The Rockland Farm Alliance (RFA) received a $25,000 matching challenge grant from RSF Social Finance of San Francisco. The RFA hopes to raise an equal amount of funds to help build community programs and develop new farm projects.
RFA Executive Director Naomi Camilleri explained even though the grant is not contingent on their raising an equal amount of money, the non-profit organization hopes it will spur donations and the amount will be doubled by the fall.
“RSF Social Finance awarded RFA the grant with a request to match it through our fundraising efforts,” said Camilleri. “Although we will receive the grant even if it is not fully matched, we appreciate this springboard to help propel our fundraising for the 2012 season.”
The RFA focuses on revitalizing local food systems in Rockland County. Its first farm project, Cropsey Community Farm in New City, is Rockland’s largest organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Cropsey is in its second growing season and follows the practices of biodynamic farming. RFA President John McDowell said those characteristics led to the group’s selection for the grant.
“I believe RSF Social Finance sees the importance of RFA’s work facilitating local agriculture in the suburbs, particularly through the methods of biodynamics,” said RFA president, John McDowell.
“We’re proud to support RFA’s ecological and community stewardship programs,” noted RSF Social Finance President and CEO Don Shaffer. “Their efforts to preserve Rockland’s farming heritage and move forward to developing a significant food shed are most laudable.”
Camilleri said the $25,000 will be used to help RFA maintains its operations and encourage more local farming in Rockland. Earlier this year, RFA received an additional seven acres to farm at Cropsey.
“The grant money is meant to support RFA's www.rocklandfarm.org community programs, policy work and general operating costs,” she explained. “In addition to running Cropsey Community Farm, RFA continues to work on facilitating local sustainable agriculture across all of Rockland County.”
Camilleri said for several years RSF has been aware of the work of RFA, which was formed in early 2007, and decided this year to acknowledge its progress and demonstrate support. RFA relies primarily on local community contributions but previously received two grants from the Hudson River Valley Greenway to help launch Cropsey Community Farm.
Awareness of the farm is increasing. Volunteers and visitors have flocked to Cropsey since its inception.
“In the last year, hundreds of area students, scouts, and adults have visited Cropsey Community Farm to learn about where their food comes from and to benefit from this community resource,” explained Camilleri. “We have a solid internship and volunteer program in place, and are developing partnerships with local organizations to incorporate the farm into health and wellness programs, particularly with our residents with disabilities.”
Camilleri said their crops are doing well also.
“With more than half of the country suffering from drought, and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack declaring emergency conditions for our nation's farmers, this is certainly a challenging year, and no less for a new small community-supported farm,” she said. “This season has been hard on the cooler weather crops, but crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and others are coming in nicely. Farming requires flexibility and working with what Mother Nature provides!”
The RFA fundraising campaign is open to corporations, businesses, organizations and individuals who recognize and support the movement to develop a sustainable local food system. Rockland Farm Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and all donations will be tax deductible. Donations of any amount are welcome, and can be mailed to Rockland Farm Alliance, 220 S. Little Tor Rd., New City, NY 10956, or made safely and securely online at: http://www.rocklandfarm.org/donate_to_rfa.html
Rockland Farm Alliance (RFA) was established with the mission to preserve, create and enhance sustainable food production in Rockland County and create model small-scale farms to serve as outdoor classrooms for agricultural education. The grassroots effort of farmers, community groups and activists, has grown into a community force with more than 1,000 followers.
RSF Social Finance works with new economic models that support sustainable food and agriculture, while raising public awareness of the value of organic and Biodynamic farming. The non-profit financial services organization partners with investors and donors to provide capital to non-profit and for-profit social enterprises addressing key issues in the areas of food & agriculture, education & the arts, and ecological stewardship.