LEP’s mission is to foster a more resilient food system in the Hudson Valley; one in which economic, social, and ecological needs are in balance. To achieve this vision, LEP provides grant funding, facilitates direct investment to move more capital from Wall Street to Main Street, and acts as a collaborator with others working with a shared vision. LEP’s work to date has been divided into three strategic initiatives: Food Hubs, Education & Community, and the Farm Hub.
Food Hubs: By focusing on local value chains, LEP aims to foster a collaborative and transparent economic system with an eye toward shared value. Through its Food Hubs initiative, LEP is investing in the infrastructure and relationships to connect local farms to high value markets. These include grants to programs such as Farm-to-Institution NYS (FINYS) and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) farmer training. LEP has also invested in Farm-to-Table Co-Packers, a value-added food processor partnering with local farms. New programming is currently being explored to deploy patient capital in the food system to build regional infrastructure to support farms.
Education & Community: Establishing a strong connection between consumers and farming is key to developing a bright future for the Hudson Valley food system. With this in mind, LEP is supporting Farm to School programs that educate youth about the food system and bring locally produced ingredients into school cafeterias. Another funding emphasis is food access: ensuring that fresh, local food is not just a luxury for an elite few, but an everyday option for all in the Hudson Valley food system. Recent LEP grants to community organizations are bringing local food to underserved neighborhoods throughout the Mid-Hudson region.
Hudson Valley Farm Hub: With the goal of strengthening agriculture and training the next generation of farmers in the region, LEP created its land-based project: Hudson Valley Farm Hub. The Farm Hub is a non-profit center for professional farmer training, research, and demonstration in Ulster County, New York. Here, Hudson Valley farmers will be assisted with access to markets, land, and the training they need to meet the challenges presented by today’s global food system.
The Farm Hub is also conducting innovative field trials that are tailored to Hudson Valley conditions and designed to move regional agriculture into a robust, environmentally sound future. A multi-year small grains research trial is being conducted in collaboration with Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, while no-till grain corn and soybean trials are garnering yield and cost data which will be shared with farmers across the Hudson Valley.