Type to search

Craft farm program

Hudson Valley Farmer Collaboration Efforts Surge Thanks to This Program


The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training aims to foster education and relationships for farmers in the Mid-Hudson region.

Farmers across the region don’t want to work in isolation. In fact, one program is encouraging information sharing and opportunities to train young farmers to continue their worker pipeline. 

The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) program is a model for sharing complementary farm training among a network of participating farms. 

The Mid-Hudson CRAFT chapter is run by a collective of farmer organizers across the Mid-Hudson region, including Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester, Orange, and Ulster counties, who volunteer their time to organize a series of around 15 farm visits. These events, offered by host farmers in the area, expose farmers in training to a variety of farming practices and offer opportunities to develop practical skills and network with other farmers and apprentices. 

“CRAFT allows new and beginning farmers to see a multitude of farming systems and enterprises, and to build relationships with other new farmers who might be at a similar stage in their professional journey,” says Lauren Kaplan, associate director of farmer training at Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming. “Given how many of our participants are first-generation farmers and frequently moving here from other regions, it’s an important piece of helping them build community and support systems in the Hudson Valley.”  

That is made possible in part thanks to community agreements that include respecting host farm spaces and making space for one another. The program is not an incorporated or funded entity, similar to other CRAFT chapters, but it has been around for over 10 years. However, it was more recently that Glynwood stepped up to provide administrative and communications support to the local chapter.

“We convene farmer organizers for our annual meeting and ensure that events are being clearly promoted and facilitated, but the decision-making is shared amongst participating organizers,” notes Kaplan.

CRAFT tours are open to farmers of all ages and skill levels and are free to attend. The organizers strongly encourage BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ farmers to host events. Individuals do not need to be organizers to host an event, and organizers include anyone who has been farming in the region for at least one full season.

“In the Mid-Hudson chapter, we’ve decoupled organizers and hosts – so while some organizers do also host events, we also host events at other farms that don’t necessarily participate in the planning and organizing,” Kaplan explains.

The Mid-Hudson CRAFT chapter has 15-18 events each season, which means there are 15-18 host farms that offer to lead a tour, training, or discussion.

This year’s event schedule kicked off with an event on lambing hosted at the Willow Pond Sheep Farm. The next event is May 2 at Glynwood in Cold Spring from 3-6 p.m., focused on organic vegetable fertility. Throughout this season, those interested can plan for other events like cut-flower production at Stars of the Meadow in Marbletown and food sovereignty at Sky High Farm in Pine Plains.

“We aim to shake up the CRAFT host farms every year to feature the expertise of as many regional farmers as possible,” says Kate Anstreicher, program manager at Glynwood.

Sam Rose, of CULTIVAR Farm in Red Hook, says that it also lightens the load for farm operators trying to offer their employees a robust and holistic farm training. It’s a win-win for everyone.

“What better way to learn about the spectrum of farm operations than by actually visiting and interacting with them?” Rose observes.

Michaela Hayes-Hodge with Rise & Root Farm seconds that and also doubles down on the importance of building the next generation of farmers. 

“We can keep in mind the questions that beginning farmers have and stay fresh with new questions and developments that they are bringing to the table,” Hayes-Hodge says.

Moving forward, Kaplan explains that it would be a “game changer” to secure more steady funding to be able to compensate farmers, specifically queer and trans farmers and farmers of color, for their time and expertise in leading these events. That includes more travel and dependent care stipends to support farmers-in-training to attend the events on their usually very low wages.

“It would be a dream to provide stipends or incentives to farms who allow their employees to participate in educational events,” says Kaplan. 

That funding could also help to offer at least one bilingual and one Spanish-only CRAFT event annually without stress. “So many farm workers could benefit from these events and more communities could be built if we had Spanish/English translation as a regular feature,” notes Hayes-Hodge. This could also serve as a stepping stone on the path to farm ownership for BIPOC farmers. For the past few years, the organization has hosted a bilingual CRAFT event with support from the Hudson Valley Language Justice Collective. 

“R&R Produce in Orange County and Three Sisters Farm in Ulster County both had such great information to share, and we are really excited about continuing this annual event that allows us to bring together monolingual English and Spanish speakers to learn from and with each other,” Kaplan says.

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is back this April 8-21!