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.
John Novi – High Falls
For over 3 decades Chef John Novi has cooked and served local food at The Dupuy Canal House. In this beautiful, historic stone building you can eat one of the finest meals in the Hudson Valley – a region known for fine meals. Before the local food movement was a celebrity chef’s tagline and before menus fanatically described the local sources of ingredients, John was doing what he loves to do – drive around our region and find good ingredients and then cook something fantastic with them.
He told me the story of his first big local find – yellow tomatoes from Davenport Farm. Falling in love with these local gems, he requested that Davenport’s and Gill’s Farms bring him each 1 case a week during the season and he preserved them to use later for purees and sauces. From that point he was addicted to striking out and discovering local food sources.
New York Times Restaurant critic, Craig Claiborne, sat down to a meal at The Dupuy Canal House and rewarded John Novi with 4 stars for the quality and boldness displayed in a local, fresh caught fish served head on, a la Jaques Pepin. “The sky opened up!” said Novi, and the restaurant became a destination and helped to define the Hudson Valley as a place where Food is made.
John Novi’s deep love for the Hudson Valley, where he grew up in a family of restaurant owners, lead him to start a visionary coalition that discussed far out stuff like collaborations between local businesses and the importance of open space . He later became one of the founding members of the Rondout Esopus Land Conservancy, which has permanently preserved over 3,000 acres of forest and farmland in the Rondout and Esopus Valleys. Three decades ago he displayed a commitment to sourcing clean local food , to protecting our natural resources, and to the relationships between people in small communities.
John Novi continues to act as a steward of our local resources and so he was among the first group of community members to receive a Signs of Sustainability Award in 2012. Thank you John!