The Growers association began in 2001 as a Marbletown based taskforce of two, Fabia Wargin and myself. Our mission was help to keep farmland in production by helping to keep it profitable. The intention was then, as it is now, to focus on all manner of local farming, including the excellent vegetable ground on the bottomland and the uplands good for grazing, grain crops and hay. This valley was at one time called the breadbasket of New York City. To our south are several counties and farming regions that could also make that claim but have lost their farmland to development pressure. That fact makes it all the more crucial that we pay attention to this valuable resource instead of taking it for granted, especially large parcels of upland that still have the ability to sustain livestock for meat or dairy. But on the other hand, a landowner has the right to dispose of his land any way he pleases, and in most cases its highest value is for development. Over the last ten years the Growers Association has been at work, using an ever-changing array of tools and partners to stem the tide of development and help maintain our region’s ability to feed itself and once again supply our neighbors in the New York region with the best, most responsibly grown food in the world.
It’s impossible to truly quantify the success of the RVGA. In the last decade the buy local and healthy eating movements have been gaining momentum worldwide as well. To an outsider, the effects of the RGVA could well go unnoticed. I can just say that from where I stood for the last ten years I’m very satisfied with the accomplishments of the organization. And if you’re reading this letter, you’re among the growing population that recognizes the value of this region’s resources, which includes the RVGA. Whatever else we have or haven’t done, we have indisputably acted as a lightning rod to attract new marketing opportunities, research, ag education for our children, and grower resources into our valley.