Overview and Mission of RFA
A broad-based coalition of farmers, community activists, local and county officials, and interested citizens, Rockland Farm Alliance (RFA) was formed in early 2007, with a simple mission: to preserve, create and enhance sustainable food production in Rockland County, NY.
This grassroots effort, which started with the passionate vision of a single farmer, John McDowell, has grown into a powerful community force with over 1000 followers. After John and his wife, Alexandra Spadea-McDowell, began the first CSA in Rockland in 2004, Camp Hill Farm, they quickly recognized the lack of infrastructure and support for the few remaining farms in the county, and together with other dedicated members of the community formed Rockland Farm Alliance with the mission of preserving existing farmland and supporting local farms. With nearly every facet of our community represented, we draw on the expertise of individual members to further our goals of preserving open space and bringing small sustainable farms back to Rockland.
RFA is supported by the Rockland County Soil & Water Conservation District, which provides technical guidance, staff support and serves as a liaison to the USDA’s Resource Conservation and Development Council, which provides ongoing advice and expertise. RFA implemented Glynwood’s two-year Keep Farming program, which empowers communities to save farming.
The mission of Rockland Farm Alliance is to promote sustainable agriculture in Rockland County by creating farms that are models of small scale local food production and that provide opportunities for people of all ages to learn about sustainable farming practices.
Increase the viability of existing Rockland County farms
Increase the number of farms and the total food producing acreage within the county
Encourage farming practices that are ethically and ecologically sound and economically sustainable
Promote a network of outlets for local farms, such as farmers markets, CSAs, restaurants
Explore and establish methods for the sharing of general information, equipment, and processing capabilities
Support educational opportunities and cultural events related to agriculture
Collaborate with organizations and individuals that have similar goals and objectives
Won widespread government support from local to state level; referred to by NY State Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee as “the largest and most diverse group of citizens gathered for a great cause in Rockland County.”
Initiated a summit of state and municipal parks officials from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and New York to discuss efforts to increase agricultural projects on parkland
Participated in a Farm-to-School feasibility summit along with the Health Department and local school food directors
Led the initiative to reform the Rockland County Farmland Protection Board
In an unprecedented partnership with the county and Town of Clarkstown, received the license to revive the historic Cropsey Farm in New City, creating a 5-acre organic, community learning farm.
Negotiated an Agricultural District for Rockland County by helping create and promote the Suburban Agriculture Bill, passed by Governor Cuomo in 2015.