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

The Common Ground Celebration: Sun, Sept 15

Festival celebrates shared vision for the Rondout Valley    
by Rebecca Horwitz   

Were you one of the lucky ones who attended the first-ever Common Ground Festival last October? Or, like me, did you miss it and then hear all about how amazing it was later? Not to worry, it’s happening again: the 2nd annual Common Ground Festival takes place this year on Sunday, September 15 from 11am to 6pm at Stone Ridge Orchard in Stone Ridge on Route 213. There is an admission fee of $5.

I recently met with Lisa Jones, the 2012 coordinator, and Julia Farr, one of two coordinators this year, along with Elizabeth Ryan, to find out what it’s all about.
“This is an inclusive, community-run festival to bring people together, to recognize our common ground,” explained Jones. “Just like last year, we have a zero waste goal—we produced only one small bag of trash after a festival of an estimated 700 to 1,000 people. There will be local food and drink, a pizza oven, and of course, cider. The main events feature a variety of re-skilling workshops—meaning things people used to know how to do, like wood carving and bee-keeping.” Learning such skills promotes a sense of resiliency and self-reliance, and can be a lot of fun as well. Workshops in nature skills and outdoor education will be offered by Wild Earth, a program that has summer and year-round educational programs for kids and adults. The schedule of those outdoor workshops at the festival will soon be online at rvcgc.org.
Other highlights include two danceable bands: The Pleasers, and Sweet Clementines. The Marbletown Civic Association is holding an apple dumpling bake-off competition, and The Signs of Sustainability, or SOS, Awards ceremony will recognize locals who are stewards of wild, agricultural and human resources.  
The venue for this year’s festival is no accident: there has been a dedicated effort to save the Stone Ridge Orchard from development. The owners of the property are selling, and many in the community feared the orchard would soon become condos. When farmer/activist Elizabeth Ryan came on board to rent and operate the orchards, it was her hope to be able to purchase them and preserve them for apple growing and cider making, not building. Right now Elizabeth is in contract to buy the orchard, and one of the festival’s main goals is to raise awareness and funds to help her meet the deadline.
Elizabeth is already a seasoned apple grower; she owns Breezy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill in Staatsburg, Dutchess County. She has earned Eco-apple certification because her apples are low- or no-spray (of agricultural chemicals). Cider making, especially the hard kind, just might prove to be financially viable for orchards—and a return to the days when hard cider was the most common alcoholic drink in the Hudson Valley.
The CGC is about bringing people together, recognizing our common ground, and celebrating our shared vision for the Rondout Valley as a healthy, creative, regenerative and sustainable community now and for years to come in an inclusive, fun, and collaborative atmosphere.
Come meet your neighbors at the Common Ground Festival on September 14!