A 900-acre Demeter certified 650A Biodynamic farm in central Columbia County, NY

Hawthorne Valley receives USDA grant in support of farmer training

Harlemville, NY–Hawthorne Valley Association (HVA) is honored to be one of many prestigious organizations across the United States to receive a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced on October 8. The $693,918 three-year grant will help Hawthorne Valley’s Place Based Learning Center build on its six year track record of providing education and training to aspiring farmers, including many from socially-disadvantaged and veteran communities.

The project, called Filling in the Gaps: Developing a Farmer Training Pipeline for Metropolitan NYC and Mid and Upper Hudson Valley Farms with Special Emphasis on Socially-Disadvantaged and Veteran Communities, is a collaboration between HVA, Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), GrowNY, SoulFire Farm, and Black Urban Growers.

The project creates stage-specific training opportunities and resources for a wide range of beginning farmers. The USDA grant will help HVA and its partners broaden the project’s outreach to include a highly diverse group of farmers, with 60% of participants over the next three years to come from socially-disadvantaged or veteran communities. Filling in the Gaps will create a beginning farmer training pipeline supporting an individual from beginning novice farmer through supporting a farm enterprise in a rental/lease situation.

“We are thrilled to have the USDA’s support to enable us to offer our farmer training to underserved populations in the Hudson Valley while strengthening our collaborations towards delivering these programs in the most impactful way” said Martin Ping, HVA Executive Director and member of Senator Gillbrand’s Agricultural Advisory Committee. “For forty years, Hawthorne Valley has offered quality training to all who wish to pursue farming as a time-honored vocation, and provide them with the education and resources needed to be successful farmers. Food justice is a critical need in our day, and we believe that providing veteran, incarcerated, and minority populations with this real-life training that reconnects them to the land that sustains us is one important way this need will be addressed in.”

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program was first established by the 2008 Farm Bill and was continued in the 2014 Farm Bill. The program provides support through organizations that implement training programs to those who have farmed or ranched for less than 10 years. Since 2009, 184 awards have been made for more than $90 million through the Beginning Farmer and rancher Development Program, reflecting the USDA’s deep commitment to empowering beginning farmers and ranchers across America. For a list of 2015 grant awards, visit the NIFA website.