Food markets also educate: the market is where urban meets rural, where city dwellers learn about farms. Going to market is an introduction to the surrounding region. The collection of regional products at a market represents that region’s nature and culture – the food tells us about the land, climate, and water; and the products made from that food tell us about the people and the history of the place.
For all these reasons, Glynwood has collaborated with New Amsterdam Market in New York City to host “Hudson Valley Harvest” at the market on October 24.
New Amsterdam Market, photo by William Coupon.
This special gathering of artisans, producers, and food advocates from throughout the Hudson Valley will celebrate the bounty and the beauty of the region.
It’s not often that the Secretary of the USDA comes to the Hudson Valley to hear about our efforts to save farming and to see our region’s farms. In fact, prior to Secretary Vilsack’s recent visit, no one could remember the last time the head of the USDA was actually here.
Glynwood President Judy LaBelle answering questions from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a listening session for America's Great Outdoors.
So the Secretary’s presence here on August 6th, as part of a “listening tour” for President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, was an unusual opportunity for us to make the case for the importance of the Hudson Valley’s farms and working landscapes.
This Initiative was created by the President to develop a conservation and recreation agenda for the 21st century. He recognized that in some parts of the country, conserving the “great outdoors” requires the conservation of working farms and forests as well.
It was very significant that the USDA, rather than one of the many other agencies involved, was leading the delegation to the Hudson Valley. It signaled the importance of the working lands in this region and the farmers who maintain them, in particular to the Valley’s economy and quality of life.
Prior to joining Glynwood’s staff this year, I directed and co-produced a video with WhyHunger titled “The Food and Climate Connection: From Heating the Planet to Healing It.” Featuring interviews with farmers, community leaders, and sustainability advocates, the video highlights how the industrial food system is among the greatest contributors to global warming and how sustainable farming practices can pose a powerful solution to the crisis.
“We cannotaddress climate change without addressing the food system” says Christina Schiavoni, Director of the Global Movements Program at WhyHunger.
Anna Lappé, author of Diet for a Hot Planet and also one of the Glynwood Institute’s first Innovators, is featured in the film. “Industrial crop and livestock production is wreaking havoc on our planet and our health,” says Anna. “But the good news is sustainable farming methods can help cool the planet, foster food system resiliency, and promote biodiversity and healthy eating—all at the same time.”
Since attending the Slow Money national gathering, I’ve been posting some thoughts on what I saw there.
One of the major challenges that the Slow Money Alliance has taken on is to design new structures to encourage the flow of funding to businesses that will help heal the environment and support local economies.
The “legal landscape for aggregating funds” is complicated by securities laws designed to protect small investors that can make it difficult and expensive for them to pool investments without running afoul of the law.
The Slow Money national gathering was thought provoking and inspiring. I anticipate writing many shorter posts over the next several days to share the richness of the ideas.
First off, who was there and why? About 500 people from around the country, including investors and money managers, foundation executives, nonprofit advocates, farmers and food entrepreneurs. From names you know, to people you have not heard of (yet) – all trying to figure out how we can spur an “economic and agricultural revolution” by catalyzing the flow of money to local efforts.
Second, why “slow” money? In short, to counter the damage to the environment, the economy and our society from “fast” money – in particular, the pursuit of quarterly profits that pressures executives of large publically-traded companies to disregard the long-term impacts of their actions.
It doesn’t have to be this way – and it wasn’t always.
“Money makes the world go around…” You may remember Joel Gray’s cynical rendition of this line in Cabaret. Or it may just be a trueism you have heard along the way.
In any event, we need more in the sustainable food and farming movement! To support entrepreneurs who have a great idea for a new value-added product, or to make it possible for a local organization to recreate a needed piece of infrastructure, or you name it.
Today and tomorrow I will be attending Slow Money’s National Gathering at Shelburne Farm in Vermont to learn more about this emerging movement and the support it may provide for the sustainable food and farming movement. The basic idea behind Slow Money is to create a cadre of investors who are not focused on immediate, quarterly returns, but are willing to invest in socially oriented enterprises for smaller returns over the longer term.
Bill McKibben, Joel Salatin, Gary Hirshberg, Eliot Coleman, and Erika Allen will be here, in addition to investors and entrepreneurs from around the country. Should be an interesting two days. Stay tuned!
Judith LaBelle is the President of Glynwood. She will be posting more comments about the conference after it concludes – in the meantime, enjoy this video from the folks at Slow Money:
Glynwood has just announced the launch of the first USDA inspected mobile slaughterhouse for large animals east of New Mexico. The Modular Harvest System™ (MHS) addresses a critical gap in the infrastructure needed by livestock producers in the Hudson Valley, a region with many dispersed smaller farms near a major metropolitan market, and provides a model for other similar regions.
Cattle and sheep grazing in the Hudson Valley.
The need for additional slaughtering capacity had been recognized – and studied – for several years. In late 2008, Glynwood created a task force to address this need. (To hear the need described by farmers, chefs and others, please take a look at a video we produced early in this project.)
Having the MHS, a “next generation” modular mobile unit, in operation on its first docking site in Delaware County about 18 months later represents a major accomplishment, achieved with the support, assistance and encouragement of the members of the task force and a great many other people from across the Valley.
But why did Glynwood think it was so important to grasp the nettle on this issue — and believe me, that nettle had some very sharp points along the way!
Pastured chickens at Glynwood Farm. Photo by Frankie Kimm.
As we begin the summer, the pace of activities on the farm is ever quickening.
Winter life on the farm is more contained, more focused around a couple places: the new barn where the cattle, sheep and goats wintered, the chicken houses and the pig houses. When the pastures are covered in snow, we carefully feed out the hay we fretted over making last summer – and then fret whether there will be enough to get us through the winter. Soon we will be fretting over getting in this year’s hay, and spreading the composted manure the animals made from last from last year’s hay, which adds fertility to the fields for next year’s hay. The cycle continues…
If you haven’t yet read Anna Lappe’s new book Diet for a Hot Planet, it’s well worth a visit to your local bookstore to get a copy.
Following is a short piece Anna has written about the book:
Diet for a Hot Planet
by Anna Lappé
foreword by Bill McKibben Bloomsbury/Spring 2010
The era of climate-change deniers may (almost) be behind us, but a new battle has just begun. As we grapple with global warming, we will face increasing controversies over which industries are most responsible for the greenhouse gases of most concern and which actions and policies will most help us mitigate the crisis.
Glynwood is a not-for-profit located in the Hudson Valley. We are dedicated to saving farming—because farming, food, and community matter. This blog presents news and updates on our work, along with photos, videos, and notes on our efforts to promote locally grown food and sustainable agriculture.