In the course of our work, we often encounter emerging issues worthy of consideration. When appropriate, we convene selected colleagues to explore the issue, identify current best practices and develop new approaches and action plans to address it.
For example, during 2004 we recognized that farmland protected through conservation easement or purchase of development rights programs is sometimes allowed to go fallow, which weakens the region’s ability to produce food. At the same time, the high cost of land makes it hard for new farmers to access land or existing farmers to expand production. Our Convening, “You Saved It, Now What?”, brought local officials, land trust professionals, farmers and other national experts together to discuss how land owners could be encouraged to make this land available for productive use.
As a direct result of this convening, Glynwood has developed our Keep Farming Landowners Workshop to guide owners of fallow farmland who wish to place their land back into production. In 2007, Glynwood convened leading land trust professionals from around the country to identify best practices in working with agricultural land and produced a report: “Land Trusts and Agricultural Land: Saving Farmland or Farming?”, which has encouraged land trusts across the nation to promote the productive use of protected farmland.
Other Glynwood Convenings have included:
• Strengthening the Regional Food System in the Hudson Valley
• Could the Hudson Be the Next Napa?
• Biodiversity and Local Planning
Strengthening the Regional Food System in the Hudson Valley. In 2000, Glynwood launched a series of convenings designed to examine the state of the regional food system in the Hudson Valley and begin to develop partnerships and strategies to strengthen it. The first convening had an international perspective, with participants including Jean Luc Sadorge, Federation of French Regional Parks, France; Martin Fitton, Brecon Beacons National Park, United Kingdom; Henk Kieft, ETC Ecoculture, The Netherlands, as well as farmers, agency representatives, nonprofit professionals and community leaders from throughout the Hudson Valley.
This series of convenings helped set the stage for Glynwood’s Agricultural Initiative. Because in the course of these convenings it became clear that there was little data readily available about agriculture in the Hudson Valley, Glynwood produced “The State of Agriculture in the Hudson River Valley”, a document that has been widely used by farmers, local officials and regional business leaders.
Other critical elements of the regional food system identified in these convenings became the focus of Glynwood workshops, including regional branding and marketing and the need for innovative financial techniques to encourage landowners to keep their land in production. The opportunity afforded by agritourism was the focus of a Countryside Exchange and the opportunity afforded by grass-based production was the focus of a workshop. The problems caused by the high cost of land are being addressed by through our Keep Farming Landowners Workshop and other initiatives.
Perhaps most importantly, these convenings identified the key role that communities can and must play in sustaining agriculture. In response, Glynwood has created the Keep Farming program, which helps communities understand the critical role played by agriculture and take action to help farming and farmers stay economically viable.
Could the Hudson be the Next Napa? In 2003, Glynwood partnered with Minetta Brook, which organizes public art projects that bring together contemporary artists and New York communities, to examine whether it is possible for the Hudson Valley to follow the example of the Napa Valley and strengthen its economy by creating a strong regional identity based on high quality products and a beautiful landscape. The convening brought together a diverse group of farmers, chefs, food writers, policy makers and restaurateurs from the Hudson River Valley and New York City to explore the existing and potential connection between food, cuisine and the Valley’s identity.
Biodiversity and Local Planning. In 2002, Glynwood partnered with the Metropolitan Conservation Alliance of the Wildlife Conservation Society to conduct a seminar on biodiversity and local planning. Participants included scientists, lawyers and planners. Based on this discussion, Jayne Daly, then Glynwood’s Director of Programs, and Michael Klemens, Executive Director, Metropolitan Conservation Alliance, co-authored a chapter on Integrating Conservation and Biodiversity into Local Planning for a book entitled Nature in Fragments: Urban Sprawl’s Effects on Biodiversity, published by the Columbia University Press. The convening also served as the basis for a Glynwood Gleanings “Farmers and the Richness of Life”.