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

Signs of Sustainability: RVGA

Signs of Sustainability—SOS
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.  (Use Ilene’s photo of the SOS plaques)

Bruce Davenport and Fabia Wargin, founders of the Rondout 
Valley Growers Association. Photo by Ilene Cutler.
The Rondout Valley Growers Association
The Rondout Valley Growers Association (RVGA) started with The Marbletown Visioning Workshop in 2000. Six to eight people formed a committee to discuss ways to preserve farms and farmland in the Rondout Valley. Before long the committee waned to just Bruce Davenport and Fabia Wargin. Determinedly, they approached each town in the Valley, asking for seed money to file papers to become a nonprofit organization. Hurley, Rochester, and Marbletown ponied up and the the RVGA became an official entity.

The organization’s aim is to raise awareness of our agricultural resources and inspire our community to support local farmers and local businesses in general. RVGA also helps their grower members to feel a stronger sense of the community of their peers—from the first-time farmer to the multi-generational old timers, big small, fruit, vegetable, dairy, livestock, egg, nursery, CSA, equine, bovine, herbs, tree and gentlemen farmers alike. The RVGA brings them all together and more. Supporters of the RVGA can be members too and the whole community of farm lovers contributes to strengthening the backbone of our beloved agricultural community.

Bruce Davenport and Fabia Wargin served on the board of the RVGA for many years, growing  the membership and visibility, and hosting a grand Barn Dance in September to bring Valley residents together at harvest time. Now there are fresh faces on the board and new farmers mingle with those who have worked hard for over a decade to establish this essential trade association.  Looking forward to the future, Bruce Davenport feels inspired by the synergy that has developed around a local food system.  He believes the Valley has potential to fill so many niches of local food like beef, dairy and value added products.  He believes we will see a comeback in this area (and indeed we are) of the entrepreneurial spirit of our growers, driven by the community’s passion for local foods.

RVGA is unquestionably the local driving force behind that passion for local food, which happily means clean food, thriving local economy, and preservation of historic farmland. We offer our gratitude to those who have worked so hard to keep this valuable organization alive and pumping. In this year alone, the RVGA has hosted a “Food Summit” to promote conversations with our government representatives on farm/food issues, a film night “What’s On Your Plate” at The Rosendale Theatre, an on-going project at the local public schools to build a farm curriculum. RVGA has also partnered with UlsterCorps in the Gleaning Project, providing foods from local farms to local food pantries.  Join us to celebrate them on September 27 at the annual Barn Dance.

For more information about the Barn Dance and RVGA visit rondoutvalleygrowers.org.  
–Lisa Jones, Coordinator for the Signs of Sustainability Awards