A web of connection and support was provided for those who received the donated produce.
The Rondout Valley Growers Association is a regional grower’s organization formed to support and promote the viability of local farms and farmland. But these are not our only goals; for several years, RVGA has organized volunteer harvest-time field gleanings of excess farm produce for donations to local soup kitchens and food banks. In 2009 RVGA expanded this program to further help the region’s hungry. With the assistance of volunteers organized by FAMILY of Woodstock, more than 22,000 pounds of fresh vegetables were distributed weekly and biweekly to food pantries and soup kitchens throughout Ulster County. Additionally, with help from the Woodcrest Community in Rifton and community volunteers, 4,000 pounds of sweet corn was processed and frozen for distribution. Over 2,000 pounds of bread and packaged dry goods were donated by our farm stands as well. Many of our farms donated “seconds” produce all summer long, and in order to make this process easier for them, in 2008 we wrote a small grant to launch a summer internship program that put student interns on participating farms to assist with the work involved with donations. The interns, Carrie Carson and Mark Davenport, worked hard, and helped us develop the program over the summer.
This program directly benefited food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the region. A web of connection and support was provided for those who received the donated produce, which included the volunteers and interns who participated. Communities that support each other thrive; and the Rondout Valley Growers Association is committed to every facet of creating a thriving, sustainable agricultural community.
Funding for the 2010 RVGA internship and the Farm to Food Pantry Program has not been secured for this year. Without the financial support necessary to defray costs of coordinating and managing this project, a reduced amount of produce will be handled this year, which also means less produce donations.
The RVGA doesn’t require a lot of funding to make these programs run but we do need management help and workers. If you would like to donate money for these projects or would like to help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RVGA Farm-To-Food Pantry 2009 Program highlights:
• Signed on three RVGA member farms, who provided TWICE WEEKLY DONATIONS beginning mid-July and continuing through Thanksgiving.
• Sought out support from Michael Berg at FAMILY, who arranged for volunteers to handle DISTRIBUTION OF DONATIONS throughout Ulster County, but primarily in the Rondout Valley region between Ellenville to Kingston.
• Organized farmers, RVGA volunteers, staff, and summer interns in COLLECTION AND INVENTORY of donations, and organization of all produce at one regular location, the Davenport Farm packing house in Stone Ridge, for pick up and distribution by FAMILY volunteers.
• In addition to the weekly donations, solicited one-time donations of over 4,000 POUNDS OF FRESH SWEET CORN from four RVGA farms for processing at Woodcrest Community in Rifton. Over 35 community volunteers worked along with several Woodcrest volunteers to produce over 1,000 TWO-POUND BAGS of frozen corn (for winter distribution), and we provided lunch.
• GATHERED OVER 26,700 POUNDS OF FRESH FOOD VALUED AT OVER $17,000.
On behalf of the Rondout Valley Growers Association and everyone in our community who has benefited from your generosity, we would like to extend our deep gratitude for your donations to RVGA’s Farm to Food Pantry Program.
The Hudson Valley HUNGER BANQUET
This past spring hundreds gathered to help raise awareness of hunger in our community and to help raise funds for several Hudson Valley organizations that provide assistance for those in need, including:
Queens Galley FAMILY of Woodstock Caring Hands Soup Kitchen Daily Bread Soup Kitchen Ulster Corps Angel Food East Saint James Food Pantry Rosendale Food Pantry People’s Place Chiz’s Heart Street God Given Bread Food Pantry Libertyview Farm
Volunteers and donations of nonperishable goods are needed by all of the agencies listed above. For details visit ulstercorps.org or contact the agency directly.