of the first to introduce the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to the Mid-Hudson Valley, through projects such as Phillies Bridge Farm and Brook Farm. Simply put, a CSA brings a community together to support a small farm. In the late winter, members buy shares for the upcoming growing season, giving the farmer much needed capital to purchase seeds and survive through planting and growing seasons, till the harvest. As produce comes into season, members receive regular (usually weekly) boxes of farm fresh goodies. CSAs can be organized in many ways—they can be schools for children, places for people to work on a farm and develop agricultural skills, a gathering place for neighbors who want to connect with the whole system of growing food. With a CSA everyone wins because of the close relationship between the members and the farmer that helps a farm succeed and a member obtain affordable fresh and local produce.

Dan has worn many hats in the community over the years: an activist who helped start the Rail Trail projects, a persistent voice on environmental issues and climate action, originator of local trainings for the Transition Town Movement,  a contractor and a father who raised, along with his awesome wife Anne, two brilliant children who are currently operating CSAs of their own.  

Today there are over 20 registered CSAs in the valley, according to the Rondout Valley Growers Association, as well as new CSA farms that are just starting. Dan shared, “When I was doing CSAs, I couldn’t think of a better way of helping the planet then starting, nurturing and mentoring CSAs. When I am struggling to explain the Transition Movement to people, I often talk about the CSA as a perfect manifestation of the movement.”

Thank you Dan, for all you have done for over two decades to teach us real techniques for creating a thriving, sustainable community.

–Lisa Jones, Signs of Sustainability Coordinator