Rockland Farm Alliance
Officers and Board of Directors
President, Chairman of the Board
John McDowell is an award-winning musician, composer, farmer, and president of Rockland Farm Alliance. He grew up in Champaign, Illinois and worked long summer days in the corn and soybean fields on farms as a teenager in the summer months. Throughout his career as a professional musician he continued his connection with agriculture by visiting and helping out on farms. After moving to Rockland County, he and his wife revived Camp Hill Farm in Pomona and started the first CSA in the county. This process led him to exploring how farming could be rejuvenated and transformed within Rockland County. In 2007, John formed Rockland Farm Alliance, which has received strong support from the Rockland community and governmental officials to facilitate local sustainable agriculture in Rockland County, and has remained as president for 2 years.
Melinda and Mitch Darer
Melinda and Mitch are long-time Rockland County residents. Over the last 30 years, they have been involved with many non-profit organizations, addressing issues of environment, food, health, nutrition, animal advocacy and social justice. They helped to establish the Organic Garden program at the Rockland Country Day School, as well as introduce a more nutritious lunch program at the school. For more than twenty years, they have been working members of the Hungry Hollow Coop, in Chestnut Ridge where they live. They joined RFA in its first year, and also signed up as soon as they heard about the Cropsey Community Farm CSA. Melinda was the co-founder of a prominent national animal rights organization, and is currently the managing director of an international non-profit. Mitch was a Board member and president of the North American Vegetarian Society, and is involved in technology consulting as executive director of a University-based center that provides assistance to government agencies in New Jersey.
For the past ten years, Catherine Kopf has served as Treasurer for the Village of West Haverstraw, a Rockland County municipality with over 10,000 residents and a $5.5 million budget. Her professional experience was instrumental in the computerization of RFA's bookkeeping functions and assisting to establish policies and procedures for the day-to-day operations of the farm that don't involve dirt, plants, water and sun. Catherine is a graduate of Colgate University and a 43-year resident of Rockland who is very excited about RFA's mission to sustain the County's rich farming legacy.
Joan Dye Gussow
Joan Dye Gussow is Mary Swartz Rose Professor emerita and former chair of the Nutrition Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she has been a long-time analyst and critic of the US food system. In her classic 1978 book, The Feeding Web: Issues in Nutritional Ecology, which tracked the environmental hazards of an increasingly globalized food system, she foreshadowed by several decades the current interest in re-localizing the food supply. A coveted speaker on local food issues, she is also well known for her more recent books, including This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader (2001), and Growing, Older (2010), both of which relate her experiences growing her own food in suburban New York.
With over two decades of marketing and public relations experience, Mary worked in several industries before forming Woods Marketing Inc., where she provides marketing services for a diverse client list. A native New Yorker, Mary moved to Rockland in 2004 and soon after became co-coordinator for the Piermont Community Garden. Her interest in growing food steered her to pursue a Master Gardener certification with Rockland’s Cornell Cooperative Extension. Mary has a keen interest in community gardening, and was instrumental in developing the Catholic Community Services’ “Garden of Love” in Haverstraw, and more recently a community garden at Montebello’s Village Hall. A founding member of the 'Plant a Row for the Hungry' Committee, Mary has also worked with the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s School Garden Network, and has managed the Suffern Farmer’s Market.
A resident of Piermont for thirty years and a Landscape Architect licensed in New York since 1983, Daniel Sherman serves as the chairman of the Village of Piermont Parks Department and has helped with the design and installation of the Piermont Community Garden and the Piermont Dog Run. As organizer of a group called the ‘Friends of Piermont Parks,' Dan and a group of volunteers install the Main Street flower planters each year, the war memorial seasonal flowers, the village parking lot median plantings and other village park landscapes. Dan has served on the Architectural Community Appearance Board of Review ACABOR for South Orangetown and the Sparkill Commuter Task Force, plus has done vegetable garden design for Hands To Mouth and Camp Venture.
A native New Yorker who has lived in Rockland County for the past 30 years, Donna holds a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration and has worked in the health care industry, first as an administrator in non-profit hospitals, and later as a senior executive in corporate consulting and sales. Donna’s professional expertise was strategic planning to create efficient ways of doing business and oversee the successful implementation of strategic decisions. Earlier in her career, Donna organized volunteers in hospitals to provide much needed services in health care and in educational programs. More recently, Donna’s battle with a difficult disease has caused her to reflect on the importance of supporting local food sources and promoting organic farming. Her passion is to utilize her track record of professional success to further the mission of RFA and expand sustainable farms in the county, as well as create awareness of local farming.
Founder of Collage Foundation
Director of Community-Based Programs, Glynwood Center
Executive Director, Sylvia Center
Owner, Wickes Arborists
Owner, Hook Mountain Growers
Non-profit consultant and food policy grant writer
To contact the RFA Board of Directors, please email email@example.com.