Chestnut Ridge residents Melinda and Mitch Darer join the Rockland Farm Alliance (RFA) as co-executive directors. Nyack native Shane Hardy moves into the role of farm manager at Cropsey Community Farm in New City.
Their backgrounds include experience in the non-profit arena with a focus on the environment, nutrition, animal advocacy and social justice. They will work on streamlining the non-profit’s operations, identifying and securing funding for expansion and expanding community relations and hope to create more educational experiences and the RFA’s presence in Rockland.
Melinda has worked for an international non-profit agency and co-founded a national animal rights organization. A former board member and president of the North American Vegetarian Society, Mitch has been involved in technology consulting as executive director of a university-based center that provides assistance to government agencies in New Jersey.
They have been supportive of farming in Rockland and for more than 20 years have been working members of the Hungry Hollow Coop in Chestnut Ridge. Mitch and Melinda also helped to establish the organic garden program at Rockland Country Day School in Congers.
“As Rockland residents passionate about eating local, healthy food and concern for our land, we became Cropsey CSA members in the first growing season,” said Melinda. “We are excited to support RFA’s mission on a deeper level, and we hope that bringing our combined business and non-profit management experience will help strengthen the solid foundation laid by our predecessors, and expand RFA’s reach into our community through the development of more farm projects and educational opportunities.”
Born and raised in Nyack, Hardy joined the team as farm manager of Cropsey Community Farm, RFA’s first farm project. Cropsey Farm is Rockland’s largest organic vegetable farm and a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiative in its third year of operation.
Hardy started in farming at Ithaca’s Cayuga Pure Organics, one of the largest producers of organic grains and heirloom dry beans. He also managed the field at Late Bloomer Farm in Orange County.
“It’s a joy to be back home and involved in making a difference in our residents’ lives,” said Hardy. “My goal is to farm in a way that both produces healthy food and nourishes the land that provides it.”
County residents can join Cropsey Community Farm now and sign up for CSA Shares for the 2013 season. Members get a weekly share of crops such as beans, carrots, herbs, greens, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, pumpkins, radishes, salad mix, Swiss chard, tomatoes, winter squash throughout the 22 week growing season. Every CSA member pays either a $600 working share, with 15 hours of work time required or a $750 non-working share plus a $25 administrative fee. The first harvest of fresh, organic, locally produced food is expected on May 27.
RFA’s Founder and President John McDowell said he looks forward to an expansion of the organization’s mission.
“We’ve enjoyed six years of tremendous growth and are eager to move forward and meet the challenge of revitalizing our local food production,” said McDowell. “I’m confident this team will help to spearhead that growth as we enter a new phase of development.”
Naomi Camilleri, who served as executive director for more than two years, will remain as RFA’s communications director, with responsibility for developing the organization’s community outreach and public relations efforts.
RFA was formed in 2007, with a mission to preserve, create and enhance sustainable food production in the county while creating model small-scale farms that serve as outdoor classrooms for agricultural education.