The Catskill Food Initiative is growing! See how you can help.

We Need Your Help Creating Sustainable Economic Growth in the Catskills!

Over the past few decades, our region, once a national breadbasket and premier tourist destination, has suffered steady economic decline
The Catskills need long-term, sustainable economic growth that protects our precious natural resources and promotes our unique assets, including our proximity to New York City, our pristine beauty, and our exceptional cultural and historical venues. We believe that food production is a key to our future; this is why we created the Catskill Food Initiative, and why we are asking you to join in our efforts by making a donation today....  

More than ever before, how we farm and feed ourselves is how we change the world around us. While today's dominant farming systems produce food in abundance, this often carries the steep price of depleted soils, poisoned lands and waterways, rising greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing poverty. When sustainably practiced, however, agriculture can nourish people, support rural livelihoods, protect soils and water supplies, and help mitigate the impacts of climate change. 

Agriculture is our region’s number two industry behind tourism and has the strongest potential to fuel healthy, sustainable growth that is built from within our community.  Mountainkeeper’s Catskill Food Initiative houses three programs – The Farmer Capital Access Program, the Catskill Edible Garden Project and the Eat Healthy Farmers’ Markets – all designed to improve access to healthy food and develop the Catskills as a prominent food shed for the greater New York Metro region. Will you join us in this important work by making a donation of $20 or more today?

 Mountainkeeper’s Capital Access Agricultural Loan Program provides free business planning services and low interest loans from $15,000 to $40,000 to enable existing farm and food businesses to scale up production and enter wholesale markets. A recent loan recipient is Jonah Shaw of Catskill Food Company (CFC), a farm-based, artisanal food enterprise based in Delhi, NY.  His five year business plan projects that CFC will create over 25 full-time jobs, be a steady buyer of heritage breed hogs raised at local farms, and be responsible for over 4 million dollars in regional economic growth. 
The Capital Access Agricultural Loan Program is a partnership between Catskill Mountainkeeper and Jeff Bank.The Catskill Edible Garden Project: Growing the Next Generation of Food Entrepreneurs educates students about local food systems, nutrition, and food-based career opportunities through experiential learning. A work-force development component of the program employs students from low-income families to maintain the school gardens during the summer months, and train at local working farms. Food from the fall harvest is incorporated into school lunches and donated to food pantries.  

Since 2012, we have constructed edible gardens on six Sullivan County school campuses (Roscoe Central School, Sullivan West Central School, Liberty Elementary School, Hebrew Day School, RJK Middle School, and the Cooke Elementary School), as well as a teaching garden at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Liberty, NY.

The CEGP is a collaboration between Catskill Mountainkeeper, Sullivan County’s Center for Workforce DevelopmentCornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), Green Village Initiative, andSullivan Renaissance.
The Eat Healthy Farmers’ Markets program contributes to the health of Sullivan County residents by improving the availability of fresh, nutritious, and affordable food.  The program helps local farms become certified to accept food benefit coupons from state and federal assistance programs including: Women, infants, and children (WIC), Farmers’ Market Nutrition (FMNP), and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).  

These certified local farms are invited to sell produce at newly established Eat Healthy Farmers’ Markets in neighborhoods underserved by supermarkets, grocery stores, and other fresh food outlets, also known as food deserts.  The program also provides educational materials about nutrition, cooking demonstrations and seasonal recipes. There are currently markets in Monticello, Wurtsboro and Rock Hill, with plans to expand to other neighborhoods.

Catskill Mountainkeeper established the Eat Healthy Farmers’ Markets in collaboration withCornell Cooperative ExtensionSullivan County Public Health Services, and Sullivan County Rural Health Network.

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