Harvesting Crops & Community in the Mid-Hudson
The Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach reports some welcome news in their fifth Discussion Brief: Agriculture Supporting Communities in the Mid Hudson Region. It reveals that the commercial, cultural and political force of the Hudson Valley region is returning to an overlooked and indigenous source that has been dormant for decades: its soil.
This study shows that despite a downward trend in the number and size of farms over the last one hundred years, small farms and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) have increased in our region. A CSA is a system of agriculture in which consumers pay in advance for a share of a farmer’s crop and assume part of the farmer’s risk if the crop does not do well.
The abundance of CSAs in this region caused CRREO’s Regional Well-Being Project to research the connection between CSA members and the ways in which they benefit communities. After conducting surveys with CSA members and residents, CRREO found that the resurgence of small farms and community-shared agriculture enhances community involvement through increasing social cohesion, volunteerism and civic participation.
“There has been some encouraging news lately for those who wish to preserve the rural character of the Hudson Valley. The growing vitality of small farms and Community Supported Agriculture is helping farming to reclaim its central place in the economic and social lives of our region’s communities,” says Brief authors Brian Obach, chair of the sociology department, and Kathleen Tobin, assistant director of CRREO.
Gerald Benjamin, director of CRREO and associate vice president of Regional Engagement observes “This latest aspect of our Regional Well-being Project promises to help restore our understanding of the Hudson Valley’s agricultural heritage as central to our regional identity and further establish the importance of farming as a current and future driver in our economy.”