While farmers are no strangers to extreme weather events, last summer's storms offered many of our neighbors a startling reminder of the interconnectedness between local land, its crops, and our economy.
The idea for Rondout Valley Growers Association's Paper Pumpkin Project fundraiser began with an email sent to us a week after hurricanes Irene and Lee devastated Rondout Valley crops and farmland. It came from a resident who had pulled pumpkins out of the Rondout Creek-he wanted to know what farm had grown them so he could send them a check.
This wasn't the only resident who showed a desire to help our local farms, and over the next five months, we collected contributions on our website, at our fall orchard event, and at farm stands and businesses throughout the valley.
Additional donations came from local banks, elected officials, restaurants and a variety of businesses. Key Bank, the High Falls Café, and the Rosendale Theatre donated proceeds from events, UlsterCorps promoted the PPP at their fall Service Sprint, Whole Foods Supermarkets featured our project in their New York City stores, and HVADC posted it in their newsletter. The Community Foundation of the Hudson Valley gave us a grant to cover administration and printing fees, and several local residents made substantial donations. When we finalized the fundraiser January 1st, 2012, the Paper Pumpkin Project had raised over thirteen thousand dollars for storm-ravaged Rondout Valley farmers.
It's spring now, the start of another new growing season. Farm stands are opening throughout the valley, farmers are preparing fields for new growth, and residents are eagerly anticipating another season of enjoying delicious local food. Last summer's weather drama seems far away, but RVGA remains committed to our mission: to support active agricultural land and encourage resiliency and innovation among Rondout Valley farm businesses by creating community among growers and facilitating agricultural education for growers and
Though the results of hurricanes Irene and Lee were catastrophic, in their aftermath, the message we received from our community was clear: the people of the Rondout Valley care deeply about their farmland and their farmers. It does take a community to support a farm and your generous contributions helped us to bring much-needed real dollars to our farmers, and, as importantly, let them know that we're all working together to keep farming in the Rondout Valley strong and viable.
Everyone pulled together. And for that, we can't thank you enough!
Executive Director RVGA
Former Interim Executive Director, RVGA